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The Ghosts of Goliad
Some Say More than Just Tourists Roam Presidio and Mission Grounds

By Edward D. Trlica
Goliad County Chamber of Commerce

There are many stories of ghosts among the walls of the Presidio La Bahia. Some say they have heard the cries of children coming from the graves within the courtyard. Others have spotted a monk in a hooded robe roaming the grounds. Legend has it one must be deathly still while in its presence, as it is a mean-spirited apparition.

Visitors sometimes hear a heavenly choir coming from the direction of the museum. There are words, but none that are understood by mortal ears. At times, one may hear a woman singing, or is it the mournful wail for a lost love? Perhaps she is the woman in black whom visitors occasionally see praying in the chapel. When approached, she disappears as quickly as smoke in a windstorm.

She is not the only mysterious lady who wanders among the walls of the fort. On moonlit nights when the sound of traffic from the nearby highway lessens and only the distant howl of a coyote breaks the silence, the specter of a crying woman has been seen roaming the courtyard - stopping over a grave whose resident's identity has long since been lost. She loudly bemoans the loss of a loved one before disappearing into an ethereal vapor, moving toward the old cemetery outside the fort walls.

The Presidio is not alone in hosting apparitions. At Mission Espiritu Santo, a waiflike entity waits outside the "door of death," where funeral arrangements require pallbearers carry the deceased in and out through a door marked with skull and crossbones. This alleged spirit manifests itself in a display of radiating color and light. Perhaps this is not a ghost at all, but rather the Angle of Death patiently waiting outside the door as escort to a transitional soul.

One does not have to be a believer to feel the surreal ambiance that settles over the two sites when darkness prevails. The lights of Goliad fail to reach either place and only those living far from the city know the completeness of nightfall in the country. In the darkness, wind whispers through trees left splintered and broken from past hurricanes, their ragged silhouettes, though barely visible, add to the mystery of the night. It is a time when ghosts and faeries can roam freely among mortals.

In the light of day, phantoms disappear and Goliad welcomes its visitors with an invitation to enjoy the community and all it has to offer. Visitors may shop the quaint stores and later get a taste of Texas history by reading the many historical markers that line the Courthouse Square. When you leave Goliad, take with you a renewal of the Texas spirit as well as an appreciation of those spirits better left behind.

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