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 Texas : Central Texas : Trips :

Gonzales: The Trip

(Not the Movie, the Book, or the Video)
Gonzales, Texas

by John Troesser
Gonzales Texas circus Archives

The Gonzales Chamber of Commerce
asks the question:

NOW will you visit Gonzales?

Performers in the Dailey Brother's Circus that used to "Winter" in Gonzales
Photo Courtesy of Gonzales County Records Center

Gonzales is a spacious town in a spacious county in a spacious state. If you are the least agoraphobic, stay home or go to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The layout of Gonzales is in the form of a cross made up by its public squares and municipal property. The entire downtown section goes back to the original Mexican survey of 1832.

The first stop would be to the Chamber of Commerce where they will furnish you with detailed brochures that will insure you don't miss a thing. The Chamber is in the Old Jail, which is next to the Courthouse and across the street from the Fire Station. If you can't find the Courthouse, ask someone, but be prepared to suffer ridicule. The Courthouse just underwent a 3.5 million restoration and shines like a new penny.

Gonzales Hotels > Book Your Hotel Here & Save
Gonzales_weather_vane_-_AFAPG_Ron_George_copy.jpg (11902 bytes)
Courtesy Ron George, AFAPG
The weather vane atop the Fire Station can now serve as a guide to the brand-new, spacious and handicapped accessible public restrooms just below. The vane was once owned by Gonzales County "Cattle Baron" R.A. Houston, who had it made to order in St. Louis and installed on top of his house. Notice the ginko trees just to the left of the restroom doors. This tree with its unique leaf was once food for vegetarian dinosaurs (who in turn were food for carnivorous dinosaurs). The trees have a unique bark as well.
Gonzales scene Cocacola painted sign
Gonzales scenes
Courtesy Rose Epps, AFAPG
(Museum, driving tours, cemeteries, historic home tours, and Christmas Lights). The jail itself is a museum and has a collection of homemade weapons second only to Huntsville

Gonzales Hotels > Book Your Hotel Here & Save
Gonzales_Courthouse_tower_-_AFAPG_Ron_George_copy.jpg (17608 bytes)
Gonzales courthouse tower

Courtesy
Ron George, AFAPG
Gonzales jail bars
Gonzales Jail interior

Courtesy Kathy van Torne, AFAPG

History in a Pecan Shell - The tale of John Wesley Hardin

If you'd rather not think about one of these nasty items being thrust into your ear, look around and you'll see the decree allowing John Wesley Hardin to practice law in
Gonzales.

JWH had broken out of this jail's predecessor when he was young and restless. (The original arrested adolescent.) His practice came about after a 17-year stint in Huntsville where he became unique among his peers by being the first and only gunman to write his autobiography and study law.

Also in this room is a list of offenses Gonzalans found offensive in the old days. These included disposing of mortgage papers, keeping a bawdyhouse, leaving dead horse in road, leaving an open gate, train wrecking and theft of a fish. This is how John Wesley's motto became: "So many rules, so little time!"

Evidently all his practicing was for naught, for he never got good at it and left for El Paso where he was eventually shot. We bring this up only because of a  remark the undertaker made about the recently deceased JWH. Asked about the condition his condition was in, the undertaker replied: "Except for being dead, he looks pretty good." We viewed his death photo at the Gonzales Co. archives, and indeed, this is the case.

Gonzales Hotels > Book Your Hotel Here & Save

Gonzales Texas driving tour - mansionOld postcardGonzales Texas driving tour Greek revival mansionOld postcard
Gonzales Texas magnolia & gable - Susan Roads AFAPCCourtesy 
Susan Roads
AFAPG
Gonzales architectural detail - Pat Brown AFAPCCourtesy 
Pat Brown 
AFAPG

The Gonzales Driving Tour

The Driving Tour begins at the jail and leads you past 82 points of interest, bringing you back to the point of departure.

Beside the brochure, there are signs along the route. This tour includes 50 houses, assorted buildings, churches and memorials. The tour also includes information on the architects and architecture, houses that are thought to be haunted, and sometimes the place of origin. Like Cuero, many of the houses were shipped overland from Indianola, after it's devastating hurricanes. Clara's Deli sells a pamphlet on the hauntings around Gonzales. You'll be relieved but not surprised to learn they are all benign spirits.

While we are on the subject: Gonzales has five cemeteries that we know of. The oldest and most scenic is on College Street just North of the RR Tracks and is a virtual forest of crepe myrtles. See how the vegetation in this neighborhood blends yards together and softens the harshness that is found in so many old (and new) neighborhoods. All other cemeteries and points of interest can be found on the city map found inside the Visitor's and Newcomer's Guide, published by the Chamber and the Gonzales Inquirer.

Gonzales Hotels > Book Your Hotel Here & Save
Gonzales Texas mansion
Old postcard
In addition to the regular driving tour, there is a Holiday Historic Homes Tour on the first weekend of December. This is what you might call an abbreviated tour, listing the jewels in the crown and a good map and Calendar of Events as well. This gives you a chance to see the interiors. 
Gonzales Texas window interior - Pat Brown AFAPC Gonzales Texas B&B interior -Pat Brown AFAPCInteriors

Courtesy 
Pat Brown AFAPG

By the way, for those who like Christmas lights, the entire downtown section of Gonzales is lighted for the month of December.  We've been told it surpasses the display in Marshall. Pick up the new Visitor's and Newcomer's Guide.

Gonzales Hotels > Book Your Hotel Here & Save
Gonzales courthouse with crane
Courtesy of Gonzales County Records Center

The Courthouse Curse

Many years ago, while a condemned prisoner counted his last hours, he announced that from the time of his death, the clock faces would never show the same time. Somehow this was to prove his innocence (having the rope break during the hanging would've been more effective). Being punctual people, the citizens of Gonzales went to great lengths to keep the faces in synchronization. Circle the Courthouse for yourself, but be careful and observe all traffic signals and signs.        TE

Gonzales Trip Part II 

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This page last modified: November 16, 2006