The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 31, July 1927 - April, 1928 Page: 51
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Description of Tejas or Asinai Indians, 1691-1792
Indians have in their houses was brought from the house of their
high priest, whom they call chenesi. If the fire goes out they
start immediately for the house of the priest to get new fire. It
never goes out in the house of sacrifice. The Indians say they
have two children from God whom they call in their language
coneneses "the little ones." . .. The Indians go at night to
say their prayers. Their priest assumes the voices of the two
children and asks for what he needs for their use. H-le threatens
that if they do not do as they are told they will be punished sud-
denly with snake bites. They make many prayers in their lan-
Rio Grande and then pushed forward with Father Isidro Felis Espinosa
and the captain of the presidio of Rio Grande to learn whether or not
the Texas Indians had made crops on the Trinity River for the purpose
of being nearer their friends the Spaniards. But, for lack of provisions,
the party was forced to return before reaching the goal. Not at all cast
down by this failure, Hidalgo continued his efforts. He gathered infor-
mation from travelers and writers and wrote many letters to influential
persons in which he exhorted them to the heroic work of undertaking
the resumption of missionary effort among the Texas Indians.
At length he had what he considered a "happy thought." He realized
that the French were steadily pushing westward and that if he could
give some undeniable proof of this, the government would be forced to
action. He wrote in French and in Latin to the French missionaries on
the Mississippi, hoping to receive an answer which he could exhibit to
the viceroy. But, what was his surprise, to receive an answer in the
person of the famous trader San Denis who had gone to the old mission
site and been told by the Texas Indians that they were still waiting
eagerly for Hidalgo's return and would make no trade with the new man
until they had seen their patron. The enterprising Frenchman then decided
to push on toward the far distant Rio Grande to make arrangements
for opening trade between the French and Spaniards. Thus the way was
unexpectedly opened for missionary work, for the viceroy was greatly
alarmed at this aggression.
The viceroy issued orders for sending out soldiers and missionaries
and, as was to be expected, the zealous Hidalgo was chosen as one of
the workers. Disappointment again awaited him. Although four mis-
sions were founded, the Indians refused to locate in pueblos and the mis-
sionaries were forced to make long journeys in an effort to learn their
language, to instruct, and to baptize them. The priests worked on under
these trying conditions until they were forced to abandon their East
Texas field in 1719, because of the hostility of the French in Louisiana.
Father Hidalgo then became interested in the fierce Apaches who came
often to San Antonio where the missionaries were located. After becom-
ing convinced that Spanish arms could never prevail against these war-
riors, he asked permission to undertake the work of their conversion.
This request was denied by the guardian of the college and by the presi-
dent of the Texas missions, as they believed it would involve a useless
sacrifice of life. This proved a final blow and Father Hidalgo, old and
broken retired to San Juan Bautista, where he died in 1726, at the age
His report, based upon an intimate knowledge of the Texas Indians,
is of especial interest when taken in connection with the reports of Father
Jesfis Maria de Casafias and of Father Isidro Felis Espinosa.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 31, July 1927 - April, 1928, periodical, 1928; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101088/m1/57/?rotate=90: accessed April 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.