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2017-11-23

A brief history ... the Bandera Chamber of Commerce

By Raymond V Carter Research Historian ©2017

As reported in the “Bandera New Era,” on Feb. 8, 1928, a group of business people met in the Cox building (today’s General Store), and took the initial steps to organize a Chamber of Commerce in Bandera. The business people met again, the following week, at the Court House on Wednesday night, Feb. 14, and officially organized the Bandera Chamber of Commerce, adopting a constitution and by-laws and electing officers. Out of the 40 people who attended the meeting, 34 became members. The nine-members of the board of directors were J.M. Hunter, president; A. Meadows, vice-president; I.E. Adamietz, secretary; Frank C. Billings, treasurer; Frank Mansfield; John Langford; Fred Thalmann; C.B. Corley; and M. Boyle. Annual membership dues were set at $3. The membership committee consisted of Frank Billings, E.A. Houghton and Jeff Gray.
The very enthusiastic chamber of commerce met again on the following Monday night and formed nine committees: slogan development, publicity, roads and streets, manufacturing and mercantile interests, city development, advertising, transportation, agriculture and sanitation.
The sanitation committee's job was to find a place outside the city limits to dump tins and rubbish, and to cremate animal carcasses.
The slogan committee's job was to select a slogan for the Bandera Chamber of Commerce. The following Monday night, from a pool of 48 potential slogans, the committee unanimously adopted “Bandera, Switzerland of Texas” as its slogan. Edith North suggested the "Switzerland of Texas" slogan and received a $2.50 prize for her efforts. From time to time, Bandera has been known also as the “Dude Ranch Capital of the World” and, more recently, as the “Cowboy Capital of the World.”
On March 10, 1928, the Bandera Chamber of Commerce purchased a used fire truck from the Kerrville Fire Department and shortly afterwards formed the Bandera Volunteer Fire Department.
Two months earlier, the South Texas Public Service Company had submitted a franchise application to the Bandera County Commissioners Court to construct and maintain a power line from Boerne to Bandera. When the topic of street lighting came up at the Feb. 27 meeting, the Court referred the matter to the chamber committee to investigate and make a recommendation. 1928 seemed to be a good year for Bandera and Bandera County. Medina built a new schoolhouse (its cornerstone laid on Armistice Day). There was extensive oil and gas exploration in the southwestern part of the county. At least 23 homes were remodeled or built during 1928, and there was a lot of other new construction, including Henry Kalka’s store, Mrs. Hamilton’s store, Frank Billings’ tourist cottages, Sunday school rooms at the Baptist Church, Calvin Callahan’s feed store, Lenzie Maass’s barber shop, Tom North’s filling station and the B. F. Langford & Son undertaker's parlor. No one can say that, in 1928, Bandera didn't have the foundation to grow and prosper. The chamber of commerce was a prime example of a "Let's go!" spirit within the community.
And then came The Great Depression.