Battleship Texas (I & II)
First Flight in Texas
The Six National Flags
Flags of the
The Capitols of Texas
State Fair of Texas
Money of the
Republic of Texas
The Texas Rangers
of the Republic
The Five Missions
of Old San Antonio
The Texas Constitution
U. S. Postage Stamps
About Texas and Texans
The Crash at Crush
in the Early 1900s
Heroes of Texas Fiction
of Texas Trivia
San Antonio's Military Plaza
Military Plaza in San Antonio dates back to the eighteenth century as a military and commercial
center in San Antonio. Long before the Texas Revolution, Spanish troops marched in the plaza. After Statehood,
the site became a popular gathering place for medicine shows, entertainment, flea markets and other town
In 1876 -- about the time that the photograph below was taken -- barbed-wire
salesman John W. Gates rented the Plaza and on it constructed a barbed-wire corral. To demonstrate the
effectiveness of his new product, he filled the corral with Texas longhorn cattle. His highly successful
demonstration resulted in more orders for barbed wire than his company could manufacturer. The event also
marked a major milestone in the eventual fencing of the vast open ranges of the Lone Star state.
Military Plaza served as a commercial center in San Antonio for more than two
centuries. The two-story building at left is the old jail (known as the Bat Cave). A saloon and other businesses can be identified along the upper right. In the left foreground, the town's famous "chili queens" operated "chili tables" to nourish visitors of all social classes.
San Antonio in the nineteenth century is well known for the "Chili Queens"
that sold chili con carne from their chili
stands at the plaza. An authoritative early account is provided in an article published
in the July 1927 issue of Frontier Times Magazine. In the article, San Antonio Commissioner
Frank H. Bushick reminisces about the Chili Queens and their origin at Military Plaza before
they were moved to Market Square in 1887.
According to Bushick, "The chili stand and chili queens are peculiarities, or
unique institutions, of the Alamo City. They started away back there when the Spanish army
camped on the plaza. They were started to feed the soldiers. Every class of people in every
station of life patronized them in the old days. Some were attracted by the novelty of it, some by
the cheapness. A big plate of chili and beans, with a tortilla on the side, cost a dime. A Mexican
bootblack and a silk-hatted tourist would line up and eat side by side, [each] unconscious or
oblivious of the other."
The Chili Queens and their stands became famous well beyond the city limits
of San Antonio, and were known even outside of Texas. According to Bushick, a sign in front of a booth
at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 invited hungry visitors to "The San Antonio Chili Stand."
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