Goliad has long been considered the birthplace of Texas Ranching. In the early 1690’s cattle were brought to Texas by the Spaniards. Many of the cattle escaped, became wild and reproduced in the fertile San Antonio River valley. The missionaries gathered and raised the cattle to provide food to the Indians who were brought to the Mission for religious conversion.
By 1758, Mission Espiritu Santo claimed more than 3,000 head of cattle and over 1,600 sheep grazing around the Mission. In the 18th century the Mission was the largest cattle ranching operation in Texas and at its peak the herds grew to over 40,000.
As American and other settlers arrived in Texas in the 1830’s the cattle industry grew. Texans drove cattle to markets in New Orleans, Missouri and Illinois. From there, they were shipped to the eastern cities such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore. By the 1830’s the Texas Longhorn was closely identified with the state because of this process.
The Longhorns were a stout breed of cattle which developed out of those imported by the Spanish. They are a tough breed, they can survive drought, heat and cold and they can fiercely defend their young from predators.
When the Civil War ended, the era of the great cattle drives began. Many of the cattle from area ranches were driven North on famous trails such as the Chisholm and the Goodnight.
By the 1880’s, the Longhorns were being replaced by other breeds of cattle and their numbers declined almost to the verge of extinction. In the 1920’s effort began to preserve the breed. Walter Scott, a Goliad rancher was instrumental in that effort. His heard can still be seen just south of the town of Goliad. Take 183 South to FM 2441 (flashing Light), turn right past Clip road and look to the left.
In 1995 Texas designated the longhorn as the official state large mammal.