Empresario Green DeWitt received permission from the Mexican government to establish a colony of 400 families in Texas. He selected a site near the junction of the Guadalupe and San Marcos Rivers for the colony's capital city and named it after Don Rafael Gonzales, the governor of Coahuila-Texas. It was the first Anglo-American settlement west of the Colorado River.
On July 4, all citizens except one were away from the settlement. Indians attacked, burning cabins and killing the man who had remained.; Fearing more raids, the settlers did not return for several months.
Settlers returned and established the community closer to the Guadalupe River. They built a small fort to provide protection from the Indians.
DeWitt asked the Mexican government for a small cannon for protection against the Indians. His request was granted.
The survey of the town was completed. It established two avenues and an "inner town" with forty‑nine square blocks including seven public squares. The original city charter reserved the avenues and squares for public use only, a restriction that remains in force today.
Due to continued unrest among the settlers, the Mexican government sent five soldiers to retrieve the cannon. The settlers bravely refused the request. This angered the Mexicans and on September 29, 1835 they returned with 100 dragoons to retrieve the tiny cannon. Only eighteen men, known as "The Old Eighteen", were in Gonzales at the time and again refused to surrender the cannon. Over the next two days, while men gathered from the surrounding area, Sarah DeWitt and her daughter created the "Come-&-Take-It" flag. During the night of October 1, 1835, 168 men forded the river and on the morning of October 2, 1835, the first shot for Texas independence was fired.
With the battle of the Alamo a certainty, Travis sent out a desperate call for reinforcements. The only men to answer that call were the "Immortal Thirty-two" who departed Gonzales February 29, 1836. They, along with nine other Gonzales men, died in the Alamo. Alamo survivor Susanna Dickenson, wife of Almaron Dickenson who died in the Alamo, returned to Gonzales bringing General Sam Houston the news that all Alamo; defenders had perished. Houston ordered Gonzales burned and started his now famous retreat to San Jacinto. His first encampment during the retreat was under the Sam Houston Oak located at the Braches House ten miles southeast of Gonzales.
Texas was granted statehood.
Civil War erupted. Many Gonzales men fought and died for the Confederacy.
Cattle barons and cotton kings reigned, driving the economy and producing huge fortunes. The many magnificent homes reflect Gonzales' turn-of-the-century lifestyle and prominence.