The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 38, July 1934 - April, 1935 Page: 123
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Silent Years in Texas History
the natives, who soon tired of ordered life and restrictions and
threatened the very existence of the men who had come at their
bidding out of love for humanity. Then one night, the small band
of disheartened missionaries and soldiers steal away, after burying
the mission bells and small cannon, and silence reigns once more
over the wilderness. For twenty years, until St. Denis appeared
unexpectedly at the Presidio of San Juan Bautista on the Rio
Grande, this silence seems to reign supreme. Until very recently
it was thought that in reality there had been a complete lull; that
during these years all interest and activity in Texas ceased; that
these were silent years in the history of our State.
Contrary to this general impression, interest in Texas continued,
activity went on, although greatly diminished, and far from being
silent years, these two decades are replete with interest because of
the mystery that envelopes the activity of the French in the region
occupied by the Asinai. In the subdued light that filters into the
unexplored region, in the all-enveloping silence, there stilthily
moves the shadow of a man who for more than forty years was to
play an important role in the history of the Franco-Spanish
frontier in America, a man of whom Governor Boneo y Morales
said in 1744 "St. Denis is dead, thank God ! Now we can breathe
easier."' In the stillness of the forest a voice is heard calling to
the Indians, expressing a hope for an early return. Fray Hidalgo
kept his eyes fixed constantly on his dearly beloved Tejas, as he
waited patiently on the outposts of Coahuila for an opportunity
to return to Texas, and on two occasions made bold to write to
the French themselves to inquire after the welfare of the Indians.4
In the course of this short paper it is the intention of the writer
to bring out as many of the meager details as he has been able to find
concerning the activities of St. Denis during this apparently sterile
period and to point out other indications of both Spanish and
French interest in the area occupied by the Asinai confederacy in
the hope of arousing interest among those who love to delve into
the obscure corners of history that the silent years may at last tell
their story and that our history may be continuous instead of
broken by this gap.
3Bolton, Texas in the Middle Eighteenth Century, 41.
4Resumnen general de los autos sobre noticias, informes y escritos desde
1688 a 1716... in San Francisco el Grande Archive, VIII, 126-163 (Photo-
stat copy, University of Texas).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 38, July 1934 - April, 1935, periodical, 1935; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117143/m1/137/: accessed June 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.