Harlandale: From farmland to thriving community

Known for its ‘small town’ feel, area once fought annexation

SAN ANTONIOThis story is part of the Know My Neighborhood: Harlandale-McCollum series.

“Like a small town... within the big town San Antonio.”

That’s how Kat Herrera, the spokeswoman for the Harlandale-McCollum Neighborhood Association, described the community of Harlandale.

But decades ago, Harlandale wanted to be its own town.

The headline of a San Antonio Express-News article dating back to 1930 read, “Charges hurled in battle to make a city of suburb,” and stated that three factions at Harlandale — “independents, do-nothings and annexationists” — were fighting over being taken into the growing the city of San Antonio.


1930. “Three Factions at Harlandale in District War.” San Antonio Express. July 20. (pp. 1A-2A) (San Antonio Express News via San Antonio Public Library)

Now in her eighties, Beverly Teel remembers it well.

“I lived it,” said Teel who still lives in the neighborhood where she was born.

She said what had been primarily farmland, was annexed bit by bit, including where her family lived in the 1950s.

“They had to get rid of all the hogs and property and everything,” Teel said.

1940. “City Annexes Harlandale.” San Antonio Express News. April 24. (p. 8A) (San Antonio Express News via San Antonio Public Library)

Later, they would put down new roots by building another home in the area.

“My daughter lives in it now. My mother and grandmother lived there,” Teel said.

Herrera said generational living here is not surprising.

“You can knock on any one of these doors,” she said. “The homeowner has probably been here for about 50-plus years, and their children have taken over and grandchildren have taken over.”

Teel’s longtime neighbor, Janet McClain said a big reason she’s lived there as long as she has, “It’s not really commercialized or anything, but it’s just home.”

Esmeralda Camacho moved into the neighborhood in the early 1980s because she wanted to live near her daughter and her new grandbaby.

However, initially, when she was buying her house, Camacho said the seller was blunt when he told her, “I just want to make sure because this neighborhood’s always been a good neighborhood and I don’t want any trouble for them.”

Camacho said she was taken aback since she was already approved by the bank.

She said being that she was one of the first Hispanics to live on the block, “I think he didn’t want anybody who was of another race unless they were his idea of good people.”

The seller’s attitude soon changed, she said, even offering her advice about the home-buying process, given it was the first home she’d ever bought.

After moving in, Camacho said she felt some of her neighbors seemed suspicious, including her neighbor across the street at the time.

When she walked over to introduce herself, Camacho said the elderly woman asked, “Why are you here?”

Camacho said she’d come to ask if she needed anything.

That simple neighborly gesture did the trick.

Camacho said the woman responded saying, “Oh, I don’t need anything, but sit down here. Let’s talk.”

Not long after Camacho did, Ernesto Cano moved from the West Side to a neighborhood where he said all his neighbors were Anglo. “They were real nice people, all of them. I had no issues with them,” Cano said.

Both said the neighborhood is much more diverse now as the area continues to grow.

However, McClain said what she really misses is more children playing in the neighborhood.

Asked about the neighborhood’s future, McClain said, “I hope it will stick around for a long, long time after we’re gone.”

The hope is that newer residents will feel the same way about the neighborhood as McClain does.

“It’s just home for us,” she said. “We love it.”

About the Authors

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Andrew Wilson is a digital journalist and social media producer at KSAT.

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