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Many folks come to Texas each year on vacation and, of course, the main sites of attraction are Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande Valley.  Sadly, these people don't realize there is a whole 'nuther part of Texas that is being overlooked.  This is in reference to some of the small, sleepy towns in Texas that are steeped in history and beautiful architecture.  So, without further adieu, "Welcome to Goliad".

Goliad is one of the three oldest towns in Texas with a population of 1949.  Its geographical location is approximately 90 miles southeast of San Antonio and 80 miles north of Corpus Christi.   State Hwy 59 runs through Goliad.

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This is the Presidio La Bahia which is considered the world's finest example of a Spanish frontier fort.  This fort is the most fought over fort in Texas history, having seen participation in six National Revolutions/Wars for Independence.  This fort is where Goliad's history began.   When the Spanish arrived here in 1749, they found evidence of an Indian village in the area they named Santa Dorotea.  As a permanent settlement by Spain began, the named was changed to La Bahia meaning 'The Bay'.  The Spaniards used the fort as protection.  This became the original Goliad, the name being changed in 1829 as an anagram for Hidalgo.  It was named in honor of the patriot priest of the Mexican Revolution, Father Miguel Hidalgo, who sounded the famous "Grito de Delores" in 1810 for Mexican Independence from Spain.  Ironically, Goliad became the second largest populated settlement in Spanish Texas.

Despite appearances this is a fort and not a mission.  A chapel was erected inside the fort for use by the soldiers and Spanish settlers living in and around the town of La Bahia.  The name of the chapel is "Our Lady of Loreto" and is the oldest building in the compound and has been in continuous use since the 1700's.  It has the proud distinction of being one of the oldest churches in America and is one of the only buildings in existence that has its original "groin vaulted ceiling" in place.   The beautiful fresco at the back of the altar was done in 1946 by the "Michelangelo of South Texas", Corpus Christi artist Antonio Garcia.  In the niche above the chapel entrance is the statue of Our Lady of Loreto made by Lincoln Borglum, of Mt. Rushmore fame.  One of its historical backgrounds is being the place where the First Declaration of Texas Independence was signed on December 20, 1835.   While other buildings in the Presidio fell into neglect and disrepair, the chapel was still used as a place of worship.  Over the years, through the loving devotion of the local residents, the chapel has continued to be a place of worship.

The Presidio La Bahia is open daily.  For information:  Presidio La Bahia, P.O. Box 57, Goliad, TX 77963 or call 361-645-3752.

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This is the Mission Espiritu Santo.  This beautiful mission was founded in 1722 near Matagorda Bay to serve the Karankawa Indians.  It was moved in 1749 to the north bank of the San Antonio River.   In the mid-18th century, the Franciscan Order and Indian converts operated a large cattle ranch and the buildings were used for educational purposes from 1847 to 1862.   It is now located in the Goliad State Park and is open for visitors.

One of the darkest days in Texas history is referred to as the Goliad Massacre which took place on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836.  Col. James Walker Fannin of the Texas independence movement was quartered at Goliad in February 1836 with some 500 troops.  Facing almost certain death at the Alamo, Lt. Col. William Barret Travis pleaded for support.  Fannin  set out to join the besieged Alamo garrison but encountered travel difficulties and turned his troops around.  On March 19, approximately two weeks after the Alamo fell, he and his men left for the coast.  En route they encountered and fought Mexican troops at the Battle of Coleto for a day and then surrendered.  They were returned as captives to the Presidio in Goliad and on March 27 under orders of the "Napoleon of the West", General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna ordered their execution.  The bodies were stripped and left unburied.  General Thomas Rusk and his army gathered the remains and gave them a complete military funeral on Friday, June 3, 1836.  This occurred shortly after independence was won at San Jacinto---by Texans whose battle cry was "Remember the Alamo!  Remember Goliad".  There is a huge monument about two miles south of Goliad on U.S. Hwy 183 where the remains were buried in a mass grave.

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There is just so much history to Goliad that I can't begin to cover it all so I'm going to briefly tell you a little about the Goliad of today.  This is the Goliad County Courthouse.  The Second Empire style courthouse was designed by noted Texas architect Alfred Giles and was completed in 1894.  Limestone was used in the construction and was hauled from Austin by oxcart.  It was enlarged and restored in 1964 and is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark.  As with many small towns, the courthouse is located in the center of town surrounded by 19th and early 20th century structures.  The streets of Goliad just amaze me because the town is full of huge Oak trees and the streets are built around these trees!  You definitely have to watch where you're going to avoid hitting one of these beautiful trees but this, to me, is one of the many things that makes Goliad so unique.

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My apologies for making this picture so large but making it any smaller just didn't do justice to the beauty of this mighty Oak.  This tree (along with many, many more) is located on the courthouse lawn and is known as "The Hanging Tree".  Court was held under this tree during the 1857 Cart War and the guilty were promptly hanged!  I wonder if this where the term "Don't Mess With Texas" came from??

Please click here for more local information as to Bed 'n Breakfast Inn's, RV parks and so forth.  I hope you have enjoyed this little bit of history of a small town in Texas and I guarantee you one thing...if you decide to come to Goliad for a visit, you'll be greeted by the warmest and friendliest people you could ever want to meet.

Credit is given to Dorothy Simmons for the photography of the missions and the courthouse.

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Received this wonderful honor 5/8/99...A BIG Goliad, TX "thank you"!


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Received 5/9/99 - Thank you so much Sue! What a bright light you are in my life!


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