Our great grandfathers, Antonio and Joseph Bolner, immigrated from Tyrol, Italy to Vera Cruz, Mexico in 1881. The brothers came to the Americas as part of an appeal made from President Diaz of Mexico to Italy looking for farmers to tend their hill country. The citizens of Mexico did not appreciate the immigrants working their lands and violence broke out. The Italian immigrants were quickly released from their contracts. Our great grandfathers decided to try their luck in Texas. Antonio Bolner and his wife, Orsola Eccell Bolner, settled in Del Rio Texas while Joe Bolner and his wife, Orsola’s sister, Mary Eccell Bolner, settled in San Antonio, Texas. Both brothers farmed the land and raised large families.
Antonio Bolner and his wife, Orsola, settled in Del Rio, Texas on land south of the city known today as “Bolner Lane.” Their land was acquired from a man named “Perry.” Antonio was a successful farmer and he and Orsola raised eight children. One of their daughters, Mary Bolner, married John Joseph Qualia in 1909. The Qualia’s were also of Italian decent and started the Val Verde Winery in 1883. Today there are many living descendents still in the Del Rio and San Antonio area.
Joe and Mary settled outside of San Antonio near Mission Espada. Joe brought his produce to the San Antonio market and eventually opened a general store in 1909. In 1914, he and Mary built Bolner’s Market on the corner of S. Flores and W. Mitchell where it is still located today. Mary and Joe raised their eight children upstairs. The oldest son, Frank Bolner, opened a similar grocery store in the growing downtown San Antonio area, while the daughters and younger sons continued to work at the original location. In the 1930’s, Bolner’s expanded creating a Meat Market. Grandparents, parents and children shared the work in the store. When grandson, Clifton Bolner, graduated from Texas A&M University he sold his father’s portion of the store and started the Bolner’s Fiesta Brand Spice and Peanut company. Soon grandson, Anthony J. “Bobby” Bolner, graduated from Texas A&M and bought out his Uncle Dave to take over the Meat Market and then his brother, Richard Bolner, graduated from St. Mary’s University and bought into the family business.
In the 1970’s Anthony C. Bolner, Joe and Mary’s youngest child, together with his sons, Bobby and Richard, expanded the operations to include a wholesale meat company. Great grandchildren, Blanca, Anthony, Janette, Lynn, Brian, Dawn and Valerie Bolner worked in the store while growing up and many returned after college to help build the business. Bobby’s daughter, Lynn Bolner Bingham established a Deli and started a Catering operation when the grocery business changed in the mid 1980’s. In 2009 Bolner’s Market celebrates its 95th anniversary. Restoration of both the exterior and interior of the store was lovingly undertaken by Richard Bolner, his son Brian, and Brian’s wife Traci who own and operate the family market today. The historic building is recognized as a San Antonio Landmark by the City of San Antonio Historic Preservation Office. Thank you Blanca Bolner Bird and other family members who contributed to the Bolner Family History.