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"Schertz Now and Then: An Oral History"

Nestled between San Antonio and New Braunfels lies Schertz, TX, a growing town that is home to 34,000 residents, Randolph Air Force Base and a rich history of agriculture, German heritage and small-town values. The city's history is compellingly retold in "Schertz Now and Then: An Oral History," a 25-minute documentary that takes viewers through the history and growth of Schertz. The city's story is told through interviews featuring anecdotes from former city officials, area historians and residents of Schertz whose families have lived in the area for generations. The documentary's interviewees share stories about what it was like to grow up in Schertz all throughout the 1900s, and the documentary's storyline encompasses topics such as Schertz's founding family, the city's German roots, the impact of the Randolph Air Force Base and the city's current growth.

Beginning in early 2016, the project's impetus came from Chris Price, Executive Producer and developer of The Crossvine, a mixed-use, master-planned community located in southern Schertz. Price was passionately interested in learning more about and preserving the rich history of Schertz, and by having conversations with area historians and lifelong residents of the city, his vision for the project was able to grow into its current form: A full-fledged documentary about the city with interviews and stories told by those who know Schertz best.

The documentary is divided into six "episodes," each addressing a different aspect of Schertz's rich history and growth. Topics range from Schertz's founding German family in the 1800s; its agricultural connection to cotton, oat, wheat and corn farming; personal stories from life-long residents about what it was like growing up in Schertz; the impact of Randolph Air Force Base and how it came to be, and the city's current and continuing expansion. The project began in early 2016, with interviews and B-roll captured by Austin-based cinematographer Rocky Conly over the course of the following two years.

The public viewing of the documentary debuted on March 6, 2019 at the Schertz Public Library. The evening hosted more than 100 attendees who enjoyed popcorn, Reggie's dogs, pop-up booths by local organizations and the full, 25-minute documentary followed by a panel discussion featuring some of the interviewees from the film. If you're interested in viewing the documentary, here is a link to the full 25-min documentary along with event photos from the viewing.



The City of Schertz began with origins from Alsace Lorraine, France where Joseph and Anna Schertz, along with six of their ten children, came to Texas by sea, leaving France in October 1843 and arriving in San Antonio in 1844. After becoming exhausted from the long journey and losing two family members, the Schertz family decided to return to Europe; in route, they ran into Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, who was on his way to form a colony that would eventually be named New Braunfels.

Moved by their determination, Prince Solms-Braunfels promised a one-half acre town lot and a ten-acre farm parcel to those that pledged to join his colony. The Schertz accepted the offer, and on March 25, 1845, they arrived on the site of what is now known as New Braunfels, becoming one of the first people to help settle that area.

On January 3, 1849, two Schertz family members purchased 600 acres of land in Guadalupe County for $600, marking the early beginnings of the future Schertz settlement. After some years passed, Sebastian Schertz bought 307 acres of land and settled in the southwestern corner of Guadalupe County in 1866, which is now part of present-day Schertz. It was then that Sebastian developed a farming and business enterprise, which became the heartbeat for this small town named "Cut-Off."

A City Soon to be Established

The first crops planted by settlers in Cut-Off were wheat, corn and oats; however, in later years, cotton proved to be a hearty and cash-producing crop. This, in turn, created a need for a cotton gin in the area for cotton harvesting. In 1870, Sebastian built the town's first gin powered by mule and then later by steam; cotton proved to be a prosperous crop and soon, other farmers came into the area.

In addition to the gin, Sebastian also started the community's first water supply plant which was eventually passed down to son Adolph and his son Walter J. Adolph was also the owner and manager of the Schertz Electric Company, which eventually became the city's local electric supplier, the Guadalupe Valley Electric Company. In 1876, one of the largest additions to Schertz came when the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railroad was built through the town. When the railroad was constructed, Sebastian Schertz was owning and operating a general store and soon after the railroad arrived in 1882, the first post office was established.

On April 6, 1899, the town of "Cut -Off" officially became the town of Schertz, and through the years, Schertz grew and the family branches of the original Schertz family continued to invest in the town. In 1917, Adolph donated two acres of land to the school district and Schertz School was born. Walter J. eventually became the owner of the Schertz Water Works, in addition to inheriting the Schertz Electric Supply Company. In 1928, Walter J. decided to start a land development project named "Aviation Heights," which would help the housing situation that the soon-to-be Randolph Air Force Base would bring to the city.

Monumental Achievements

Complications and lack of funding would cause the "Aviation Heights" venture to fold. After Walter J's passing in 1940, Walter A. assumed the reins and set out to bring additional water sources into Schertz by obtaining federal funding for the Schertz area. He obtained a larger water supply by tapping into the Edwards Aquifer at two different locations in Universal City. This allowed for the construction of a 250,000-gallon storage tank in Universal City, where a delivery main was installed and allowed water transportation to Schertz. Schertz Water Works supplied water for up to 1,500 customers in both Schertz and Universal City until the company was sold in 1963, where half of the company went to Universal City and the other half to Schertz.

With water secured, Walter and his attorney went to Washington to plead their case to have FHA/VA funding be extended to the Schertz Area, and in a few weeks with an approval in place, building of the land development began. Construction ended in the early 1960s, shortly after Schertz was incorporated as a city in 1958. From this, Walter A. partnered with Dr. Roy W. Richard, Russell Rowell and Alda Mae Cross to create the Green Valley Development Company. By the 1970s, military retirees were establishing homes in the Schertz area to be close to the military facilities of Randolph and Fort Sam Houston. Though it has grown substantially from its beginning roots, Schertz is a city that has not lost touch with its heritage, and it continues to embrace it today through its celebration of festivals and events that blend the past with the future.

Guest Column courtesy The Crossvine
February 21, 2020
External Links:
Event Photos
The Crossvine
TX Guadalupe County 1940s Map
1940s Guadalupe County map showing Schertz
on Guadalupe / Bexar County line

From Texas state map #4335

Courtesy Texas General Land Office
Schertz, Texas & Schertz Cemetery

Universal City
San Antonio
New Braunfels

Bexar County
Guadalupe County











































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