Baptist Oak

Historical Period: Early Statehood (1845-1861)
Historical Topic: Religious Freedom
Species: Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)
County: Goliad
Public Access: Yes

Under the spreading branches of this giant live oak twelve early settlers of Goliad met on May 7, 1849, and organized the first Baptist church west of the Guadalupe River.

Two years before, the Reverend John Freeman Hillyer arrived from a pastorate in Galveston. He was a college-trained man from Georgia who had four academic degrees. In addition to being a preacher, he was also a physician and an educator. Hillyer's objective in coming to Goliad was to establish a college for women.

Under this learned man's leadership and with the support of the Baptists in Goliad, the doors of Hillyer Female College opened February 1, 1849. Three months later, Reverend Hillyer, acting as moderator, met under this live oak with eleven of his followers and organized the first Baptist church. The charter members were Hillyer; his wife, Mary; their two children, Ann and Hamilton; William H. and Philania Crow; Pryor and Mary Lea; George C. Brightman; Emeline Russell; and the Hillyers' Negro servants, Jacob and his wife, Eliza.

The Baptist Oak stands at 248 S. Chilton Avenue in Goliad.