Vacation Part I: History and Humidity

Squeezing in a vacation was really difficult this year with Heath’s work and several medical appointments and Katy’s summer school and college visits. We were overdue to visit my parents in Victoria and usually we take a couple of weeks and drive. This year with the shortage of time, we decided to fly and I figure we’ve seen everything between here and South Texas, anyway. And then with a hurricane headed toward Louisiana it really seemed like a good idea to miss that.

We left Sunday with no issues and flew into Houston. We made the traditional stop at Buc-ees but it was crowded and we were tired so we just got our barbecue sandwiches for dinner and left.

Katy stayed at my parents’ house and Heath and I got a hotel room. Monday morning Daddy got Katy up to go to coffee with the guys at Ramsey’s then spent the morning running errands with him. I told Katy that’s what my childhood was like — going to the hardware store, the lumberyard, the office, where ever he needed to go.

One thing I always have to do when we go to Victoria is eat at Jim’s Big Burger. They opened in 1979 and we’ve been eating there ever since. They were fast-casual before it was a thing. They don’t cook your food until you order it and then it’s too hot to eat right off. I always get the steak finger basket. Those don’t seem to exist in Georgia.

Jim’s has expanded and remodeled several times over the year and they stay busy all day long. Everyone goes to Jim’s.

Come and Take It

Usually people say “come and get it” but this wasn’t an invitation, this was a challenge — “come and take it”. I don’t think Heath gave Texas history much thought before I came along. He knew about the Alamo, everyone remembers “Remember the Alamo”. The expression originally was “Remember Goliad, Remember the Alamo”. But before Goliad, there was Gonzales. Heath learned about the “Come and Take It” canon and has been interested in that. So, I thought we should head to Gonzales and check it out. It’s about a two-hour drive from Victoria. So that was Tuesday’s adventure. Lots of walking in the heat and humidity.

It was a really pretty drive. Lots of farm and ranch land.

Lots of cows.

The flag of Gonzalez and the first flag of the Texas Revolution. I’m going to get back to this, just bear with me.

We had no idea where we were going but “Historic Downtown” is always a good place to start. We found a place to park and walked into the first building we saw that I thought might be the museum. Turns out it was the courthouse, but being the historic courthouse  might as well be a museum.

The deputy stationed inside told us we were welcome to look around, to pay attention to the carvings on the stairs and to look at the courtroom. So we did.

As we were looking around I noticed the County Clerk’s office was in an old safe, complete with the original door. There was a deputy nearby and I jokingly asked if they ever locked the clerk in there. He said actually if there is ever a big emergency the plan is to lock the judge in there. He better be on good terms with the person who knows how to open it! (Later that week we toured the old Victoria county courthouse and I asked someone who was showing us some interesting things, including their old safe, if they ever locked the judge in the safe. He asked the secretary “can we do that?”.)

Roof access, I guess. That’s some staircase, though.

The original courtroom with a little nod to modern times (the big TV screens).

The basement wasn’t finished until very recently. Look how short the doorways are! The deputy said if there’s ever a storm, that’s where he wants to be. The whole building is brick over concrete.

One of the big things to do in Gonzalez is the old jail. That’s what I was looking for and it turns out it’s right next door to the old courthouse. Imagine that. It was in use from 1887-1974.

The jail behind all the trees.

We walked in and were just kind of standing there when a lady came and asked if we wanted to take her tour. Sure. She said they get people from all over the world and then they’ll come back and bring their friends. Every day is different. It was really interesting.

Heath, Katy and the tour guide. The cells were open during the day and they could hang out in the middle. The jail was built before welding was invented so all of the metal was fused with heat, borax and a hammer.

Don’t mind the gallows in the corner. They did indoor hangings. This is a replica.

I asked how they got graffiti so high up. They dragged their beds out of the cells and piled them up.

Another time the piled up the beds on the other end and managed to poke a hole in the ceiling. I don’t know if anyone actually escaped or not.

There was the sheriff’s office, living quarters for the jailer and his wife and family, which some of them had, a floor for “women and lunatics” and a dungeon. We closed Heath in the dungeon for 10 seconds. It’s not underground but it’s pitch black and stifling hot.

This is Heath in the dungeon with the door open.

So that’s it for law and order. Back to the canon.

So in 1831, Green DeWitt who was the impresario of Gonzalez asked the Mexican government for a canon to protect them from the “hostile natives”. They were given one and things were fine until 1835 when Mexico decided they wanted it back. By the time the Mexican soldiers got there to retrieve it, two ladies in the town had already sewn a flag with a canon and the words “come and take it” and it was flying when the soldiers got there. Shots were fired, prisoners were taken and that started the Texas Revolution.

No one imagined they would win against Mexico so they burned the town and all the women and children headed to the US border at Louisiana in what is known as The Runaway Scrape. (There is an excellent book about this called True Women and the TV mini-series was good, too.) This lasted for months, with many people from Goliad and the surrounding area headed for the border, too. The residents of Gonzales returned to what was left of the town they themselves burned down. Well, if they hadn’t the Mexicans would have.

And here we have it ….

… the little canon that started the big war. I really thought it would be much bigger. It was actually lost for about a hundred years and it’s no wonder. The carriage is a replica.

There were lots of other interesting things in the museum. This dress belonged to Sarah Jo DeWitt, wife of the guy who asked for the canon in the first place. The big piece of material is the train. I can’t imagine how much that thing weighed.

 

I wondered if these people might be related to us.

A little girl started it in 1824, lost interest I’m betting, and her daughter finished it 112 years later. That sounds like some of the projects in our family.

We made one more stop. This house was built in 1845 and is supposed to be the first house built in Gonzales after the war. It was built by Horace and Sarah Ann Eggleston in 1845. She was 15 years old and seven months pregnant when she joined the Runaway Scrape and he stayed to fight the war.  He was in his 30s.

This is called a “dog run house”. One end was a bedroom (and they eventually had five kids) and one end was the kitchen and living area.

Welcome to Goliad

It had been suggested that we also visit Goliad as there is lots of history there. That was the Mexican Army’s next stop after Gonzales. And apparently it was ours , too. We hadn’t planned to go to both Gonzales and Goliad  as they are in different directions from Victoria but we weren’t paying close attention and ended up on Alternate 77 instead of just 77, which would have shot us straight into Victoria, and the next thing we knew, all the signs were pointing to Goliad. Well, as long as we’re here …

We saw Goliad State Park and Historic Site and were going to go there but but we saw the signs for the Fannin Memorial just down and across the street and decided to stop there. James Fannin was in charge of Presidio La Bahia, a fort built to protect the area. Apparently it wasn’t much of a fort,  Fannin and all of his men were murdered, some inside the fort and some outside. Fannin was the last to be executed. He said he wanted his personal things sent to his family, to be shot in the heart, not the face, and to have a Christian burial. They shot him in the face, burned his body and stole his things. Some of the soldiers’ bodies were burned, others just left where they fell, so what remains could be found were later buried in this field.

It has the names off all the dead engraved into the wall.

Between the memorial and the presidio was this statue of a woman.

Her name was Francita Alivez and was called The Angel of Goliad. She was Mexican and she helped many of the Texas POWs escape at great risk to her own life, as you can imagine.

One of the memorial bricks. Pretty neat that her descendants know who they are and where they came from.

We wanted to look at the presidio and decided to drive over. Heat and humidity remember? We passed by this little building and pulled up to look at the sign. Katy must read faster than us because she squealed “it’s the Cinco de Mayo guy”.

And it is. Ignacio Zaragoza was the general who led the Mexican army, such as it was, against the far more powerful French army at the Battle of Pueblo. I’m sure he’d be glad to know his birthplace celebrates his victory — even if they don’t remember his name and think it’s Mexican Independence — by drinking margaritas and eating nachos. I had no idea he was born in what is now Texas. Actually, I never thought about it.

We parked and got out to look at the presidio. The last entry was 4:30 and naturally we got there at 4:45. Should have gone there before looking at the memorial! It was neat looking at the outside, though. It’s owned by the Catholic Diocese of Victoria. You can go in the chapel and there’s a museum and gift shop, as well.

We stopped to look at the nine flags that flew over Goliad and we noticed the Spanish flag was not the one pictured on the informational sign and was not the Spanish flag you generally see associated with the Six Flags over Texas.

The Spanish flag is on the far right. See what I mean? While we were wandering around a lady came out to take the flags down and we asked her. She said the mission got a new director recently and he said this flag is the one Spain would have flown at the time. It’s too much money to fix the sign. I had no idea Texas had two other flags beside the Lone Star flag, either.

We didn’t make it to the state part, it was getting late. We’ll have to go to Goliad on purpose some day and really see everything. We got on the right highway in the right direction and went back to Victoria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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