Gonzales, Texas- A town synonymous with Texas history. Originally the capital of DeWitt’s colony, the stories surrounding this legendary Lone Star State location can be found as far back as 1825.
Down in Gonzales, you’ll find a historic stop that is quintessential to any lover of Texas, and it all centers around a cannon. Specifically, the Come and Take It cannon.
“I always liked Texas history and so then, of course, to be right in the Lexington of Texas and Gonzalez, it was right down my alley to be here,” Gary Schurig said.
The director of the Gonzales Memorial Museum has one of the coolest job descriptions you could imagine.
“Hi, I’m Gary,” Gary said. “I’m the guardian of the Come and Take it Cannon.“
Gary Schurig was born in Gonzales, so being a defender of all things Texan comes naturally to this native. He proudly tells the story behind the cannon that helped create a country.
“It’s a small museum so you kind of limited in what you can have in here,” Gary said.
“But you have a gold mine. “
The story behind the cannon starts in 1831 with a request to the Mexican government from Green DeWitt. A cannon was provided for protection against hostile Indian tribes with the stipulation it be returned to authorities upon request. The cannon was more a visual deterrent since it was rigged not to fire, but it didn’t take long to fix that.
“Right here is where they had driven the nail into satch hole so that it wouldn’t shoot,” Gary said. “And, fortunate enough that the blacksmiths was able to repair this area here. ……..So it wouldn’t have done any good to keep his hole. So they were able to put some bushings in there to close up that hole to make it as if it had never been drilled. And in turned it a few degrees and drill another hole in the top. By doing that then they’re able to make a cannon that’s fully functionable to pack the powder in there, and pack whatever you’re going to shoot out of it and set it off right there at the touch hole.” “Yeah. Because there’s no purpose for a cannon to have two separate holes, even if this one was open it wouldn’t function.”
Four years after receiving the cannon, the Mexican government sent their request to return the ordinance.
“In 1835, when there was a rumble of Texas independence, a revolution, Santa Ana sent out word that he wanted the … he wanted all of his guns back into his possession,” Gary said.
In September of 1835, 100 Mexican troops marched on the banks of the Guadalupe river to retrieve said cannon. They were greeted by a group of 18 men and, in that moment, the Texas revolution began.
“They said if you really want this cannon you can come and take it, and they fired it at them,” Gary said.
Referred to as the “Old Eighteen,” it was this small group that started the Battle of Gonzales. Six months later the siege at the Alamo and the Goliad massacre took their toll on Texas. On April 21st, 1836 the Texas Revolution came to end with the Battle of San Jacinto. Texas was independent.
“Naturally if you come here you need to go to Goliad, you need to go to San Antonio to the Alamo, and then you need to go to San Jacinto,” Gary said. “So, this is just the beginning, and if you don’t have that it’s just like reading a book and starting in the middle of the book. You don’t know how you got started or how they got there.”
Seeing the actual cannon that had a role in one of the most well-known stories of the Lone Star State truly gives you chills especially when you consider how it was rediscovered.
“They get out about 20 miles west of town on the Sandies Creek and the wheels on their cart breakdown,” Gary said. “So, between Ben Milam and Almaron Dickinson they decide let’s just bury the cannon, we can always come back and get it. That cannon will stay buried from 1835 until July of 1936 when we have a flood, and it will unearth it. And there are a couple of boys, the story is, that they were out looking for survivors and they ran across what they thought was a piece of pipe in the mud. When they pulled it out actually it was a cannon. “
Eventually, the cannon found its way back home to Gonzales. It now sits just a few miles from the spot that the battle for Texas’s independence began. Being able to see this cannon in person is truly awe inspiring and brings you even closer to roots of our great state, making it well worth a stop on The Texas Bucket List.
“I don’t want to live anywhere else but Texas,” Gary said.