Going Out On A Limb
Goliad is a town along the Southern Pacific Railroad. It is one of many that dot the South Texas landscape. The confluence of the San Antonio River, U.S. Highways 59 and 183, and State Highway 239 runs by or along the town. It was established in October 1749.
Standing in front of the Goliad County Courthouse - a two-story limestone building completed in 1894 - is the huge live oak tree with thick, low branches. A historical marker notes that in the mid-1800s, when a sentence was handed down, it was immediately carried out at the tree. The marker also notes that some of those hanged didn't have benefit of trial. In bygone Texas, that wasn't unusual.
Between 1846 and 1870, this live oak tree served as the site of court sessions. Death sentences pronounced by the court were carried out immediately. The recently sentenced convict was brought outside and his death sentence carried out at the end of a rope. It isn’t known how many people swung there, but most estimates are between the dozens and the low hundreds.
When I traveled through this neck of the woods (no pun intended), it was fascinating to see my home state's history up close and personal. The tree stood tall and majestic there in the sleepy South Texas townsquare. Mexicans, Tejanos, Blacks and even White men all wore the Texan neck tie. Rough justice in some cases. But, that's what makes Texas Texas.
There's even a Hanging Tree Gift Store (no lie!) there on the town square. Sorry, no little bonsai tree replicas of the original Hanging Tree. Here's the link for you Doubting Thomases: Hanging Tree Antiques
Goliad is located off Texas Hwy. 183 S and US 59 E.