An illustrated postcard of Goliad Texas
Illustration: Michael Crampton

Back before there was Texas or Mexico, there was Goliad. In 1749, Spanish missionaries moved Mission Espíritu Santo and its fort from the banks of the Guadalupe River near present-day Victoria to a hill overlooking the San Antonio River. A village named La Bahía, Spanish for “the bay,” grew around the mission compound and became an essential hub of Spanish life. In 1829, Mexican authorities renamed the town Goliad, a place that would become forever linked to the Texas Revolution. The town was the site of the Battle of Goliad in October 1835 and the Goliad Massacre in March 1836. Historical tales have always been part of life for Pat Vargas Morales, whose local roots go back to at least 1889, the year her grandmother was born in Goliad. Morales has long put her heart into the community that raised her. She serves on both the Main Street Goliad and Goliad Education Foundation boards, and she has worked as an emergency medical technician for the Goliad EMS for 36 years. While the revolutionary cry “Remember Goliad!” is etched in history, Morales’ passion for her hometown helps ensure that Goliad will be remembered for years to come.

The Rock House

“There is so much history here. Dad would tell us stories, but it was Mom who was really serious about history, saying ‘You need to know this; it happened here in Goliad.’ When we were little, we called the presidio here ‘the Rock House.’ Now I understand how important it is. There is the reenactment of events from the Texas Revolution that happens there every March. You really have to experience the reenactments to understand how great they are.”

Breaking Bread

“Our downtown area is charming with buildings that date back as far as the 1850s. Mattie’s Bakery, owned by the same folks who have the Empresario Restaurant next door, was a movie theater back in the day. I was lucky enough to be able to go there when we were small—it was 25 cents to get in at the time. Those windows are original to the theater. You can sit upstairs and see the courthouse square and enjoy our little town from there.”

Shop the Square

“We have so many different businesses downtown now, each with their own style, each offering something different. Blue Quail Deli is known for its cheese jalapeño soup. Last summer our former judge, Pat Calhoun, and his friend Robert Fly opened The Best Little Gun Shop in Texas, a very unique gun shop. They have rare and antique guns, things you can’t find at any gun store. There’s the Ivy Vine, a shop with multiple vendors inside, each with their own personality. Now, some of the shop owners on the square have their residences on the second story over their businesses.”

Dance Halls and Retreats

“Schroeder Hall, just a short drive out of town, is the second-oldest dance hall in Texas. It was recently renovated, and now has modern bathrooms—not just the two wooden stalls it used to have. The food is good, and there are fun events there all the time. There’s also the Weesatche Dance Hall, one that not many people know about, just a short drive away. They’ve converted Weesatche into a restaurant with fantastic fried chicken.”

South Texas Skies

“We have plenty of camping—Goliad State Park has camping spots that make you feel like you’re away from it all. I also like the Angel of Goliad Hike and Bike Trail that leads from town out to the presidio, ending at the grave of Col. Fannin. It’s a nice two-and-a-half-mile walk.”

Pulling Together

“I go to the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. At our Knights of Columbus barbecue fundraisers, the Lutherans come; we all support each other. For family burials, people are fed. People are grateful in our little community. If you need help, people will find help for you. Downtown is suffering right now because of the coronavirus, but our little grocery store has been a lifesaver. We started a group called Masks for Heroes; on Saturday night we sewed 250 masks for first responders. I love my community. When something tragic happens, we pull together.”

Town Trivia

Population:
1,976

Number of Stoplights:
2

Year founded:
1749

Nearest City:
San Antonio, 90 miles northwest

Marquee Events:
Reenactment of the Goliad Massacre, last weekend in March

Map it:

From the June 2020 issue


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The July 2020 cover of Texas Highways Magazine, Secret Rivers


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