Texas Almanac, 1941-1942 Page: 40
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40 TEXAS ALMANAC.-1941-42.
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 im-
pact 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 border on
the east were the Cherokees, Alabamas,
Coushattas, Seminoles, Delawares and
Kickapoos. The total Indian population
of Texas in these early years is a matter
of speculation. Various estimates of his-
torians and government agencies have
ranged from 20,000 to 130,000. Most au-
thorities 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
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 Plneda 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 Amichel.
Another expedition was made a year or
two later, and there is dependable evi-
dence 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 hav-
ing the location of one of the very ear-
liest 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 Beltram de Guzman
was Governor of Panuco, a post which
he held prior to his removal to the west
coast of Mexico, where he established
for himself a place in history by his
ruthlessness in exploiting the Indians.
The first visit of white men to the
Texas coast took place only twenty-
seven years after the discovery of the
Western Hemisphere by Columbus. At
that time Cortes had just landed in Mex-
ico. 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.
Wanderings of Cabeza de Vaca.
It was such an incentive that led to
the second expedition to reach the Texas
coast. Panfilo de Narvaez was commis-
sioned 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 de-
feated. Accompanying the Narvaez ex-
edition was Alvar Nunez Cabeza de
Vaca, commissioned by the King of
Spain as treasurer of the expedition and
special representative of the crown.
Landing on the west coast of Florida,
near present Tampa, the Narvaez expe-
dition marched northward several hun-
dred miles, and then in several impro-
vised barges took to sea again and sailed
westward, 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 Novem-
All members of the expedition finally
perished except Cabeza de Vaca and
three companions. For six years they
lived among the Indians, as slaves at
first. Later, the intelligent and re-
sourceful Cabeza de Vaca established 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 Culia-
can, Sinaloa, near the Pacific Coast,
after one of thel most amazing peregrina-
tions in the annals of man.
The trip of Cabeza de Vaca and his
three companions across Texas is of
great historical interest because of the
complete account that he wrote imme-
diately after his return to civilization.
He was a man of native ability, good ed-
ucation and unwavering honesty. While
his account was from memory, it is ac-
cepted as trustworthy. For its realistic
picture of life among the aborigines, and
for other reasons, it is an invaluable his-
The route of Cabeza de Vaca has been
a matter of much speculation among
historians. Dr. Robert T. Hill, geologist
and student of early Texas history, who
has made an extensive study of the
route of Cabeza de Vaca, from his
knowledge of the physiographic features
of the country believes that the course
lay across South Texas and through the
Davis Mountains and Big Bend country.
Undoubtedly, Cabeza de Vaca passed
through the present site of Presidio and
Ojinaga on the upper Rio Grande. There
were legends of this visit of the three
white and one black man when mission-
aries first reached this community many
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 north-
ward into what is now New Mexico by
way of El Paso del Norte, the pass at
present-day El Paso-Juarez.
From a base in present New Mexico,
Coronado made a wide detour to the
east, led by an Indian guide who in-
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Texas Almanac, 1941-1942, book, 1941; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117164/m1/42/: accessed July 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.