Texas Almanac, 1941-1942 Page: 42
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TEXAS ALMANAC -1941-42
and the expedition of De Leon proceeded
eastward as far as the Neches River.
The first East Texas mission, San
Francisco 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 Nombre
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 Fort Saint Louis, and Spanish effort
in Texas was withdrawn.
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 Amichel, the name applied by Pineda
to the hinterland north of the Gulf in-
cluding present Texas. Other early Span-
ish maps included in Florida all of the
land from the Cape of Florida to the
Rio de las Palmas (Rio Grande). An-
other early designation, which was more
nearly co-extensive with the present
bounds of Texas, was Apacheria (Land
of the Apaches), and the name Nueva
Felipinas (New Philippines) was some-
times 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.
During the expedition of Capt. De
Leon and Father Massanet, so the story
goes, an Indian was asked the name of
his tribe, to which he replied "Tejas."
Apparently the word, meaning friends or
allies, referred to an intertribal confed-
eracy of the Hasinai Caddoes. The exact
meaning of the word, and the exact pro-
cedure by which it came to be applied to
the region by the Spaniards, probably
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 watchword of the Caddoes and
first came into use as the result of the
expedition of De Leon and Father Mas-
sanet. While the application of the name
to the territory is dated from the expedi-
tion of De Leon and Massanet in 1689-90,
it is interesting that Coronado applied
the name "Teyas" to the Indians of
North Central Texas (probably the Wich-
ita 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
Mountains intersected two widely diver-
gent routes of Spanish missionary activ-
ity. 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 civilization in Texas was primarily
from east to west, nevertheless, the very
first stirrings of religious and cultural
effort were in the extreme west. Ac-
cording to most dependable historic rec-
ords, 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 previously 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. Recent research by Dr. Carlos E.
Castaneda of the University of Texas has
revealed much additional information
about the mission activity in this inter-
esting 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 Indian 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 human habita-
tion in prehistoric times.
Other West Texas missions were
established as offshoots of missionary
effort in the Upper Rio Grande Valley,
the farthest east being that of San Cle-
mente, 1683, located probably near the
junction of the Colorado and Concho
Rivers in Runnels or Concho County.
Spanish Aroused Again.
There were two motivating forces be-
hind the early missionary work in east-
ern Texas-zeal of the church fathers to
convert the Indians and the desire of
the civil and military authorities to pro-
tect Spanish dominion in Texas from
French aggression. The pleas of the
Franciscan fathers usually went unheed-
ed until the temporal powers became
suspicious of French design in the terri-
tory between the Red and the Rio
After subsidence of Spanish alarm over
the founding of Fort Saint Louis and the
abandonment 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 ap-
pearance 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
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Texas Almanac, 1941-1942, book, 1941; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117164/m1/44/: accessed May 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.