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Historic Trees of Texas

THE CART WAR OAK
Goliad Hanging Tree
Goliad, Texas

by Luke Warm
On the north side of the courthouse lawn.

In the 19th Century "death by hanging" usually meant within the same hour the verdict was read. The tree had been employed as a hanging tree before the Cart War, but this was the name that stuck.

Under this tree in 1857, trials were held and men were hanged for the murder of Mexican freighters or cartmen. No exact number is immediately available but it was more than a few. Considering the brief six-month period, the number might be regarded as large.
TX - Goliad hanging tree
The Goliad Hanging Tree
TE photo, 2001
A brief history of the situation that led to the tree's macabre employment:

Indianola in the late 1850s was a thriving port and since most immigrants arrived without wagons, they hired men to haul their belongings inland. Many Anglo teamsters objected to their Mexican competition - particularly to their lower fees.

The massacre of Fannin and his men wasn't yet in the distant past and ill will toward Mexicans ran high. People didn't differentiate between an army of impressed soldiers and native-born men trying to make a living.

Goliad was a town the Mexican cartmen passed through and it was in this vicinity many were attacked, robbed and murdered. Soon they started bypassing the town, but that only helped fuel the violence. The "cartcutters" increased their attacks in the countryside was less likely. The authorities in Goliad did nothing, but after a particularly brutal period of bloodletting the people had had enough.

One incident occurred near Seguin as early as 1855, although the period usually given is from July to December of 1857.

Complaints had been received by the Mexican Consulate in Washington and it had all the ingredients of an international incident-in-the-making. Texas Governor Pease requested funds from the legislature to send the state militia as escorts for the Mexican teamsters and this was done. It diffused the situation, but not before the citizens of Goliad had removed much of the bad element.

A short distance from this tree is Goliad's Baptist Oak.


John Troesser
August 2001

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