Monday, September 02, 2019


Come for a visit with me… One of my favorite places to visit is San Antonio, Texas. But, let’s go to San Antonio in 1871. Many things about the city are similar to today. Others are dramatically different.

San Antonio is famous as the home of the Alamo. I’ve visited it and the other four missions on the Mission Trail several times. The Alamo today is very different than it was in 1836 when it fell to Santa Ana’s troops after thirteen days of fighting.

1839 sketch of the Alamo

What we call the Alamo (which means “cottonwood” in Spanish) is only the chapel. Originally, the Mission San Antonio de Valero was at the corner of a large settlement created in 1718 to Christianize and educate the natives.   The mission later became a fortress and was the scene of many conflicts prior to the siege of 1836. 

Alamo Mission was almost demolished by the city fathers until the Daughters of the Republic of Texas stepped in. They bought the chapel and had it restored. That’s when it acquired its arched roofline. The other grounds of the Alamo had become downtown San Antonio.

After we visit Alamo chapel, let’s continue along Mission Trail to see the other four missions (underlined is what they're called popularly): Nuestra Señora de la Purisima Concepción, San Juan Capistrano, San José y San Miguel de Aguayo (Queen of the Missions), and San Francisco de la Estrada. Each is a traditional Spanish mission yet has something unique about it. My favorite is San José and the beautiful Rose Window. We don’t know if the legend is true but it is romantic.

The famous Rose Window.

Supposedly Don Pedro Huizar within oral tradition is the sculptor of the façade and Rose Window of San José Church. The window was added sometime after 1777 and the mission records identified Huizar as “El Maestro” or master craftsman for his specialized trade. Local legend contends that Huizar trained as a sculptor as a youth in Spain and traveled to the New World to seek his fortune. He is documented as living in the San José community with his wife Maria and two children Josefina and Joseph. Huizar reportedly named the window at church after his lost love Rosa, but Spanish archival documents do not corroborate all (most) aspects of the legend. We never let facts get in the way of a good legend, do we?

Water taxi in front of the
Casa Rio, where we
always eat TexMex. Also
where you can board the taxi.

The headwaters of the San Antonio River begin in… where else, San Antonio. This has now been channelized through the tourist area and is a lovely place to walk or take a water taxi. We stayed in a very nice hotel on the River Walk one year but usually go for some place cheaper. I hope one day to stay in the Menger. Our youngest daughter has stayed there but didn’t see one of the ghosts who supposedly haunt the hotel.

Menger in 1870

The Menger Hotel was built in 1859. William Menger came to San Antonio in the 1840s and he and a partner operated a brewery on Alamo Plaza. He spent two years living at the boarding house run by Clara Maria Baumschluder. After two years, they were married. In 1857, they decided to change to a hotel. They opened the Menger Hotel next door to the brewery on January 31, 1859. It was such a success they immediately added forty more rooms. After the railroad came to San Antonio, the Menger Hotel became the most famous hotel in the Southwest. It’s now operated by the National Historic Trust. This is where the fictional characters in AN AGENT FOR MAGDALA stayed to help capture fictional thieves for the real Maria Menger and her son Louis William after the death of William Menger earlier in the year.

The plaza was the scene of dozens of stalls, carts, and wagons of goods. Browsing through these would have been such fun. They offered everything from food to clothing and home furnishings.

The plaza vendors

Of course, now there is much more to see in San Antonio. The King William historic district of beautiful homes is partially on land formerly owned by Pedro Huizar. Several theme parks offer children and families an exciting time if that’s your thing. Numerous museums attract those who are interested in history and multi-cultural exhibits. There's a lovely downtown shopping mall, a Mercado, and other shops to entice those who love shopping. The trolley takes visitors many places. 

If I sound like an advertisement for tourism, forgive me. I love travel and especially enjoy San Antonio. Even writing this blog post resurrected fond memories of past trips—and a couple of not so fond ones.

For instance, the time Hero was stung on the foot by a red wasp the morning we left on vacation. He is so allergic that by the time we reached San Antonio he had to visit the ER for treatment. He spent most of the trip in the motel room in pain while our daughters and I went touring. Not a fun time for him.

Also, there was the time we stayed in that expensive hotel on the River Walk and there was torrential rain the entire three days we were there. We spent most of the trip in our rooms watching the rain. Worse, we had talked about how nice the place was and had my mother and my younger brother with us. You can imagine their disappointment—and my mom did not suffer quietly. When we left we were the next to last car across the bridge before the National Guard closed the highway due to flooding. Poor Mom never did get to visit San Antonio again. I don't think she wanted to return.

We have been back several times but it’s been years and I’d love to visit again. Anyone up for a trip?

By the way, if you haven’t yet purchased AN AGENT FOR MAGDALA, the Pinkerton Matchmaker Series book 37, you’re missing a fun read. (in my opinion, but supported by excellent 5 star reviews). 

The book is free in KU or $2.99 in Kindle and is also available in paperback. 

The Universal Amazon link is

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