The area around today’s Comanche Trace Ranch has long been used for ranching. Early settlers raised cattle here and then diversified their herds to include sheep and goats. This diversification didn’t face fierce competition, as it did in other ranching areas: in the late 1880s, the great local banker Charles Schreiner required such diversification of those who requested loans from his bank.
In years which proved difficult for cattle – from times of drought, or fluctuations in the cattle markets – those same years often proved profitable for those who raised sheep and goats. The old Rock Barn on the property has seen a variety of livestock: hogs, sheep, goats, and cattle.
So the “Ranch” part of Comanche Trace Ranch harkens back to the time when this property was part of a working ranch.
The “Trace” part of the name comes from still-visible evidence of a trail that leads through the property. Though the trail has been associated with the Comanche, it actually precedes the arrival of the Comanche in our area.
People have moved along the same routes through the hill country for many thousands of years. Bandera Pass, to the south, was first mapped by Spanish explorers centuries ago, but even then, the path through the pass was already an ancient one.
Archeological sites, especially near the southern entrance to the Pass, indicate men have traveled through there for literally hundreds of generations.
Oddly enough, the earliest European explorers followed the same trails; these trails were later used by American and European settlers to our area; and with the arrival of the automobile, many of those ancient trails were paved into roadways. When we travel from Bandera to Kerrville we are traveling very near the same trails used for millennia.
So that takes care of the “Trace” in Comanche Trace Ranch. Lastly, the Comanche.
The Comanche were a very warlike people. Of course, we think of the struggles between the Comanche and the earliest settlers to our region, since many of those stories were recorded in books, but the facts say the Comanche fought with any other group – they’d been waging war against other Native American tribes long before the first settlers arrived here.
The earliest settler in Kerrville, Joshua Brown, had trouble with Comanche when he first arrived; in fact, he and his band of shingle makers had to abandon their first camp. Their second camp was built on a high bluff, near what is today the 800 block of Water Street in downtown Kerrville. The advantage of this second location: it overlooked the trail used by the Comanche. It was probably these earliest settlers who named the trail the Comanche Trace.
The ranch itself got the name from Robert Shelton, who used the Comanche Trace Ranch as the headquarters for his various ranches. He chose the name not only for the trail that crosses nearby but also because of the amazing horsemanship of the Comanche people; the first purpose of Comanche Trace Ranch was to raise and train horses.
That’s the story of the name – a colorful name for a historic place.