Goliad County

By: Craig H. Roell

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: October 27, 2020

Goliad County is on the Coastal Plain twenty-five miles inland from Copano Bay in Southeast Texas. It is bounded by Bee, DeWitt, Karnes, Refugio, and Victoria counties. Goliad, one of the oldest settlements in Texas, is the county seat and largest town. The county's center point is at 28°40' north latitude and 97°23' west longitude. Goliad County, one of the original counties of Texas, was established in 1836, organized in 1837, and named for the vast Mexican Municipality of Goliad. It embraces 859 square miles, most of which is nearly level to gently rolling Rio Grande Plain, surfaced primarily by dark calcareous clays and sandy and clay loams, though land surfaces in the northeastern part of the county are primarily sandy loams and sands. The Coastal Prairie in the southeastern corner supports bluestem grassland, but most of the county lies within the post oak savannah belt and is dotted with blackjack, post, and live oak forests, intermixed with mesquite, huisache, red cedar, cacti, brush, and other vegetation; in the San Antonio River basin grow pecan and elm forests. The elevation ranges from 100 to 250 feet, and the climate is humid-subtropical. Temperatures range from an average high of 94° F in July to an average low of 46° in January, though records of 112° and 7° are recorded. The average growing season lasts 285 days, from late February to early December. The average annual precipitation is of 33.79 inches. The northeastern half of the county is drained primarily by the San Antonio River and Coleto, Manahuilla, and Perdido creeks; the southwestern area by Blanco, Mucorrera, and Sarco creeks. Coleto Creek Reservoir, an industrial reservoir on the Goliad-Victoria county line, is under the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority. Typical mammals in Goliad County include white-tailed deer, bobcats, opossums, squirrels, foxes, armadillos, skunks, bats, cottontail rabbits, Plains pocket gophers, and mice; the county provides habitat for numerous reptile, fish, and bird species, such as the horned lizard and wild turkey.

Prehistoric fossils of mammoths, horses, camels, sloths, and bison of the Late Pleistocene era have been unearthed in the county, as well as artifacts from the Paleo-Indian period. Before European contact at least four Indian groups were living in the county: the Aranamas, the Karankawas, the Tonkawas, and the Tamiques. Comanche, Lipan Apache, and Tawakoni raids were common in the area by the early nineteenth century as well. Although Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca may have traversed the county about 1535, and René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, doubtless crossed it on his expeditions in 1685, the first European settlement was not established until 1749, when Nuestra Señora de Loreto Presidio and Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga Mission were moved from the Guadalupe River in what is now Victoria County to a site called Santa Dorotea on the San Antonio River. The Victoria site had been prosperous, but the Spanish colonizer José de Escandón moved the presidio and mission, more commonly known as La Bahía, to guard the main roads from Mexico to San Antonio de Béxar and East Texas, as part of the Spanish government's attempt to stop French and English encroachment on Spanish-claimed territory in the New World. Indeed, in 1769 an English vessel from Maryland en route to New Orleans was wrecked off the Texas coast near La Bahía, and its passengers, forty-seven Dutch, thirty-four French, and fifteen English, were led inland to the Spanish presidio by Indians. The ship was confiscated, and the passengers were made to labor in the fields for six months before they were allowed to proceed overland to Natchitoches, Louisiana. A similar incident followed in 1771. La Bahía was also commercially important and received traffic via the Atascosito Road to East Texas, the La Bahía Road from Monclova, Coahuila, to Nacogdoches, and roads from Bexar and its port, El Cópano (Copano). La Bahía, Bexar, and Nacogdoches were the three most important areas of Spanish settlement in Texas.

Within six months La Bahía Presidio, located on the southwestern bank of the river, consisted of a large barrack and forty temporary houses for the garrison of twenty-nine Spanish soldiers and their families; the commander, Capt. Manuel Ramírez de la Piscina, had a stone house built at his expense. A church completed the garrison. The La Bahía mission, Espíritu Santo, constructed by Franciscans on the northeastern bank of the San Antonio River for Aranama and Tamique Indians, also had a number of buildings, including the stone church and friary and the Indian quarters, which by 1758 housed 178 men, women, and children, primarily Aranamas. The mission also owned 3,220 branded cattle, 120 horses, and 1,600 sheep. By 1778 the branded cattle belonging to the mission and neighboring La Bahía settlement numbered more than 15,000 head; many more remained unbranded, since Indian raids, often incited by English or American pioneers, made for infrequent roundups. These cattle and horses were driven to other missions, as well as to East Texas and Louisiana, for supplies and produce, and were considered an important potential revenue source by the Spanish government. In November 1754 the Franciscans established Nuestra Señora del Rosario four miles southwest of Espíritu Santo for the fierce Karankawa and Cujane Indians. The new mission was protected by the Presidio La Bahía garrison and prospered until 1781, when the restless Indians abandoned the mission, which was occasionally terrorized by Lipan Apaches and Comanches. The Karankawas returned after rehabilitation efforts in the late 1790s. By the time these missions were secularized in 1831, the future county was occupied by both Indians and Mexican rancheros. It continued as one of the three areas of Spanish settlement in Texas after the Anglo-American penetration began. Although the settlement of La Bahía grew steadily until 1,138 residents were recorded in 1796, economic stagnation caused by lack of water and frequent Indian raids from the coast reversed the trend. The Spanish governor of Texas, Juan Bautista Elguézabal, reported in 1803 that poverty prevailed generally in the province. La Bahía had a population of 618 soldiers and settlers, and Espíritu Santo, Rosario, and Refugio missions together had only 250 Aranama and Karankawa Indian residents. Funds for irrigation ditches were unavailable, so crops were few. Rosario and Refugio, both under La Bahía's protection, were in a "deplorable state, having absolutely nothing with which to support their respective Indians." La Bahía was in better shape, however, because of income and food generated through its extensive stock raising.

By 1806 the area under La Bahía's jurisdiction had a population of 1,400, more than 100,000 branded and unbranded cattle, and 40,000 tame horses, though a furious invasion by unfriendly Indians about 1810 destroyed many of the animals and much property. The population of La Bahía declined to only 655 inhabitants by 1810. In November 1812 the Gutiérrez-Magee expedition occupied La Bahía Presidio and was besieged there by Spanish government troops under Manuel María de Salcedo. Henry Perry's men were defeated in their attempt to seize the fort in 1817. In 1821 another group of Anglo-Americans under James Long captured the presidio, but held the grounds only briefly before royal troops again took over. In 1821, after the Mexican War of Independence, the Mexican government, fearful of encroachment from the United States, adopted a colonization program to populate Texas with Catholic Mexicans and Irish. Though La Bahía was not immediately affected by Stephen F. Austin's colony, the settlement and military garrison were directly important to De León's colony at nearby Guadalupe Victoria to the northeast and to the Power and Hewetson colony at Refugio to the south. Indeed, the De León family increasingly influenced the ayuntamiento of La Bahía, and most of the La Bahía lands became part of the Power and Hewetson grant, which stipulated that the Labadeños or Badeños (La Bahía citizens) would be given special consideration as colonists. In 1829, after a successful petition submitted to the Coahuila and Texas state legislature by Rafael A. Manchola, the Mexican government promoted Presidio La Bahía to a villa-a capital town with municipality jurisdiction-and changed its name to Goliad, an anagram of the surname of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the "Goliath" revolutionary in the Mexican War of Independence. The name "La Bahía" had become meaningless anyway, because the mission and presidio had not been located on "the bay" of Espíritu Santo since 1726. La Bahía had an extensive ayuntamiento as early as 1821. The new Municipality of Goliad comprised the vast territory bounded by the Nueces and Lavaca rivers, extending as well from the Gulf of Mexico to the municipality boundary of Béxar (see MEXICAN GOVERNMENT OF TEXAS). Thus, the later Mexican municipalities of Guadalupe Victoria, Refugio, and San Patricio were originally under Goliad's jurisdiction. Included in this territory were the important ports of entry, especially El Cópano.

With the outbreak of agitation against the increasingly dictatorial behavior of Antonio López de Santa Anna, the Mexican citizens of Goliad Municipality, like those in neighboring Guadalupe Victoria, Refugio, and San Patricio, supported the liberal Constitution of 1824, though they generally were against Texas independence from Mexico. Particularly significant Goliad personalities were Rafael Antonio Manchola, José Miguel Aldrete, José Antonio Vásquez, and Carlos de la Garza. In 1835–36 some of the most important events of the Texas Revolution occurred in the area that later became Goliad County. In 1835 Goliad was occupied by Santa Anna's forces under Martín Perfecto de Cos but was captured and garrisoned by Anglo-Texan forces under George M. Collinsworth and Philip Dimmitt that became crucial in the defeat of Cos's army in the siege of Bexar. The Goliad Declaration of Independence was also drafted and signed in 1835. In 1836 the Mexican army under José de Urrea defeated James W. Fannin's Goliad command in the battle of Coleto, and subsequently the Texans were executed in one of the revolution's most atrocious events, the Goliad Massacre. Vicente Filisola, who assumed command of the retreating Mexican army after Santa Anna's defeat in the battle of San Jacinto, was overtaken just south of Goliad by Texas commissioners and made to ratify the surrender terms. In the first few years after the revolution, the Goliad area, having been directly in the war zone, was virtually deserted; many of the Mexican citizens retreated south with Filisola or were forced to flee by incoming Anglo-American settlers who bore bitter prejudice against all Mexicans, including Tejanos. Those who stayed or returned found the original land-grant boundaries lost, stolen, or confused, a situation that led to much violence and required much litigation to verify Mexican settlers' claims.

Goliad County became one of the twenty-three original counties established by the First Congress of the Republic of Texas in 1836. Resettlement was slow, primarily centered around the La Bahía-Goliad town, which remained the business center, but also at nearby areas that became the towns of Charco and Fannin. Also, Schroeder and Weesatche were settled by the German immigrations of the 1840s, which made Goliad County, like neighboring DeWitt and Victoria counties, a large area of German location. Despite some crop cultivation, the county's chief industry remained ranching, dominated by Americans. Mexican residents engaged mainly in carting merchandise from the coast to the interior, especially along the Indianola-Goliad-San Antonio Road. This business, however, became so important that in 1857 a "war" was fought among Mexican-Texan and Anglo-Texan teamsters for its control (see CART WAR). The instigators of this war were among those hanged from the boughs of Goliad's "Hanging Tree," believed to be one of the oldest oaks in Texas and recurrently used as the venue for executions. Goliad during the republic was described by one resident as "a `wild, recky, Indiany looking place'...full of lawless men [who] would throw the rawhide on to [anyone] in a way that was a pity and a caution." Indian raids were frequently perpetrated, especially by Lipan Apaches, Comanches, and Karankawas. The convergence of roads that underpinned Goliad's historically strategic location also made the county vulnerable during the Mexican invasions of 1842, when Rafael Vásquez entered the county. The Texans who formed the retaliatory Mier expedition also passed through the county. During the republic Goliad also had one of the many horse-racing courses popular in the new nation, a tradition still kept alive by La Bahia Downes. This racetrack near Goliad, organized in 1961, is the oldest one in Texas as measured in consecutive years of quarter horse races. The boundaries of Goliad County as fixed on December 2, 1841, by the Sixth Congress of the republic were changed a number of times. Though the county had been enlarged in 1841, when the Refugio county line was adjusted, it was reduced under the republic by the establishment of DeWitt County in 1842 and further reduced under the state legislature by the organization of DeWitt County in 1846, the establishment of Karnes County in 1854, and the formation of Bee County in 1857. Goliad County was further diminished when the Victoria-Goliad county line was moved from Coleto Creek to the San Antonio River in 1861.

In February 1848 a mail route was established from Goliad to Gonzales and La Grange, Fayette County. Though Goliad was located at the head of the navigable portion of the San Antonio River, river trade was negligible. Overland traffic provided commerce instead; ferries were established across the San Antonio River near Goliad and Charco, and much use was made of Gulf ports. Indeed, during the Civil War, Goliad was traversed by the "Cotton Road," down which traveled a steady flow of wagons from cotton-raising centers to Mexico. Though no railroad extended into Goliad County before 1889, despite the tireless promotions of Pryor Lea, cart and wagon commerce did take advantage of the railhead established in nearby Victoria County in 1861 and 1873. In the 1850s and 1860s the county supported a number of newspapers: the True American, the Goliad Express, the Goliad Messenger, the Southern Constellation, and the Intelligencer, which became the Goliad Guard about 1867. In 1850 Goliad County recorded a population of 435 Whites and 213 slaves, which increased to 2,541 Whites and 843 slaves ten years later. Though county farmers grew some cotton and corn, 1,225 bales and 74,550 bushels respectively in 1860, stock raising remained the primary industry; from 1850 to 1860 the number of cattle increased from 7,731 to 66,031. Horse, sheep, and hog raising had some importance as well. The 1860 census also indicated that the 119 slaveholders owned from one to sixty-seven slaves each, the latter figure belonging to Hamilton P. Bee, who soon made his reputation in the Confederate Army. Not surprisingly, Goliad County had several laws in force that punished slaves assembling in groups for purposes other than worship and allowed their owners to "hire" them as street workers. In addition, all Goliad men, except Mexicans, were required to participate in town patrol duty to enforce these laws. In 1861, after the election of Abraham Lincoln and the outbreak of secession among the Southern states, Goliad joined the majority of organized counties in Texas in voting to leave the Union; Pryor Lee was elected county delegate to the Secession Convention.

During the war Goliad County, like many Texas counties, formed an aid association to help the Confederate cause. The Cotton Road from Matamoros to Refugio and Goliad to eastern Texas, probably the route followed by Urrea and Filisola during the revolution, and subsequently followed by Zachary Taylor's army during the Mexican War, took on increased importance as the Union blockade made overland trade to Mexico for supplies a necessity. The barter system prevailed in the county during the war, when incoming shipments of such goods as clothes, sugar, and spices dwindled to almost nothing. Nevertheless, Goliad County was not a center of conflict. During Reconstruction Black Union occupation troops caused much resentment, but unlike neighboring Victoria County, Goliad County had no notorious incidents. The troops were gone by the spring of 1868. African Americans in Goliad voted in the 1872 presidential election, when courtesy was aided by nineteen armed Black cowhands. The county did see vigilante action and violence, however, during the Sutton-Taylor Feud. Increased cattle rustling finally induced Governor Edmund J. Davis to send Jack Helm to Goliad County. Helm established a headquarters at Middletown (Weesatche) from which to quell the incidents. Also, on July 27, 1870, the Goliad County courthouse mysteriously burned, prompting allegations of purposeful destruction of Reconstruction deed records. War and Reconstruction drastically altered the county's wealth and economic base. Between 1860 and 1870 the value of farm property fell from $448,010 to $105,484, corn production plummeted from 74,550 bushels to 37,640, and cotton production tumbled from 1,225 bales to 92. This occurred despite an increase in county population from 3,384 to 3,628, and a rise in the Black population from 843 slaves to 876 freedmen. The number of cattle plunged from 66,031 to 5,432. Nevertheless, during the next decade Goliad County recovered dramatically. By 1880, 5,832 people were living in the county, of whom 1,666 were Black and 454 were foreign born, primarily Germans and Mexicans. While the number of farms fell from 981 to 651 between 1870 and 1880, their value rose to $650,834. In 1880, 87,305 bushels of corn and 728 bales of cotton were recorded, and the number of cattle had risen to 47,619.

The campaign to attract a railroad to Goliad County revived again after the Civil War, and W. N. Fant, William Kohler, R. W. Davis, and other prominent citizens incorporated the Indianola, San Antonio and El Paso Railroad Company in 1871. Nevertheless, no rail line was built into the county until the Gulf, Western Texas and Pacific was extended from Victoria to Beeville in 1889, an event greeted with great celebration. New depots and shipping pens were built at Fannin, Centerville (Cologne), Goliad, and Berclair. Two trains ran daily. In 1884 public roads were established from Goliad to other county seats, and in 1887 the first bridge in the county, a wrought-iron structure, was built over the San Antonio River at Goliad by Kansas Bridge and Iron Company for $11,500. Another iron bridge over the river was built near Charco by Chicago Bridge and Iron for $11,468. The population of Goliad County grew slowly to 5,910 in 1890 and to 8,310 and 9,909 in 1900 and 1910, respectively, a result of increased foreign immigration. The number of foreign born residents in the county rose to 577 in 1890, to 976 in 1900, and to 1,276 in 1910. Though significant numbers came from Hungary, Ireland, England, and France, most by far were from Germany and Mexico, by 1900 especially the latter. Until then Germans made up the largest group of immigrants; their number rose to 411 in 1890 but dropped to 404 in 1900 and 296 in 1910. They settled primarily in the Ander, Germantown (Schroeder), Weser, and Weesatche areas. The number of Mexican immigrants over the same period rose from eighty-seven in 1890 to 454 and 891 in 1900 and 1910. The number of Blacks in the county, however, fell to 1,501 by 1910. On May 18, 1902, at least fifty members of the Black Methodist church of Goliad were among the 114 killed and 230 injured by a tornado that destroyed much of the town and caused $50,000 in damage. The present county courthouse, built in 1894, served as a hospital and morgue for the town, which then had a few more than 1,000 residents.

Despite the growth of manufacturing establishments from one in 1870 to sixteen in 1900, the county's chief industry remained livestock, primarily cattle raising, though sheep raising was temporarily important after the Civil War. Turkeys also became increasingly important to the county economy; 3,367 birds were recorded in 1890 and 66,225 in 1930, when Goliad County was eighth among the 254 Texas counties in turkey production (see POULTRY PRODUCTION). Ten years later, on the eve of World War II, Goliad County ranked fifth, recording 77,110 birds. Cattle raising showed more erratic growth. Although the 66,691 animals recorded in the 1900 agricultural census showed that the county was one of the top cattle raisers in the state, by 1920 the number of cattle decreased to 25,150, only to rise again in 1930 to 34,235, a $1,629,976 value, and fall again in 1940 to 27,510. In 1921 the county was quarantined by the governor because of ticks (see TICK FEVER). Despite the increasing urbanization of surrounding counties, Goliad County remained a rural area. Indeed, a county law was passed as late as 1926 prohibiting domestic stock to roam at large. Though the 10,093 residents reported in 1930 represented the greatest population to date, no Goliad County town has ever recorded as many as 2,500 residents, the threshold by which the census defines urban areas. The 1940 census showed a significant population decline for the first time, reflecting as well the effects of the Great Depression. County manufacturing establishments fell from four in 1930 to three in 1940. The number of farms fell from 1,521 to 1,233 (a decline in value from $11.1 million to $7.2 million), corn from 461,394 bushels to 22,693 bushels, and cotton from 7,463 bales to 3,446 bales. Livestock showed similar declines, the exception being turkeys. Most farms had neither electricity nor telephones in 1940, and despite the county roadbuilding efforts of Judge James A. White, most farms were on dirt roads rather than on concrete, gravel, or other hard-surfaced roads. In 1929 U.S. Highway 96 was built through Goliad County to Houston, and several blocks of downtown Goliad were paved the same year. The Civil Works Administration and later the Civilian Conservation Corps, elements of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, began restoring Mission Espíritu Santo in the early 1930s. County oil drilling, which dates from 1929, also grew during the depression years.

Goliad County's great historical importance comes not only from military and colonial events of the Spanish and Mexican eras and the Texas Revolution, but from the development of church-sponsored educational institutions. The Catholic Church established the earliest schools in the local missions in 1749, though a short-lived nonmission school was established in 1818 during the Spanish regime. German immigrants brought Lutheranism to the county as early as the 1840s, and Episcopalian missionaries arrived during the republic period as well. The Baptists organized the oldest church in continuous existence west of the Guadalupe River at Goliad, and established Hillyer Female College in 1848. In 1852 the Methodists founded Paine Female Institute. In 1852 the Presbyterians replaced the Baptist-sponsored Hillyer Female College at old Mission Espíritu Santo with Aranama College. Though tremendously important in their time, the Goliad colleges were no longer active by the twentieth century.

In 1884 the county had developed a community system to educate its youngsters; seven school districts were organized, including Goliad, Middletown (Weesatche), Perdido (Fannin), and Sarco. By 1918 the county had twenty-eight common-school districts, including Fannin, Germantown (Schroeder), Weser, Weesatche, Angel City, Riverdale, Berclair, Sarco, Dobskyville, and Ander, and two independent school districts, Goliad and Charco. Riverdale had a short-lived independent school district in 1925–26. Blacks had separate schools at Cologne, Fannin, Berclair, and elsewhere. By 1944 the county school system was consolidated and students were bussed to Goliad; by 1968 the Goliad ISD schools became part of Region III Education Center, headquartered in Victoria. A Masonic lodge was established in Goliad County in 1851; though no school was connected with the organization, the Goliad lodge was the largest in the coastal bend area.

The population of Goliad County continued to fall after World War II, a decline not halted until the early 1970s. Indeed, the 1970 census recorded 4,869 residents, the lowest figure since 1870, though a slow growth began by 1972. By 1980 the population was 5,193, and two years later it was estimated at 5,400. That year residents of Hispanic and German descent made up the largest ancestry groups, 36 and 25 percent respectively; English-descent citizens formed 13 percent. By 1990 the population had increased to 5,980. Political preference in Goliad County has varied over the years.

In 1848, the first presidential election in which the county's voters participated, the Democratic party received a majority of the votes over the Whig party. This trend continued until the demise of the Whigs. In the 1856 presidential election the American party, a remnant of the Know-Nothing party, was the dominant political force, and in 1892 the Populist party ran a strong second in the presidential contest. In 1896 the Republican ticket carried the county, but the combined numbers of the Democratic ticket of William Jennings Bryan and Arthur Sewall and the Populist (People's party) ticket of Bryan and Tom Watson topped the Republican totals. The Democratic ticket was victorious in the county in 1900 and 1904, but in 1908 the Republicans carried the county. In 1912 Woodrow Wilson and the Democrats defeated William Howard Taft and the Republicans and Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive (Bull Moose) party. In 1916 the county went Democratic, in 1920 it went Republican, and in 1924 it returned to the Democrats. The election in 1928 was the last presidential contest that the Republicans carried in the county until Dwight D. Eisenhower's victory in 1952. After that election the county continued to vote Republican until 1964, when it voted for Lyndon B. Johnson over Barry Goldwater. The 1968 election was the last time a third party played a significant role in the county's presidential politics. In that year the Republicans narrowly defeated the Democrats, while the American Independent party ran a strong third. Goliad voters selected Richard Nixon again in 1972. James E. Carter narrowly carried the county for the Democrats in 1976. Thereafter, the Republicans won in each presidential contest in the county through 2004.

By the mid-1970s the county was averaging $10.5 million annually from the production of oil and gas, and $6.5 million from agribusiness, almost 90 percent of which was from livestock raising; the main cattle were the Hereford, Brahman, and Santa Gertrudis breeds. A decade later county income was $27 million from livestock, $22.6 million from oil, and $2.9 million from the newly developing service industries, which in 1986 employed 120 people. Still, in 1982 the county ranked 155th in the state in cash receipts for crops and livestock, though an $11,294 average per capita income in 1981 placed Goliad thirty-fifth among Texas counties. The 1980 census indicated that 44.4 percent of the population older than twenty-five were high school graduates, and 8.2 percent had college degrees. Aside from cattle and oil, tourism continues to feed the Goliad economy. The Goliad Historical Commission was organized in December 1955 by county judge Linton S. Benge to implement the program of the Texas State Historical Survey Committee (now the Texas Historical Commission), which, among other functions, places county historical markers. Goliad County historic sites include the La Bahía mission and presidio at Goliad State Historical Park, the ruins of Mission Rosario, the birthplace of Ignacio S. Zaragoza, the site of the battle of Coleto and Goliad Massacre at Fannin Battleground State Historical Park, and the town of Goliad itself. Quarter horse racing, hunting, and some fishing also bring tourists into the county, which is served by a variety of paved farm and ranch roads and by three major highways: U.S. Highway 59 to Houston and Laredo, U.S. Highway 183 to Austin, and State Highway 239, which joins U.S. 181 to San Antonio. In 1982, 90 percent of county land was in farms and ranches, though overgrazing, brush and weeds, and water erosion remained conservation problems. Though only 5 percent of the farmland on 674 farms was under cultivation in 1982, when hay, corn, oats, and sorghum were the principal crops, the county ranked seventh in the state for watermelons. Health matters fall under the Victoria-Calhoun-Goliad Counties Medical Society, formed about 1900, which pioneered the patch-testing of county schoolchildren for tuberculosis and received special commendation from Dr. Albert Sabin for its 1962 immunization program using the controversial Type III Sabin oral polio vaccine. The present county hospital opened at Goliad in May 1950. Goliad Auxiliary Landing Field, dedicated in 1969, serves the Naval Air Station at Beeville. The county's weekly newspaper, the Goliad Advance-Guard, was established in 1913, when two independent papers were merged , and continued to be published until the early twenty-first century; by 2006 a new paper, the Texan Express, served the county. The Victoria Advocate also supplies news to residents.

In 2014 the U.S. Census counted 6,7,549 people living in Goliad County; about 58.4 percent were Anglo, 35.4 percent Hispanic, and 5.5 percent African American. Of those residents twenty-five and older, 73 percent had graduated from high school and 12 percent had college degrees. In the early twenty-first century agriculture, oil and gas operations, and an electricity-generating plant were important elements of the local economy. In 2002 the county had 984 farms and ranches covering 506,019 acres, 70 percent of which were devoted to pasture, 22 percent to crops, and 6 percent to woodlands. That year farmers and ranchers in the area earned $16,933,000; livestock sales accounted for $15,211,000 of the total. Beef cattle, stocker operations and cattle feeding were the county’s chief agricultural products, but corn, grain sorghum, hay and fruit trees were also grown there. More than 700,000 barrels of oil, and 43,651,684 thousand cubic feet of gas well gas, were produced in the county in 2004; by the end of that year 82,542,084 barrels of oil had been taken from county lands since 1930.

Goliad (population, 1,943) remains the county seat and is the only incorporated community in the county; other towns include Weesatche (411), Fannin (359), and Berclair (253). The annual Tour de Goliad Bike Ride is held in October, and Goliad hosts Market Days on the second Saturday of every month. See also SPANISH TEXAS, SPANISH MISSIONS, MEXICAN TEXAS, ANGLO-AMERICAN COLONIZATION, GOLIAD CAMPAIGN OF 1835, GOLIAD CAMPAIGN OF 1836.

Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of the North Mexican States and Texas (2 vols., San Francisco: History Company, 1886, 1889). Bexar Archives, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Joseph L. Clark, Texas Gulf Coast: Its History and Development (4 vols., New York: Lewis Historical Publishing, 1955). Irene Hohmann Friedrichs, History of Goliad (Victoria, Texas: Regal Printers, 1961; 2d ed. 1967). Kathleen Gilmore, Mission Rosario: Archeological Investigation 1973 (Austin: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 1974). Goliad County Historical Commission, The History and Heritage of Goliad County, ed. Jakie L. Pruett and Everett B. Cole (Austin: Eakin, 1983). Roy Grimes, ed., 300 Years in Victoria County (Victoria, Texas: Victoria Advocate, 1968; rpt., Austin: Nortex, 1985). Mattie Austin Hatcher, The Opening of Texas to Foreign Settlement, 1801–1821 (University of Texas Bulletin 2714,1927). Hobart Huson, Captain Philip Dimmitt's Commandancy of Goliad, 1835–1836 (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1974). Hobart Huson, El Copano: Ancient Port of Bexar and La Bahia (Refugio, Texas: Refugio Timely Remarks, 1935). Hobart Huson, Refugio: A Comprehensive History of Refugio County from Aboriginal Times to 1953 (2 vols., Woodsboro, Texas: Rooke Foundation, 1953, 1955). Lois Carol Lee, Goliad County: A General Study of Its History (M.A. thesis, Texas Christian University, 1959). Joseph Milton Nance, After San Jacinto: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1836–1841 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963). Joseph Milton Nance, Attack and Counterattack: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1842 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964). Kathryn Stoner O'Connor, The Presidio La Bahía del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga, 1721 to 1846 (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1966). Eugene Allen Perrin, The History of Education in Goliad County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1933). Paul H. Walters, "Secularization of the La Bahía Missions," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 54 (January 1951).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Craig H. Roell, “Goliad County,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 10, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/goliad-county.

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October 27, 2020

Goliad County
Currently Exists
Place Type
Altitude Range
50 ft – 420 ft
Civilian Labor Counts
People Year
3,121 2019
Land Area
Area (mi2) Year
852.0 2019
Total Area Values
Area (mi2) Year
859.4 2019
Per Capita Income
USD ($) Year
43,858 2019
Property Values
USD ($) Year
2,754,794,147 2019
Rainfall (inches) Year
36.8 2019
Retail Sales
USD ($) Year
40,971,254 2019
Temperature Ranges
Min (°F) Max (°F) Year
42.5 93.8 2019
Unemployment Percentage Year
8.7 2019
USD ($) Year
13,263,666 2019
Population Counts
People Year
7,658 2019