if you will, to imagine yourself traveling from Gonzales to Galveston, in the
middle of July, on a stagecoach that would take at least three days to reach its
destination. The choking dust filling your nostrils, the intense heat, and the
ever-present fear that you might become the victim of a holdup would make for
a very memorable trip, to say the least.
1853, the same year The Gonzales Inquirer newspaper was established, stagecoach
lines were the main mode of travel to other parts of the country. These coaches
only operated on certain days and they also carried the mail. People in Gonzales
were lucky if they received their mail every other day.
to old issues of The Gonzales Inquirer, stagecoaches operated regularly
between Gonzales and various ports of entry on the coast. These included Port
Lavaca, Indianola, and Galveston. The coaches would take passengers back and forth
from these ports to other locations in the interior of the state.
the late 1850s, old issues of the Inquirer contained advertisements from
the Goss & Perry Stage Line. This firm proudly claimed that their stages could
deliver passengers from Austin to Indianola in 48 hours. That was quite an accomplishment
Inquirer reported that, "... stagecoaches left Gonzales every Monday and Thursday
mornings, returning every Thursday and Friday evening. Towns on the route included
La Grange, Columbus, Chappel Hill, Brenham, Washington [Texas], and all connected
with the New Orleans and Galveston steamers."
stands (inns) were located at various points along the routes. Here, passengers
were fed and fresh teams of horses were provided to pull the coaches. Inns, in
the towns, were usually located in a boarding house or a hotel. They provided
modest accommodations, but after hours in the rough riding coach they must have
offered a welcomed respite.
Some of the stage inns were rowdy places - fights were known to happen; their
level of violence probably depended on how many bottles of "who hit John" were
the stage lines hauled the people; the freight lines carried the merchandise.
Information obtained from the old newspapers provides us with somewhat vague accounts
of how supplies were transported in the 1850s. This information does indicate
however, that all freight coming and going out of Gonzales was transported by
freight routes leading from this city to the principal ports on the coast were
well marked. Most of the supplies bound for Gonzales, came up from Indianola and
The old freighters traveled in companies or trains, to maximize their hauling
capabilities and for safety's sake. It must have taken a tough ol' boy to be a
freighter or stagecoach driver in those days! What with the Indians looking to
lift your scalp and bandits more than willing to shoot you and steal your cargo.
reports indicate that the coaches carrying the mail were the most likely targets
for robbers. Many encounters were made with these desperadoes and the good guys
didn't always win.
When the railroad finally came to Gonzales, the stagecoaches and freight carrying
wagon trains passed into history. They had served their purpose well - keeping
this community on the frontier supplied with flour, sugar, coffee, building materials,
guns, and the like - as well as, fancy hats and dresses for the ladies.
bet folks didn't take anything for granted back then. They probably really appreciated
receiving a letter; or finally seeing that new shipment of coffee arrive. I can
only imagine how excited they must have been to greet a loved one, arriving on
the evening stage. Finally here, safe and sound, after days of hard riding and
somehow avoiding the dangers of the trail.
might say that this all sounds like some sort of fictional nonsense from a low-budget
so, but in this town and many others like it in the 1850s, it wasn't a scene from
any movie - it was a fact of life.
Published with author's