This is the second in a series of articles featuring historic Texas sites that trace the dramatic path to Texas independence.
Gonzales was established in 1825 near the confluence of the San Marcos and Guadalupe Rivers, about 75 miles east of San Antonio.
In 1831, the Mexican government gave Gonzales a cannon to help protect against Indian raids. After tensions with Mexico heated up, the Mexicans asked for the cannon back, but the residents of Gonzales refused to give it up.
The resulting "Come and Take It" battle on October 2, 1835, ended in a retreat by the Mexicans, and marked the beginning of the Texas Revolution. The battle is re-enacted during Come and Take It Days in Gonzales every October.
Historians dispute the fate of the cannon. Some say it was buried and rediscovered near Gonzales 1936, or it was seized by Mexican troops after the Battle of the Alamo.
Visitors to Gonzales can see the Come and Take It Cannon (or a similar cannon from the same era) at the Gonzales Memorial Museum, along with other historical artifacts from the area. The museum, a Texas Centennial memorial, honors the ‘Immortal 32' from Gonzales who died in the Alamo. Located between St. Lawrence and St. Louis streets, the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday.
Just east of the Memorial Museum is the Eggleston House, a dog-trot style cabin with period furniture on display.
The 15-room J. B. Wells House at 823 Mitchell was built in 1885 and features original wallpaper, drapes and furnishings. The Gonzales Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas offers tours of the house on Saturdays.
Stop by the visitor center in the Old Jail Museum at 414 St. Lawrence to learn more about Gonzales and pick up a map for a self-guided walking or driving tour of this historic town. The jail, built in 1887, was designed to hold 200 prisoners under riot conditions and features a dungeon and a replica of the gallows that were last used in 1921.
A large tree known as the Sam Houston Oak marks the spot where General Sam Houston is said to have stopped in Gonzales during the Runaway Scrape. He ordered the burning of the town to keep it out of the hands of the advancing Mexican Army.
Another way to experience the living history of one of the earliest Texas towns is with a visit to the Pioneer Village Living History Center at 2122 St. Joseph Street. The village, which is open Tuesday through Saturday, preserves 10 structures from 19th century Gonzales, including a working broom factory, a two-story house, the Hamon Church, the Knowles-Townsend house, the Baker-Seiler cabin, the Greenwood cabin, a smoke house and blacksmith shop, and the St. Andrew-Street house.
Downtown Gonzales boasts several antiques shops, including Discovery Architectural Antiques. This amazing collection of vintage building materials, antique door and cabinet hardware, period fixtures, doors, windows, and architectural elements fills several buildings downtown.
Lake Wood Recreation Area, on the shores of Lake Wood about 5 miles west of Gonzales, has a scenic campground. Other nearby attractions include Palmetto State Park and the nearby barbeque meccas of Lockhart and Luling.
Getting There: Drive time from central Austin is about one hour and 15 minutes. Take U.S. 183 South toward Lockhart and continue to Gonzales.
Learn more at www.gonzalestexas.com/visitor-information
Travel the Texas Independence Trail: San Felipe