Historic Gonzales

We drove through Historic Gonzales, Texas when we visited Shiner and Yoakum recently, and we quickly spotted a few ghost signs as we went through the center of town. Steve and I also saw other sights that caught our attention, so we’ve returned to learn more about this “Come and Take It” town.

We decided to camp our RV at a Boondockers Welcome location about 20 miles from Gonzales, near Luling, Texas.

These RV sites are free to camp your self-contained RV at and a great way to meet interesting, RV-minded people at the same time. We have had several outstanding experiences, just in the brief time we have been members of this program. We were able to leave our RV at our boondockers site and drive our Jeep into Gonzales, worry-free, to visit the sights the town has to offer.

Gonzales is where the first shot of the Texas Revolution was fired. Gonzales is sometimes referred to as the Lexington of Texas which is where the first shot of the American Revolution was fired. The Runaway Scrape, when settlers began to flee from this area, had it’s beginning in Gonzales.

The only men to go to the aide of the besieged Alamo, the Immortal 32, were from, you guessed it, Gonzales. This city keeps its unique history alive today with its historical museum, monuments, and historic homes.

Gonzales Memorial Museum

414 Smith Street
Gonzales, TX 78629
Mon – Fri 8 am – 12 pm / 1 pm – 5 pm
Sat 1 pm – 5 pm

I understand the purpose of creating this museum was to memorialize the “Immortal 32.” It is chock full of terribly interesting historical items, uniforms, examples of women’s clothing, photographs, and many pieces from original settlers in Gonzales. Large murals are displayed on the walls that show Texas’ history.

All types of weaponry from Gonzales’ early history are on display here, but the most famous weapon is the “Come and Take It” cannon. I was quite amazed to see how small the cannon is. It is a six-pound caliber and is, just guessing, probably a couple of feet long.

Historic Gonzales

As you approach the front door to the museum, the first thing you notice is the reflecting pool in front of the building flanked on either side by lines of flags. The museum, which is free of charge, has two separate wings. A large amphitheater is directly behind the museum. It is a small museum but, in my opinion, well worth a visit.

Historic Gonzales

So what is the “Come and Take It” cannon, and what is the “Immortal 32?”

“Come and Take It” cannon.

Historic Gonzales

If your Texas history knowledge is a little rusty, the “Come and Take It” story goes like this. In 1831 the Mexican government provided a six-pound cannon to the settlers in what was the first American settlement west of the Colorado River, now known as Gonzales.

The cannon was to be used as a defense against Comanche and Tonkawa Indian raids. Meanwhile, the settlers became unhappy with Mexican rule and settlers began to consider a revolution. The Mexican government learned of this possibility and demanded the cannon’s return.

The settlers replied, “Come and Take It.” The Mexicans failed in their attempt to do that, and on October 2, 1835, when the Texicans fired the cannon, the Texas Revolution began. Gonzales has often been referred to as the Lexington of Texas for this reason.

Each year in October, Gonzales holds a “Come and Take It” festival. Unfortunately, the event was canceled this year.

The “Immortal 32”

Historic Gonzales

A group of 32 Texican Militia from the Gonzales Ranging Company was the only unit to respond to William B. Travis’ To the People of Texas & All Americans of the World open letter asking for reinforcements and supplies at the Alamo when it was under attack by Santa Ana. Travis was the commander of the Texican forces at the Battle of the Alamo, where all Texicans were killed.

Texas history is pretty fascinating to me, and I understand it just may not be your thing. However, if you would like to read about this particular bit of Texas history in more detail, take a look at The Runaway Scrape by John Goodson.

Eggleston House

228 St. George St.
Gonzales, TX 78629

This dog-run style cabin was built around 1845, later donated to the City of Gonzales and moved to its current location. It was called a dog-run house because it consisted of two rooms with an open porch connecting the two rooms. The dogs, necessary for protection, slept in this free space.

When the home was moved, it required disassembling and reassembling it at its new location because of its condition and weight. The pieces of lumber were numbered before proceeding, so it would be easier reassemble correctly. Period furniture is on display in these rooms.

Santa Ana Mound

GPS Coordinates: 33.7378 -117.8755.

Historic Gonzales

This is where Santa Ana and the Mexican soldiers waited for the Gonzales cannon to be returned to them. A marker is in place along Highway 183 South on the west side past the bridge. The actual mound is about one-quarter mile from the marker’s location.

We took the brief walk up the trail to view the site of the camp’s clearing in September and October 1835. When the Texicans refused to return the cannon, the Mexican army began a retreat toward Bexar, Texas but was overtaken by the Texicans, who were victorious in winning the battle of Gonzales, the initial military engagement of the Texas Revolution.

Palmetto State Park

78 Park Road 11 South
Gonzales, TX 78629-5180

This is one of the smaller state parks, but it is beautifully landscaped and looks just a bit prehistoric. The park’s namesake, palmetto, can be seen throughout the park. This park has RV sites, tent camping sites, great hiking trails, a lovely playground for children, and is situated next to the San Marcos River.

You can rent kayaks or paddleboards, try your hand at fishing or just have a picnic at this unexpectedly tropical and lush park.

Gonzales County Jail Museum

414 St. Lawrence St.
Jan-Feb, Thurs-Sat 10:30 am – 3:30 pm.
Mar-Dec, Tues-Sat 10:30 am – 3:30 pm.

Historic Gonzales

Well, this 1885 jail building was quite remarkable! The building operated as the county jail until 1975, and now the entire building is a museum. The sheriff’s offices are on the main floor as well as Gonzales’ Visitors’ Center and gift shop. The jail and gallows apparatus are on the upper floors.

Carol was the guide that accompanied us upstairs to see the cells. She knew so much about the jail’s history and shared good stories from Gonzales’ past, including a ghost story. It isn’t often you have the opportunity to walk around in a jailhouse of this size.

Seeing and standing in the various cells impressed on me the horror of being locked behind bars! The jail had no air conditioning and was surely stifling most of the year.

There are different cells for different offense categories, including an isolation cell.

There is a hole in the third-floor ceiling that was used by prisoners as an escape route. The prisoners would stack metal beds to act as scaffolding and then climb through the hole.

Historic Gonzales

Something that surprised us was all the prisoners’ graffiti on the walls – everywhere. The scribbling is quite visible today and includes names, dates, and calendar count downs.

Historic Gonzales

The most gruesome and morbid sight on the second floor is the gallows facing six of the cells. The gallows were wheeled to cells where the prisoner would be walked from his cell straight to the gallows!

Carol told us that family members of former prisoners and some of the former prisoners themselves return to this jailhouse to occasionally visit. We were fascinated with this unusual historical museum and recommend a visit when you are in Gonzales.

Ghost signs

Here are a few of the ghost signs we were able to discover in downtown Gonzales. We are now always on the lookout for these painted signs from the past. We learned about the existence of ghost signs when we visited Yoakum and Shiner, Texas.

See my post Adventures in Yoakum and Shiner, Texas for more information. It has become a treasure-hunt for Steve and me to look for these ghost signs in all the towns we visit now.

Laurel Ridge Antiques and Inn

827 N. St. Joseph St.
Gonzales, TX 78629
Mon – Sat 11 am – 6 pm.
Sun 11 am – 4 pm.

Historic Gonzales

What a place this is! This historic home contains many antiques, gift items, artworks, and decorative accessories that you could easily spend hours shopping here. Fortunately, if you exhaust yourself shopping, you can book one of the Inn’s fabulous rooms located on the second floor.

Barbara was kind enough to let us take a peek at the Inn’s rooms. These rooms were so luxurious and inviting. I especially liked the balcony off of the rooms where you can sit with a cup of coffee and watch the world go by. I think it would be great fun to reserve all three of the Inn’s bedrooms, the entire second floor, for a really great girls’ weekend!

We could have easily spent three or four days roaming around Gonzales and will surely return again to make more discoveries. We always try to leave something more to discover on another trip. Gonzales was one of our favorite small Texas towns we have visited so far.

The history is enormous. The people we interacted with had so many stories to tell us and willingly did so. This was a great trip.

2 thoughts on “Historic Gonzales

  1. I learned to sew on a Singer sewing machine EXACTLY like the one shown in the picture of the Gonzalez Memorial Museum. You had to get that foot treadle going just right or the thread would break! I made many doll clothes on that thing.

    1. That’s a pretty amazing story you have there! I know it’s weird when I see things that I actually used, frequently, that are now museum pieces. WE are not that old!

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