Famous Trees of Texas – Cart War Oak

You may know that the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which was signed in the year 1848, officially ended Texas’ war with Mexico. Did you know that isolated incidents of bitter racism took place between Mexicans and Texans for years afterwards? It may not be surprising, but it’s definitely a part of our history we may prefer to forget.

However, there is one notable example of this animosity. It erupted into open strife near 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 Mexican cartmen. Why? Well, the main reason was that the Mexicans were charging significantly less for their services and driving the Texans out of business.

The Texas began to attack the Mexican cartmen as they passed through Goliad with their loaded wagons. In a brief series of attacks, about 80 Mexicans were murdered. Their carts were destroyed and their freight was stolen. The authorities in Goliad seemed indifferent to the attacks. The Mexican cartmen began to use a different route, one which passed by Goliad about twelve miles to the east. Deprived of an easy source of income and an increasing apathy of the local citizenry, the ‘cart-cutters’ began robbing them.

This disgraceful situation was then brought to the attention of the Legislature. The outraged citizens and “Judge Lynch” ended the careers of the cart-cutters. Those guilty of these crimes were brought to trial in a speedy manner.

A giant live oak was the site of the court sessions. Its huge, horizontal limbs served as a ready-made gallows for the swift conduct of capital sentences passed out by the court. A number of the cart-cutters cursed and prayed on the oak as their lives ended at the end of the hangman’s knotted rope.

Now that it’s no longer used as a hanging tree, the Cart War Oak provides residents and visitors a spot of shade in which they can reminisce with friends. It’s located on the north side of the Goliad County Courthouse. For more information on famous trees of Texas, please visit our blog archives. If you have a tree, famous or otherwise, that needs attention, don’t forget to contact us at 512-341-8888. We look forward to working with your Texas trees.