Elmendorf History

Historic Photo

The City of Elmendorf was established in 1885 by Henry Elmendorf. Mr. Elmendorf was also a mayor of San Antonio from 1894 to 1897.  His business methods were so honorable, his actions so manly and sincere, his unselfish devotion to the general good so manifest that all who knew him honored him, and the city was enriched and benefited by his example. However, San Antonio is not the only city that benefited from the leadership of Elmendorf. Elmendorf established his namesake town and contributed to the main business enterprises: brick- and pottery-making. The manner by which he contributed to these businesses was with the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway from San Antonio to the gulf. Elmendorf assisted financially in a large part of the railroad, and was also one of its directors. The railroad allowed the town of Elmendorf to grow economically and in population by allowing pottery, bricks, cotton, and other goods to be shipped out. 

The main businesses of Elmendorf during the late 1800's were the pottery plant and a brick factory owned by the Singers, and a cotton gin run by the Gilettes. Elmendorf also had several other small businesses. There was a doctor's office, lawyer's office, grocery store, clothing store, drug store, service station, meat market, barber shop, and train depot.​​ Transportation in Elmendorf was at first by horseback or horse and buggy. Of course, longer distances were traveled on the railroad that went through the town.

St. Anthony's Church is the largest church in Elmendorf, and it is still attended today. However, the old building has long since been torn down, and a new, bigger one stands in its place. Elmendorf also has a large number of graveyards for such a small town. One of the graveyards has the remains of soldiers who fought in the Texas Revolution. Various families in Elmendorf also have their own private graveyards.

Elmendorf had a public school that was opened in 1902 with about 48 students. It was located on Old Corpus Christi Highway and old Goliad Road. The first building consisted of one room, but later two more rooms were added. In 1926, a new two-story high school was built. A well furnished the water, and heat was provided by wood-burning stoves. Electricity was used beginning in 1929. When East Central High School opened in 1950, the Elmendorf High School was closed and students were included in the new East Central district. The lower grades remained until their transfer to John Glenn in 1957, or Harmony in 1962. On November 2, 1971, the old school building was declared a safety hazard and the land was delegated to the East Central School District. In turn, East Central allowed the land to become a park, and there is now a playground and basketball court on the property.

The town was not actually legally incorporated until 1963, when it got permission from Bexar County. At that time, Elmendorf became able to elect officials. The first elected mayor was Raymond X. Ball. The first city council members elected in 1963 were Thomas D. Shotts, Sam Pena, Victor Cadena, Martin E. Davis, and Robert Adair. The Town of Elmendorf was legally changed to the City of Elmendorf on December 10, 1963. Norris West was appointed City Marshall in 1965. Later he also became a councilman and then police patrolman. There is as a street in Ranchview Estates  named after West. R. L. "Bob" Parker was appointed Chief of Police in 1963. The first traffic code/ordinance was passed on June 4, 1968. This allowed Elmendorf police officers to enforce Elmendorf traffic laws, as well as state laws. Elmendorf never had its own fire department, but it established the first contract with the Harmony Fire Department in 1973. The next mayor that was elected was Ferdinand Wahne in 1974.