The City of Schertz began with origins from Alsace Lorraine, France. Joseph and Anna Schertz, along with six of their ten children, came to Texas by ship, leaving in October of 1843 on the Jean Key De Teau. Sons Joseph Jr, Sebastian, and Johann Jean, along with their father, were filled with the promises of less taxation, cheap land and higher wages than what they were getting in their own country; promises made by Council General of Texas to France, Henri Castro.
They arrived in Galveston Texas in 1844, traveling on to the port of Indianola, and ending up in San Antonio. The travel proved wearing and tragic on the Schertz family as they lost their mother Anna and and sister Affre to an epidemic illness. After enduring another year of hardship and broken promises of land and money, the Schertz family decided to go back to Europe. In route, they ran into Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, who was on his way to form a colony, to be named New Braunfels. Moved by their plight by what had been done to the Schertz as well as other families, Prince Solms-Braunfels promised a one half acre town lot and a ten acre farm parcel to those that joined his colony. The Schertz family did and on Good Friday, March 25, 1845, they arrived on the site of what is now known as New Braunfels. The Schertz family was among the first to help settle that area.
On January 3, 1849, Sebastian and Johann Jean also purchased 600 acres of land in Guadalupe County for 600 dollars. This marked the early beginnings of the future Schertz settlement. The decade between the 1850s to1860s notated many landmarks changes in the Schertz family.
Joseph Sr had been residing with Sebastian’s family as of census records in 1850. Not much more is noted about him until his death in 1870; that as he traveled to visit one of his relatives in the hill country, he passed away. He was 89 years old.
Joseph Jr relocated from New Braunfels to an area located by, what would later become, Universal City. He died in 1858 of a rattlesnake bite while hunting cattle on land that became the eventual site of Randolph Air Force Base.
Johann Jean married in 1851 and settled as an original founder of what would become the city of Boerne. He died of appendicitis in 1860.
Sebastian married in 1849. He and his family resided between two different Comal county locations in the decade between 1850-1860. Sometime in the 1860s, rumor has it that Sebastian decided to try his luck in mining gold. He packed up the family and moved to Missouri. The harsh winters eventually drove the Schertz family back to Texas. In 1866, Sebastian Schertz bought 307 acres of land and settled in the southwestern corner of Guadalupe County, 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”. Strong family support came in the form of three of his children, sons Adolph, Martin, and William.
The first crops planted by settlers were wheat, corn and oats but 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. The first gin was built by Sebastian Schertz in 1870, 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 first water supply plant in the community, when farmers discovered that their hand dug wells were unfit to drink, due to sulfur. This water supply plant was passed down to son Adolph and to his son Walter J. In addition to the water plant, Adolph was also the owner and manager of the Schertz Electric Company, which through the years, was sold to another entity and eventually became our 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. Sebastian Schertz owned and operated a general store when the railroad was constructed. In 1882, soon after the railroad arrived, the first post office was established.
In 1890, Sebastian Schertz passed away and two of his sons, Adolph and Martin, would take over the running of the cotton gin, which stayed active and profitable until 1940. Son William began endeavors with a mercantile store in 1892 that became one of the largest in Guadalupe County, as well as became Schertz postmaster from 1895-1899 and 1902-1907. The brothers owned large portions of land and, seeing the promise of the railroad, the need for a depot as well as the financial boom such a stop would have in the town, William donated land for the train depot, in honor of his father, Sebastian.
On April 6, 1899, the town of “Cut off” officially became the town of Schertz.
Through the years, Schertz grew and the families of the original Schertz family continued to invest in the town. December 1910, Adolph Schertz was part of a group of 16 farmers who created the Farmers Rural Telephone Company as a means of communicating with one another as well as long distance business centers. From a box with 3 keys and lines strung over barbed wire fences to a service that provided to communities spread over Bexar, Comal and Guadalupe counties, it became one of the largest privately owned companies in the country until it was sold to Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in 1958.
Adolph also donated two acres of land in 1917 to the school district, realizing the need for a better facility than the field house they were presently using. The two story, ten grade level school was built and Schertz School was born. In 1953 construction of a new Schertz-Cibolo High School began. This new school
was built next to the 1917 structure at 301 Main Street. In later years, the school became O’Henry, then Corbett Middle School. Today the site continues to be used for multiple purposes including partial occupancy by the Allison Steele Advanced Learning Center and housing SCUCISD staff
Walter J, son of Adolph Schertz, was a partner in the family’s cotton gin and grain companies as well as the family farming operation. He became the owner of the Schertz Water Works as well as inherited the Schertz Electric Supply Company. Walter J. endeavored to start a land development project named “Aviation Heights” in 1928, which would help the housing situation that the soon coming Randolph Air Force Base would bring. Complications and lack of funding would cause this venture to fold and when Walter J. passed away in 1940, his son Walter A. would soon take up the reins. After his discharge from the U.S. Army in 1946, Walter A. set out to bring additional water sources into Schertz of which this and obtaining Federal funding for the Schertz area were the barriers that stood in the way of bringing Aviation Heights into being.
Walter A. obtained more water by tapping into the Edwards Aquifer at two different locations in Universal City. This initiative allowed for the construction of a 250,000 gallon storage tank in Universal city, to which a delivery main was installed and transported water to Schertz. Schertz Water Works supplied water for up to 1500 customers in both Schertz and Universal City until the company was sold in 1963 – half to Universal City and half to Schertz.
With water secured, Walter and his attorney went to Washington to plead their case to have FHA/VA funding to be extended to the Schertz Area. In a few weeks, with the approval in place, building began in the 1950s and ended in the early 1960s. Several hundred of these homes still stand today. From this development Walter A. partnered with Dr. Roy W. Richard, Russell Rowell and Alda Mae Cross and created 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.
Thanks to the founding forefathers and their ability to grow for the future, Schertz has become the thriving city it is today. To see a glimpse into the past, one can still find remnants of it in today’s Schertz: William’s Mercantile- red brick building still stands at the corner of Main St. and Lindbergh Ave which eventually evolved into Sippel’s Hardware store, and was run as such until 2008. An extension of the mercantile with the distinct round designed medallion towards the roof in later years became an Ace hardware store. It is now home to a group of shops, including a coffee house. The last building of the trio of connected buildings on Main St was the original Schertz State Bank, complete with two vaults still inside. It is now home to City on a Hill Church. Schertz State Bank, now Schertz Bank and Trust, has moved to its present location across the parking lot, which was the original site of the Schertz Hotel.
Behind Main Street on Exchange, still stands the first telephone office that Adolph Schertz helped put in place. It is now a private residence. The Schertz family continues to live on and is proud to still have the great-grandson of Sebastian Schertz, Walter and his wife Lula Mae, still in residence in the city. In August of 2013, a fifth generation of the Schertz Family visited our city and at the end of September of that same year, Bill Mackey, great, great grandson of Joseph Jr, along with his wife Carrie, spent time with their great, great Aunt Lula Mae and Uncle Walter, sharing photos and memories.
Schertz was incorporated as a city in 1958. Though it has grown substantially from its beginning roots, Schertz is a city that has not lost touch with its heritage, but continues to embrace it today through its celebration of festivals and events that blend the past with the future.
Chamber President Maggie Titterington compiled this article through research, interviews with Lula Mae and Walter Schertz and from exerpts from “Schertz, Texas – The Story of Great Ancestry, Legacy and Development” by Schertz Historical Preservation Committee, “The Bremers and their Kin in Germany and Texas” Vol. II by Robert R Robinson Jr and “Schertz History – information compiled by Lula Mae Schertz.