Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
As a public service, public health stories are free to Central Texans during the coronavirus crisis. Please support our local journalists by subscribing today. Call 512-392-2458.

Answers to Go with Susan Smith

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Q. Can you help me with some background on Riley’s Tavern in Hunter? How old is it?

A. The Texas State Historical Association’s “The New Handbook of Texas” is a six-volume reference work on the history of all things Texas. The print version was published in 1996. There is also an online edition. “The Handbook” includes this entry on Riley’s Tavern.

“Located at 8894 FM 1102 in Hunter, Texas, the nightclub, Riley’s Tavern, is in a structure built in the mid-1800s that at one time housed the Galloway Saloon.

“Situated near a railroad stop on the Missouri-Pacific line approximately halfway between San Antonio and Austin, it quickly became a convenient and popular watering hole for local cattle ranchers and cotton farmers as well as for train passengers and crews.

“On Sept. 19, 1933, a local 17-year-old resident named James Curtis Riley opened Riley’s Tavern. In the wake of Prohibition, this became the first establishment in Texas to obtain a drinking license.

“Its strategic location on Highway No. 2 (the Austin-San Antonio Post Road) and just inside the Comal County line catered to travelers and thirsty residents in the region, as neighboring Hays County was a dry county. Riley welcomed a diverse range of customers of different races and ethnicities.”

“J. C. Riley owned and managed the tavern until 1991 when he became too ill to run the business and sold it to Rick Wilson, who added a beer garden and began offering live music seven nights a week.

“In 1992 Riley died and was buried two miles from the tavern. By 2005 owner Joel Hofmann continued to offer live music throughout the week, and Riley’s Tavern remained a very popular gathering place for locals and tourists alike.

“In 2008, Riley’s celebrated its 75 anniversary and remained the longest-running establishment to continually maintain a beer license.”

This “New Handbook of Texas” article was written by Shaun Stalzer and Laurie E. Jasinski.

Sometimes, I just find too many great sources for one Sunday’s column. Next week, this column will feature quotes from Susan Hansen’s June 21, 1987 San Marcos Daily Record interview of J.C. Riley.


Each week hundreds of people call or visit the San Marcos Public Library to find information. “Answers To Go” highlights recently received questions. Please visit the library at 625 E. Hopkins St., call 512-393-8200 for information over the phone or e-mail us through our webpage at

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666