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Goliad Hanging Tree

Hanging Tree a Centerpiece of Goliad Town Square
By Edward D. Trlica
Goliad County Chamber of Commerce

The branches of Goliad’s Hanging Tree, in the Courthouse Square, provide a shady retreat for visitors, many of whom are unaware of its history.

During a turbulent time in the town’s past, two local groups of hired gunmen, the “Vigilantes” and the “Regulators,” set about clearing the area of undesirables. Local desperados had taken to stealing the goods of the Mexican freighters moving cargo from the Port of Indianola to San Antonio. As often as not, the freighters were murdered. The Hanging Tree provided a method of swift punishment for the guilty.

Unfortunately, some met their fate without due process. The practice was so out of hand that eventually, town fathers called in the Texas Rangers. Ranger Lee Hall arrived in Goliad in 1876. With hardened resolve, he succeeded in removing the unpleasant elements and establishing order.

goliad hanging tree Today, the Hanging Tree, sometimes called the "Cart War Oak," still maintains a prominent position on Goliad’s Courthouse Square. A bench placed under the spreading limbs offer visitors and locals alike a resting spot to escape the summer sun.

The Cart War Oak is not the only famed tree in Goliad. Just off the Town Square on Chilton Street is the “Baptist Oak,” where the Reverend John Hillyer organized the first Baptist Church west of the Guadalupe River. The opening service took place under the branches of this Live Oak tree on May 7, 1849. The charter ceremony consisted of Pastor Hillyer and a congregation of seven, three of whom were his wife and two daughters.

While the trees are nice in Goliad, the shopping is superb. Beautiful shops surround the Courthouse Square filled with antiques and specialty gifts as well as paintings by renowned artists. A clothing store, known for it unique apparel, brings in shoppers from all over the state. Visitors can find great food at several restaurants on the Square and off the Square. The restaurants are known for their soups and sandwiches, lunch plates and pies, not to mention those specializing in Mexican and Italian cuisine. Fast foods are also available for those on the move.

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