Presidio La BahiaPresidio La Bahía

Touring Texas and it's many historical sites can be a lot fun as well as interesting, entertaining and educational.This is a great place to visting for a Texas Tourist.

Presidio La Bahía is one place we recommend for anyone visting or touring Texas. The Presidio La Bahia is located one mile south of Goliad, Texas on U.S. Highway 183 (77A).  Presidio La Bahia was established at this location in 1749, with Mission Espíritu Santo.  It has been owned by the Catholic Church since 1853 and is currently operated by the Catholic Diocese of Victoria, Texas.

During the mid-1960s, the Kathryn Stoner O'Connor Foundation funded a restoration project under the direction of architect Raiford Stripling and archeologist Roland Beard.  The fort was rebuilt to its 1836 appearance, based on documents and archeological evidence dating from the Texas Revolution.  Presidio La Bahía was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1967.

One present significance of the Presidio is that it and the two missions constitute the only surviving example of a Spanish Colonial mission/presidio complex in Texas and one of very few in North America.  The preservation of this relationship greatly enhances the visitors' understanding of the partnership between the Spanish Crown and the Catholic Church in colonizing the New World.

The Presidio chapel still serves as a community church.  Visitors may tour the grounds and chapel and visit the Presidio's museum, which contains exhibits and cases of artifacts.  The most popular annual event at the site is the Goliad Massacre Living History Program, a two-day reenactment of the battle of Coleto Creek and the subsequent execution of Colonel James W. Fannin and his troops.

Our Lady of Loreto Chapel at Presidio La Bahia has served the spiritual needs of Catholics - Spanish, Mexican, Texas, American, in turn - since 1779. Even today, mass services are held every Sunday at 5:00 p.m. at the Our Lady of Loreto Chapel.

Near the Presidio is the Fannin Memorial Monument. After the defeat of the Mexican army at the Battle of San Jacinto, as General Rusk and the Texas army was following the Mexican army out of Texas, when they arrived at Goliad, they gathered up the remains of Fannin and his men and buried them at a site to the southeast of Presidio La Bahia.

It took over 100 years for the State of Texas to erect a lasting monument to Colonel Fannin and his men. Funds were appropriated as part of the Texas Centennial celebration in 1936. The monument was erected and dedicated in 1938, and placed directly over the grave of the Goliad garrison. The monument, which is in fact a gravestone, contains the known names of the Goliad men and those killed at the battle of Coleto Creek on March 19, 1836. The relief carving show the Goddess of Liberty lifting a fallen soldier in chains.

The Presidio La Bahia (fort on the bay) and Our Lady of Loreto Chapel were constructed in 1721 on the original site of LaSalle's doomed Fort St. Louis on the western shore of Garcitas Creek, near present day Port Lavaca. This location proved unsuitable, because of troubles with the Karankawa Indians and in 1726 it was
         
Presidio La Bahia Locations
     
abandoned and the fort relocated inland (some twenty-six miles) along the Guadalupe River near the site of Mission Valley (northwest of present day Victoria, in Victoria County) and near the Aranama Indians. Presidio La Bahia itself was rebuilt of quarried stone on a site that later became part of Fernando De Leon's Rancho Escondido. For the next twenty-six years the La Bahía mission and presidio prospered; successful farming and cattle ranching enabled the presidio and mission to supply themselves and other Texas missions with ample food.

In the fall of 1749, the presidio and mission were again moved to its present location, this time in accord with the recommendations of Jose de Escandon, whom the Spanish government had authorized in 1747 to explore ways to prevent further encroachment of the English and French.
     
Lieutenant-General Jose de Escandon was a Spanish colonizer responsible for the first successful settlements along the Rio Grande between Laredo and Brownsville. He was a Spaniard, born in Spain in 1700. Mexico at that time, society was very conscious of a person's background, birth, social class. Since Escandon was born in Spain, Spanish, he would have been called a "peninsular" (a person from "the peninsula"). That was different from a person also of pure Spanish blood who had been born in the Americas, and also different from a person who had been born of a mixed marriage, say Spanish and Indian parents.

Jose de Escandon came to the Americas and arrived in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico at age 15. He enlisted in the Mounted Encomenderos Company as a cadet in a company of cavalry (horse soldiers).
         
Lieutenant-General Jose de Escandon

In only six years, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant and transferred to Queretaro (a city in Mexico which is quite well known for it's college of Franciscan missionaries). Six years later (he would have been 27 years old), he returned to Spain and married Dominga Pedrajo in Soto de la Marina, province of Santander, Spain. He returned to Mexico that same year (1727). Another seven years passed and Jose de Escandon was recognized as a very capable officer and was promoted to the rank of Colonel. A few years after becoming a Colonel, he was made a Lieutenant-General of the entire region of Sierra Gorda. This area was centered over the Rio Grande River and was more than 300 miles wide and 200 miles long. One of the settlements founded by Lieutenant-General Escandon was Presidio La Bahia in 1749.

Presidio La Bahia, though an inland frontier fort, became the only fort responsible for the defense of the coastal area and eastern province of Texas after the abandonment of the Presidios at Los Adaes and Los Orcoquisac. Soldiers from Presidio La Bahia assisted the Spanish army in fighting the British along the Gulf Coast during the American Revolution.

This action gives Precidio La Bahia and the community of La Bahia the distinction of being one of the only communities west of the Mississippi River to have participated in the American Revolution in 1776. The Presidio La Bahia is the oldest standing fort west of the Mississippi. Its original purpose was to guard the interests of the Spanish Crown against Native American and French attackers.
     

The chapel of Our Lady of Loreto was included in the current structure to serve the religious needs of the soldiers stationed there. The chapel was erected in the quadrangle for the sole use of the soldiers and Spanish settlers living in the town of La Bahia surrounding the fort.

Religious needs of the citizens of La Bahia were served by Mission Espiritu Santo (now on the grounds of Goliad State Park), located northwest and across the San Antonio River from the presidio.