Arts & Culture
4:03 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Explore Local History On A Hill Country Magical History Tour

It’s a program created by the Patrick Heath Public Library in Boerne and it’s got a very retro feel. Hearkening back to the Beatles album, it's called the Magical History Tour.

“What we are trying to do is to introduce our patrons, and anyone else who’s interested, to the history of the region," said Heath librarian Robin Stauber. To do so they’ve created these tours, and Stauber said they have gone all over the place.  

“We’ve been to New Braunfels, we’ve been to Bandera, we’ve been to Castroville, we've been into San Antonio to do some things there,” Stauber said.

Tuesday they went to the Cibolo Nature Center’s Herff Farm in Boerne.

Brent Evans with the Cibolo Nature Center tells those on the tour stories about the Herff Farm.

“It was for a time a Civil War prisoner of war camp," he said. "For a time there were Indian uprisings here."

It also was the family farm of Dr. Ferdinand Herff, a German immigrant, surgeon and as Evans explained, a significant South Texan.

“Herff did cataract operations on some of his Lipan Apache friends," Evans said. "It was a farm during the Depression, it was wiped out in the drought in the 50s, and restored today as part of a nature center that is including this farm now as a history and sustainable living education center.”

Herff was a visionary and pragmatist. His water catchment system bears witness to that.

"Dr. Herff, when he was washing the eyes of cataract surgery patients, actually used boiled rainwater,” said Evans.

Herff’s surgery success netted him large area landholdings in surgery-for-land exchanges, and probably saved even his life. Comanches marked his ranch to not be raided.

Evans is quite the storyteller, and he has many, including a tale of the airplane that was built and more or less flew in the Hill Country 40 years before the Wright brothers.