The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 25, July 1921 - April, 1922 Page: 175
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Founding of the Last Spanish Mission in Texas
connected with this missionary enterprise, which constitutes an
additional evidence of the industry and zeal of the Catholic mis-
sionaries of the Spanish Southwest.2
Early Missionary Activities in the Gulf Region of Texas.-The
work of the Spaniards in Texas was greatly influenced from first
to last by the character of the Indian tribes inhabiting that prov-
ince. The varying degrees of success achieved were due mainly
to divergences in the nature of the natives rather than to differ-
ences in the methods employed in their conversion. On the San
Antonio River the Texas mission system attained its highest de-
velopment among the weak tribes that sought the protection of
the Spaniards against their traditional foes, the Apache. Among
the stronger tribes of the "Texas" or IHasinai Confederacy fur-
ther east no permanent results were obtained. Equally difficult
was the work of the priests among the group of tribes known as
the Karankawa, who lived along the Texas coast. Spanish do-
minion over that region was ever' hampered by reason of the hos-
tile and barbarous nature of these Indians."
The first attempt of the Spaniards to occupy the territory in-
habited by the Karankawa was made in 1722, when the presidio
and mission of Espiritu Santo were established on the site of
La Salle's ill-fated settlement. The hostility of the coast tribes
caused this early site to be abandoned four years later, the pre-
sidio and mission being moved further inland on the Guadalupe
River. The movement for the formation of the province of
Nuevo Santander in 1749 led to a further removal of the mission
group to the San Antonio River, near the present town of Goliad.
Five years later a new mission called Nuestra Sefiora del Rosario
was founded nearby for work among the coast tribes. The efforts
2This study is based largely on original manuscript materials in the
General Archive of the Indies, Seville, Spain, supplemented by other
hitherto unused documents in the Bexar Archives of the University of
Texas at Austin. The writer is indebted to Miss Carrie Camp, one of
his former students at the University of Texas, for much of the prelim-
inary research on this topic.
'The Karankawa group included the tribe known by this name as well
as the Cujane, Guapite, Coco, and Copane tribes, their customary haunts
being along the islands and mainland in the region of Matagorda Bay.
Their total number was estimated at from four to five hundred fighting
men (Bolton, 'Tewas in the Middle Eighteenth Century, p. 282).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 25, July 1921 - April, 1922, periodical, 1922; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101082/m1/181/: accessed October 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.