The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959 Page: 57
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Secular Life in the San Antonio Missions
careful exactness and punctuality as the best father could do (because
their Excellencies the Viceroys, who thought it best, provided that it
should be done in that way) .*
By secret ballot the Indians elected a governor and alcaldes;
they also selected regidores (councilmen), an alguazil (sheriff),
and two fiscales (overseers).
With such variety of activities and apparent success how could
the number of Indians decline so that there were not enough
neophytes to till the fields and weave the cloth at Valero in 1778?55
By a proclamation of February 23, 1793, Valero was secularized
with only thirty-nine to receive rations. At the time Espada had
fifteen Indians, San Juan eleven, Concepci6n thirteen, and San
J6se twenty-all missions which had numbered neophytes in the
one and two hundreds. A decree of April i o, 1794, declared the
last four San Antonio missions secularized.
The secularization decrees themselves may have been the result
of a series of reforms which accompanied the reign of Charles
III in Spain. The Texas missions had sent no revenue to the royal
treasury; they were operating in the red most of the time. Pos-
sibly the missions had served their purpose and the wealth of the
new world could revert to the crown.56
Factors in Texas, however, probably influenced success or fail-
ure more than those in Spain.1" The temporal success of crops
and crafts was misleading; for despite impressive statistics of
fanegas and heads of cattle, the missionaries were constantly
training new converts. Not many families of Indians settled down
in the pueblo to raise generations of civilized people in the mis-
sion atmosphere. One visitor in 1785 pointed out that most of the
Indians at Valero were sons of uncivilized natives, even though
the mission was founded in 1716.58
One factor which affected a decrease in number was the large
number of runaway Indians. The missionaries had this problem
54Dabbs, "Texas Missions in 1785," Preliminary Studies of the Texas Catholic
Historical Society, III, 17-18.
55Morfi (Castafieda, trans.), History of Texas, I, 94; Chabot, Morfi Excerpts, 60.
56Castafieda, Our Catholic Heritage, V, 23-24.
IrWalter P. Webb, The Great Plains (Boston, 1931), 85.
asDabbs, "Texas Missions in 1785," Preliminary Studies of the Texas Catholic
Historical Society, III, 6. The mission was formally founded in 1718.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959, periodical, 1959; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/m1/75/: accessed January 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.