Monday, November 7, 2011

Passport to Texas History: Gonzales

We are filling our passports! Our Passports to Texas History. This year in honor of the 175th anniversary of the Texas Revolution, the Texas Historical Commission has created a treasure hunt of sorts. As you visit each of the seven highlighted historical sites with ties to the Revolution, you can collect a special stamp in your Passport. Once you collect the seven stamps and mail your passport in, the Historical Commission will send you a Commemorative gift.

We spent a weekend in the San Antonio area recently and managed to obtain 4 of our stamps. Two of the locations were new to us. We had previously been to The Alamo and Goliad’s Presidio La Bahia, but Gonzales and The San Antonio Missions were new sites for our family.

This post will share our visit to Gonzales, Texas and the Gonzales Memorial Museum.

Our first stop was the Old Jail Museum and Chamber of Commerce. This is where we were to go to receive our stamp.  This site wasn’t specifically related to the revolution, but acts as a visitor's center for the area. Since we were here, we went ahead and toured the Jail. I can’t say that any of us found it a completely pleasant experience. The general consensus was that it was an uncomfortable, yet fascinating place to visit. The jailer and his family (oh yes, small children included!) lived in the jail with the inmates and the gallows (last used in 1921 – but restored recently) was in plain sight of the majority of the inmates. That would have acted as quite a deterrent, don’t you think?

The Gallows

These cells looked out on the gallows. MT wouldn't go anywhere without me, so he isn't in the picture. It was very quiet, very confining, and very uncomfortable walking through these cells.

Once we toured the jail and learned a little about Gonzales and its role in the revolution we headed to the Gonzales Memorial Museum to see the actual “Come and Take It” cannon. Hmm…What is the “Come and Take It” cannon you ask? Well, we found out and I’d be happy to tell you about it!
It wasn't a very large cannon.
The citizens of Gonzales had a cannon, issued by the Mexican government, intended for their use to protect themselves against hostile forces (i.e. the Comanche and Tonkawa Indians, NOT their own government). In late 1835, the Mexican army sent 6 soldiers to request the return of their cannon. Gonzales residents took the six men captive and refused to relinquish the cannon. They buried the cannon in a peach orchard to protect it from capture.
The "Come and Take It" Cannon and behind and to the right - a replica of the cannon. (we thought that was kinda funny!)
The "Come and Take It" Flag is right below the Texas Flag.

The Mexican army next sent 150 men to reinforce their ‘request’ for the cannon. This time 18 men from Gonzales managed to keep the soldiers from crossing the Guadalupe river long enough for the cannon to be dug up, mounted on cart wheels, and carted across the river in a surprise attack on the encamped soldiers. They attacked, waving a flag they had quickly created – now dubbed the “Come and Take It Flag”. They did not have any cannon balls, but had gathered metal and fired that, killing one soldier and scaring the remaining ones away. This was considered to be the first shot in the Texan Revolution and was fired on October 2nd, 1835.
Kirk giving an impromptu lesson on weaponry in the museum.

WW II era uniforms

The museum contains what is believed to be the actual “Come and Take It” cannon, as well as an amazing collection of weaponry that spans the early 1800’s to World War II.

Due to limited time in Gonzales, we skipped the Pioneer Village and some of the other historic sites. We plan to visit those on another trip.

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1 comment:

Briana said...

I love the come and take it story! We will be in the area when my son graduates from his Air Force training next January, any suggestions for us? We passed through there once before and enjoyed the river walk and the Alamo. Texas has some great history!