County Seat: Jourdanton * County Population: 42,696
The only Mission Revival courthouse in the Lone Star State was designed by Henry T. Phelps and completed in 1912 in Atascosa County. The building boasts towers, Spanish-styled roofs, and balconies and resembles some of the homes of great South Texas ranchers. The courthouse was rededicated in June 2003 following complete interior and exterior restoration.
Atascosa County was created from the Bexar District in 1856. The first county capitol, Navatasco, was named for Navarro and nearby Atascosa Creek. However, frequent Indian raids forced a move, and Pleasanton became the new county seat.
In 1910, county government was moved yet again, this time to Jourdanton, named for a local land promoter. In her book, “The Texas Courthouse Revisited,” June Rayfield Welch described the new – and final – county seat as follows: “A three-day lot sale and barbecue, combined with low-fare railroad excursion rates, attracted enough buyers to yield a population of 900. The promoters paid $50,000 to the Artesian Belt Railroad to come there.”
The county’s status as the Birthplace of the Cowboy is epitomized by the bronze statue displayed in front of city hall. Atascosa County celebrated the life of the cowboy every August during the annual Cowboy Homecoming in Pleasanton, launched in 1966. The festival includes cook-offs, fiddler contests, and carnivals that pay tribute to the cattle industry.
Those interested in the history of the cowboy should take in the Longhorn Museum, which documents the development of the American cowboy in the area from the 1500s up to the present day. The museum offers Indian and pioneer artifacts, farm and ranch implements, and exhibits centered on Texas Longhorns, wild mustangs, and coal and oil fields.
The Cowboy Homeing is only one of several annual celebrations. The Poteet Strawberry Festival is one of the oldest events in the state and is recognized as the largest agricultural festival in Texas. The 100-acre site, located on Hwy. 16, 20 minutes south of San Antonio includes 14 ares of continuous, family entertainments featuring concerts with nationally known country western and Tejano stars, dancers, gunslingers, clowns, puppets, regional bands, various contest, and rodeo performances.
The third weekend in May finds residents and visitors alike taking part in Jourdanton Days Kactus Kick. Formerly known as Dairy Days, thanks to a history of thriving dairy farms, the Kactus Kick includes a chili-cook off, parade, trail ride, and an arts and crafts fair. The community demonstrates its silly side with the No Talent Show on Friday night, and the Anything Goes Contest Saturday afternoon.
Finally, visitors are regularly drawn to Atascosa County during hunting season in search of some of the largest white-tailed deer in the Lone Star State, along with dove and quail.