San Antonio de Bexar: A Guide and History Page: 2
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SAN ANTONIO DE BEXAR.
It is however the modern town which has to be dealt with just now. Its
history, chronicles and some deeds of its doughty men will be found as fully set
out in other pages as space wil all allow. But, as this guide is compiled as much for
the benefit of strangers and enquirers as for home folks, it is as well that a few of
the leading facts of the city's origin and being be emphasized in this introductory.
San Antonio is now probably the most cosmopolitan spot on the face of the
globe. Representatives of every race of the earth have been counted here, except
perhaps the aboriginal Oceanicans. The larger elements of the existing popu-
lation are American, Mexican, German, Colored, with smaller groups of French,
Italian, Polanders, Irish and many other nationalities.
San Antonio partakes more of the appearance of an old world town than any
in the Union-Boston not excepted. Although the modern business blocks and
fine residences, with all their adjuncts in the way of the conveniences of civiliza-
tion so largely predominate, yet the ancient looking house here and there, the
crooked streets and alleys, the plazas, the relics of an older and altogether differ-
ent dynasty-lend the city a venerable air that is particularly pleasing to the
visitor's eye so used to straight, wide streets and compact blocks laid out in the
mathematical precision of a chess board.
The peculiarities of the city will be better understood if the facts hinted at
above are remembered. To comprehend things rightly the city's history and
origin must be constantly borne in mind. Let the rule, for instance, be applied in
reference to the venerable Missions, at once the pride, glory and regret of San
Let a traveller from the East or North be set down before the gateway of
San Jose. In his journeyings he has seen nothing like this before. The Mission
must be to him an enigma. He hears that it is a century and a half since its
foundations were laid by Catholic missionaries, aided by their converts, half or
more than half savage Indians, all under constant peril of their lives from the
outside from the cruelest of hostile tribes, that were uncompromising in their
enmity. If he is practical, the traveller will wonder whence the stone came
where no quarries were-from where the lime, with no kilns-who was the
architect, the superintendent of works, the artist stone cutter-the engineer, for
he may be told that this old Mission was once fortified. An intelligent man is
bound to ask these things, and if he merely remembers that the Mission is on the
outside edge of his own territory and civilization he will fail to understand and
realize how it was all done; he is even in the dark as to the spirit and design of
its founders, much less comprehending the hard, practical fact of the presence of
these great masses of masonry and beautiful sculpture in a lone, wide, wild
prairie, as he knows the spot must have been in the days of the erection of these
But, suppose that the traveller had come from, say, the City of Mexico-had
a smattering, at least, of Spanish and Mexican History, knew and understood
that the aggrandizement of Spain's Empire was the object alike of Church and
State-the King and the Church going hand in hand, the one establishing the
other; the King granting, conceding, and sending his soldiers to protect, the
Church sending its well-trained servants to work, to proselytize, to acquire, to
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Corner, William. San Antonio de Bexar: A Guide and History, book, 1890; San Antonio, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth143549/m1/16/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries.