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2017-08-10

GWCTA tours museums in SA

By Rebecca Norton, Director, Frontier Times Museum

GWCTA chairman Ray Carter welcomed student guests Aryanna Hernandez, Tyler Elkins and Emmaree Distefano to the GWCTA conference. “Our entire purpose is to pass this great history on to them,” Carter said. The 8th-graders will attend Hal Peterson Middle School this fall.


Three great San Antonio museums, four hours to go, no problem! The Great Western Cattle Trail Association National Convention in Bandera ended on high note Sunday when a group of attendees boarded a charter bus and headed to San Antonio for the day. The tour capped off a successful 4-day convention hosted by the South Texas Great Western Cattle Trail Association. It was most fitting the convention’s planning committee, led by President Ray Carter, organized the tour to San Antonio, the city known as the Gateway to the West.
The tour began downtown at the Briscoe Western Art Museum. Opened in 2013, the museum is located in a building that once served as the San Antonio Public Library and the old Hertzberg Circus Museum. Today, the Briscoe houses an excellent collection of western art and artifacts. The group was able to see such treasures as a sword that belonged to Santa Anna, a presentation saddle given to Pancho Villa, and a heavily embroidered saddle used by a Spanish Viceroy in the 1500s.
After a quick drive by the Alamo, lunch was eaten at the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum. Started in 1881 by Albert Friedrich, the Buckhorn was a popular place with cowboys who could trade deer antlers for free shot of whisky. Albert’s wife, Emile, later upped the ante by offering a shot of whisky in exchange for rattlesnake rattlers. Emile used the rattlers to make signs and elaborate pictures.
Albert’s father, Wenzel, used the antlers and later the horns from longhorn cattle from the San Antonio Stockyards to make furniture. Both Wenzel’s horn furniture and Emile’s rattlesnake artwork are on display in the museum along with an assortment of taxidermy mounts and a reproduction of the car Bonnie and Clyde were killed in, complete with bullet holes. An exhibit on Texas Rangers also proved to be a big hit with the group.
Last stop – the Witte Museum’s South Texas Heritage Center. The modern 2-story building incorporates the historic Pioneer Hall which once housed the Trail Drivers Association exhibit and collection. The current Trail Drivers exhibit displays photographs of cowboys who drove cattle, and an interactive kiosk contains information about each of the trail driver. Saddles, spurs and branding irons tracing the transformation of the vaquero into the American cowboy were just a few highlights for the group.
Frontier Times Museum Executive Director Rebecca Norton served as tour guide, providing the group with history of each museum, along with “behind the scene stories.”
Roy Dugosh, Bandera County Historical Chairman, was able to add to the stories of the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum since he once worked on the museum when it was located at the old Lone Star Brewery south of downtown.
Among the attendees were Stuart Rosebrook, senior editor for True West magazine. Mr. Rosebrook attended the conference and was the closing speaker Friday night. The convention and the tour gave Mr. Rosebrook the opportunity to see Bandera and Texas in all our cowboy glory.