Mission Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga

Founded: 1722

Status:  Active Catholic Church and State Park

Known As: Mission Espíritu or Mission La Bahia

Location:  108 Park Rd 6, Goliad, TX 77963

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Mission Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga

The mission and a presidio were established in 1722 on Matagorda Bay near La Salle’s Fort Saint Louis on Garcitas Creek, to secure the Texas coastline from the French and to convert the local Cocos, Copanes, and Cujanes Indians.  The presidio and the mission came to be called La Bahia (the bay).

After an unfavorable reception by the Indians, the mission was moved in 1726 to serve the Tamique and Aranama Indians in Mission Valley.  Although successful in its new location, it was moved again in 1749 to a site on the San Antonio River (now Goliad) to deter encroachment by the French and English.

texas-cattleThe mission developed into the first large-scale cattle ranch in Texas, with 40,000 cattle at the height of production in about 1778!

The mission also grew grain, fruit, and vegetables, and traded with other missions.  In 1779, the mission Vaqueros conducted the first long-distance cattle drive in Texas, moving cattle to Louisiana to supply Spanish troops fighting in support of American independence from the British.

The mission was officially shut down in 1794, but two priests refused to leave and remained as parish priests until 1830.  The presidio remained in service until Mexican Independence in 1821.

The mission was restored by the Works Progress Administration (MPA) between 1935 and 1941, and additional work was done in the 1960s and 1980s.

It is situated in the Goliad State Historical Park, which has recreational and camping facilities.