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Texas Independence Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Gonzales


Gonzales County Courthouse

FIRST SHOT FIRED

The legacy of Gonzales is a long and rich one, placing its narrative among a list of premier historical watermarks in the evolution of Texas statehood. On October 2, 1835, the first shot in the Texas Revolution exploded here from a six-pound cannon. The cannon, a gift of the Mexican Government to the Gonzales community for defense against local Comanche and Tonkawa tribes, became the symbol of a battle that would spell the end of Mexican rule in Texas’ march toward freedom and statehood. The Battle of Gonzales, with its “Come and Take It” motto, was the first real revolt by the community’s American colonists against the ruling government, reflecting the overwhelming sentiments across the future state of Texas. Today, Gonzales offers a far friendlier atmosphere, surrounded by icons of the state’s epic past.  The Historical homes and buildings comprise much of this Texas Main Street city where a total of seven public squares surround the courthouse, a Romanesque Revival design completed in 1886 and restored in 1997. Museums including the Old Jail Museum, housed in an 1887 Italianate jail designed by architect Eugene T. Heiner, provide a compelling overview of the Gonzales legacy. What is believed to be the infamous cannon is part of the permanent collection of the Gonzales Memorial Museum. Special events include the Come and Take It Celebration, a three-day festival featuring live music, a parade, square dancing, chili cookoff, and re-enactments.


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See the cannon that started the Texas war for independence at the Gonzales Memorial Museum, a 1936 Centennial museum commemorating local men who fought in that first battle of the Texas Revolution and later at the Alamo. Step back in time for a look at early settlement of Gonzales at the restored Eggleston House, an 1848 log structure, and at the Gonzales Pioneer Village Living History Center, a replica village including a house museum, blacksmith shop, church, smokehouse and other structures. Gonzales is a Texas Main Street City, which celebrates its heritage with the summertime Main Street Concert Series; the Star-Spangled Spectacular on the Fourth of July, the Come & Take It Festival in October and the downtown Lighted Parade and Santa’s Market in December. Don’t miss the Winterfest Tour of Historic Homes which recreates an opulent period when banker’s daughters married cattle barons and parents built homes as wedding gifts for their children.

Established in 1825 by empresario Green DeWitt, Gonzales was the westernmost Anglo-American settlement in Texas, located near the confluence of the San Marcos and Guadalupe rivers. On October 2, 1835, Gonzales fired the first shot in the Texas war for independence from Mexico, pushing back Mexican efforts to reclaim a six-pound bronze cannon that once protected the colony from Indian attacks. Five months later, General Sam Houston got word of the fall of the Alamo while in Gonzales. He mobilized an army of volunteers then ordered the burning of the town and precipitated the “Runaway Scrape” to slow down the advancing Mexican Army. On April 21, 1836, Houston’s forces defeated Mexican General Santa Anna at San Jacinto, winning independence for Texas.

The seat of its namesake county, Gonzales began rebuilding in the 1840s. By the 1850s, German and Czech immigrants joined the earlier Anglo-American and Mexican settlers. After the Civil War, cotton and cattle drove the area economy. Local herds combined with other livestock to make the northward trek along the Chisholm Trail.