Heritage, Volume 8, Number 2, Spring 1990 Page: 14
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that the traders did not sell their goods at
prices too high. Trading practices and spying
seem to have taken precedence over
saving souls. The French trader usually
became the Indian's friend, or he would
lose his job or perhaps his life. The relationship
became symbiotic,the Indians
furnishing what the trader wanted-hides,
tallow, slaves-in return for what the
Indian wanted-fusils, brandy, beads.
Many of the traders lived with or
married Indian women, and
became almost Indians themselves.
The Indian women
changed little. Some of the
soldiers also married Indian
women. At least three of the six
soldiers stationed at the Nassonite
post on the Red River had
Indian or mestizo wives. On the
other hand, the Spanish soldier,
who was not above taking a
mistress, seldom married an
Indian. Many brought their
Spanish wives with them to the
presidio. The policy of the
French of condoning intermarriage,
according to TePaske,
built "a cultural bridge which
led the natives to trust the
French and give them their
Are these different approaches
and attitudes manifested
archaeologically? A pattern
in the ground for a mission
or presidio with their surrounding
would be different from that of a Spanish
village with a less formal plan,
although a trading village might have a
The Spanish settlements on the eastern
border of Texas, built of wood, have
long since disappeared. Only the sites of
Mission Dolores de los Ais and Presidio de
los Adaes have been systematically tested.
But when other sites are found, patterns of
walls left in the ground, such as found at
Mission Dolores de los Ais and San Xavier,
should be present.
Other manifestations are found in the
artifacts. French gun parts are easily distinguishable
from Spanish, and the tinglazed
ceramics, French faience and
Mexican majolica are also distinguishable.
The presence of French artifacts such as
these in a site of Spanish affiliation would
indicate French trade directly or indirectly.
The French post at the Nassonites
was a mestizo village because most of the
wives were Indian or mixed IndianFrench.
Archaeological testing at the site
was limited but a few French luxury items
were found and French gun parts were
present. Nearly all ceramics found were
produced by natives, thus supporting the
observation that, Indian women who
married Frenchmen did not become
:olonial plan proposed for Presidio Loreto, Victoria County
Almost forty-four percent of the tinglazed
wares found at the Spanish Presidio
of Los Adaes were French faience. Other
French goods were also found in the
excavations, such as gun parts and a French
coin. This post, the Spanish capital of Texas
for fifty years, was more than 350 miles
from its supply point at San Antonio. It was
by necessity as well as by desire that illicit
At Mission Dolores de los Ais, near
present San Augustine, seventy-eight percent
of the tin-glazed wares found were
French faience, but since most of these
were located outside the mission compound
wall, the excavators suggest the
possibility of a French trader in residence,
of course illegally.
Later Spanish Colonial sites also exhibit
evidence of French trade. Inves
tigations at Presidio Ahumada near the
eastern border of Texas on Galveston Bay
revealed that French faience constituted
forty-six percent of the tin-glazed wares
found. Sherds were found at Mission C6ncepcion
in San Antonio, and at Mission
San Lorenzo, Real County, western Texas.
A faience sherd was found at Rancho de las
Cabras near Floresville, central Texas.
Whether these finds across Texas represent
the presence of a French
trader is unknown, but they do
attest to the wide-spread distribution
of goods manufactured in
France. Can each of these contrasting
approaches be evaluated
in terms of effectiveness of holding
and advancing the frontier in
Texas, and in dealing with native
peoples? This is difficult to do
since the borders were held by the
respective countries until 1763
when Louisiana was ceded to
Spain because of international
events. It is ironic that after almost
eighty years of being menaced
by French aggression, Spain
was handed Louisiana. The tattered
pine tree curtain on their
common border was no more. As
far as the Indian policies are concerned,
it would be nice to have
first-hand evaluations by the
A Indians, but none are known to
exist. The fact that Spain continued
the French trading system
after her takeover of Louisiana
argues for the success of the
, Texas. system. But the mission system in
converting the Indians in east Texas
was not successful.
Nevertheless both Spanish padres and
French traders acted as Indian agents; the
padres saw the Indians as children to be
taught and disciplined; the trader saw
them as equals to be exploited.
To archaeologists, the Spanish padre is
better understood than the French trader
because they left records about the natives
and the country. The mission system failed
to convert the Indians, but it held Texas
against French aggression. When France
acted, Spain made counteractions. Thus
France provided Spain with the impetus
for the initial settlement of Texas.
Kathleen Gilmore, Ph.d. is a Research
Archaeologist and member of the board of directors
of the Texas Historical Foundation.
14 HERITAGE * SPRING 1990
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 8, Number 2, Spring 1990, periodical, Spring 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45428/m1/14/: accessed August 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.