The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 393
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Restoring the Oldest Water Right in Texas
Plan and Development Concept Plan. This document established the inter-
pretive experiences the NPS planned to pursue at each of the four mis-
sions. The theme selected for San Juan Capistrano Mission was that of
the Spanish mission institution as "an Economic Center.""
In addition to interpretive displays, the NPS's General Management Plan
provided that a section of the old San Juan labores would be replicated as
a mission farm illustrative of the Spanish period in south Texas.
Planning for this project continued into and through the 199os. In
1993 NPS historian Rosalind Rock completed a preliminary study elabo-
rating on the themes suitable for the demonstration farm proposed for
San Juan Mission. In the historical section this study emphasized the
community aspects of mission life where Coahuiltecan neophytes
cleared land for cultivation, constructed and maintained irrigation sys-
tems, tilled the soil, tended the orchards and fields, mended fences, and
harvested the crops. To convey the significance of this experience, Rock
indicated that the "Spanish Colonial Demonstration Farm" at San Juan
Mission, once established, would illustrate the communal agricultural
activities of the neophytes that took place on the labores under the guid-
ance of the Franciscan friars.7 The National Park Service plans to
request additional funds from Congress for the building of interpretive
facilities at San Juan Mission and to operate the Spanish Colonial
Demonstration Farm on a continuing basis.
By the early 199os support for the restoration of the old San Juan
Acequia system was evident from a cross-section of organizations in
Bexar County and the city of San Antonio. The divisions, lawsuits, and
conflicts of the past were largely forgotten. What had begun as a dispute
between private landowners and sponsors of the channel improvement
project (the San Antonio River Authority and the Army Corps of
Engineers) turned into a collaborative venture to preserve the historical
sites and artifacts associated with Spanish colonial agriculture important
to San Antonio and all of Texas. Various parties to the suits ultimately
found a way to work together to recognize and validate the significance
of the oldest water right in Texas. Throughout the 1990s the prime
movers in the restoration project were the San Antonio River Authority
and the National Park Service, but endorsements came from virtually all
other interest groups that had been following the fate of the San Juan
Acequia: the San Antonio Conservation Society, the Bexar County Com-
missioners' Court, Los Compadres de San Antonio Missions, Mission
" National Park Service, General Management Plan and Development Concept Plan (Santa Fe:
Southwest Regional Office,July 1982), 52.
7Rosalind Z. Rock, "Tiempo de la Siembra ... Tiempo de la Fruta: Planting and Harvest Time-A
Preliminary Study in Preparation for the Proposed Spanish Colonial Demonstration Farm," Feb.
1, 1993, on file in office of Rosalind Z. Rock (SAMNHP).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/461/: accessed November 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.