The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968 Page: 543
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San Juan Bautista
cross from the south; from the north the "pagan" souls who, were
curious about, if not actually thirsting for, the Christian religion.
Early travelers beyond the Rio Grande were attracted to the vicinity
of San Juan Bautista by its two important river crossings: Paso de
Francia and Paso, Pacuache." These fords were key passages for Indians
of the region long before the coming of the Spaniards; the Europeans
were guided to them by the natives. It may be assumed, therefore,
that at least one of the two fords was crossed by Spaniards several
years before Alonso de Le6n forded the Rio Grande on April 2, 1689,
on his way to find La Salle's Fort St. Louis.'
The two missions founded in 1690 on the Neches River" by mem-
bers of the De Le6n-Damian Massanet expedition were the only ones
in eastern Texas which antedated San Juan Bautista. The Spaniards,
provoked by the French, had leaped prematurely into an area too
far removed from supply bases. These missions were doomed to early
failure; the mission builders were forced to withdraw, to lay the
foundation anew in order to advance a step at a time. One of the
vital steps which had been missed in the premature effort was San
To most of the missionaries who, had taken part in the first Texas
venture, the mere name "Tejas" was so odious that they cared not
even to pronounce it.' Father Massanet, invited by the viceroy to
suggest other mission sites in Coahuila, spurned the offer. At this
point he disappears from history. But one missionary in the group
8Paso de Francia, six miles southeast of Guerrero, was referred to also as the Lower
Crossing, Las Islas, or Las Isletas. Paso Pacuache, so called for the Coahuiltecan Indian
nation by that name, six miles northeast, was known also as Paso de Nogal, or Paso de
Diego Ram6n. Weddle, "San Juan Bautista," 5n. On April 8, 1967, the author visited
both these historic fords, on both sides of the Rio Grande, and, accompanied by John
F. Woodhull of Eagle Pass, waded across the river at Paso de Francia in water never
over knee deep.
'Fernando de Azcu6 y Armend;rez, on a campaign against the Cacaxtle Indians about
1665, may have been the first. Herbert E. Bolton (ed.), Spanish Exploration in the
Southwest (New York, 19o8), 284. Brother Manuel de la Cruz and Father Pefiasco de
Lozano, in separate expeditions in 1674, each approached the Rio Grande at this point,
as did the Larios-Del Bosque entrada in 1675. Francis Borgia Steck, "Forerunners of
Captain De Leon's Expedition to Texas, 1670-1675," Preliminary Studies of the Texas
Catholic Historical Society, II (September, 1932).
5San Francisco de los Tejas, the first mission, was burned and abandoned in 1693, after
Santisimo Nombre de Maria, the second, had been destroyed by flood in January, 1692.
Walter P. Webb and H. Bailey Carroll (eds.), Handbook of Texas (2 vols.; Austin, 1952),
II, 552, 572.
6Juan Domingo Arricivita, Crdnica Serdfica y Apostdlica del Colegio de Propaganda
Fide de la Santa Cruz de Querdtaro enr la Nueva Espaia, segunda parte (Mexico, 1792),
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968, periodical, 1968; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117145/m1/609/: accessed March 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.