The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 3, July 1899 - April, 1900 Page: 55
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Route of Cabeza de Vaca in Texas.
Now this uncertainty covers a space of time of more than six
years, and of distance of more than two. thousand miles. The
country through which they made their way was certainly highly
diversified, and they must have passed many remarkable and notice-
able natural objects. Yet they made no record of any in such a
way that we can identify them.
There are, however, some things which seem to me to offer ex-
planations of this. For one thing, it is hardly to be expected that
men whose daily life lay under a terrible uncertainty as to food,
and to danger from the changing humors of savage masters, would
be in condition to pay close attention to anything save the stern
necessities fronting them. Thus keenness of perception would be
blunted as to natural objects.
But it seems to me the explanation which deserves the most
credit is that the report was made to their royal master, and, as
every Spaniard knew, all his interest in new countries centered
in two things, the finding of gold and the conversion of savages
to the Catholic faith. Naturally these were the lines on which
they made their report, and the description of natural objects was
hardly germane to it. So the whole report was relative to the two
points upon which the king was interested, except where there
crops out the record of their terrible hardships; and, as these hard-
ships were continuous, their hideous features appear almost invol-
untarily in every line.
As a result of this failure to closely describe the natural features
of the countries through which they passed, the conjectures as to
the line of travel from sea to sea are various. It has been main-
tained by some that they were shipwrecked east of the Mississippi,
and that the survivors passed through Arkansas, the Indian Ter-
ritory, New Mexico, and Arizona. Others have laid the entire
route in Old Mexico. But the tendency at present seems to be to
regard de Vaca's route as leaving the seashore in Texas, and pass-
ing west through Texas and Chihuahua. An article in the Quar-
terly for January, 1898, has taken the lead in figuring out his wan-
derings approximately upon the only basis open to us. It is the
purpose of this paper to follow in the path thus laid out, as far as
possible, and I trust that others will take up the work on the
same line until there will be obtained at least a fair approximation
to the route.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 3, July 1899 - April, 1900, periodical, 1900; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101015/m1/63/: accessed September 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.