Texas Almanac, 1947-1948 Page: 94
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94 TEXAS ALMANAC.-1947-1948.
he made a number of expeditions, some to
the westward apparently in search of the
gold and silver mines of the Spaniards. and
later to the eastward in search of the Missis-
sippi. La Salle was killed by one of his own
mbI during an expedition in 1687. The place
of the explorer's death is usually fixed at a
site near present Navasota. After the leader's
death the colony at Fort Saint Louis was
soon destroyed by disease and Indians Its
establishment in Texas thus came to little
direct results. Indirectly it had a permanent
influence on the chain of historic cause-and-
effect, because it alarmed the Spaniards in
Mexico and made them give serious thought
to the matter of establishing settlements in
the great region north of the Rio Grande.
III. THE MISSIONS-SPANISH DOMINION.
Until La Salle's venture into Texas the
Spanish civil and military authorities in
Mexico had directed their northward expedi-
tions into the basin of the Upper Rio Grande
in New Mexico. It was in this region, accord-
ing to persistent rumor, that the Seven Cities
of Cibola could be found. The priesthood,
knowing of the great Indian population of
the Texas coastal region, had urged that
settlements be made in this area for the pur-
pose of spreading the Christian religion. The
military authorities little heeded these ap-
peals until the French under La Salle gave
them reasons, other than those offered by
the priests, for wanting to plant Spanish
sovereignty firmly in this territory.
Early East Texas Missions.
In 1689 an expedition by Capt. Alonso de
Leon, Governor of Coahuila, set out to find
and destroy Fort Saint Louis. The expedition
was accompanied by Father Massanet, whose
purpose was to establish a mission in Texas.
he abandoned Fort Saint Louis was discov-
ered in 1690, and the expedition of De Leon
proceeded eastward as far as the Neches
The first East Texas mission, San Fran-
cisco de los TeJas, was established near the
Neches, probably at a point near the present
town of Weches, in the northeastern part of
Houston County. This was in 1690, and a
little later in the same year the mission
Santisimo Norribre de Maria was established
near by. These missions were maintained by
a handful of soldiers and priests until 1693.
Fear of French infiltration from Louisiana
gradually subsided after the destruction of
ort Saint Louis, and Spanish effort In Texas
The Naming of Texas.
One lasting development came out of this
expedition, however-the naming of Texas.
Up to this time there had been no name for
the approximate present area of Texas.
Mention has been made of Amachel, the name
applied by Pineda to the hinterland north
of the Gulf including present Texas. Other
early Spanish maps included in Florida all of
the land from the Cape of Florida to the Rio
de las Palmas (Rio Grande). Another early
designation, which was more nearly co-exten-
sive with the present bounds of Texas, was
Apacheria (Land of the Apaches), and the
name Nueva Felipinas (New Philippines) was
sometimes applied to the coastal territory on
both sides of the Rio Grande Quivira was
still another name applied vaguely to the
territory north of the Rio Grande In some
early references, Llano Estacado is applied
to a wide area of Central and West Texas,
though it applies properly only to the High
During the expedition of Captain De Leon
and Father Massanet, so the story goes, an
Indian was asked the name of his tribe, to
which he replied "Tejis." Apparently the
word, meaning friends or allies, referred to
an intertribal confederacy of the Hasinal
Caddoes. The exact meaning of the word, and
the exact procedure by which it came to be
applied to the region by the Spaniards. prob-
ably will never be known. It is noteworthy,
however, that Tejas or Texas has the same
stem used in the formation of the names of
a large number of Caddo tribes.
Probably the most definite thing that can
be said about the origin of the word "Texas"
is that it was an intertribal name or watch-
word of the Caddoes and first came into use
as the result of the expedition of De Leon
and Father Massanet. While the application
of the name to the territory is dated from
the expedition of De Leon and Massanet in
1689-90, it is interesting that Coronado ap-
lied the name "Teyas" to the Indians of
North Central Texas (probably the Wichita
Caddoes) a century and a half earlier.
Upper Rio Grande Missions.
It is interesting that the long sweep of
Texas from the Sabine to the Rocky Moun-
tains intersected two widely divergent routes
of Spanish missionary activity. Even before
the founding of San Francisco de los Tejas
several missions had been established in the
Upper Texas Rio Grande Valley, along the
route of communication between Mexico City
and Spanish mission and military activities
in the upper valley around Santa Fe, New
Mexico. Thus, while the advance of civiliza-
tion in Texas has been primarily from east
to west, nevertheless the very first stirrings
of religious and cultural effort were in the
extreme west. According to most dependable
historic records, the oldest missions in Texas
were San Antonio de los Tiguas, 1682, later
known as Nuestra Senora del Carmen, and
San Miguel del Socorro, 1682, in present El
Paso County a short distance southeast of
El Paso. These missions were established in
connection with the settlement of Ysleta del
Sur and Socorro del Sur, mentioned pre-
viously as the oldest communities in Texas.
Several missions including Julimes and San
Cristobal were established in what is now
Presidio County near the junction of the Rio
Grande and Rio Conchos about 1683. Research
by Dr. Carlos E. Castaneda of the University
of Texas has revealed much additional infor-
mation about the mission activity in this
interesting locality, which must be listed as
one of the historic landmarks of Texas. The
location of the little city of Presidio, opposite
the mouth of the Rio Conchos on the Rio
Grande, was undoubtedly the site of an In-
dian village for hundreds of years before the
coming of white men. Situated in a cultivable
valley beside a perennially flowing stream, at
a natural passageway across the Rio Grande,
it was a logical center for habitation.
Other West Texas missions were estab-
lished as offshoots of missionary effort in the
Upper Rio Grande Valley, the farthest east
being that of San Clemente, 1683, located
probably near the junction of the Colorado
and Concho Rivers in Runnels or Concho
St. Denis-Spanish Look Eastward Again.
After subsidence of Spanish alarm over the
founding of Fort Saint Louis and the aban-
donment of the early East Texas missions,
the government in Mexico City had little
occasion to worry about their Trans-Rio
Grande possessions until 1714, when they
were jolted by the sudden appearance of the
French explorer and trader, Louis Juchereau
de Saint Denis, at San Juan Bautista on the
Rio Grande opposite present-day Eagle Pass.
The Frenchman, who had traversed Texas
without attracting the attention of Spanish
authorities, protested innocence of any design
other than establishing a friendly line of
commerce with the French in Louisiana.
However, he was placed under arrest and
sent to Mexico City to explain his intentions
to the Viceroy. The result of the conversa-
tion was the decision of the Viceroy to send
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Texas Almanac, 1947-1948, book, 1947; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117136/m1/96/: accessed April 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.