Boerne came into being as an off-shoot of the Texas Hill Country Free Thinker Latin Settlements, resulting from the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states. Those who came were Forty-Eighters, intellectual liberal abolitionists who enjoyed conversing in Latinand who believed in utopian ideals that guaranteed basic human rights to all. They reveled in passionate conversations about science, philosophy, literature, and music the Free Thinkers first settled Castell, Bettina, Leningen. and Schoenburg in Llano County. These experimental communities were supported by the Adelsverein for one year. The communities eventually failed due to lack of finances after the Adelsverein funding expired, and conflict of structure and authorities. Many of the pioneers from these communities moved to Sisterdale, Boerne and Comfort.
In 1849, a group of Free Thinker German colonists from Bettina camped on the north side of Cibolo Creek, about a mile west of the site of present Boerne. They named their new community after Cicero’s Tusculum home in ancient Rome. In 1852, John James and Gustav Theissen, who helped settle Sisterdale, platted the townsite, renamed it in honor of German author Karl Ludwig Börne, with the Anglicized spelling of Boerne. The town was not incorporated until 1909. August Staffell was the original postmaster in 1856.
The 1870 limestone courthouse, second oldest in Texas, was designed by architects Philip Zoeller and J. F. Stendebach, and stands directly across the street from the current 1998 courthouse designed by architects Rehler Vaughn & Koone, Inc.
In the late 1870s, retired British army officers, including Glynn Turquand and Captain Egremont Shearburn, played one of the first polo matches in the United States in Boerne. The polo ground is still visible on Balcones Ranch, bought by Captain Turquand in 1878.
Boerne’s robust environment encouraged the health resort industry. Sisters of the Incarnate Word founded the St. Mary’s Sanitarium in 1896 for pulmonary patients; Dr. W.E. Wright contracted with the Veterans Administration in 1919 to provide care for World War Iveterans suffering from lung ailments; the William L. Sill Tuberculosis Resort operated northwest of Boerne; and Mrs. Adolph (Emilie) Lex opened her home to recovering patients, eventually converting two rooms into operating rooms.
Karl Degener organized the Boerne Gesang Verein (singing club) and the Boerne Village Band in 1860. The family and descendants of Sisterdale resident Baron Ottmar von Behr have included three generations of directors of the Boerne Village Band, and four generations of musicians. The band is billed as “Oldest Continuously Organized German Band in the World outside Germany”, and in 1998 the Federal Republic of Germany recognized the Boerne Village Band for its contribution to the German heritage in Texas and America.