On the courthouse square in Goliad, Texas, one will find this tree, known as the “The Hanging Tree.” During the 1800s, It was here that justice was handed out very quickly (“Texas Style”) in the form of hanging, often within an hour of the verdict of the court. It was also the scene of hangings during the 1857 “Cart War.” Some background:
The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 officially ended Texas’ war with Mexico; however, isolated outbreaks of bitter resentment between Mexicans and Texans continued for years.
One notable example of this animosity erupted into open strife in the vicinity of Goliad in 1857. Texan teamsters, who had been hauling freight from the port at Indianola to San Antonio and other interior towns, became increasingly bitter toward competing for Mexican cartmen. The latter charged much lower rates and were driving the Texans out of business.
The Texans began attacking the Mexican cartmen as they passed through Goliad with their loaded wagons. In a short series of attacks, about 75 Mexicans were murdered, their carts destroyed, and their freight stolen. Authorities at Goliad remained indifferent to the criminal acts. Mexican cartmen began using a new route, one which bypassed Goliad twelve to fifteen miles to the east.
Deprived of their easy source of revenue and noting the apathy of local citizens, the “cart-cutters” began robbing them.
The entire disgraceful situation had been brought to the attention of the Legislature. But it was an outraged local citizenry and “Judge Lynch” that ended the careers of the “cart-cutters.” Those guilty of crimes were speedily brought to trial.
And now, today, 160 years later, you can still go and eat your lunch under the branches of this magnificent tree, which remains a silent witness to a lot of bloodshed.