The History of Terrell Hills, Texas

Frederick TerrellTerrell Hills is a suburban community off the old Austin Highway five miles northeast of downtown San Antonio in central Bexar County. The community was named for Frederick Terrell, who promoted the area as a residential addition in the late 1920s. One business and a population of 1,236 were reported there in 1930. The community incorporated as a municipality on May 1, 1939, but in 1945 San Antonio annexed the town without an election in either community. Terrell Hills filed a lawsuit to prevent the action, and the court voided the annexation. Late in 1957 Terrell Hills adopted a home-rule charter. The town more than doubled in population, from 2,708 in 1950 to 5,572 in 1960. Later its population slowly decreased, falling to 4,838 by 1980 and 4,592 by 1990.


Original Incorporation


Home Rule Charter

Claudia Hazlewood, from the Handbook of Texas Online:

"In 1919, a group of six families and 3 bachelors were organized with a desire to emigrate from the City of San Antonio and settle in a remote rural area. They selected a 24 acre tract that was formerly Terrell Farms. The southern boundary was Terrell Road, Garraty Road to the north, and western border being Eldon Road. The eastern border was Fort Sam Houston and what is now Harry Wurzbach.

Dr. Terrell agreed to lay water main and gas lines from N. New Braunfels Avenue to the area and a 50 foot gravel road was arranged. The gravel road was an extension of Elizabeth Road from N. New Braunfels Avenue.

Each member of the group signed a contract dated January 5th, 1920 and duly recorded in the County records, that within five years they would settle and build a home within the 24 acre tract. There were some interesting stipulations in the contract; some a reminder of how archaic those times were. The male members of the agreement were to comprise the governing body, each having one vote. One of the bachelors dropped out saying he did not want to live there.

In 1939, Maury Maverick was seeking election as Mayor of the City of San Antonio. He made it known that he would take those silk stocking areas in the City of San Antonio and tax the hell out of them. With that advance notice and the leadership of Pat Swearingen, Terrell Hills held a an election on March 25th to decide the fate of the township. Terrell Hills was incorporated on March 31, 1939 and received the charter as "Town of Terrell Hills". Maury Maverick took office on June 1st but was powerless to override the town™s charter.

W.L. Matthews was the first mayor of the township and the first council meeting took place on May 11, 1939. The first election of officials was held on April 15, 1939. Elections were then held every other year until 1955, at which time annual elections began.

All services to residents at the time incorporation were being paid for by individual residents, which was judged unsatisfactory. It was agreed that improvements would necessitate regularly paid employees, which in turn would require some form of taxation. It was the unanimous opinion of the council that no action should be taken at that time that would require the levying of a general property tax.

By 1941, the frequency of the meetings increased and in October 1942, the council resolved to meet regularly on the first Monday of each calendar month. Also at this meeting, the first city employee (a deputy marshal, to be paid $40 per month plus whatever he could solicit from the citizens) was authorized. The resolution notwithstanding, monthly meetings did not begin until February 1943."