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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Received this wonderful honor 5/8/99...A BIG Goliad, TX "thank you"!
Received 5/9/99 - Thank you so much Sue! What a bright light you are in my life!