by Cynthia Leal Massey
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of our town’s historical society. The Society is planning special events/projects throughout the year to celebrate.
Tuesday, February 2, kicks off the year with the Society’s general meeting at the Gardens at Old Town starting at 6:30 p.m. Guest speaker is Judge Ed Butler, who will give a presentation titled, “Without the assistance we received from Spain, we would still be under the British flag,” based on research from his award-winning book Galvez: Spain–Our Forgotten Ally In The American Revolutionary War. Butler is a retired US Navy Reserve Intelligence Officer, and an attorney who has served as a judge on the city, county, state, and federal levels. A native of Memphis, TN, he attended high school with Elvis Presley and even played in a dance band with Elvis.
The Society will sponsor a wine tasting event at Grey Moss Inn on Monday evening, April 11. Member Susan Beavin will give a talk on the history of the Scenic Loop, Boerne Stage Road, Toutant-Beauregard Historic Corridor. The Society’s May 3 general meeting will feature Robert Garcia, a member of San Antonio’s Tricentennial Commission, who will give a talk about the founding of San Antonio.
The Society also plans to sponsor a 50th Anniversary entry at the April 30th Cornyval Parade, and a 50th Anniversary Gala on Friday, October 28, at the Gardens at Old Town. Visit the Society’s website at www.historicalsocietyofhelotes.org for up-to-date news about our events during this milestone year.
The Helotes Historical Society was founded in 1966 by Lucy Perkins Brown (1916-1988), editor and co-owner of the Helotes Echo, and Wanda Terry (1921-2005), co-owner of the Hickory Hut Restaurant. As editor of the town’s first newspaper, Brown had first-hand knowledge of the town’s history. She published many stories about the town’s pioneers.
Terry allowed the Society to meet at her restaurant, first located in Helotes Plaza in the 1960s, then moved to Old Town in 1980. Few records exist concerning membership and activities in the early years, but judging from the society’s archives, it seems they were spent collecting stories, newspaper clippings, and photographs.
After Brown’s sudden death of a heart attack in 1988, the Society established the Lucy Brown Memorial Library in the cabin owned by the Terry family next to the Hickory Hut. Run by historical society members, the library held the Society’s archives. Books were also available for check out. The library closed in 2006; its book collection was sold, and the archives were moved to various locations. They are now housed in a climate-controlled storage facility.
During the 1990s and into the new century, the Society’s monthly meetings featured speakers, often descendants of pioneer families. A milestone was reached when historical society member Kyle Cunningham wrote a paper for submission to the Texas Historical Commission to obtain a subject marker for the town. The Texas Historic Landmark monument, located in front of the Helotes Bicycle Shop (housed in the historic Gugger homestead), was dedicated in 1992.
Fundraisers included raffles, the sale of Christmas ornaments of historical sites, and in 1998, the publication and sale of the book, Helotes Happenings, a compilation of family stories gathered by then-president JoAnn Gillis. A copy of the book, now out-of-print, is at the San Antonio Public Library Texana Department. Two more books on the history of Helotes by current HSH President Cynthia Leal Massey, who served as historian of the Society from 2009-2015, were published in 2008 and 2010. Autographed copies of Helotes, Where the Texas Hill Country Begins and Helotes, Images of America are available at the shop Simply Yours Gifts and More in Old Town.
Under the tenure of President Shirley Owen, the Society received federal tax-exempt status. On March 23, 2010, the newly formed Historical Society of Helotes (HSH) was designated a nonprofit organization in the State of Texas, and seven months later, on October 24, 2010, the Internal Revenue Service awarded the new nonprofit federal tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) public charity, effective from its date of incorporation. Donations to the Society became tax-deductible.
Annual membership dues are $10 per person and $15 per family and the Society is open to all individuals interested in promoting its mission: the discovery, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge about the history of Helotes, Texas, and the surrounding area. Membership confers many special privileges, from free admittance to general meetings to discounted tickets to our gala, plus early notification of special events. Guests are welcome at all Society events for a nominal donation.
Contact President Cynthia Massey at email@example.com for more information.