As Texans, “Remember the Alamo” is ingrained in our collective conscious. We’re taught the phrase in fourth-grade history, and the hallowed site in San Antonio is a mandatory stop on family road trips. However, “Remember Goliad” was also a rallying cry during the fight for Texas independence, and I set out to devote a day to this less-traveled town that played an important role in our history.
9:00 a.m. My first stop was Goliad State Park for a tour of Mission Espíritu Santo, originally established in 1749. The structure standing today is a remarkable restoration of what the mission may have looked like in the 1700s when Franciscan monks tended the grounds and worked to convert the local native populations. The museum contains a number of incredible artifacts and tells the story of how Mission Espíritu Santo was the first mega-ranch in Texas, earning Goliad the title as the “Birthplace of Texas Ranching.”
10:30 a.m. Next up was Goliad’s Historic Square for a look at the beautiful 1894 Goliad County courthouse. Among the town’s 19th-Century buildings and the quintessential square, I found a number of historical markers, including one for Goliad’s Hanging Tree on the courthouse lawn. Between 1846 and 1870, this sprawling oak was the site of Goliad’s entire justice system: trial, sentencing, and execution.
11:30 a.m. I popped into Blue Quail Deli for lunch. Though I intended to have only a sandwich, the cashier and locals convinced me to order a cup of homemade creamof-jalapeño soup, and I’m glad I did. The soup was creamy and delicious with just the right amount of spicy bite.
1:00 p.m. I biked to my next stop along the “Angel of Goliad” Hike and Bike Trail, a 2.5-mile path that took me past Goliad State Park, over the San Antonio River, and onward to Zaragoza Birthplace State Historic Site. Born
here in 1829, Ignacio Zaragoza moved away before the Texas Revolution, and eventually became a general in the Mexican army. In 1862, he defeated the invading French in the Battle of Puebla, a victory celebrated today as Cinco de Mayo.
3:00 p.m. I crossed the street to Presidio La Bahía, site of the Goliad Massacre in March 1836, to tour the museum and chapel and explore the old fort grounds. As the Texas Revo-lution escalated, Colonel James W. Fannin and a group of Texian soldiers took over Presidio La Bahía and renamed it Fort Defiance. After they left the fort and attempted to convene with General Houston, Fannin and his men were captured and brought back to the Presidio as prisoners. At Santa Anna’s order, on Palm Sunday, 1836, more than 300 men, includ-ing Fannin, were executed within the Presidio walls and nearby. It was the deadliest day of the Texas Revolution, and inspired the battle cry “Remember Goliad” on the San Jacinto Battlefield.
4:30 p.m. I paid my respects at the Grave of Col. J.W. Fannin and his Men, which sits outside of the Presidio walls and is marked with a stone column and the names of all the brave men who lost their lives in the massacre.
5:15 p.m. I stopped at a statue honoring Francita Alavez, a brave Mexican woman known as the Angel of Goliad for her efforts to save dozens of Texian soldiers by pleading with the Mexican soldiers for their release or by sneaking them out of the fort.
6:00 p.m. For dinner, I enjoyed a blend of Texan and Mexican culture at La Bahia Restaurant. This classic Tex-Mex establishment has been around for decades serving time-tested recipes, and my combo plate of enchiladas, chalupas, and tamales hit the spot.
Goliad no doubt paved the way for the state we know and love today. And while some may only “Remember the Alamo,” as Texans, we should all also “Remember Goliad.” So, whether you follow my footsteps or forge your own path, I hope to see you on the road.
Contact the Goliad County Chamber of Commerce at 800/848-8674.
Chet Garner is the host of The Daytripper travel show on PBS.