Deep in the Heart of Texas, Part One

by Kathryn Patterson

On a recent trip through Texas for teaching and sightseeing, I got to meet lots of new friends and visit with many long-time ones. Our first stop was San Antonio. The Menger Bar is located in the Menger Hotel a few blocks from the Alamo. It looks like an English Pub with dark-paneled walls. If those walls could talk you would hear some amazing history. It was established in 1859.

The bar was used as a base to attract recruits for President Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders. There are even 2 bullet holes in the walls of the bar. Best of all, it is still in business today.

Of coures, you can’t make a trip to San Antonio without going to the Alamo. We only had one day in San Antonio, wished we would have had more time…there was so much to see. We did take the time to go on a river boat ride; that was informative and enjoyable. When in San Antonio we stayed with my cousin Patrick, his wife Jill, and their 3 children Padraic, Conall, and Caelinn. It was so good to see them!

After San Antonio, it was on to Gonzales, Texas. How did we get to Gonzales, TX???? A quilt shop of course, the only problem being that the quilt shop had closed. We made our way over to the county jail that was also the visitors' center, thinking the quilt shop might have moved.

When we walked into the jail there was a tour just starting. The tour guide said that were welcome to join that tour or come back later when there were not so many people. She was in the process of giving the tour to a group of school children.

Who should be coming into the jail right behind us but Leon. Leon asked, “Would you like a tour of Gonzales?" Not knowing anything about the town we said sure. Leon drove us around for about two hours telling us the history of his town….you could tell how proud he is of Gonzales. There are over 70 homes built before 1916. He told us that Gonzales was the start of the Chisholm Trail thus the home to many cattle barons. Leon was a true delight!!!

If you would like to view the houses and buildings of Gonzales, log on to, place the cursor on “tours”, and left click on “Historic Tour Overview”.

The old jail in the background of the photo above was built in 1887, it cost $21,600.20 to build, and it was used until 1975.

Gonzales is also the home of the “Come and Take It” cannon. According to Leon, Gonzales was once part of Mexico, and the settlers were having problems with the Indians raiding their town. Mexico gave the town a cannon to scare off the Indians. When war between Mexico and Texas started the Mexican government sent word to Gonzales for them to return the cannon. The response from Gonzales was “Come and Take It”. They buried the cannon so when the Mexican government came for it they were not able to find it….and the cannon stayed in Gonzales.

There was a pretty Dresden Plate signature quilt on display in the Gonzales Museum. I could not find a date, but it looks like it was made in the 1930s.

I also found the original documentation of one of the earliest Ruffling Attachments for Sewing Machines at the museum in Gonzales. It was displayed in a shadow box. I apologize for the glare off of the glass. I tried various angles but always got some glare.

It is hard to read, but the attachment was patented on July 8, 1884 by Eugene G. Lauraine. Eugene was from Cuero, Texas, just 30 miles south of Gonzales. The patent number is 301,502.

Thanks for reading, and please check back again soon for more of my adventures in the heart of Texas, including a great quilting class!



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