Tios and Tantes: Familial and Political
Relationships of Natchitoches and the
Spanish Colonial Frontier
PATRICIA R. LEME
T HE MEXICAN TOWN OF GUERRERO, COAHUILA, IS NEAR THE RIO
Grande in the drought-ridden, semi-arid desert that characterizes
northeastern Mexico and southwestern Texas.' Situated about thirty-five
miles downriver from present-day Piedras Negras, Coahuila, and its sis-
ter city of Eagle Pass, Texas, Guerrero retains much of its historical char-
acter. The contemporary town is the home to impressive ruins, includ-
ing the Misi6n de San Bernardo and a still-functioning irrigation system
designed nearly three hundred years ago. Historians of the Spanish
colonial borderlands have termed this Rio Grande settlement "the gate-
way to Spanish Texas."
The name of the first mission at the Guerrero site, San Juan Bautista,
became the generic name for the settlement that included Presidio de
Rio Grande and missions San Francisco de Solano and San Bernardo.
Through this frontier outpost passed some of the most important colo-
nial expeditions from northeast Mexico across the Rio Grande into the
Province of Texas, which is why it is called a gateway. The term "gateway,"
however, by no means should be considered exclusive. While San Juan
Bautista served as the gateway from the south, another similarly named
* Patricia R. Lemee is an independent reseacher from Austin. She is bilateral coordinator of
Mexico's Adopte Una Obra de Arte's Proyecto Misidn de San Bernardo at Guerrero, Coahuila.
' Guerrero, Coahuila, is not to be confused with Guerrero Viejo or Nuevo Guerrero,
Tamaulipas. Originally named Revilla, the Tamaulipas town was renamed on November 2,
1827, to honor the Mexican military hero Vicente Guerrero. Construction of Falc6n Dam on
the Rio Grande and the subsequent flooding of that river to create Falc6n Lake precipitated
the relocation of various towns in Tamaulipas, including Guerrero, which was renamed Nuevo
Guerrero. The former townsite became known as Guerrero Viejo. Mario L. Sanchez (ed.), A
Shared Expenrence: The Hstory, Architecture and Historica Designations of the Lower Rio Grande Heritage
Corridor, 2nd ed. (Austin: Los Caminos del Rio Heritage Project and the Texas Historical
Commission, 1994), 201.
2 Robert S. Weddle, San Juan Bautista, Gateway to Spanish Texas (1968; reprint, Austin: University
of Texas Press, 1991).
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117155/. Accessed September 1, 2015.