Bride with ties to Presidio La Bahia marries in the fort's chapel

July 31, 2010 at 2:31 a.m.
Updated Aug. 1, 2010 at 3:01 a.m.

GOLIAD - The arched doors of the Our Lady of Loreto Chapel opened Saturday afternoon to reveal the silhouette of a modern bride.

Roxanne Gayle, soon to become Mrs. Ochoa, paused for a few moments in the sunshine that flooded the historic Presidio La Bahia.

More than 180 years ago, her ancestors were doing the same thing.

Ochoa is a seventh-generation descendant of Don Carlos de la Garza, a Mexican soldier instrumental in shaping the history of the Goliad area.

De la Garza was born at the Presidio in 1807, baptized there and married his wife, Tomasita, in the chapel in 1829.

For the Ochoas, getting married in a place so rich with personal history seemed fitting.

"We both like history a lot, so it's neat to be doing this," the bride said of herself and her husband, Aaron. "We actually went on a date at the Presidio, which is kind of dorky."

A year-and-a-half ago, the Ochoas, both 29, were just starting their relationship when they came to Presidio La Bahia for the Goliad Massacre re-enactment - an event that re-creates the slaughter of 342 soldiers.

The bride joked the date wasn't the most romantic of settings.

"Maybe in my wildest dreams I thought I would marry this man," she said of their date at the Presidio, adding she never thought she'd actually be getting married there.

The mother of the bride, Debbie Gayle, was instrumental in teaching her daughter the family's history with the Presidio.

"I'm happy Roxanne's getting married there. I hope it will bring the family closer," Gayle said a week before the wedding. "She can become part of history and pass that down to her children."

Gayle, who was adopted, began researching her birth family's history more than 20 years ago and was surprised to discover she was a direct descendant of Don Carlos de la Garza.

In 1836, de la Garza led 80 rancheros known as "Victoriana Guardes" into the battle of Refugio, where he was able to defeat the forces sent by Col. James W. Fannin.

This defeat led to the Mexican victory at the battle of Coleto and eventually Fannin's demise at the Goliad Massacre.

De la Garza was one of the prominent Mexicans tasked with deciding the fate of certain colonists at the Presidio. He's known for sparing the lives of at least six of his neighbors.

The groom said his bride told him of her family's history with the Presidio during their first visit to the fort.

"I like having a connection with Texas history," the self-described history buff said. "Everybody has a story. You just have to find it."

Walking arm-in-arm back through the chapel doors as husband and wife, the Ochoas began the next chapter in their story.



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