Spanish Texas, 1519-1821

By Donald E. Chipman; Harriett Denise Joseph | Go to book overview

EIGHT
Mission, Presidio, and Settlement
Expansion, 1746–1762

By the mid-1740s, the five missions at San Antonio probably had an average neophyte population in excess of 170. These religious outposts also had productive fields and gardens (some irrigated) and pastures for large herds of livestock. At Villa San Fernando de Béxar, Canary Islanders had begun the process of assimilating with the Bexareños through the avenues of shared frontier experiences and intermarriage. And gone from Texas was priest-hating Carlos Franquis de Lugo, who was replaced by more reasonable but not always agreeable governors in the mold of Tomás Winthuysen.

The Franciscans at San Antonio, buoyed by the success of their missions, soon entertained plans for spreading their faith to outlying areas, which would also help secure Spanish control of Texas—an argument they effectively used to gain support in Mexico City and Madrid. Friars first targeted an area along the San Gabriel River, some 130 miles northeast of San Antonio. They also believed that carrying their Gospel into lands occupied by the Lipan Apaches (Apachería) would lessen their raids on San Antonio. A third focus of Béxar’s missionaries was the coastal region between La Bahía and the lower Trinity River. Unfortunately for these clerical architects of expansion, all three undertakings were ultimately destined to fail.

Troubles would continue for some time with the Lipan Apaches, but a far more serious threat from First People loomed on the horizon. In 1743 Comanches had pursued their Apache enemies to the environs of San Antonio, the former’s first recorded appearance in Texas. However, scarcely known to the Spanish at this time were the Taovayas, members of the Wichita Confederacy and recent arrivals along the Red River. These Indians, allied with the Comanches and other Indians of the North (Norteños), would leave death and destruction in their wake near the end of the 1750s.1

During the nearly two decades that preceded the 1763 Peace of Paris, there was only one truly successful colonization and mission-founding un

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