Goliad, county seat of Goliad County, was laid out c. 1840 on the north bank of a bend in the San Antonio River within what had been the Mexican Ayuntamiento de Goliad. Goliad had its origin in the Franciscan mission of Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga ( GB14), which was established in 1722 and then moved downstream on the north bank of the San Antonio River in 1749. On the river's south bank, downstream from the mission, was the Presidio de Nuestra Señora de Loreto de la Bahía ( GB15). The mission-presidio complex represented the combination of spiritual and military authority mobilized by the Audiencia de México in the first half of the eighteenth century to pacify the indigenous peoples of Texas by congregating them at missions to Christianize and Europeanize them, thereby, so it was hoped, securing Texas against incursions by the French.
The seventy-block grid of Goliad's town plan slopes down to the river channel; giant trees occasionally interrupt the rights-of-way of streets. Despite being penetrated by the Houston-Laredo highway (U.S. 59) and the north–south U.S. 77-A/183, Goliad possesses the serenity of the older neighborhoods of San Antonio. The town can be easily traversed by foot, the most rewarding way to appreciate its rich mixture of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century architecture. Goliad lies in a sliver of the Post Oak Savannah Belt rather than the Coastal Plain. Limestone outcroppings provided a local source of building stone.
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