Many roads led to current Goliad mission location
by By Beth Ellis, Goliad State Park Ranger II
Mar 02, 2013 | 1282 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When people first walk into the mission museum, they are greeted by a large map pinpointing all the Spanish missions and presidios (forts) of Texas. At first glance, missions and presidios were many, but upon closer inspection you’ll see the phrase “removed to …”

During the Colonial Era, Spanish missions and the presidios built to protect them were sometimes moved from one location to another. You might ask why?

Many significant factors influenced such a move. Hostilities with Native Americans, success rates (or lack thereof) in converting local inhabitants into Spanish citizens, and political intrigue involving other European powers were all factors. For example, Mission Espiritu Santo and the Presidio La Bahia were moved from their original 1722 sites on Garcitas Creek because of hostilities with Native Americans and by 1726 they moved for a second or possibly third time to the area now known as Mission Valley. That location proved successful, and the mission and the presidio would probably have remained there indefinitely if it hadn’t been for political intrigue.

Throughout the Colonial period, Spanish officials worried about potential French and English incursions into Spanish-held land in the New World, and in the 1740’s that worry became particularly strong. As a result, in 1749, the Mission Espiritu Santo and Presidio La Bahia complex moved to its final location on the banks of the San Antonio River, at the spot that would eventually become Goliad.

Originally the site of an Indian village the Spanish called Santa Doretea, the new location had much going for it. For one thing, the Camino Real leading up from Mexico branched in the vicinity of the Native American village, with one road leading to the missions in San Antonio and the other to the missions in east Texas.

By placing the mission and fort near the split, the roadway could be protected against potential incursions in three directions, and the mission/presidio complex would be centrally located on the main trade route extending from Mexico into the interior of Texas.

The new location also provided plenty of resources for the successful establishment of a new mission and presidio complex. Water was provided by the San Antonio River, building materials were available from easily accessible limestone formations, and area grasslands provided good forage for horses and cattle. Not long after the Spanish moved to the new location, Santa Doretea began to be called La Bahia.

Mission Espiritu Santo continued at the San Antonio River location for the next 81 years, until it was finally abandoned in 1830. By that time, Mexico had gained its independence from Spain, and the new government of Mexico had neither the funds nor the desire to continue supporting the mission system that had been put in place by the Spanish.

Additionally, very few Native Americans were left at Mission Espiritu Santo - their original culture had died away, and many had completed the successful transition to the new lifeway they had been taught while living at Mission Espiritu Santo.

There is little doubt that their descendants continue to call Goliad “home” to this very day.
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