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Alamo RanchBAy C y n t h i a L e a l M a s s e ylamo Ranch, the community incorporating roughly nine square miles between Culebra, Wiseman and Talley Roads, and the Loop1604 access road, is one of the top selling master- planned communities in the country. Residents of this bedroom community have been seeking to incorporate the area into the City of Alamo Ranch.Once composed primarily of farms and ranches, Alamo Ranch now has a vibrant business corridor and a population of about 15,000. In the 1700s, the land was part of Rancho San Lucas, an outlying ranch of Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo.The missions located their ranches in a 20 to 30- mile arc to the north and south of their settlements as their cattle herds grew and began intruding on neighboring farmland and common land, and eating their crops. These outlying ranch lands were used strictly for grazing cattle. Legal documents in a dispute over Rancho San Lucas indicate that in 1765, Loma Alta was used in determining the boundaries of the rancho. Loma Alta is a mountain, 1155 feet above sea level, located in Medina County, a few miles east of Rio Medina and west of today’s Potranco Road.The case involved the mission’s abandonment of the rancho because of Indian hostilities and a request by a former soldier to purchase the tract of 11 sitios, the equivalent of 48,708 acres. Mission San José, the highest bidder, paid 100 pesos for the land. The mission held onto the property for a fewDid You Know?BIy Cynthia Leal Masseyn 1893, John A. Hoffmann (1855-1919), who grew up near Castroville on the Medina River, purchased a ranch near the northwest corner of Culebra and Loop 1604, the area now known as Alamo Ranch. A stipulation of the sale was that oneacrebeusedfor“schoolpurposes.”Aone-room schoolhouse known as the Culebra School, which had been operating for several years, was already in existence at the site.John and wife Julia Bourgeois (1858-1958), whom he married in 1878, moved to Bexar County in part because they wanted an education for their children. The couple had seven children when they first moved to the area, and by 1900, three more joined the family. Hoffmann eventually added more land to his holdings and his ranch grew to 1,700 acres.The Hoffmanns helped the school expand to two rooms with the help of area families. Hoffmann and his wife were major benefactors for the school, providing water, wood to heat the school, and room and board for the teachers. Many of the students walked long distances to the school, and at the end of the day, they stopped by the Hoffmann residence for a snack before their long journey home.In 1929, Hoffmann’s eldest son, Charles, and his wife Ernestine, sold the schoolhouse and two acres to the trustees of the school, Oscar Wood, Fritz Gass and August Tezel, for $2,500, with a $500 down payment. The funds were paid by area families and through fundraisers held throughout the years.12more decades, but by 1824, when the Spanish government declared all of the missions secularized, all ranch land had been granted to important families, sold to private citizens or remained fallow because of continued Indian depredations.The pioneer familiesmost associated withthe land that comprisesAlamo Ranch cameafter Texas became partof the union and after Indian hostilities ceased in the mid-1870s. Gass, Hoffmann, Lieck, Talley, and Wurzbach are some of the more prominent family names in the area.The major landowner was John Edward Talley (1848-1903), whose ranch consisted of 6,321 acres. Talley, a native of Alabama, purchased the property, also known as the Cagnion Ranch, from Celestin Villemain, in 1896. The ranch included a shack, barn, rock water tank, 300 cattle, 150 horses, 15 hogs, and 40 goats. Talley’s widow Sarah remained at the ranch until her death in 1948. The couple had eight children.Large tracts were sold to various individualsincluding John Hoffmann and Edwin and Herman Wurzbach, while several tracts were left to Talley’s many children.According to Lucille Talley Greiner (1911-2001), who wrote a history in 1997, about her grandfather’s ranch, the places “now located on the original ranch” included: Talley Road Baptist Church, J. Bar Subdivision, Roberts Ranch, Hill Top Acres, West Creek, Amazing Grace Lutheran Church, Rolling Oaks, Hugo Stolte Ranch, as well as portions of Elm Valley, Taft High School, and the Earle Benke Ranch.Culebra School, Class of 1937 Front row (l to r): Viola Gass, Irene Biering, Dorothy Tezel, Florence Sachtleben. Second row (l to r): Billy Squire, Gerald Nickel, Linda Gass, Betty Bean, Richard Gass, Ina Mae Tezel, Henry Lee Lehne, James Gass, Sammy Galm, Marlin Biering.Third row (l to r): Myrtle Kuentz, Tillie Brandt, Louise Gass, Adehilde Biering, Teacher Miss Jeanette Martin, Principal Alvin C. Lehne, Cedalia Nickel, Leonora Biering, Myrtle Nickel, Ruby Brandt, Mabel Hoffmann. Top row (l to r): Leroy Nickel, Johnny Hoffmann, Warren Hinch, Calvin Galm, Charles Gass, James Hinch, Hazel Hinch, Richard Bean, Johnny Gass, Leroy Squire.The Culebra School eventually became one of the original 11 schools that consolidated in 1949 to create what is now the Northside Independent School District. The rural school ceased operation as a school not long after; however, the building was used as a voting precinct site into the 1960s.The Hoffmann Ranch was sold in 1960 but the land maintained a strong connection to education and Northside ISD. Taft High School, which openedin 1985, and Briscoe Middle School, which opened in 2010, both are located on the former ranch.In August 2009, the NISD honored the Hoffmann family by naming its newest elementary school, known as the “Alamo Ranch area” elementary school, after John A. Hoffmann.Cynthia Leal Massey is the author of several books and articles on the history of northwest Bexar County. Her most recent is Death of a Texas Ranger.www.GreatNWGuide.com2017-2018Historical

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