Notes and Documents
Inside the Comancheria, z 785: The Diary of
Pedro Vial and Francisco Xavier Chaves
EDITED BY ELIZABETH A. H. JOHN
TRANSLATED BY ADAN BENAVIDES JR.*
AT LAST THE DIARY OF THE FIRST ENVOYS FROM TEXAS TO THE Co-
mancheria has come to light, thanks to a Castillian commemoration
of the Columbian Quincentenary. The long-sought document fulfills ex-
pectations that the extraordinary qualifications of the two envoys, Pedro
Vial and Francisco Xavier Chaves, would have generated an ethnohistor-
Bare outlines of the Vial-Chaves journey, June 17 to September 29,
1785, had been discerned from related documents in the Bexar
Archives, but neither the original diary retained at San Antonio nor the
copy forwarded to Chihuahua in November 1785 could be found.
Searching farther up the archival chain in Mexico City and in Spain had
yielded only frustration. Hence the immeasurable value of the publica-
tion in Spain that pointed the way to certified manuscript copies of the
Vial-Chaves diary and related documents at the Archivo General de
Francisco Xavier Chaves was about eight years old when captured in
1770 by Comanches who found him herding sheep on his family's ranch
* Elizabeth A. H. John is an independent historian primarily concerned with tribal histories
and the interplay of Indian and European cultures, particularly in the Hispanic Borderlands.
Adan Benavides is a doctoral student in the Graduate School of Library and Information Sci-
ences at the University of Texas at Austin, from which he also holds an M.A. in Latin American
"El viaje de una embajada de paz a la Nac16n Comanche," m Amando Represa (ed.), La Es-
paria Ilustrada en el Lejano Oeste: Viajes y exploraciones por las provwncas y terntonos haspdnicos de
Norteamrica en el saglo XVIII (Valladolid: Junta de Castilla y Le6n, Consejeria de Cultura y Bienes-
tar Social, 1990), 11-28 The editor is grateful to Professor David Weber, who received the book
as a gift from a Spanish friend and sent her the photocopy that marked the end of a search be-
gun in 1968.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/. Accessed July 11, 2014.