Both Max and Minnie were born on the countryside dotted with dairy farms known as Buttermilk Hill. The Voelcker Farm which is now a part of Phil Hardberger Park, was the last whole parcel of farmland left in San Antonio. With determination, the couple vigilantly held onto their land even as the pressures of urban encroachment through highways and developments increased. Max and Minnie lived on this German farmstead until their deaths in 1980 and 2000, respectively.
Seizing the opportunity to save such a large portion of historically important land and century-old trees, Mayor Phil Hardberger urged the city to purchase part of theVoelcker land. In 2007, an overwhelming majority of San Antonians voted for a bond issue to purchase the landscape and dedicate it as a parkland for future generations.
The Voelcker homestead, dairy barn and an old stone house believed to date back to the time of the Alamo, are still being preserved within the land of Hardberger Park. The dairy barn was restored in October of 2012 and the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy plans to restore the homestead’s foundation in the near future.
Historical Remnants in the Park
Cultural resources were found in or near Hardberger Park during a survey of the North Salado Greenway Belt and a survey for Wurzbach Parkway. These resources include prehistoric archaeological sites and a prehistoric quarry containing lithic material. The Louis Voelcker Dairy Farm was recorded as an archaeological site in August of 2007 by the Texas Archaelogical Society and the City of San Antonio’s Historic Preservation Office. It is labeled as such because of its mid to late nineteenth century German farming heritage. A full survey of the park is needed to identify possible archaeological and historic resources within this area.
A more complete history of dairy farms in the South Texas region and the Voelcker Dairy Farm in particular, can be found in Gayle Brennan Spencer’s book, “Last Farm Standing on Buttermilk Hill: Voelcker Roots Run Deep in Hardberger Park.”