Texas Almanac, 1952-1953 Page: 36
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Texas than the Upper Panhandle. They ad-
vanced rapidly southward, however, in sharp
conflict with the Apaches, as well as east-
ward against the Wichitas. By 1750 they had
established themselves as far east as the
Blackland Prairies and as far south as San
Antonio, driving the Lipan Anaches south-
westward and westward across the Rio
Grande and Pecos Rivers. These fierce, no-
madic Indians, who early became expert
horsemen, were destined to play the leading
role in the long conflict between red and
white man in the territory lying between the
Red River and Rio Grande. With a culture
somewhat like that of the Apaches, they
were a people of fine physique and great
courage, but sustained a relatively low cul-
ture, and never yielded to civilizing influ-
Other Early Tribes.
Probably at this period there were some
other Indians along the borders of Texas,
notably in the extreme western part of the
Trans-Pecos, who may have been members of
the Ute tribes. Fairly recent traces of Pueblo
or kindred culture are found in this terri-
tory. Mystery surrounds the Jumanos of the
High Plains mentioned by Coronado and
other early explorers. Possibly these were
an extreme westward extension of the Wich-
itas. They were undoubtedly driven eastward
by the Comanches who came from the north-
west. A small group of Jumanos 'was eventu-
ally settled on an Indian reservation in
The foregoing is an approximate bird's-eye
view of Indian distribution in Texas as it was
found by the first white men. There is, of
course, a good deal of deduction and some
guesswork entailed in such a picture. Fur-
thermore, a description of the kind must be
in generalities for the reason that boundary
lines between tribal territories were indefi-
It must be kept in mind, too, that the tribal
boundaries shifted constantly and rapidly.
The picture above was vastly different at the
time of arrival of Austin's colonists in Texas
The principal thrust against the aboriginal
Indian population of Texas seems to have
been from the north as the Comanches and
the Osages drove down against the Lipan
Apaches and the Caddoes, respectively. At a
fairly early date, however, the impact from
the east became noticeable as the expanding
white population of the Atlantic Seaboard
drove the Indians of the Old South westward.
Among the tribes that crossed the Texas bor-
der on the east. were the Cherokees, Ala-
bamas, Coushattas, Seminoles, Delawares and
Kickapoos. The total Indian population of
Texas in these early years is a matter of
speculation. Various estimates of historians
and government agencies have ranged from
20,000 to 130,000. Most authorities now agree
that there were not more than 30,000.
Something of the fate of these original
Texans is told on the following pages, which
relate the history of white man on Texas
soil. (See pp. 46 and 50.)
COMING OF THE WHITE MAN
Probably the Spanish explorer, Alonzo
Alvarez de Pineda, and his followers were
the first white men to set foot on what is
now Texas soil. In 1519, Gov. Francis de
Garay of Jamaica sent Pineda to explore the
coast of the Gulf of Mexico from the Florida
peninsula to Panuco. Pineda drew a fairly
accurate coast-line map and marked the vast
territory, calling it Amichel.
Another expedition was made a year or
two later, and there is dependable evidence
that a settlement was established at the
mouth of the Rio de las Palmas, now the Rio
Grande. The exact location is not known. If
it was- on the north bank, Texas has the
distinction of having the location of one of
the very earliest white settlements in what
is the United States today. The project of
Garay proved unsuccessful, however, and the
settlement was soon abandoned.
It is probable that another attempt was
made to place a settlement at the mouth of
the' Rio de las Palmas about 1526 while Nuno
Beltran de Guzman was Governor of Panuco
This first visit of white men. to the Texas
coast took place only twenty-seven years
after the discovery of the Western Hemi-
sphere by Columbus. At that time Cortes had
just landed in Mexico. His success whetted
the appetites of the adventurous Spaniards
and led them to expeditions into the region
north of Mexico in hope of finding other rich
countries to conquer.
Cabeza de Vaca.
It was such an incentive that led to the
second expedition to reach the Texas coast.
Panfilo de Narvaez was commissioned by the
King of Spain to explore and exploit the land
"from the Rio de las Palmas to the Cape of
Florida." Narvaez previously had been sent
to Mexico to curb the high-handed Cortes but
was defeated. Accompanying the Narvaez ex-
pedition was Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca,
commissioned by the King of Spa:n na treas-
urer of the expedition and special repiresenta-
tive of the crown. Landing on the wet coast
of Florida, near present Tampa, the TIarvaez
expedition marched northward several hun-
dred miles, and then in several inrovised
barges took to sea again and sailed w wardr,
and was finally tossed by a gale on the Texas
coast. It is probable that the boat carrying
Cabeza de Vaca landed on Galveston Island
in November, 1528.
All members of the expedition finally per-
ished except Cabeza de Vaca and three com-
panions. For six years they lived among the
Indians, as slaves at first. Later, the intelli-
gent and resourceful Cabeza de Vaca estab-
lished a reputation as a medicine man and
wandered with his three companions from
tribe to tribe with his fame going before him.
They finally found their way to the Spanish
settlement of Culiacan, Sinaloa, near th
Pacific Coast, after one of the most amazing
peregrinations in the annals of man.
The trip of Cabeza de'Vaca across Texas is
of great historical interest because of the
complete account that he wrote immediately
after his return to civilization. He was a
man of native ability, good education and
unwavering honesty. While his account was
from memory, it is accepted as trustworthy.
For its realistic picture of life among the
aborigines, and for other reasons, it is an
invaluable historical document.
Conquistadores in Texas.
Among the Spanish adventurers in Mexico
there had spread 'a story of the Seven Cities
of Cibola, reputed to lie to the north and to
be fabulously wealthy. Cabeza de Vaca heard
of them in his wanderings and carried these
stories back to Mexico City. A number of
expeditions were made in search of the Seven
Cities of Cibola. The most noteworthy was
that of Capt. Francisco Vasquez de Coronado,
who in 1540 marched northward into what
is now New Mexico by way of El Paso del
Norte, the pass at present-day El Paso-
From a base in present New Mexico, Coro-
nado made a wide detour to the east, led by
an Indian guide who intrigued the avaricious
Spaniards with stories of Gran Quivira, land
of gold and silver. Although Coronado found
no Seven Cities of Cibola br Gran Quivira,
other than the grass-house villages of the
seminomadic tribes of the prairie 'plains, his
expedition left its permanent impression.
Other conquistadores were encouraged to try
their luck in search of the Seven Cities. Out
of these expeditions came the eventual estab-
lishment in the Rio Grande Valley In New
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Texas Almanac, 1952-1953, book, 1951; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117137/m1/38/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.