Descriptions of the Tejas or Asinai Indians, 1691-1722 207
in writing- in order that your Excellency may learn in detail
the few things I have seen, experienced, and learned during this
year. I am also induced to write this letter and this brief report
on account of the information which certain chiefs of the Province
Francisco de Jesfis Maria al Virrey Conde de Galves sobre las Misiones s
de Tejas. . . . fol. 4.4.
Ms. of the 17th Century, 30 leaves. Signed by the author, 15th Aug-
ust, 1691. Perhaps the oldest document on the Missions of Texas.
This original was later deposited in the Archives of the University of
Texas and has been used for the present translation, the final result being
checked with a translation made many years ago by Professor Rudolph
Wipprecht of A. and M. College.
Fray Francisco Casaflas de Jesfis Maria, "the protomartyr of the
Propaganda Fide in North America," was born about 1656 in the city of
Barcelona, Catalua, Spain, noted from ancient days for its famous war-
riors and devoted friars. The fates gave to him just the training needed
for missionary work among the Indians of the New World. He was of
noble descent, his mother boasting of royal French blood, his father being
an Andalucian gentleman in command of certain royal troops. He was
carefully reared and educated but, at an early age, showed his fitness for
the life of a religious, though he heard but little save the din and talk of
war. His biographer, Fray Isidro Felis de Espinosa, records that his
favorite diversion as a child was the construction of chapels of cypress
boughs adorned with flowers, surrounded with minature gardens, and
curiously fenced in with reeds-prophetic of the thatched missions in the
wilds of Texas. There before a wooden cross of his own carving he spent
many hours in study. He showed an especial affection for the Franciscan
fathers and spent much time at their convent in preparatory training.
The fathers regarded him as a son and eagerly looked forward to the
time when they could "transplant him as a flower to their holy garden."
He took the Franciscan habit in the Convent of Santa Maria de Jesfis at
Barcelona, finishing his novitiate in 1672. He continued his studies in
theology and philosophy and became a most zealous minister. But greater
service to humanity awaited him; for, as Espinosa aptly puts it, he was
being reserved "as one of the workers in La Vifia Indiana." During the
travels of Fray Antonio Linaz through Spain in 1682 in search of mis-
sionaries for America, he visited the Convent at Barcelona and was im-
mediately impressed by the modesty and learning of Father Jesfis Maria
who scarcely waited to hear the patent for enlisting missionaries until
he exhorted his fellow workers to join him in answering the call although
it meant separation from friends and native land. He was accepted and
while anxiously awaiting an opportunity for sailing he met at the Convent
of San Antonio de Sevilla, Fray Francisco Hidalgo for whom he formed
a strong friendship that was to endure for many years-an especial bond
between them later being their mutual interest in the Tejas Indians. From
Seville the two friends traveled together to the point of embarkation.
They finally reached Vera Cruz, pushed on through the capital, and
reached the College of Queretaro on August 16, 1683. Father Jesfis Marfa
spent some time in doing mission work in Mexico City, Vera Cruz, San
Juan de Uluft, Campeche, and M&irida. He then returned to his college
and for a season lived there under the strictest possible discipline. Again
in 1689 he took up the Indian work, this time on the frontier of Nuevo
Le6n. Not meeting with success, he retired to his college and waited
for news of the expedition sent to Texas under Alonso de Le6n and Father
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 30, July 1926 - April, 1927. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117142/. Accessed April 17, 2014.