The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997 Page: 512
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
This useful volume not only has the first English translations of documents
pertinent to these two expeditions (by David McDonald and Ned F. Brierley, ex-
perts in eighteenth-century Spanish usage), but also offers meaningful analyses
and annotations by the editor and annotator that place events and locations in
context. The diary of Pedro de Rivera has been available only in Spanish while
that of the Marques de Rubi recently surfaced in a manuscript volume given to
the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. The title,
"Imaginary Kingdom," reflects the conclusion of the two expedition leaders that
this remote frontier was a very tenuous royal possession. Both men, recognizing
the reality of diminishing Spanish influence, recommended abandoning useless
or inefficient presidios in remote areas in order to concentrate military strength
in defensible locations.
The scholarly introduction explains how these diaries, when carefully com-
pared with previously known travel journals and plotted on topographical maps,
result in better identification of the river crossings and campsites along the old
Spanish routes. Although not claiming that the findings are "written in stone"
(p. xiv), the authors expect that by narrowing the geographic locations to specif-
ic counties, local historians more cognizant of specific geographical features,
may "refine" (p. xv) the projections even more precisely. Besides clarifying the
locations of the Camino Real, the Camino de los Tejas, and the various other
trails, the diaries also add information about Spanish policies, ethnology of the
Indian population and its encounters with Europeans, and even climate
changes, the extent of the grasslands, and animal distributions. Historians of the
period (both academic and avocational), archeologists, linguists, ethnohistori-
ans, and a variety of scientists will find new information valuable to their re-
search or interests.
The book is divided into two parts, one for each expedition. Each opens with
aJose Cisneros drawing of the commander, a concise map of the route followed
with present-day rivers and towns in place, and an enlightening "Historical Back-
ground." The diary-itinerary of the commandant is followed by other pertinent
documents and a historical assessment by the writers. A real treasure are the
eight color plates: two eighteenth-century maps of the Texas frontier and plates
of six presidios at San Saba, San Antonio de Vejar [sic], Los Adaes, El Orco-
quisac (on the lower Trinity River), La Bahia (Goliad), and San Juan Batista de
Rio Grande. Excellent footnotes, a succinct bibliography, and a good index help
scholars and the general public find relevant material.
This fine book is the fourth volume in the cooperative publication series by
the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin and the
Texas State Historical Association to encourage historical studies based on the
Center's Barker Texas History Collection.
Houston MARGARET SWETT HENSON
Before Rebellion: Letters and Reports of Jacobo Sedelmayr, S.J. Translated by Daniel S.
Matson. Introduction and Annotations by Bernard L. Fontana. (Tucson:
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997, periodical, 1997; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/m1/590/?rotate=90: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.