Leon Valley has reached 65 years of age. What use to be a small little hamlet with fields, pastures, and livestock has grown to a busy city. To celebrate the birthday and to pay homage to the history of the City, Leon Valley officials held a flag ceremony last Tuesday before the regular City Council meeting.
The Mayor read a proclamation and the Honor Guard of the Leon Valley Fire Department performed the flag raising ceremony to place the flag on the City Hall’s flag pole.
For those curious about the start of Leon Valley, I have included a copy of the Valley of the Lions article written by two Leon Valley historians.
VALLEY OF THE LIONS: The birth of Leon Valley
Linda Cooper Persyn and Barbara Poss Fryer
At the time Leon Valley was incorporated in 1952, the city of San Antonio was in the process of annexing that area of land in Northwest Bexar County. In order not to become part of the sprawling giant, the farmers, ranchers and others who liked the wide open spaces and country living had what they called their “Midnight Ride”, just like the more famous one. One of San Antonio’s plans for the area was to install a sewage processing plant just southeast of Huebner and Evers Roads. Armed with this information and a petition for incorporation, several of the area residents quickly drew a map of the proposed boundaries for the City of Leon Valley. Included in this group were Stephen F. Austin III, Raymond Rimkus, Joe Doyle, Bob Doyle and Kenneth Alley. The original boundaries were: Callaghan Road on the south, Babcock Road on the east, Culebra Road on the west, and Eckhert Road on the north. The petitition was filed, stating that Leon Valley wished to incorporate as a General Law city. Provisional status was granted and the newly formed city of Leon Valley proceeded to elect Aldermen to represent the citizens and conduct city business.
In 1954, it was discovered that Leon Valley was almost at the deadline of its provisional status and was about to lose its designation as a city. The state determined that it had been illegally incorporated, since the General Law of a non home rule city only allowed an area of two square miles and a population of at least two hundred residents. The city had also neglected to hold any city council meetings or conduct any city business during the two years of its existence. Fortunately, S F Austin’s attorney, Boles Matocha, was Secretary of State at the time, under Governor James Allred. He informed Austin of the situation and explained that he had 48 hours to find a remedy. Austin had some engineering and surveying experience, so after alerting the Leon Valley mayor and council, he worked with them to redraw the city boundaries. They had to gerrymander the border to obtain the two hundred people necessary to meet the requirements. The area was still largely rural and it was not an easy task. The border, in some instances, went down the middle of the road if no one lived on the other side, to save valuable footage for areas that were populated. The boundaries were set, public meetings were held, the new plat was approved and the City of Leon Valley was reborn!
Mrs. Harriet Onion, wife of Judge John F. (Pete) Onion often referred to Stephen Austin as “the Father of Leon Valley”. That title is certainly well deserved. One of the first orders of business for the new city council was to approve a subdivision plat to be named Seneca Estates. It was approved and Seneca Country Club, with its pool, tennis courts and clubhouse soon followed. For over 20 years, the country club looked down from its lofty perch on the top of Nine Mile Hill to a panoramic view which included the city of San Antonio and Helotes and the rest of the Texas Hill Country in the far distance. Its members hosted parties, celebrated birthdays and attracted swim meet and tennis match competitions from other Country Clubs and other local swim and tennis teams.
The newly formed city of Leon Valley had no police or fire department. It was under the protection of the County Constable of Precinct #2, Gus Max Gerfers Fire protection came from Bexar County Volunteer Fire Department, located on Eckhert Road. As the city grew, so did the need for city police and fire protection. Taxes were levied and in 1959 John Furnish became Leon Valley’s first Police Chief. In 1966,Leon Valley established a volunteer fire department to assist the county volunteer one. By 1968, Sidney Blair was appointed the city’s first Fire Marshall.
Today, Leon Valley is a thriving city of over 10,000 residents and there is little undeveloped land left within its borders. The city has a first class police department, currently headed by Police Chief Randy Wallace. It also has an exemplary fire department, whose Fire Chief is Louis Valdez.
We owe our gratitude to the men who had the courage and foresight to challenge the city of San Antonio and its plans to swallow this area as just another piece of land and people to tax without the ability to provide any city services. A Texas sized thank you to Stephen F. Austin, truly “the Father of Leon Valley”, the first mayor Raymond Rimkus., and city aldermen Joe and Bob Doyle, Carl Stouffer, Vernon Surber and secretary, Amanda Patterson.