"twilight down in the Laredito. Bats fly forth from their roostings in courthouse and tower and circle the quarter"
The Military Plaza at San Antonio showing the courthouse and tower (1857)
Public DomainThe Military Plaza at San Antonio showing the courthouse and tower (1857) - Credit: William H. Emory

The Laredito was an old barrio in San Antonio, located west of San Pedro Creek on the road to Laredo. It was populated primarily by Tejanos (Texans of Mexican descent).

The Courthouse and Jail Building was located on the north-west corner of the Military Plaza in San Antonio. Construction began in 1850 on the two-story building which housed the Marshal and City Jail until the new City Hall was completed in 1892. It became known as the ‘Bat Cave’ on account of the huge number of bats that roosted there.

 

Thousands of bats made their homes between the roof and the whitewashed canvas ceiling of the courthouse. It was necessary, whenever court convened, to drive the bats out by using two long poles and a cross-piece of timber, which was bumped against the canvas ceiling.

(Charles Herff, The Charles Adelbert Herff Reminiscences)