Sunday, November 23, 2008

Comfortable in Comfort

We're in Comfort Texas which is a small town about 35 miles NE of San Antonio, the historical section of town is all antique shops and restaurants. It's in the southern part of the "Hill County" and has some really beautiful drives in the area, one of the drives we took was to Luckenbach. I guess Willie Nelson wrote a song about this place after a friend of his bought a old wooden building here and converted it into a dance hall bar and grill, since then people especially bikers come out here on the week end to toss back a few cold ones. To find it you take a little road out of Fredericksburg about ten miles and you see a street sign, Luckenbach Loop Rd, drive back about a 1/4 mile and you go past the old building, a bunch of outhouses and a dirt parking lot for about 10,000 bikes, continue 1/4 of a mile and you're back on the highway, that's it.

A little closer to home we found the TreĆ¼e der Union, German for "Loyalty to the Union", Monument, this to honor the men killed in the Nueces Massacre August 10th 1862. All of this area was settled by German immigrants, early in 1862 with Texas succeeding, the Confederacy started a draft to build of the fighting forces. Most of the Hill Country counties had voted against secession and were loyal to the Union, because of this Confederate authorities declared this area under martial law. Sixty-one of the German-Texans decided to flee to Mexico where they could wait to join up with the Union forces, at the banks of the Nueces River they were overtaken by Texas Confederate cavalrymen, 34 of the German-Texans were killed in the battle and more were executed after being taken prisoner.

The families of the dead were not allowed to go bury their dead until after the war ended, they then went and collected what remains they could find and brought them back to comfort were they were interned in a mass grave and the Treue der Union Monument was erected. This is the oldest Civil War Monument in Texas and the only one (outside of National Cemeteries) dedicated to the Union sympathizers in any of the Confederate States.

In 1991 an act of Congress granted permission to fly a period US flag at half-staff in perpetuity.

HARPERS WEEKLY New York, January 20, 1866 Funeral of German Patriots at Comfort, Texas August 20, 1865
The procession of three hundred people, headed by the fathers
of four of the victims, old men of sixty and seventy years,
preceded the funeral car drawn by four white horses. Under the
Union banner lay the remains. A detachment of Federal troops
accompanied the cortege. At the grave, E. Degener, father of two
victims, pronounced an oration which brought tears of grief to the
eyes of the mourners. He concluded thus:
"The sacrifice that we, the fathers of the slaughtered, made to
our country and to liberty, is great and dolorous. We shall,
however, console ourselves; we shall be proud of having offered
our sons to the Union, if the glorious victory of its arms bear all
the fruits that the nation and the whole of humanity justly expect
to reap."
The Federal troops fired a salute over the grave. The little
remote site where they rest must be to the nation as sacred as
those places where thousands are deposited. Small in number, far
away from the patriotic heart and the strong arm of the loyal
North, surrounded by fierce enemies of the Union, those brave
and devoted Germans offered their lives.

When you enter Fredericksburg from the east one of the first things you see is Fort Martin Scott, the fort was built in 1849 to protect the settlers from the Indians, the settlers of Fredericksburg had already negotiated a treaty with the Comanche's in 1847 so there was very little for the soldiers to do.
As the frontier continued to move west there was soon very little need for the fort and it was closed in 1853.
Originally there were about 22 buildings at the fort, today their is one original building and four reproductions with more in the planning, the original building is the stone jail.

About 20 miles out of comfort through the winding hills is Camp Verde, it was established as a military outpost of Fort Mason in 1855 to protect settlers from the dangers of frequent Indian attacks.
In 1856 forty camels were sent to Camp Verde by the Secretary of War, to be used in for overland communications, this earned the camp the nickname of "Little Egypt". Disney made a movie about this. The general store is still in the same location, it has been rebuilt and enlarged from the original, during the days of Camp Verde it was only open one day a month, Pay day, now it's happy to take your money seven days a week.

Fredericksburg is home to the Museum of the Pacific War, its original name was the Admiral Nimitz Museum, OK I asked the same thing why would there be a Navy Museum out in the middle of Texas. Well this is where he was born and raised, his family owned the local hotel and set aside a room to display items from his career. They gathered so much stuff that it was turned into the National Museum of the Pacific War,right now the hotel houses the Admiral Nimitz Museum and covers his life and career. Out the back door and down the block and you enter the Museum of the Pacific War which is in the George Bush Building (the dad), after that it's through the Plaza of the Presidents, the Veterans Walk of Honor, the Japanese garden and down two blocks to the Pacific War zone. Here they have one of probably only six original PT boats that saw action in the Pacific on display, the PT 309, also a field hospital, beachhead for re-enactments and a large variety of heavy equipment. Right now they have 34,000 sq ft and they are adding another 40,000 to it. We were here for the better part of four hours and your ticket is good for a second visit with the stub.
For more information:

Another thing about this area is that there are a lot of caves where the Mexican Bats spend there summers, on private property just outside of town there is a Hygieostatic Bat Roost constructed in 1918 in an attempt to keep down the mosquito population and prevent disease's. This thing is about 50 feet tall and originally housed about 10,000 bats, right now in it's run down condition it only has about 1000 residents, the BCI is in the process of rebuilding it.

OK, it's time to head into the traffic of San Antonio to visit the Botanical Gardens, once again the way the roads are designed here it almost forces you to drive with your head up your A**. I've found that if you just get in the right lane, drive a decent speed and ignore all the hand signals the drivers passing you are giving it's a breeze, for some reason everybody in this town thinks that Cathy is number One.
They have a very nice garden here, a lot of different flowers in bloom and quite a few things that we've never seen before, it gets a little confusing with all the trails and paths but with my trusty map I only got us lost 2 or 3 times. It's about 30 acres and we spent about 3 hours wandering around it on a beautiful sunny 80 degree day.

This Aloe plant is about 8 feet tall.

Remember you can't spell Texas without LBJ, well I guess you can and now that I look at it this doesn't make a damn bit of sense, but every place we've been in Texas has been LBJ country.

Our first LBJ stop in this area was his boyhood home in Johnson City, of course,the visitors center has two movies one on him and the other on Lady Bird. This is the home he grew up in and where he attend school, funny thing happened while we were here, the Ranger was on the front porch telling us the history of the home when a tour bus pulled up in front of the house and stopped, 30 people scrambled off the bus ran up to the sidewalk took a picture then ran back onto the bus and then it was gone. Total time of their stop was maybe two minutes, nothing longer, reminded me of the movie National Lampoon Vacation when they make a 30 second stop to see the Grand Canyon. After this we walked around the Johnson Settlement and farm until lunch, good thing Cathy spotted a little rundown looking place near by that ended up having some really fantastic food. It was to late and we were too stuffed to tour the other half of the LBJ National Park, so we'll do that tomorrow.

Tomorrow here, and we're off to visit the LBJ Ranch and Texas White House. Located about 8 miles from his boyhood home is the ranch, this park is in two parts, south of the Pedernales River is State Park and north of the river is Nation Park. Up until August of this year you had to buy a ticket and board a tour buss at the State Park and they would take you to the ranch and drive you through making stops at points of interest, but the LBJ Centennial started in August and they did away with the bus and you drive your own car around stopping where you want. They loan you a CD that you play as you drive around and it explains everything to you. The ranch contains the school he attended, the house he was born in with the original bed and bedspread, his aunt and uncles house, the corrals, barns and of course the Texas White House. This is the first year that you are allowed to tour the house since up until Lady Birds death she was still living here. Also the family cemetery is here and is were the President and Lady Bird are buried. The really cool thing is that his ancestors settled this area and founded the town and it has been Johnson land, controlled and lived on until the National Park service took it over.
One story about our visit, as usual Cathy and I were the youngest ones there, as we were touring the grounds of the house an old guy, probably 12-15 years older then us, got lost form his party and started wondering around with us. As we were getting ready to enter the house and tour the Presidents Office the Ranger stopped us and insisted that we remember that this office was used in the 60's and everything is just as it was then, she asked us to all just close our eyes for a minute and get in the time machine that would take us back to the 60's and to keep thinking that we were back in the 60's. Then she said OK lets enter the house, as we were waiting on the sidewalk the old guy was next to Cathy and saying to himself ,we're in the 60's, we're in the 60's, we're in the 60's. As soon as we started to walk he elbowed Cathy in the side and ask, "Hey you got an extra joint", made our day.
After we returned the CD we spent about an hour walking around a Living History Farm there then called it a long, long day.

LBJ had two matching Lincolns which he drove very fast on the ranch, if he busted an axle or something else he would call the Secret Service on the radio and tell them "bring me the other Lincoln and a tow truck"

This is the dam in front of the house and also the main driveway into the ranch, in the one movie, they film him driving down onto the dam and it looks like he's driving right into the water.

Lunch Time for the little one.

Notice the LBJ brand on the horns.

Family Cemetery

LBJ's & Lady Birds Graves, for some reason they don't have a stone on hers yet, so they mark it with fresh wildflowers.

Hope everybody enjoys Thanksgiving and has a safe holiday, Cathy and I are giving thanks to the fact that she did have an extra joint.

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