Duderstadt family donates family bible to Jail Museum


The Gonzales County Jail Museum on Friday, May 26, added a new item to its exhibits that has ties to a historic outlaw.

The museum will open a special exhibit of outlaw-turned-attorney John Wesley Hardin. Museum Director Sandra Wolff said even though Hardin was never held in this particular jail, he did open a law practice in Gonzales and defended people incarcerated in the jail.

Wolff said this story is an example of other stories, especially “young men who grew up and catered to their manhood after the Civil War.”

“John Wesley saw firsthand some of the things that the authorities that were put in place to tell the southerners they lost the war. There was some violence and I think it really affected him and he began to hate the authorities that were here. And so, that kind of led to what we all commonly say his outlaw career,” Wolff said.

Wolff pointed out that there are two sides of Hardin’s history — one being his good friends who took care of his two children.

Those good friends would be Fred and Henrietta Duderstadt, who took care of Hardin’s wife and three children while he was serving in prison.

When Hardin’s wife passed away, the Duderstadt family would adopt the three children as their own.

Wolff said during that time, there were always some good people around to take care of other people, especially children and wives who had no way to make a living.

Jump to the present: the Duderstadt family took part in the ceremony to tell both sides of Hardin’s history and the placement of their lost and found family bible.

The bible went missing for many years and was discovered in 2015. Janell Duderstadt, great-great-great daughter of Fred and Henrietta, said she received a Facebook message with a picture of the bible with her great-great-great grandparents’ names on it.

The bible was returned to the family and is now on display at the jail museum.