Permanent fixtures representing the spirit of a community, statues serve as every day, artistic reminders of events, people and places. Both San Marcos and Texas State have several commemorative statues in traffic-heavy areas, but not everyone is familiar with the stories behind these works of art.
One of the most well-known fixtures on campus, “Fighting Stallions” stands 17 feet tall on The Quad’s west end. The statue was gifted to Texas State in 1951 by noted sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington and her husband Archer, both from South Carolina. In addition to marking the campus’ designated free speech zone, the horses serve as a talisman of sorts for students. Bobcats can often be seen rubbing the metal horses for good luck before major exams.
Dedicated by the Leadership of San Marcos Class of 2007, the city’s statue depicts Tonkawa tribe leader Chief Placido. The statue sits proudly on a pink granite base placed in a prominent spot at the city park adjacent to the San Marcos River. The Tonkawa Native Americans lived in what is now San Marcos prior to the arrival of Anglo settlers in the 1840s. Chief Placido and his Tonkawa warriors were allies to the settlers and fought alongside them during the Mexican-American war and against their common adversary, the Comanche. “We decided that this would be a good way to thank the Tonkawa people,” said Rodney Van Oudekerke, historic preservation commission chair.
Donated by Bill and Sally Wittliff and dedicated in April 2013, the “Vaquero” statue is located on the Texas State campus in the Old Main Plaza. This bronze masterpiece stands over 18 feet tall. Sculpted by Clete Shields, the statue was inspired by Wittliff’s photographs capturing scenes of the last traditional roundups on the vast Rancho Tule in northern Mexico. The bronze vaquero stands by his saddle wearing chaps and holding his quirt. Scenes of vaqueros working and living in the chaparral are sculpted in relief on three sides of the pedestal with the words “vaqueros always, since the beginning, inscribed on the front,” said Michele Miller, Witliff media relations and publications specialist.
Hay County’s namesake, John Coffee “Jack” Hays, was a Texas Ranger hailed as a brilliant leader and fearless fighter during the Mexican-American War, known by the name “Devil Jack” to his friends and foes alike. After his years as a soldier, Hays went on to pioneer trails through the Southwest to California and was eventually elected sheriff of San Francisco County. The sculpture was created by artist Jason Scull and stands on the Hays County Courthouse Square in downtown San Marcos.
Statue of Justice
Located on top of the Hays County Historic Courthouse, the Statue of Justice stands. Like the figures found on many courthouses throughout the world, the statue is of Lady Justice, an allegorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems. Lady Justice wears a blindfold to indicate that justice should be given out objectively without favor. She holds a scale to measure the strengths of a case’s support and opposition and a double-edged sword that divides with the power of reason and justice in either direction.