San Antonio de Bexar: A Guide and History Page: 51
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THE SAN ANTONIO RIVER.
"We would a round unvarnished tale deliver" but it is just this way with
us-we don't know exactly whether to feel glad that the Head of the River is not a
beer garden--or to be sad that a city could sell so grand a birthright, not only to
sell it but to be so blind and remorseless that it refused to buy it back when it
had a good chance. And as
" To mourn a mischief that is past and gone
Is the next way to draw new mischief on"
we won't be sad about it. There is such a variety of ways of looking at this
subject that we will just state some incidents and particulars that we know about,
nor rashly rush into any unseemly display of high spirits. The worst that can
be said about our splendid system of water supply is, that " it gomes a leedle
high." The City of San Antonio is a credit to its Water Works.
It is said that the first permanent settlement on the San Antonio river was
near its head in the year 1692. Nearly two hundred years ago. For years after
this the river source to mouth belonged to the Crown of Spain.* The first char-
ter granted to San Antonio was given by the King of Spain in the year 1733 or
'34. It only has to be remembered that the Recapitulation of the Indies con-
tained strict laws and rules concerning public water rights, to be certain that the
wonderful resources of. our river in relation to public comfort and welfare were
duly remembered. True, to the Missions were granted the prior priviliges, but
then the Missions were one of the many starting points of our City's history.
Forty years afterwards neither these privileges nor those alleged to have been
conferred upon the Canary Islanders were held to interfere with the rights of any
other citizens or settlers in and about San Fernando. And it came to pass in
later days when Texas had changed hands the new City Government found it
necessary to establish the boundaries of San Antonio. This was finally done in
the courts, all about which doings can be found in Texas Reports, Vol. 7, page
288 et seq. And Giraud made the " Original City Survey." The lots contain-
ing the Head Springs of the river, or the Worth Springs as they were called
about that time-because General Worth had camped there with his Military
force--were accounted, with much other land, as belonging to the City's public
domain. Now, the finances of the City in the years preceeding 1850 were not in
the most flourishing condition. The Council hardly knew to what quarter they
should turn for funds to build the long talked of Court House, Jail and School
House. The Council felt themselves to be "land poor." In section eight of the
City Charter of December 14th, 1837, it was permitted that certain parcels of
Public Land might be sold. The proceeds of any such sale to be appropriated
to the erection of the buildings mentioned and the endowment of a Public
School. The land was not ordered to be sold until August 24th, 1849. It was
decided on October 29th, 1849, to erect such buildings and in the following year,
September 6th, they were begun on the northwest corner of the Military plaza.
This, the old "Bat Cave," is to be removed soon or as soon as the New City Hall
is completed. And this old 'Bat Cave ' furnished the excuse and grounds upon
which were sold the City's lands. Shortly after this there was appointed by the
City " a committee to regulate the sale of the City Lands'" and on November 4th,
* Observe with regard to this in the article on " The Upper Labor ditch."
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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/m1/97/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries.