The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995 Page: 28
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28 Southwestern Historical Quarterly July
south of Albuquerque. He grew to manhood as an Indian, first among
Comanches and then among Taovayas to whom, according to Chaves
family tradition, he was traded after the death of his Comanche mother.
While learning the languages and cultures of those two very different
peoples, young Chaves did not forget his Spanish heritage. In July 1784,
he slipped away from raiders with whom he had ridden southward from
the Red River village of the Taovayas, and presented himself at the Pre-
sidio of San Antonio de Bexar.
Taken at once to Governor Domingo Cabello, the twenty-two-year-old
Chaves must have cut a startling figure: little more than five feet tall,
dressed as an Indian, with eyelids lacerated for the traditional tattooing
that would mark him as Taovayas to the end of his days, but still articu-
late in Spanish. He was immediately helpful in explaining current cir-
cumstances among the Indians whom he knew so well. That marked the
beginning of his long, creditable service as interpreter and intermediary
with indigenes of the northern frontier.2
Seven months later, San Antonio gained another, more mature immi-
grant from the village of the Taovayas. Pedro Vial, a native of Lyon in
France, was an accomplished blacksmith whose skill in making lances
and repairing guns guaranteed his welcome in the interior, where he
had long lived and traded among various tribes. For his apparent super-
natural powers, some Indians called him Manitou. Spanish authorities
had worried about his activities since he first turned up at Natchitoches
and New Orleans in 1779, but Vial had managed to evade the order of
Governor Bernardo de Gilvez that he not go back to live among the In-
2 Some biographical data on Chaves appears in Frederick C Chabot, Wth the Makers of San An-
tonio- Genealogies of the Early Latin, Anglo-American, and German Families ... (San Antonio: Artes
Graficas, 1937), 183-191. The principal sources of documentary evidence are identified in
Adin BenavidesJr. (comp. and ed.), The Bdxar Archives (1717-z836), A Name Guide (Austin: Unim-
versity of Texas Press for the University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio,
1989), 208-209. The early years of the role of Chaves in the Spanish service are traced in Eliza-
beth A. H. John, Storms Brewed in Other Men's Worlds: The Confrontation of Indians, Spanish, and
French in the Southwest, 1540-1795 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1975, and Lin-
coln: University of Nebraska Press, 1981), 649, 656, 662-667, 688-691, 693, 695, 702,
706-707, 716, 718-720o, 757-758. For his antecedents, see Fray Ang6lico Chavez, Chdvez, A Dis-
tznctzve American Clan of New Mexico (Santa Fe: William Gannon, 1989), esp. 122, and also xi-xii,
which explains the evolution of the surname "Chaves."
Although the spelling has been widely standardized as "Chavez" since the latter nineteenth
century, "Chaves" was the usual spelling in the eighteenth century. Thus, "Chaves" was used by
Governor Domingo Cabello, who generated all of the original reportage of Francisco Xavier's
activity at San Antonio. That spelling appears in all of the documents concerning Francisco
Xavier and his family that survive in the B6xar Archives, and has prevailed among his descen-
dants to the present. Hence, the spelling "Chaves" is used in all of the editorial matter of this ar-
ticle. Oddly enough, the name was written as "Chavez" by the commandancy general's scribe
who produced at Chihuahua the certified copy of the original that is translated herein; conse-
quently, the translation retains "Chavez" in the two instances in which Francisco Xavier's sur-
name occurs in the diary.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995, periodical, 1995; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/m1/56/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.