Wilson County is located to the south and east of San Antonio, and was established in 1860 from elements of Bexar and Karnes counties. It is named for James Charles Wilson, who was born in Yorkshire, England, and immigrated to Texas following the Texas War for Independence. Wilson was a participant in the disastrous Meir Expedition, but managed to escape. He served several terms as a state legislator, as a local official – and was also ordained as a Methodist Minister.
In the 1820s lands were granted to the Menchaca and Hernandez families; they and other early settlers established ranches; Anglo, German and Polish settlers began arriving in the 1840s.
The county seat is Floresville – the historic courthouse was designed by San Antonio architect Alfred Giles, in 1884. The old county jail, designed by James Reily Gordon in 1887, now serves as the Jailhouse Museum. Both of these architects were noted for their courthouse designs throughout the state of Texas. A small monument by the courthouse – in the shape of a peanut commemorates Joe T. Sheehy, who introduced peanut farming to the area early in the 20th century.
Always held on the second full weekend in October, the Peanut Festival is a grand celebration to recognize the importance of the peanut to the Southwest Texas agriculture in Floresville.
Significant towns in Wilson County include La Vernia, which holds a yearly cattle drive through town, Poth, Stockdale, which has celebrated an annual Watermelon Jubilee ever since 1937, Sandy Hills (which boasts their very own local outlaw, Bob Rowley) and the now near-vanished original county seat of Sutherland Springs.
Well-known and prominent citizens of Wilson County include three members of the Connally family: former governor John, former Secretary of the Navy and US Treasury secretary Wayne, and actor Merrill. Texas Ranger Frank Hamer – who broke up an infamous murder-for-money ring, and led the hunt for Bonnie and Clyde – was born in Fairview, Wilson County.
Jackson Nature Park is a 50 acre park owned by Wilson County and managed by the San Antonio River Authority. Located at CR 401 at Cibolo Creek, between Floresville and Stockdale. Pedestrians only. Stay on designated trails. Use caution: native plants and animals can bite, cut or sting.
The Helton-San Antonio River Nature Park is a 98-acre park. Located outside the community of Calveras on FM 775 between the San Antonio River and CR 128. (Opens 2011, Under Development)
Cycle Ranch Motocross Park is one of the five best dirt-bike tracks in the Nation. Facilities include a 1.7 mile national track, junior beginner track and pee wee track. There is a large pavillion to watch the races, visit the race vendors or buy food. Camping facilities include primitive wooded areas and great restroom facilities with hot showers.
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