Goliad - Small Town has big place in Texas history

                                      Battleground Goliad

                             Published in the La Vernia News on March 28, 2013

Everyday Journeys

    Harry & Linda Kaye Perez


    Driving the back roads of Texas is always a joy and the 72-mile drive from LaVernia to Goliad, via Yorktown, is no different. What’s in Goliad you ask? Much more than you might think.

     Like a Norman Rockwell painting, Goliad has a beautiful town square anchored by the Goliad County Courthouse, surrounded by unique boutiques, small businesses and restaurants, including the Hanging Tree, Empresario and the Blue Quail Deli, famous for their award-winning jalapeno soup.

    Our main goal on our trek to Goliad was to learn more about the walled bastion known as Presidio La Bahia. Its tumultuous history began in 1747 and involved Spain, Mexico, and the Republic of Texas. By 1804 settlements had sprung up around the Presidio, which provided protection for the settlers and the peaceful Indian tribes from attack by the Apache and Comanche. The Presidio had one of the first schools in Texas. Presidio La Bahia was also known for ranching and for being the first large cattle ranch in Texas with a herd of 40,000.

                               Fighting Spirit                                                                        

   Battle of Goliad: Between 1747 and 1836, control of this fort changed hands many times, but the fight for Texas Independence from Mexico is the most remembered. On October 9, 1835, a garrison of Texians (as they were called then) led by Colonel James Walker Fannin, captured the fort and the Mexican garrison surrendered. Just seven days earlier, the Battle of Gonzales occurred; the fight for Texas Independence had begun.

    Battle of Coleto Creek: On March 6, 1836, the Alamo fell to the Mexican Army commanded by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. After the fall, General Sam Houston ordered Fannin and his men to leave Goliad and join the army in Victoria. On March 19, Fannin and his men had just left the security of the fort, when they were attacked by Mexican Army troops led by General Jose de Urrea. With many wounded and all supplies lost, a surrender was negotiated and Fannin’s troops returned to Presidio La Bahia, now under control of the Mexican Army.

           Reenactor and museum guide Bobby Rendon

    Goliad Massacre: Contrary to the terms of the surrender, Santa Anna ordered all prisoners to be executed. The morning of March 27, 1836, Palm Sunday, 303 prisoners were marched out of the fort, thinking they were being taken to another location until the end of the war. Instead, they were executed. Thirty-nine wounded soldiers were shot inside the Presidio. Colonel James Fannin was executed last.


    On April 21, 1836 Santa Anna’s Army was defeated in the decisive battle at San Jacinto. Reportedly shouts by the Texians could be heard: “Remember Goliad - Remember the Alamo” in the short 18-minute battle.

              Fast Forward

    Today, Presidio La Bahia stands as a tribute to all those who gave their lives for Texas Independence. There is a museum with artifacts and displays from this time in history as well as guides who explain how people lived during this period. The beautiful Our Lady of Loreto Chapel, built within the walls of the Presidio for the soldiers and the surrounding settlers, still continues to offer Catholic Mass every Sunday at 5:00 p.m. The magnificent painting behind the altar and the beautiful Gregorian Chants that can be heard will take your breath away.                                                                                                                         Photo Courtesy Newton Warzecha, Director of Pesidio La Bahia

    Every year, a reenactment is performed commemorating what happened here in March of 1836. According to Bobby Rendon, who has participated in the reenactment for 27 years, more than 6,000 people come each year to witness the event. There are also night candlelight tours, going from room to room within the fort seeing and hearing the prisoners who were unaware of what the next day would bring. The following day, usually Palm Sunday, the reenactment continues, marching the Texians out of the fort and to their execution.


                                        A Relaxing Retreat

 One surprising thing we learned was that the Quarters, once used by officers and then by priests, can be rented on a nightly basis. It has modern conveniences while still maintaining the ambiance of the 1800s, giving guests a sense of the distant past. It has two bedrooms, living room with the original fireplace, bathroom, and a complete kitchen. The coolest thing is that guests of the Quarters have the run of the Presidio, including after-hours, a great time to go ghost hunting.

                            While you're here...

    Be sure to visit the Fannin Battleground State Historic Site located 10 miles east of Goliad. This is the site of the Battle of Coleto Creek. A stone obelisk marks the spot where Colonel Fannin surrendered to General Urrea of the Mexican Army.

    The nearby Goliad State Park and Historic Site, surrounded by the San Antonio River, offers opportunities for fishing, kayaking and canoeing, and is a take-out point for the Goliad Paddling Trail. There is camping, picnicking, and hiking and is a great place for nature and historical studies. Within the park is Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zuñiga, a Spanish Colonial era mission that was restored from the ruins of the original mission by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Further restoration in the 1960s and 1980s brought its appearance back to the original 1749 design.


  Friends of the Fort              (361) 645-3752       

Presido La Bahia                                 Open - 9:00 am to 4:45 pm       Closed: New Years Day, Easter,     Thanksgiving and Christmas Admission: $1.00 to $4.00 www.presidiolabahia.org      

Fannin BattlegroundState Historic    Site Open:  8:00 am to 6:00 pm daily Free Admission                             www. visitfanninbattleground.com             

 Goliad Chamber of Commerce www.goliadcc.org 

 Goliad State Park                         www. tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/goliad

This magnificent painting in the alter in Our Lady of Loreto Chapel, inside the Presidio La Bahia in Goliad, Texas is breathtaking


   No matter where you go in Texas you will find rich history, fabulous venues, delicious food, and of course, super friendly people. The cultural blending that is presently occurring in this great state of ours is producing a stronger character resulting from the sacrifices of our forefathers. We can now experience the past and combine it with the present and look to the future with confidence. Goliad fits right in; you must go there and see for yourself.


            Photos by Harry and Linda Kaye Perez

   © Harry Perez 2012