Texas Almanac, 1992-1993 Page: 33
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CENTRAL TEXAS HISTORY 33
structure of brush, mud and straw located a short dis-
tance downstream from the presidio. About a year lat-
er, the mission was moved to the other side of the river
near the present site of the Alamo.
The East Texas missionaries, driven out by the
French in the summer of 1719, took refuge in this sec-
ond location of the San Antonio mission and remained
there until March 1721. While in exile, one of the East
Texas friars, Fray Antonio Margil de Jesus, founded
Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo near the Va-
lero mission in February 1720.
The Indians at San Jose worked cattle and kept
large herds of sheep and goats for wool. They raised
cotton, corn, various vegetables, sugar cane and fruits.
They wove their own cloth and blankets and made their
clothes in the mission's tailor shop. There were also a
carpenter shop, a granary, a workshop and a mill where
loaf sugar and molasses were processed. The present
church building was built between 1768 and 1777.
When the Marques de San Miguel de Aguayo took
command of the military detachment in March 1721, he
moved the garrison from its original location to the
present Military Plaza and built an adobe presidio.
Aguayo established the mission San Francisco Xa-
vier de Najera on March 12, 1722, one league south of
Valero to fulfill a promise the marques had made to
Chief Juan Rodriguez of the Coahuiltecan Ervipiame
Indians. The mission was little more than a name, how-
ever, and in 1726, it merged with Valero.
During the 1720s, there were about 200 Spaniards at
San Antonio: 53 officers and soldiers and their families,
plus four civilians and their families. There were about
600 Indians in the two missions.
San Antonio de Valero, which at the time consisted
of some huts and a small stone tower, was destroyed by
a fierce storm in 1724. The mission was rebuilt on the
site of what is now Alamo Plaza.
By 1727, 273 Indians were in residence. Construction
had started on a stone convent, but there was no chapel.
Services were held in a temporary hut. Much of the
energy of the mission's residents had gone into con-
struction of a two-and-a-half-mile-long irrigation ditch,
now known as the Alamo Ditch, to provide water for the
fields and gardens.
The Spanish government, realizing that permanent
In 1719, the Council of the
body of the colonies, recomr
crown that families from the
cruited to populate Texas. Th
of 13 islands, seven of them in
Ocean about 60 miles off the
ca. The original inhabitants we
blond people thought to be of
the islands had been colonize
century, and the Guanches h
the Spanish population. Thec
Spanish civilian colony on t
firmly establish Spain's clair
would block the French from
At the urging of the MarqL
finally granted permission in
teer families to be recruited. B
families had signed on. But t
governmental bickering over
new colony, the optimum nun
at one time, financing of the
details. The colony's location
Antonio, and the first group o
Leal Goraz, arrived on March
ocean voyage and a grueling o
known how many actually
islands, but when the land po
there were 10 families. By the
Antonio, the group comprised
marriages along the way. The
horses than on the people:
appears that at least four p
settlers were needed to legitimize its claims to the area,
recruited immigrants from the Canary Islands to settle
in San Antonio. Fifty-five islanders arrived on March 9,
1731, after a problem-plagued sea journey and a diffi-
cult overland trek. They became the first permanent ci-
vilian settlers in present-day Texas (see article, "The
In 1730, economic troubles forced Spain to move
three of the East Texas missions - Nuestra Senora de
la Purisima Concepcion de los Hainai, San Francisco de
los Neches, and San Jose de los Nazonis - to a tempo-
rary home on the Colorado River near Barton Springs
in present-day Austin. Just before the Canary Islanders
arrived, the missions were moved again, re-established
near San Antonio de Bexar and renamed Nuestra Se-
nora de la Purisima Concepcion de Acuna (commonly
called Concepcion), San Francisco de la Espada (called
Espada) and San Juan Capistrano (called San Juan).
It took approximately 20 years to build the Mission
Concepcion church: It was dedicated on Dec. 8, 1755.
Constructed of local limestone, the building had twin
towers, a handsome dome and carved doorways. The
facade was covered with quatrefoils and squares in bril-
liant shades of red, blue, orange and yellow. All the col-
ors except the blue were made from pulverized stones;
the blue was supplied by native wild indigo plants.
The chapel of Mission San Juan Capistrano was built
some time between 1745 and 1756. Surmounted by a
pierced belfry containing three bells, the chapel
adjoined a granary and a convent.
Mission Espada was distinguished by its elaborate
irrigation and water-supply system built between 1731
and 1745, consisting of a dam and an aqueduct, includ-
ing a double span to lift the water over Piedras Creek.
The chapel of the mission proper was built about 1745.
Smallpox and measles struck the missions' residents
in 1739, killing many Indians and frightening others
Indian raids were a constant threat to the San Anto-
nio missions. Apaches were fond of striking while the
settlers or the mission Indians were working in the
fields away from protection. The Canary Islanders be-
came dissatisfied with their grazing rights. The settlers'
only way of making a living was by cattle ranching.
Since the missionaries had pre-empted all the
The Canary Islanders
e Indies, the governing through Mexico; 125 horses were lost to fatigue and
mended to the Spanish exhaustion. Fifty-five Canary Islanders formed the
Canary islands be re- nucleus of San Fernando de Bexar, the civilian com-
e Canaries are a group ponent of the settlement on the San Antonio River.
habited, in the Atlantic The King of Spain declared them all to be Hidalgos, a
coast of northwest Afri- title of minor nobility roughly equivalent to the Brit-
ere the Guanches, a tall, ish designation of Gentleman.
Berber extraction. But
Ber by Spain in the 15th Although the original plan called for 200 families
ad been absorbed into eventually to populate the settlement, the scheme was
council reasoned that a scrapped before the first 15 families had reached San
the Texas coast would Fernando, and no more Canary Islanders made the
Captain Juan Antonio de Almazan urged the set-
ghlights tilers to become self sufficient as quickly as possible.
He apportioned the arable lands around the set-
tlement among the arriving families, urging them to
m to the territory and plant as much as possible. The families were housed
westward expansion, temporarily in troop quarters in the presidio. After
ues de Aguayo, the king the harvest in early July, the captain and his men
July 1723 for 200 volun- helped the Canary Islanders lay out San Fernando
3y September 19, the 200 and begin building houses. Capt. Almazan, appointed
there followed years of officials of the new civilian government of San Fer-
the best location for the nando on July 20, 1731, with the group's unofficial
nber of families to send leader, Juan Leal Goraz, named the first regidor or
group and many other councilman. In all, Almazan appointed six regidores,
was finally fixed at San an alguacil mayor (sheriff), and a mayordomo de los
f 55 people, led by Juan propios (administrator of public lands). The first
9, 1731, after a difficult election in Texas was held on August 1, 1731, when
)verland march. It is not the recently appointed officials were called together
started out from the to elect the first two alcaldes ordinarios (justices of
rtion of the trip began, the peace). Records of all the appointments and the
e time it arrived at San results of the history-making election were sent to
S15 families because of the viceroy, who granted his official approval of
Strip was harder on the the proceedings on October 24, 1731. The first
From the records, it official permanent civilian settlement in Texas was
eople died on the trip born.
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Kingston, Mike. Texas Almanac, 1992-1993, book, 1991; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth279642/m1/37/: accessed August 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.