Gonzales Texas is the kind of small Texas town you have to want to go to since it is not really on any of the major highways in Texas. That is exactly what happened in Oct 1835 when troops of the Mexican Army came to Gonzales, demanding the town cannon, resulting in the first shots fired in the Texas revolution.
Gonzales Texas is 74 miles East of San Antonio, 66 miles South of Austin and 136 miles West of Houston, making it an easy day trip or just spend the weekend and enjoy everything this historic small Texas town has to offer.
So how did this tiny town play such an important part in history? In 1831, back when Texas was part of Mexico, the Mexican authorities gave the town settlers a cannon to protect them from Comanche raids. During the next four years the political climate deteriorated and Texans were seeking independence. The commander of Mexican troops in Texas decided it wasn’t wise to let the settlers have a cannon so he set out to take it back.
Well, the settlers weren’t very accommodating and stalled the troops long enough for messengers to get reinforcements from nearby communities and the settlers attacked the Mexican troops. After a couple of hours of fighting the Mexican troops withdrew and gave up. This became known as the Battle of Gonzales and the first shot in the Texas Revolution. During the battle the settlers raised a homemade flag with a picture of the cannon and the words “Come and Take It”.
Today across from the Gonzales County Courthouse is Texas Hero’s Square which honors the men who fought and proudly flying is a huge “Come and Take It” flag.
Memorials and Museums
The Gonzales Memorial Museum commemorates the “Immortal 32”, 32 volunteers from Gonzales that died at the Battle of The Alamo, which is the most remembered battle in the Texas Revolution. The museum is a great little museum that has artifacts from early Texas history and the Texas Revolution including the actual “Come and Take It” cannon, which was buried and lost for several years. The cannon that caused all the commotion only weighs about 60lbs and before the battle it was mainly used to scare of people since it made quite a noise.
Located next to the courthouse is the Gonzales County Jail Museum. The jail was built in 1887 and in use until 1975. It features rebuilt gallows, original cells, sheriff’s and jailer’s quarters. The Sheriff and his family along with the jailer actually lived in the jail building with the holding cells downstairs and the jail cells on the 2nd and 3rd floors.
Over the years the jail housed a few notorious outlaws including infamous Texas outlaw John Wesley Hardin. Hardin killed multiple men, was arrested, escaped, imprisoned and later pardoned, when he then became a lawyer. Hardin died after being killed in El Paso Texas and is buried in the Concordia Cemetery there.
Living History and Memorabilia
Visit the Pioneer Village Living History Center for a view of early Gonzales life. They have a collection of 1800s and early 1900s era houses and buildings from Gonzales County. You can take the family to Palmetto State Park where they have swimming, canoeing, hiking and more for everyone to enjoy. There are also RV and campground sites. There is also Independence Park, located on the banks of the Guadalupe River. The park has covered pavilions, sports fields, a swimming pool and RV park.
In 1955 when Elvis Presley was in the early stages of his career, he came to town to perform a concert with famed country western singer Johnny Horton and others. In the afternoon before the concert Elvis spent time relaxing in the lobby of the Alcalde Hotel in downtown Gonzales before driving his Pink Cadillac to the concert. The Alcalde, built in 1926, has been completely refurbished and guests can stay in style including the Elvis Room adorned with memorabilia.
The town also has a lot of old historic homes, antique shops and great little boutique stores located near the center of town. During the year there are several events take place in town including the Main Street Downtown Concert every Friday night in June. During the first weekend in October the town holds the annual “Come and Take It” event where there are food booths, historic demonstrations and a battle reenactment.
Article written by Destination Expert Bob Bales of The Traveling Fool
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