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Helotes, TXHBy Cynthia Leal Masseyelotes, the Gateway to the Hill Country, was incorporated as a general law city in 1981; however, the town has been on Texas maps since the nineteenth century. The name Helotes derives from the Nahuatl/Spanish word elotes, referring to ears of corn or corn on the cob, and has been used since the early 1700s when it was mentioned in a Spanish report to the governor of the region describing the area where Apaches scalped a Spaniard who had been looking for stray horses. Lipan Apache, Tonkawa, and Comanche tribes camped in the Helotes hills; the Lipans grew corn along Helotes Creek before the Comanches’ frequent raids made such agricultural activities impossible.Settled in the 1850s by European and Latin immigrants primarily from Germany and Mexico, Helotes, situated on the historic Bandera Road sixteen miles from downtown San Antonio, has a long history as an identifiable town. After the establishment of the Helotes Post Office in 1873, Helotes was put on county maps. Along with the post office, German immigrant Carl Mueller and his wife Amalie Stolz ran the Helotes Stagecoach Inn.The pioneer whose land encompassed what is now Old Town Helotes was Scottish immigrant and surgeon Dr. George F. Marnoch who built a two-story limestone house on Scenic Loop Road in 1859. Marnoch’s heirs sold a portion of the family land that became downtown Helotes to Swiss American Arnold Gugger, who in 1881, built alimestone homestead on Old Bandera Road for his bride Amalia “Mollie” Benke. Today, the Marnoch and Gugger homesteads are Texas Historic Landmarks.Helotes remained afarming community fordecades. The town wasa frequent site of cattledrives between SanAntonio and Banderain the late 19th andearly 20th centuries.As the 20th centurycommenced, new downtown landowner Bert Hileman added a dance hall and boarding house.In 1942, John T. Floore came to town and, four years later, purchased property in downtown Helotes. He opened a“country store,”a music venue, which became the world-renowned John T. Floore Country Store, today a Texas Historic Landmark listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.In early May 1966, the first Helotes Cornyval was held in downtown Helotes. The spring festival, which benefited local nonprofits, was so popular it became an annual event. It is now held over a four-day period the first weekend in May at the Helotes Festival Association CornyvalHelotes City HallGrounds on Leslie Road, bringing an average of 35,000 people to Helotes over the long weekend. The festival includes a parade, carnival rides, a PRCA rodeo, dances and lots of food, including plenty of roasted corn on the cob.Helotes remained primarily rural until the late 20th century, when the sale of farmland to developers created a housing boom. By the end of the 1990s, Helotes’ population had tripled, from 1,507 to 4,295. Along with the population growth came a new school: In 1998, Sandra Day O’Connor High School opened in Helotes. The population at the 2010 census was 7,341.Grey Forest, TXBIy Cynthia Leal Masseyncorporated in 1962, the town of Grey Forest, three-and-a-half miles northeast of Helotes on Scenic Loop Road, encompasses less thana square mile. The bucolic town had its start in the late 1920s as a summer vacation destination. Called Scenic Loop Playground, the new subdivision attracted buyers: families looking for a summer getaway, investors looking to make a buck, and artists lured by the lush landscape.A promotional brochure described the area in this way: “The mountain slopes dotted with evergreens, the grey forest with its beautiful live oaks festooned with Spanish moss, winding Helotes Creek, with its frequent concrete dams providing wading and swimming pools up to 12 feet in depth...numerous shady secluded nooks... many views ideal for painting landscapes and wild flowers.”A 1931 San Antonio Express newspaper article indicated there were 80 lodges... “ranging from rustic cabins of rugged beauty to splendid country homes of rock and stone and of majestic proportions.” Although initially only a summer residence, by 1945 some people were using their cottages as permanent homes.By the mid-twentieth century, the popularity of Scenic Loop Playground as a vacation destination piqued the interest of San Antonio officials. A resident who worked for San Antonio’s planning department saw a map that showed the Playground10as future San Antonio parkland. Whenthe news spread to residents, they decided to incorporate to fend off an Alamo City land grab, which they believed would destroy the natural beauty and historic ambience of the area. They settled on the name Grey Forest for the many trees covered in grey moss.The citizens of GreyForest today continuetheir strong interestin nature, ecology andpreservation, and residents include several master naturalists and master gardeners. In keeping with this focus, the city opened Frank L. Madla Natural Area, a 42-acre park near the intersection of Scenic Loop and Menchaca Road in 2013.A number of talented artists and artisans reside in Grey Forest; they sponsor an annual art show in October called Open Studios. Renowned landscape artists Robert Wood (1889-1979) and Warren Hunter (1904-1993) were both residents of the town.There is only one commercial business in the city limits—the historic Grey Moss Inn, which hasCity of Grey Forest Municipal Officesprovided fine dining in a rustic and romantic setting for more than 85 years. The city derives most of its revenue from Grey Forest Utilities, a natural gas company located in Helotes, but founded in the mid-1960s by Grey Forest community leaders led by Jack Nottingham, who served on the first Grey Forest City Council and subsequently served three terms as mayor.In 1970, the population of Grey Forest was 385; in 2010, there were 483 residents in the hill country hamlet.www.GreatNWGuide.com2017-2018Historical

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