Helotes was incorporated as a city
in 1981; however, the town has been on Texas maps since the nineteenth century. The term elotes, a Nahuatl/Spanish word that means corn on
the cob, has been used since the early 1700s, when it was mentioned in a Spanish report to the governor of the region. The
report described the area where Apaches scalped a Spaniard who had been looking for stray horses. Lipan Apaches, Tonkawas,
and Comanches camped in the Helotes hills. The Apaches grew corn along the fertile banks of Helotes Creek before the
Comanches' frequent raids made such agricultural activities impossible.
Settled in the 1850s by European
and Latin immigrants primarily from Germany and Mexico, Helotes has a long history as an identifiable town. After the
establishment of the Helotes Post Office in 1873, Helotes was put on county maps. German immigrant Carl Mueller and
his wife Amalie ran the post office and the Helotes Stagecoach Inn. The old Mueller homestead is now a private residence.
The pioneer whose land encompassed what is now Old Town Helotes was Scottish immigrant and surgeon Dr. George
F. Marnoch, who built a two-story limestone house on Scenic Loop Road in 1859. After his death, his son Gabriel, a renowned
naturalist, inherited the Marnoch homestead (which still stands today and is a privately-owned residence) and married a local
girl, Carmel Treviño. Marnoch heirs sold a portion of the family land that became downtown Helotes to Swiss American
Arnold Gugger. Gugger, in 1881, built a two-story limestone home (now the Helotes Bicycle Shop) for his bride Amalia
"Mollie" Benke. He also built a General Store and a blacksmith shop. These were the first downtown buildings.
Twenty miles from downtown San Antonio, Helotes remained a farming community for decades and was a frequent site of
cattle drives between San Antonio and Bandera in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As the 20th century commenced,
new downtown landowner Bert Hileman added a dance hall and boarding house. In the 1920s, James and Kate Riggs purchased
the downtown property from Hileman and added a grocery store and a gas station/garage.
In 1942, John T.
Floore leased James Riggs' Red and White Grocery Store. In 1946, Floore purchased property in downtown Helotes and opened
his own "country store," a music venue that became the world-renowned John T. Floore County Store, today a Texas
Historic Landmark listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.
In early May 1966, the first
Helotes Cornyval was held in downtown Helotes. The spring festival was so popular it became an annual event and much of its
proceeds were donated to local nonprofits. It is now held over a four-day period the first weekend in May at the Helotes Festival
Association Cornyval Grounds on Leslie Road. The event brings an average of 30,000 people to Helotes over the long weekend.
The festival includes a parade, carnival, rodeo, dances, and lots of food, including plenty of roasted corn on the cob.
Helotes remained primarily rural until the late 20th century, when the sale of farmland to developers created a housing
boom. Along with the population growth came a new school. In 1998, Sandra Day O'Connor High School opened in Helotes.
According to the 2010 census, Helotes has a population of 7300 residents.
Despite its growing population,
Helotes retains a unique small town appeal. Renowned as much for its citizens' independent spirits, as for its lush
hill county landscape, Helotes is the quintessential Texas town.