Come and Take It in Gonzales
Gonzales, seat of Gonzales County, is about 60 miles south of Austin on US 183, about 70 miles east of San Antonio on Alt. US 90, and about 150 miles west of Houston on Alt. US 90. For a visitors' packet (includes driving tour and Gonzales, seat of Gonzales County, is about 60 miles south of Austin on US 183, about 70 miles east of San Antonio on Alt. US 90, and about 150 miles west of Houston on Alt. US 90. For a visitors' packet (includes driving tour andhistoric homes brochures) and information on events, lodging, and restaurants, write to the Gonzales Chamber of Commerce, 414 St. Lawrence St.; 830/672-6532 or 888/672-1095. Gonzales' area code is 830; its zip code is 78629. All sites are wheelchair accessible unless otherwise noted.
Courthouse Trade Days, featuring food, music, and commerce, takes place from 9-5 on the last Sat. of Apr., May, and July, and the first Sat. of Dec. Some 50 booths on Courthouse Square and Confederate Square offer arts and crafts and collectibles.
Three annual festivals celebrate the town's heritage. Most activities are wheelchair accessible; call the chamber of commerce for details.
"Come and Take It," the biggest festival, is held the first weekend in Oct. (Oct. 6-8, 2000). The 3-day event includes a parade, a carnival, food booths, 2 street dances, musical entertainment, tournaments (softball, volleyball, horseshoes, washers, and bridge), and a historical program. The highlight of the weekend, the reenactment of the famous first shot of the Texas Revolution, takes place on Sat. at Gonzales Pioneer Village (see column 3). Admission: Free, except for street dances ($7 per person) and events at Gonzales Pioneer Village.
Springfest, held the last weekend in Apr. (Apr. 28-29, 2001), features a Historic Homes Tour, a historical program, Courthouse Trade Days (see above), and a Dutch Oven Cookoff at Gonzales Pioneer Village. Admission: Free, except for homes tours ($3 per home) and events at Gonzales Pioneer Village ($5, $3 ages 6-8, free age 5 and younger; includes sampling of cookoff dishes).
Winterfest begins on the Sat. after Thanksgiving and continues through Dec. (Nov. 25-Dec. 31, 2000). On the beginning Sat., Gonzales Pioneer Village holds its Fall Festival and offers demonstrations of frontier skills such as broom-making, butter-churning, and quilting. The Historic Homes Tour, held the first weekend in Dec. (Dec. 2-3, 2000), is a candlelight tour, with homes displaying period Christmas decorations. Other events include a Texas history authors' presentation and Courthouse Trade Days, both on the first Sat. in Dec. (Dec. 2, 2000). Throughout Winterfest, celebrants can drive the city's Trail of Lights. Admission: Free, except for events at Gonzales Pioneer Village (see column 3) and homes tours ($3 per home).
Museums and Historical Sites
Gonzales Memorial Museum, at 414 Smith St., displays the cannon that many believed fired the first shot in the Texas Revolution. Hours: Tue-Sat 10-noon and 1-5, Sun 1-5. Admission: Free; donations accepted. Call 672-6350.
The Old Jail Museum, at 414 St. Lawrence St. (just south of Confederate Square in downtown Gonzales), is in a former jail. A local law enforcement museum and the chamber of commerce office are downstairs. Upstairs, visitors can view the cells in their original condition, as well as a replicated gallows. Hours: Mon-Fri 8-5, Sat 9-4, Sun 1-4. Admission: Free; donations accepted. Not wheelchair accessible. Call 672-6532.
Gonzales Pioneer Village Living History Center, on Bus. US 183, about 1.5 miles north of Courthouse Square, is a collection of restored 19th-Century homes and buildings. Hours: 1–5 p.m. Tue.–Fri. and Sun.; and 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday. Admission: $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 4–12. For more information, call 830/672-2157 or visit www.thepioneervillage.com. Buildings not wheelchair accessible.
The 1843 Braches House, about 8 miles east of Gonzales, is just off Alt. US 90 on CR 361. The Sam Houston Oak is on the grounds. Hours: Open for tours from 2-6 on the last Sat. of Apr., May, and July; the first Sat. and Sun. of Oct.; the first Sat. and Sun. of Dec.; and by appt. (call 800/892-0214 or the chamber of commerce). Admission: $3, $1 age 11 and younger. Not wheelchair accessible.
The J.B. Wells House is at 823 Mitchell St. Hours: Sat 10-12 and 2-4, and by appt. for groups of 10 or more (call 672-3309 to arrange group tours). Admission: $2.50. Not wheelchair accessible.
The reconstructed Eggleston House, on St. Louis St., behind the Gonzales Memorial Museum, is the oldest structure in Gonzales. The 1840s dogtrot cabin was the first home built after the Runaway Scrape. Hours: Same as those at Gonzales Memorial Museum. Admission: Free. Not wheelchair accessible. Call 672-6350.
Civil War buffs can clamber up the earthen remains of Fort Waul (adjacent to Gonzales Pioneer Village), built by the Confederate Army in 1863 as a defense against a Union attack that never came.
Laurel Ridge Antiques, 827 St. Joseph St. Hours: Mon-Sat 10-6, Sun 1-4. Call ahead for wheelchair assistance. Call 672-2484 or 800/951-9518.
Bowden's Antiques, 620 St. Joseph St. Hours: Mon-Tue 9:30-5:30, Thu-Sat 9:30-5:30, Sun 1:30-5:30. Closed Wed. Call 672-7770.
Violet's Treasures, 712 St. Joseph St. Hours: Mon-Sat 9:30-6. Call 672-9744 or 800/933-9744.
Bed and Breakfasts
Palmetto State Park
Named for the dwarf palmetto, a species of palm tree native to the region, Palmetto State Park lies 12 miles north of town on US 183. Visitors can camp, picnic, hike, swim, and fish in the San Marcos River. Write to Park Mgr., Rt. 5, Box 201; 672-3266. For reservations, call Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. at 512/389-8900 (Web site: www.tpwd.state.tx.us.)
While you're in Gonzales, look for Tillie McGill Bright's memoir, A River, a Town, and Memories (1998), and Historic Homes of Gonzales by Paul Frenzel (Reese's Printing, 1999) at the chamber of commerce, as well as at many shops in town. You can order either book ($10 each, plus tax, shipping, and handling) by calling the chamber of commerce.
From the October 2000 issue.