Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   



Texas Trailblazers

The Angel of Goliad

Native Americans, Spanish explorers and missionaries, Texian soldiers and early settlers once walked the land of what is now Goliad State Park and Historic Site in southeast Texas. Today, visitors walk the trails to learn about that time and the people who formed this state.

The 2.5-mile Angel of Goliad Hike and Bike Trail stretches from that historic figure’s statue south of the park north to downtown Goliad. But who is the nameless woman some have called Texas’ Pocahontas?

By many survivors’ accounts, this young Mexican woman showed mercy and kindness to those she would have considered enemies, even risking her own life to save theirs. Yet somehow, no one knows her real name. It could be Francita, Francisca, Panchita or maybe Pancheta.

Francita accompanied Captain Telesforo Alavez by ship from Matamoros to Copano Bay in March 1836, after he abandoned his wife and family. There, she noticed the ill treatment of Major William Miller’s troops by the Mexican soldiers and convinced them to loosen the tight bonds and give them food.

Francita traveled with Captain Alavez to his assignments at Goliad, Victoria and Matamoros, assisting Texian prisoners at all locations.

“When she came to Texas, she could have considered its people only as rebels and heretics, the two classes, of all others, most odious to the mind of a pious Mexican,” wrote Goliad survivor Joseph H. Barnard in his memoir. “And yet, after everything that had occurred to present the Texans to her view as the worst and most abandoned of men, she became incessantly engaged in contributing to their wants and in saving their lives.”

It was at the Goliad Massacre that she made her most valiant effort. Mexican president and general Antonio López de Santa Anna ordered all Texian prisoners to be executed, and Colonel James W. Fannin and 342 men were shot. More soldiers would have died that day, but Francita persuaded the officer in charge not to execute Miller’s men. She even sneaked into the fort to help many escape the night before the executions.

After returning to Mexico, Francita was abandoned by the feckless captain. Friendly Texans there had heard of her angelic deeds, however, and cared for her as the legend of the mysterious Angel of Goliad grew.

“She was indeed an angel of mercy, a second Pocahontas,” said Goliad survivor Jack Shackelford. “All that she could do to administer to our comfort — to pour oil into our wounds — was done.”

 courtesy of tsha

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