The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980 Page: 124
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Although the East Texas missions maintained herds of livestock, the
most successful ecclesiastical colonial ranching operations developed
along the San Antonio River. In addition to their farms, each mission
maintained herds of cattle, sheep, and goats to supply food for mission
residents and to provide income. Pastures for these animals were located
at appreciable distances from the missions. From its location at Goliad,
Mission Espiritu Santo operated ranchlands extending from the San
Antonio River to the Guadalupe River. El Atascosco, a ranch belonging
to San Jose, was situated some thirty miles southwest of the mission.2
These ranches were operated by a few permanent residents stationed
at the headquarters. Rancho San Ildefonso de los Chayopines-now the
Picosa Ranch-evidently established in the mid-eighteenth century by
Father Luis Mariano Cardenas, was occupied by eight persons when
visited by Father Juan Agustin Morfi. Other ranches included San Fran-
cisco with seventeen residents and Las Cabras with twenty-six.3
The structures at Rancho Las Cabras-which may have belonged to
Mission Espada-were representative of the mission "rancho" head-
quarters. Reflecting the conditions of the frontier on which it was lo-
cated, Las Cabras like the missions, evidently was fortified against the
harassment of unfriendly Indians. Located at Paseo de las Mujeres on
the San Antonio River, near the present town of Floresville, it was sur-
rounded with an enclosure and several bastions. Although only traces of
the foundations remain today, it appears that a plaza, living quarters,
and a chapel all stood within the enclosure. From the security of these
fortifications the ranch Indians ventured into the pastures to tend their
livestock, which at one time included some fifteen-hundred head of
cattle and five-hundred sheep and goats.4
At the same time that the mission ranches were thriving, secular
ranching was developing. The Spanish government hoped that this fron-
tier activity would provide an economical means of controlling the hos-
tile Indians in the region. Secular enterprise, it was thought, could
Two (El Paso, 1969), 11; Sandra L Myles, "The Spanish Cattle Kingdom of the Prouince
of Texas," Texana, IV (Fall, 1966), 235. See also Odie B. Faulk, "Ranching in Spanish
Texas," The Hispanic American Historical Review, XLV (MaN, 1965), 257-258
2Myres, The Ranch in Spanish Texas, 12-13
3Juan Agustin Morfi, History of Texas, 1673-1779, trans. by Carlos Eduardo Castafieda
(Albuquerque, 1935), 102
4Elo J. Urbanovsky, "Mission de las Cabras, Wilson County, Texas" Feasibility Report"
(mimeographed copy), Texas Tech Unilersity, department of Park Administration and
Horticulture (Lubbock, 1972); James M. Day, "San Jose," in Six Misson of Texas, ed by
Dorman H. Winfrey (Waco, Texas, 1965), 145.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980, periodical, 1979/1980; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101207/m1/156/: accessed January 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.