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(Reprint from the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. XVI, No. 4.) 

Texas State Historical Association 
Austin, Texas 

Fo. c. 

RIVER, 1 746-1 771 1 


PEDITION, 1745-1746 

The activities of the Spanish government in Texas were from first 
to last inspired largely by fears of foreign aggression. When these 
fears slept, Texas was left pretty much to itself, so far as the gov- 
ernment was concerned, but when serious rumors of encroaching 
strangers reached the official ears, there was likely to be vigorous 
proceedings for a time. The occupation of the lower Trinity 
River in the middle of the eighteenth century was no exception 
to this rule. Although settlements had been founded in eastern 
Texas as early as 1690, the authorities in Mexico, and even in the 
province of Texas itself, seem to have been almost entirely igno- 

Volumes I-XV published as THE QUARTERLY of the Texas State His- 
torical Association. 

J This paper is based entirely upon manuscript original sources. The 
older works in English which mention the subject are entirely valueless; 
the treatments given by modern writers in English are so brief as to be 
very unsatisfactory. The only printed account by an early Spanish his- 
torian is that of Bonilla, in his Breve Compendia (translated by West in 
THE QUARTERLY, VIII, 1-78), which, although written by a contemporary 
who was in a position to know, contains numerous fundamental errors. 
At best Bonilla's account is very brief and incomplete, as he devotes only 
about a page to the matter. The manuscript materials on which this study 
is based are records in the Bgxar Archives, the Lamar Papers, and the 
Nacogdoches Archives, and transcripts in my personal collection from the 
archives of Mexico and Spain. What is presented here was practically 

340 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

rant of the geography of the lower Trinity and the adjacent coun- 
try until 1745, when they were called into it by tales of a French 
establishment somewhere on the coast. One previous official ex- 
pedition to the locality had been made in 1727, 1 it is true, but it 
had led to no further steps toward occupation, and given no per- 
manent knowledge of the topography or of the natives of the 

What stirred the authorities to action in 1745 was a letter re- 
porting the rumors alluded to above, written in July 2 to the 
viceroy by Don Joaquin de Orobio Bazterra, captain of the pre- 
sidio of Bahia del Espiritu Santo, but for the time being in 
Coahuila. In reply to this communication the viceroy ordered 
Captain Orobio to proceed in all haste to learn the truth about 
the French settlement, where and when it had been established, 
if at all, and what and how many Indians there were in the vicin- 
ity. If he should find Frenchmen established or intending to 
settle, he was to order them to leave forthwith'. 3 

The prevailing ignorance of and lack of communication with 
the coast country between the Guadalupe and the Trinity rivers 
at this time is amply illustrated by Orobio's difficulties and un- 
certainty in getting from La Bahia to his destination. His first 
efforts were directed toward ascertaining whether the investigation 

completed several years ago. Subsequently my manuscripts were put at 
the disposal of Miss Elise Brown, a graduate student in the University 
of Texas, as material for a master's thesis. This was written under my 
direction with the title, "The History of the Spanish Settlements at 
Orcoquisac, 1746-1772." Though the two accounts are quite different in 
general, and at variance at some points, I have made some use of Miss 
Brown's valuable work, and hereby make acknowledgment. In the cita- 
tions which follow, B. A. stands for B6xar Archives, L. P. for Lamar 
Papers, N. A. for Nacogdoches Archives, and B. MSS. for Bolton Manu- 
scripts, the title by which my collection is designated. 

*In 1727, when Rivera inspected the northern establishments of New 
Spain, he sent Engineer Francisco Alvarez Barreyto from La Bahia east- 
ward with a detachment of twenty soldiers to examine the coast country 
as far as the Neches. Barreyto spent thirty-five days on the expedition 
and traveled 363 leagues, but what he recorded in his reports I cannot 
say, as I have not seen them, though I do know of their whereabouts, and 
have taken steps toward securing them. See Rivera, Diario, 1727, leg. 

'July 2. 

'The viceroy's order was dated July 18 (Diligencias Practicadas por 
Dn. Joaquin de Orobia Capn. de la Bahia Sobre establecimiento de Fran- 
ceses. B. A.). Orobio signed his name as above, but, other Spanish 
officials frequently wrote it "Orobio y Basterra." The brief form of his 
name is usually given as Orobio. 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 341 

could be made on terra firma by way of Matagorda Bay and the 
coast. To determine this point he went in October with a squad 
of men down the banks of the Guadalupe; but, because of high 
water and the roughness of the country, he decided to build a 
fleet of canoes and take thirty men on a two months' expedition 
by water, down the river and along the coast. New discourage- 
ments and difficulties led him finally to decide to take the Adaes 
road to the crossing of the Trinity, a hundred miles or more above 
its mouth, and descend to the coast from that point. 1 Such an 
expedition made it necessary to send to San Antonio and Presidio 
del Eio Grande for more soldiers, in order that La Bahia might 
not be left unprotected. As a consequence of this and other de- 
lays, it was late in December before Orobio was ready ta start. 2 

From Orobio's diary, which has not hitherto been used, we are 
able to follow his movements in detail. Setting out on Decem- 
ber 20 with twenty-one soldiers, he marched over the camino real 
to the Trinity, where he arrived on January 9. Failing to learn 
from the Indians of this locality what he wished to know regard- 
ing the country below, he again changed his plan and continued 
northeast to San Pedro, the Nabedache village near the Neches. 
Here he saw in the firearms, clothing, and trinkets possessed by 
the natives the sight was no new one at San Pedro abundant 
signs of French influence. But these things, he was told, had 
all come from the French of Natchitoches ("Los Canos''), by way 
of the Cadodacho, and not from the coast. The rumors of the 
French settlement on the Gulf, however, were confirmed and re- 
peated with exaggeration. But Orobio was informed that the 
place could be reached only from Nacogdoches, by way of the 
Bidai trail, "a path which the Vidias have made in going to 

Acting on this information, Orobio went on to Nacogdoches. 
Here a report by the veteran missionary, Father Joseph Calahorra 
y Saenz, to the effect that fifteen shipwrecked Frenchmen had re- 
cently passed that way from the coast, caused him to go on to Los 
Adaes to consult with the governor, Garcia Larios, before plung- 

l Lieut. Miguel de Olivares investigated the possibilities of the proposed 
expedition by water, and reported that the river was obstructed, and, 
besides, that suitable boats could not be built. Report by Olivares to 
Orobio, ibid., 2.) 

2 0rder of Orobio, Oct. 22, 1745; Orobio to Urrutia, Dec. 7, ibid., 2, 4. 

342 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

ing into the unknown south country. The conference over, Orobio 
returned to Nacogdoches, where he arrived on February 4, and 
where he secured an Indian guide to conduct him over the Bidai 
trail to the coast. 1 

Since his diary gives us our first intimate account of a large 
stretch of country and of the earliest Spanish contact with a dis- 
tinct group of natives in their own home, its contents have unique 
historical interest, and will, therefore, be still further drawn upon. 
Leaving Nacogdoches on February 7 and going southwest, on 
March 6 Orobio was near the Trinity at a place which he called 
Santa Rosa de Viterbo. Here he found a settlement of Bidai 
Indians living in seven ranch erias 2 of bearskin tents, their regular 
winter habitations. The presence of Spaniards here, which, we 
are informed, "had never occurred before," aroused much interest 
and comment among the natives, as can be well understood. With 
the chief Orobio held a long conference, but that over, his stay 
was brief. 

Taking a Bidai guide, he set out across the Trinity, and on 
March 15 was at Puesto de San Eafael, so-named by himself, 
thirty leagues west-southwest from Santa Rosa de Viterbo. It 
will appear later on that San -Rafael was in all probability on 
Spring Creek, west of the San Jacinto River. Here were two 
Orcoquiza villages, near which Orobio camped. The surprise of 
these Indians at seeing "Yegsa," as they called the Spaniards, 
whom, we are told, they had heard of but never seen, was even 
greater than that of the Bidai. 

Among both the Bidai and the Orcoquiza the rumors of French- 
men on the coast were confirmed with circumstantial detail. 
Orobio was informed that men who lived among the Pachina 
near the Mississippi had for six years been coming by land to the 
Orcoquiza, while others came annually by water, entering the 
Xeches, Trinity, and Brazos rivers, the implication being that 
they regularly visited the Bidai as well as the Orcoquiza. As yet 
there was no regular settlement of Frenchmen, but one had been 
promised. In the past summer those coming by sea had even 
chosen a site, and had sent the Orcoquiza to notify the Bidai. 

l Diligencias Practicadas, 4-9. 

2 It is sometimes difficult to determine whether a rancheria was a small 
village or a single dwelling. This is one of those cases. 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 343 

Doxsas (Deadoses), and Texas to come next season to this place 
with their buckskins (gamuzas) and buffalo hides, which the 
French were accustomed to buy. 1 The site designated for the set- 
tlement was described as some distance from the mouth of a river 
between the Trinity and the Brazos, but a tributary of neither. 
The stream was obviously the San Jacinto, an inference which is 
supported by positive evidence which will appear later on. 2 Among 
the Orcoquiza Orobio learned that some Frenchmen had been lost 
among the Cujanes, to the southwest, and that the shipwrecked 
crew who had passed through Nacogdoches were apparently a 
party who had been to rescue them. 

Going toward the coast a distance of fifteen leagues, Orobio 
reached the place on the San Jacinto designated by the Orcoquiza 
as the site chosen by the French. The stream Orobio named 
Nuestra Sefiora de Aranzazu. Finding no signs of a habitation, 
and recording the opinion that there was little likelihood that one 
would be established, 3 since the site was ill fitted for settlement, 
he struck northwestward to the camino real leading from Nacog- 
doches, and returned to La Bahia, where he arrived on April 6. 
On June 25 he sent a report of his reconnaisance to Governor 


This visit of Orobio to the Orcoquiza Indians was the begin- 
ning of a quarter of a century of Spanish activity in their coun- 
try. While among them Orobio talked to them of missions. In 
a short while, apparently in the same year, he made them another 
visit and went again to the San Jacinto to look for Frenchmen, 
though we have not the details of this second expedition. To 
counteract French influence, one of the Orcoquiza chiefs was hon- 

1 Diligencias Practicadas. 11-12. 

"See pages 344-345, post. 

8 "I found no habitation whatever, but such a scarcity of lands that in 
case of wishing to establish a presidio, there are facilities for supporting 
only five or six families for a short time, because of the small amount of 
timber and the entire lack of stone on the margin of the river." Ibid., 12. 

4 The form of this word adopted by the Bureau of American Ethnology 
is "Arkokisa," but it seems better, historically considered, to use in this 
article the spelling common in the contemporary sources. If this were 
not to be done, ethnologists would not get from the article the historical 
aid which it ought to afford. The usual form of the place where the 
Orcoquiza tribe lived is "El Orcoquisac" or "Orcoquisac." 

344 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

ored by being made a "captain," and during the next few years 
Spanish agents, in the guise of traders, were regularly sent among 
both the Orcoquiza and the Bidai. Finally, further encroach- 
ments of the French, as we shall see, led to the occupation of the 
Orcoquiza country by a presidio and a mission. In the course of 
this contact, a large fund of knowledge regarding the tribe, 
whose early history has been strangely unknown, was acquired. 
It was not till 1755-1757 that this information, precious to the 
ethnologist and the historian, was extensively recorded in the doc- 
uments at our command, but it will facilitate the remainder of 
the narrative if these later documents are drawn upon somewhat 
in advance for a general sketch of the Orcoquiza tribe, who, with 
their territory, form the chief center of interest in the story. 

It was learned by these traders, explorers, soldiers, and mis- 
sionaries that the Orcoquiza lived in four (or five) rancherias, or 
scattered villages, near the lower Trinity and the San Jacinto 
rivers. The center of their population was a western branch of 
the San Jacinto, usually called in the eighteenth century the 
Arroyo de Santa Eosa de Alcazar (the San Rafael of Orobio), 
which, after a careful study of the evidence, appears to be the Spring 
Creek of today. 1 Near the junction of the San Jacinto and the 

conclusion was reached, after careful study of the documents, be- 
fore the whereabouts of Miranda's map of April 18, 1757, was learned. 
The map bears it out. The following are some of the data on which the 
conclusion was reached independently. Miranda tells us that going ten 
leagues nearly eastward from the Springs of Santa Rosa, one comes to 
the San Jacinto; and that from the San Jacinto to the site of El Or- 
coquisac, just across the Trinity, it was not more than six leagues, by im- 
plication in the same general direction. Now, a direct line west from 
El Orcoquisac would fall between Buffalo Bayou and Spring Creek, while 
both of these streams run for a stretch of ten leagues almost east into 
the San Jacinto, leaving little to choose between them, as the claimant 
to being the Santa Rosa. (Miranda, report of survey, April 26, 1757.) 
According to the same authority the three western Orcoquiza villages were 
ranged along the Santa Rosa. But the southernmost village visited by 
Orobio in 1746 became a landmark in the later descriptions. Orobio tells 
us that after leaving the two Orcoquiza villages at San Rafael, which, 
we have positive evidence, was Santa Rosa (N. A., doc. 488, fol. 22), he 
went fifteen leagues southward to the place designated as that where the 
French were expected to settle, which was some distance from the mouth 
of a river called Aranzazu, the stream subsequently called San Jacinto 
(Diligencias Practicadas, 13-14). The two villages at San Rafael must, 
therefore, have been at least fifteen leagues or more northward from the 
mouth of the San Jacinto. In August, 1756, Joseph Valentin testified 
that he had gone "down the bank of the San Jacinto River to the place 
reached by Dn. Joaqufn de Orobio Basterra," and that "from this place 
he returned up the said river to its crossing, near which it joins the 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 345 

Santa Rosa, and within a gunshot of the latter, was the village 
which became known as that of chief Canos, so-called because of 
his leaning toward the French. Farther up the Santa Rosa some 
twenty miles, perhaps, at the junction of two small branches, was 
the village of El Gordo (the Fat), while "above" this point, per- 
haps northwest, was that of Mateo. East of the Trinity and 
some ten 'or fifteen miles from its mouth was another village, 
known for a long time as that of Calzones Colorados (Red 
Breeches). There is some indication that there was another vil- 
lage under the authority of this chief, but just where it was lo- 
cated is not clear. These statements, which rest on unquestioned 
sources, make it appear that the Orcoquiza lived rather more to 
the westward than has been supposed, as is true also of the Atta- 
capa. On the east the Orcoquiza divided the country between the 
Trinity and the N"eches with the latter tribe, who had two vil- 
lages on opposite sides of the Neches near modern Beaumont; on 
the north the neighbors of the Orcoquiza were the Bidai, and, 
apparently, the Deadoses (Agdocas, Doxses) ; on the west, the 
Cocos; on the west and the southwest, the Carancaguases and the 

spring (or arroyo) of Santa Rosa." (N. A., doc. 488, ff. 7-8.) Marcos 
Ruiz gave almost the same testimony. Domingo del Rio, who a year 
before had passed from the Bidai on Bidai Creek to the western Orcoquiza 
village, now testified that this arroyo of Santa Rosa appeared to be the 
same as that which rose near the village of the Bidai chief, Tomas. 
(Ibid., fol. 3.) This testimony, combined with that of Orobio, seems to 
make it clear that Santa Rosa could not be Buffalo Bayou. One state- 
ment made by Miranda was puzzling until I saw his map. He states that 
he went west from El Orcoquisac for some twelve leagues, till he reached 
the San Jacinto, thence south about fifteen leagues to the point reached 
by Orobio, thence between south and west along the bed of the San Jacinto 
to its junction with the Santa Rosa. This testimony taken alone would 
point to Buffalo Bayou as the Santa Rosa, but it directly contradicts the 
statement of Valentin and Orobio. By changing Miranda's south to north, 
his statement would agree with the others. The difficulty is partly cleared 
up by the fact that on his map his south is west and his west north. 
(Ibid., 10.) The country about the Santa Rosa was described as being 
marked by beautiful prairies, forest, oak, walnut, pine, cedar, and many 
lakes. In this season, which was dry, the creek had two inches of water. 
There was lack of stone for a dam, and the bed of the stream was deep, 
but irrigation was hardly necessary, for the Indians had fine corn, al- 
though the season had been dry. (Ibid., 12.) Miranda's map does not 
completely clear up the difficulty of deciding between Buffalo Bayou and 
Spring Creek, but it points in the same direction as the rest of the data. 
The map is reproduced in Hamilton's Colonization of the South, opposite 
p. 241. 

346 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

Cujanes. 1 With all of these tribes, except the Carancaguases, the 
Orcoquiza were generally on good terms, but racially they seem to 
have been quite distinct from all but the Attacapa, with whom 
they were considerably mixed. 2 

Although they went periodically back and forth, with the 
changes of seasons, between the coast and the interior, the Orco- 
quiza lived in relatively fixed villages. If they were like the 
Bidai, they remained inland during the winter. They practiced 
agriculture to some extent, raising what was called by Bernardo 
de Miranda "superfine maize/' But this article seems to have 
been a minor feature of their subsistence, for they lived to a 
large extent on a fish diet, supplemented by sylvan fruits and 
game, among which deer and bear were prominent. It was trade 
in the skins and the fat of these animals that chiefly attracted 
the French intruders. 

An indication that the tribal organization of the Orcoquiza was 
loose is the fact that during the clash between the French and 
the Spaniards in the region, the tribe was divided in its alle- 
giance, Canos, particularly, leaning toward the French. An- 
other indication is the conflicting contemporary statements by 
different witnesses as to which of the chiefs was "capitan grande," 
or head chief of the group. Had there been a conspicuous tribal 
headship, such a conflict of opinion would not have been likely 
to occur. At first Canos appears in this light, and is the one to 
whom Governor Barrios gave the title of captain some time be- 
fore October, 1754. Indeed, there are some reasons for thinking 
that he had the best claim to this distinction, but it was assigned 
also to Mateo and to Calzones Colorados. 3 The last named chief 
became the one best known to the Spaniards. 

Although our data on this point are conflicting, the tribe was 
evidently small in numbers, even at this early date. Orobio, after 
his second visit, reported that it was composed of five villages, 
containing three hundred families, or perhaps twelve hundred 

1 The Bidai told Orobio that the Orcoquiza occupied the country from 
the Neches to a point half way between the Trinity and the Brazos. See 
Miranda's report, N. A., doc. 488. 

"The present writer has shown, in another study, that the Bidai, Or- 
coquiza, and Deadoses all belonged to the same linguistic group (Hand- 
book of American Indians, II, under "San Francisco Xavier de Horca- 

"Dilijens. Practicadas, 1755, 3, 4, 7 (L. P. No. 25) ; N. A., doc. 488, fol. 3. 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 347 

souls. It was later claimed that Captain Pacheco "reduced" two 
villages of four hundred persons each. But compared with other 
estimates, these numbers appear to be too large. Bernardo de 
Miranda, for example, on being asked in 1756 what was their 
number, could not say definitely, but declared that he had seen 
at the village of Canos more than twenty warriors and their fam- 
ilies. If this was the entire village, and if it was representative, 
the total of the tribe would not have exceeded one hundred men, 
or five or six hundred persons. An official estimate made in 1778, 
after a period of great general decrease in the native population 
of Texas, it is true, put the Orcoquiza fighting strength at only 
fifty men. 1 It was not, therefore, in any case, a very large In- 
dian population for which the French and the Spaniards were 
contending. To either party, the territory involved was far more 

Soon after the visit of Orobio, it has already been noted, Span- 
ish traders from Los Adaes began to operate in the Indian vil- 
lages of the lower Trinity. The exact circumstances under which 
this trade was established are not clear, but it is evident that it 
flourished after 1751, and that its chief beneficiary was Governor 
Jacinto de Barrios y Jauregui, who went to Texas in that year. 

The evidence regarding this trade, which was regarded as con- 
traband, came out in a special investigation made in 1760, after 
Barrios had departed, and it may well be that it is not altogether 
trustworthy; but the main allegations seem well established. 
From the testimony given during the inquiry we learn that be- 
tween 1751 and 3759 Governor Barrios engaged pretty regularly 
in commerce with the Bidai, Orcoquiza, and other tribes. The 
trade was kept a strict monopoly in his hands and carried on by 
his personal agents, among whom were Marcos Ruiz, Domingo del 
Rio, Juan Antonio Maldonado, and Jacinto de Leon. Goods were 
carried to the tribes in pack-trains, convoyed by small guards of 
soldiers. The merchandise was procured by the governor at, in open defiance of the law. Among the articles 

MDrobio to the viceroy, Jan. 29, 1748, B. A., Miscellaneous, 1742-1793; 
N. A., doc. 488, f. 11; estimate by the junta de guerra, Dec. 5, 1778, in 
Cabello, Informe, 1784. 

348 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

taken to the Indians were French knives, scissors, tobacco, combs, 
and even firearms, though it was a serious offense to furnish 
weapons or ammunition to the natives. In exchange the Indians 
gave horses (stolen usually from the Spanish settlements and mis- 
sions), corn, and hides of deer and buffalo. The corn and horses 
were used by the governor at the presidio of Los Adaes; the skins 
were either sold at Natchitoches, likewise an unlawful proceeding, 
or were sent to Saltillo. This trade, conducted at first from Los 
Adaes, was later continued from the presidio of San Agustin, at 
the mouth of the Trinity. 1 


The interest in the lower Trinity aroused by Orobio's visit 
was crystallized by the arrest in October, 1754, of some French- 
man, caught by Marcos Ruiz among the Orcoquiza Indians. The 
leader of the French party was Joseph Blancpain, whose name 
sometimes appears as Lanpen. With him were captured two other 
Frenchmen, Elias George, and Antonio de la Fars, besides two 
negroes. Their goods were confiscated and divided among the 
captors, their huts given to chief Calzones Colorados, their boat 
left stranded on the river bank, and they, after being questioned 
as to their purpose, sent to the City of Mexico and imprisoned. 

According to Blancpain's own statement he had long been an 
Indian interpreter in the employ of the government of Louisiana, 
and had a trading establishment at Natchitoches, but lived on his 
plantation near the Mississippi, twenty-two leagues from New 
Orleans. He claimed that, at the time of his arrest, which oc- 
curred east of the Trinity at the village of Calzones Colorados, he 
had been trading for two months with the Attacapa, with whom 
he had dealt for more than a quarter of a century. The list of 
goods confiscated by his captors shows that, among other things, 
he was furnishing the Indians of the locality with a goodly sup- 

*The facts recorded above are drawn mainly from the records of the 
investigation entitled Testimonio practicado sobre si D. Jacinto de Barrios 
tuvo comercio con muniziones de Guerra con los Indios Barbaras de Esta 
Prova. y fuera de ella, etc. In the residencia of the governor held a few 
weeks before the investigation, the same witnesses testified solemnly that 
Barrios had not engaged in illegal trade, but later explained the discrep- 
ancy on the ground of a technicality in the meaning of contraband trade. 
Autos de la Residencia. . . . de Barrios y Jauregui. 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 349 

ply of firearms, a proceeding which the Spanish government had 
always strenuously opposed. He had in his possession a license 
from the governor of Louisiana authorizing him to go among the 
Attacapa to trade for horses, as well as instructions to keep a 
diary, and, if he encountered any strange Indian village, to make 
friends of the inhabitants and take the chiefs to see the governor 
at New Orleans. Until shortly before his arrest he had been ac- 
companied by a considerable party. 

These instructions the Spaniards regarded as evidence that 
Blancpain was acting as a government agent to extend French 
authority over the Indians living in Spanish territory. It was 
charged against him that he had taken away the Spanish commis- 
sion of chief Canos and given him a French one. More than this, 
Barrios reported to the viceroy, on the testimony of the soldiers 
who made the arrest and who claimed to have their information 
from the Indians and from Blancpain himself, that the Orcoquiza 
were expecting from New Orleans fifty families of settlers and a 
minister, to plant a colony and a mission at Bl Orcoquizac. But 
later, when his examination occurred at Mexico in February, 1755, 
Blancpain with great hardihood it would seem, considering the 
circumstances, denied having had anything to do with the Orco- 
quiza or Bidai, and, with greater truthfulness, perhaps, claimed 
not to know of any plans for a mission or a settlement. 

Blancpain died in prison at Mexico, and, after a year's incar- 
ceration, his companions, according to the then customary deal- 
ing with intruders in Mexico, were deported in La America to 
Spain, to be disposed of by the Casa de Contratacion. Their case 
brought forth a royal order requiring that if any more French- 
men should be caught on Spanish territory without license they 
should be sent to Acapulco and thence to South America, there to 
be kept on the Isle of San Fernandez or at the Presidio of 
Valdivia. 1 

ir The account of the arrest of Blancpain is gathered mainly from an 
expediente called Dilixensias sobre Lanpen, dated Feb. 19, 1755 (B. A., 
Provincias Internas, 1755-1793). See also a communication of the viceroy 
to the King, March 14, 1756 ; royal cdula directed to the viceroy, July 
19, 1757 ; statement by Valcarcel, in Testimonio del Dictamen dada por 
el Senor Don Domingo de Valcarcel del Consejo de Su Magd su oydor en 
la Rl Auda de esta Nueba Espana en los autos fechos a consulta de Don 
Jazinto de Barrios y Jauregui Governador de la Provincia de Texas de 
que dd quenta el comandante frances de el Presidio del Nachitos se pre- 

350 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 


As soon as Ruiz, the captor of Blancpain, returned to Los 
Adaes, Governor Barrios held a council, in which testimony was 
given to show that the French were clearly intending to establish 
a colony on the Trinity. In consequence, Barrios reported the 
danger to the viceroy, and at the same time took measures to 
provide temporary defense. ]n his account of the Blancpain affair 
sent to the viceroy on November 30, 1754, Barrios proposed guard- 
ing El Orcoquisac against further intrusion by establishing a pre- 
sidio and a mission and also a civil settlement strong enough to 
exist after a few years without the protection of a garrison, sug- 
gesting that the families be recruited from Adaes and that they be 
given the government subsidy usually granted to new colonies. 1 
This initiation by Barrios of a plan to colonize the lower Trinity 
country should be kept in mind for consideration in connection 
with the governor's later conduct. 

With respect to the temporary defense of El Orcoquisac, the junta 
recommended sending to the Trinity ten soldiers and ten armed 
settlers. Failing to find this number of men available at Los 
Adaes, Barrios at once corresponded with the captains at San 
Antonio, Bahia, and San Xavier, asking for eighteen men to add 
to the ten which he proposed- to detach from his post; but he 
did not at first meet with success. 2 Meanwhile Domingo del Rio 
was sent among the Bidai and Orcoquiza to learn, as Barrios put 
it, how they reacted toward the arrest of Blancpain. He returned 
in April bearing a new rumor that the French had settled and for- 
tified El Orcoquisac. Thereupon the governor dispatched him with 
a squad of soldiers to make another investigation and to bring back 
a careful report. To strengthen the Spanish hold upon the In- 
dians, Del Rio's party were supplied with abundant merchandise 
for gifts and for "cambalache," or barter. In view of the defec- 
tion of chief Canos to the French, they took for Mateo a commis- 

Mno que los yndios de aquella Domination intentaban saltar el Presidio. 
Dated Oct. 11, 1755. The title is incorrect. The document is a recom- 
mendation of the auditor concerning the proposed garrisoning of the mouth 
of the Trinity. B. MSS. ; report of the junta de guerra, held at Los Adaes, 
Oct. 23, 1754. B. A., San Augustin de Ahumada. 

'The viceroy to Barrios, Feb. 12, 1756; Test, del Dictamen, Oct. 11, 
1755, fol. 7. 

1 Dilijens Practicadas, p. 19. L. P., doc. 25. 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 351 

sion as captain, a cane, symbol of authority, a jacket, a sombrero, 
and a shirt, while for Tomas, chief of the Bidai, who already had 
a commission as captain, they carried a like outfit. When they re- 
turned from this journey, which included a visit to the Nabedache, 
to the Bidai villages of Antonio and Tomas, and to the Orcoquiza 
village of El Gordo, they were accompanied by Mateo, Tomas and 
a band of braves, who were duly entertained by the governor, 
and who repeated former requests for missions. 1 

Del Eio had found no French settlement, but he had heard 
from the Indians, who, as was to be expected, told a good story, 
that subsequently to the arrest of Blancpain some Frenchmen had 
been among them, that Mateo and his people (loyal to the Span- 
iards, of course!) had withdrawn from the coast, but that Canos, 
Blancpain's proselyte, had been to New Orleans, and, on his re- 
turn, all decked out in French garb and laden with presents, had 
tried to win the rest of his tribe to the French cause. 

This report evidently caused Barrios to act. Del Rio's return 
was early in June. Sometime between this date and August 27 
probably at least a month before this the governor sent twenty- 
eight soldiers recruited from San Xavier, San Antonio, La Bahia, 
and Adaes, to garrison El Orcoquisac. until permanent arrange- 
ments should be made by the superior government. 2 The post- 
ing of this garrison marks the beginning of the Spanish occupa- 
tion of El Orcoquisac. 


The examination of Blancpain in the royal hall of confessions 
had occurred in February, 1755. For a year after this nothing 
was done by the superior government in Mexico but to discuss and 
refer, a process all too well known to the special student of Span- 
ish-American history. To follow the details of this correspond- 

s Practicadas, 1755. L. P. no. 25. The details of this expe- 
dition are given in the declarations of the soldiers who accompanied Del 
Rio. (Ibid.) Miss Brown makes no mention of Del Rio's journey between 
October and April. 

"Test, del Dictamen, Oct. 11, 1755. The date, Aug. 25, is fixed by Val- 
carcel's statement that on this day the fiscal had suggested that part of 
the temporary garrison sent by Barrios should remain. Ibid. Miss Brown 
concluded that this garrison was not sent. My inference is drawn from 
Valcarcel's Dictamen. 

352 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

ence would be profitless except as a study in Spanish provincial 

administration. Viewed from this standpoint, however, it is in- 
teresting, as it furnishes a typical example of procedure in the 
matter of frontier defense, and a suggestion of the baneful effect 
of long distance legislation upon the missions and colonies, as well 
as insight into Spanish governmental methods. 

A question within this field once brought to the attention of the 
viceroy ordinarily went from him to the fiscal of the royal Hacienda. 
If necessary, it went also the auditor of the war department and 
to a junta de guerra y hacienda, composed of officials from these 
two branches of the service. On the basis of these opinions of 
the fiscal and auditor, and the resolution of the junta, the viceroy 
issued his decrees. To one who studies intimately the viceroy's 
administration of the provinces it is noticeable how completely he 
followed the advice of these officials, particularly of the fiscal. 

According to this customary routine, Barrios's proposal con- 
cerning the defense of the Trinity went, during the spring and 
summer of 1755, to the auditor, the fiscal, and a junta de guerra 
y hacienda. But there was so little agreement of opinion that 
the viceroy could reach no decision. Nominally, the difference 
was upon the size of the garrison and the question as to whether 
the proposed settlement should be subsidized or not. One gets the 
impression, however, that the real reason for delay was lack of 
interest. The fiscal recommended retaining at El Orcoquisac 
twenty of the soldiers already placed there by Barrios, and favored 
establishing one or more missions for the Orcoquiza. But he op- 
posed Barrios's proposal of a subsidized colony, recommending, in- 
stead, dependence upon settlers who should be attracted to the 
vicinity by lands alone. The six officials of the junta which was 
called could agree neither with the fiscal nor with each other. 
While all were of the opinion that El Orcoquisac should be gar- 
risoned, two voted for twenty soldiers aided by the Indians of the 
locality, two for a larger number of soldiers, and two for ten sol- 
diers and ten citizens. 

After receiving Barrios's letter of September 6, 1755, which 
reported not only tbat Frenchmen had again been seen on the 
Trinity, but also that the governor of Louisiana had set up a 
claim to the territory which he garrisoned, the viceroy asked for a 
new opinion of the auditor. 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 353 

Valcarcel, adopting the views that had been expressed by Alta- 
mira in hio famous dictamen in 1744, and of Escandon, frequently 
voiced during his long struggle to people the country between the 
San Antonio River and Tampico, had in his mind the germs of a 
colonizing policy which might have been successful if really car- 
ried out. Reporting on October 11, he opposed the fiscal's plan 
for an unsubsidized settlement, on the ground that it would be 
more expensive to maintain a garrison for the long time that 
would be necessary under that plan, since there was little chance 
of a pueblo formed without special inducements to settlers, than 
to equip at once fifty families, withdrawing the garrison within a 
definite time. Citing Altamira's opinion, he argued with some 
logic that, in time of peace, on the one hand, good citizens would 
be more useful than soldiers as agents in winning the Indians, 
since presidial soldiers were proverbially low characters, and al- 
ways making trouble; while, in time of war, on the other hand, 
twenty soldiers would be virtually useless. He advised, therefore, 
selecting fifty families of good character, attracting them not only 
by the lands, but also by the usual subsidy given to new col- 
onists, putting them under a governor of their own number, and 
suppressing the presidio as soon as the civil settlement should be 

He also made recommendations concerning the choice of a site. 
First a good location should be selected. He doubted the fitness 
of El Orcoquisac for the settlement, for lack of wood, and because 
of the marshiness of the country. Agreeing with the fiscal in this, 
he recommended ordering the governor to take the president of 
the eastern Texas missions, go to the Trinity country, and select 
a site for a town and missions. The town site must be so chosen 
that it would serve to protect the missions, control the Indians, 
and keep the French from among them. He advised, also, requir- 
ing Barrios to report the necessary supplies to be furnished the 
families at government expense. 

But still the matter dragged on. Further delay was caused by 
a change of viceroys, and when the new one, the Marques de las 
Amarillas, arrived in Mexico, he found the defense of the Trinity 
one of the questions first demanding attention. Accordingly, on 
February 4, 1756, he called a junta, whose resolutions, supplemented 
by the viceroy's decree of February 12, brought the matter to a head. 

354 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

The provisions thus jointly made for the lower Trinity were as 
follows: (1) For the present a garrison of thirty soldiers and 
a mission were to be established precisely on the site of Blanc- 
pain's arrest. (2) As soon as a suitable permanent site could 
be selected it being conceded that El Orcoquisac was unhealth- 
ful a villa of fifty families was to be founded, and to this site 
the mission and presidio were to be removed. Of these families 
twenty-five were to be Spaniards and twenty-five Tlascaltecan In- 
dians, both classes to be recruited mainly from Saltillo, and to be 
aided by a single government subsidy sufficient to transport them 
and provide them with an outfit for agriculture, the sum to be 
determined by Barrios. (3) At the end of six years the presidio 
was to be suppressed, the soldiers becoming citizen colonists. For 
this reason, as well as for the immediate benefit of the Indians, 
married men of good character were to be preferred in the selec- 
tion of the garrison. (4) The mission was to be conducted by 
two friars from the college of Guadalupe de Zacatecas, on a stipend 
of four hundred pesos each. (5) Barrios was ordered to report 
the funds necessary for the subsidy, to proceed at once to estab- 
lish the presidio and mission on the temporary site, and, assisted 
b) 7 two friars and by men acquainted with the country, to choose 
the site for the villa. 1 

Bonilla and Bancroft have made it appear that the colony of 
fifty families provided for was to be identical with the presidio, 
but from the above it is clear that such was not the case. Morfi 
states that a presidio of thirty men was at first provided for ; that 
because Barrios reported the original site unsuitable, the gar- 
rison was moved to the Springs of Santa Eosa de Alcazar, and 
that on February 4, 1757, a junta in Mexico decided to establish 
a new presidio an<] a colony of fifty Spanish and fifty Tlascaltecan 
families. The date of the junta was February 4. 1756; it pro- 
vided for a colony of only fifty families, as has been stated above. 

a The proceedings in Mexico are recorded in a report of the junta de 
guerra of Feb. 4, 1756 (B. A. San Agusttn de Ahumada) ; Testimonio del 
dictamen de Valcarcel, Oct. 11, 1755. B. MSS. ; the viceroy to Barrios, 
Feb. 12, 1756. B. MSS.; the viceroy to the king, March 14, 1756. B. 
MSS.; royal cedilla, Aug. 20, 1756. B. MSS. The auditor, Valcarcel, gave 
his opinion on Feb. 11, 1755, the fiscal on Aug. 27. The date of the first 
junta has not been ascertained. Note Bancroft's error in saying that all 
the families were to be Tlascaltecans. 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 355 

It will be seen from what follows that the first garrison was not 
moved to the Springs of Santa Kosa.' 1 

This provision regarding the sending of Tlascaltecan families 
to the Texas frontier is an illustration of the interesting part 
played hy the Tlascaltecan tribe during the whole period of Span- 
ish expansion in New Spain. After their spirited fight with 
Cortes, resulting in an alliance, they became the most trusted sup- 
porters of the Spaniards. After playing an important part in the 
conquest of the valley of Mexico, they became a regular factor in 
the extension of Spanish rule over the north country. Thus, 
when San Luis Potosi and Saltillo had been conquered, colonies 
of Tlascaltecans were sent to teach the more barbarous Indians of 
these places both loyalty to the Spaniards and the elements of 
civilization. In Saltillo a large colony of Tlascaltecans was estab- 
lished by Urdinola at the end of the sixteenth century, and be- 
came the nursery from which numerous offshoots were planted 
at the new missions and villages further north. At one time one 
hundred families of Tlascaltecans were ordered sent to Pensa- 
cola; we see them figure now in the plans for a colony on the 
Trinity Eiver; and a few years later it was suggested that a 
settlement, with these people as a nucleus, be established far to 
the north, on the upper Eed River, among the Taovayas Indians. 


San Agustin de Ahumada 

Barrios promptly set about establishing the presidio, Avhich was 
evidently founded late in May or June, 1756. 2 It was certainly 
established by July 14. In compliment to the viceroy, the name 
given it, San Agustin de Ahumada, like that of the presidio of 
San Luis de las Amarillas, established a year later at San Saba, 
was borrowed from that official's generous title. 3 The site was 

'Bonilla, Breve Compendio, 57; Bancroft, North Mexican States and 
Texas, I, 625; Bonilla, Memorias para la historia de Texas (MS.), 345. 

2 0n March 14 Barrios ordered Rufz to enlist recruits. On May 16 Cris- 
t6bal de Cordoba issued supplies to those who went to establish the pre- 
sidio. This, probably, may be taken as the day when they set out for 
the new establishment. (Declaration of C6rdoba, Oct. 10, 1757; Barrios 
to the viceroy, July 14.) 

*This was Don Agustin de Ahumada Villabon Mendoza y Narvaez, Mar- 
ques de las Amarillas. 

356 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

fixed according to the instructions, at El Orcoquisac, the place 
where Blancpain had been arrested. This was near a lagoon a 
short distance east of the left hank of the Trinity some two 
leagues from the head of the Bay, or near the north line of 
present Chambers county. 1 It is easy to explain Bancroft's mis- 
take of supposing that El Orcoquisac and Los Horconsitos, which 
will appear later in the narrative, were identical, hut it is difficult 
to understand how he came to place San Agustin de Ahumada on 
his map more than one hundred miles up the river instead of near 
its mouth. 2 Marcos Ruiz was made recruiting officer for the gar- 
rison; Domingo del Eio's skill as an Indian agent was recognized 
by his appointment as lieutenant ad interim in command, while 
Cristobal de Cordoba was made sergeant. On June 12, 1757, it 
was reported that the presidio, church, granary and corrals were 
all completed, and that fields and gardens had been prepared. 
We learn little about the structure of the presidio except that it 
was good. It was undoubtedly an unpretentious affair, and per- 
haps not very different from that soon ordered substituted for it 
when a change of site was being planned. The latter was to be a 
wooden stockade, triangular in shape, with three bulwarks, six 
curtains, one gate near the barracks, and a plaza de armas in the 
center. As a temporary part of the equipment of the presidio, 
two swivel guns were sent from Los Adaes, to remain until other 
provisions could be made. 3 

The new establishment on the Trinity served to keep Barrios in 
Texas nearly three additional years. On August 21, 1756, by 
royal order, he was appointed governor of Coahuila and Don 
Angel Martos y Navarrete named in his place. But in view of the 
Orcoquisac enterprise just begun, the viceroy requested that Martos 
be sent temporarily to Coahuila in Barrios's place. The request 
was granted, and Barrios continued in office until 1759. 4 

ir This conclusion, based upon an independent study of the sources, is 
borne out by Miranda's map, which I did not see till long after the above 
had been written. 

*North Mexican States and Texas, I, 615, 643. 

'Order to survey the Trinity, N. A., doc. 488, f . 2 ; Barrios to the vice- 
roy, July 14, 1756; Barrios to the viceroy, June 12, 1757; Appeal of the 
Father, N. A., doc. 487; the viceroy to Barrios, May 26, 1757. Miss 
Brown implies that Ruiz led the garrison to El Orcoquisac. 

4 Brown, "The History of the Spanish Settlements at Orcoquisac, 1746- 
1772," MS.; the viceroy to the king, April 19, 1757; autos of the rest- 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 357 
Nuestra Sefiora de la Luz 

The mission established in the neighborhood of San Agustin 
was called Nuestra Sefiora de la Luz (Our Lady of Light), with 
the addition, sometimes of "del Orcoquisac." Before the arrival 
of the regular missionaries, Father Eomero, of the Ais mission, 
went among the Orcoquiza and secured promises that they would 
receive instruction, with the result that, in July, 1756, Barrios was 
able to report that even Canos, the French partisan, had become 
"reduced" to mission life, whatever this may have meant, in the 
absence of a mission. He had probably consented to enter one. 
At this time Barrios talked hopefully of even three missions in- 
stead of one. 1 

The first missionaries sent were FT. Bruno Chavira and Fr. 
Marcos Satereyn. Just when they arrived is not clear, but it was 
evidently after August, 1756, and certainly before the end of Jan- 
uary, 1757. 2 Barrios soon complained that these missionaries were 
unsuited for their task, one because he was very young, and the 
other, Fr. Chavira, because he was old and violent in his manner. 
Moreover, he said, though the Indians were docile and anxious to 
live at the mission, the padres had brought nothing to support 
them. He carried his complaint to President Vallejo, who prom- 
ised to have the College recall these two missionaries and send 
others. 3 

Chavira's removal, however, was by a more powerful hand, for 
on June 27, he succumbed to the unhealthfulness of the country 
and died. Fr. Chavira's companion remained for some time and 
was approved by the governor. 4 

In January, 1757, as we shall see, the viceroy ordered the mis- 
sionaries to transfer their mission to Santa Eosa, and to "reduce" 

dencia of Barrios. B. A., Adaes, 1756-1766. Martos began his adminis- 
tration on Feb. 6, 1759. 

ir The viceroy to Arriaga, citing Barrios's opinion, April 18, 1757. At 
this point Miss Brown's thesis follows my findings and my language. 

2 They are not mentioned in the Diligencias of August, 1756, but Barrios 
wrote of their being there in January, 1757 (Letter to the viceroy, June 
12, 1757). From his statement it is inferred that January was the month 
of their arrival, although this is not certain. See the statement that the 
viceroy was sending letters by the missionaries, Jan. 19, 1757. These 
might be new missionaries. (Historia 91, easpediente 2.) 

'The viceroy to Arriaga, April 18, 1757. 

*IHd, postscript. 

358 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

there at El Gordo's village, all four of the Orcoquiza bands and the 
Bidai tribe as well. This plan does not exactly harmonize with 
the decision of the junta of March 3 that efforts should be made 
to keep the different bands hostile toward each other. The In- 
dians, however, opposed the transfer, and, to meet this difficulty, 
Barrios suggested dividing the missionary forces, leaving one friar 
at El Orcoquisac, with a small guard of soldiers, the other going to 
Santa Eosa. 1 

As was usually the case in the initial stages of founding a 
mission, the Orcoquiza (especially the band of Calzones Colo- 
rados) were at first very tractable and friendly. They professed 
anxiety to enter upon mission life, built a house for the mis- 
sionaries, and the first spring planted for them six almudes of 
corn, something "never before seen in these natives." 2 

The church, reported by Barrios as already complete in June, 
was evidently a very temporary structure, which was supplanted 
afterwards by a somewhat better one, itself miserable enough. A 
complaint made two years later by Fr. Abad de Jesus Maria, who 
was then head minister at the place, to the effect that he could 
not get help from the soldiers to complete the mission, reveals to 
us the site and the nature of the newer building. He writes: 
"Fearful of what might result, I had to set about the mentioned 
material establishment. . . . The two ministers, having ex- 
plored and examined the territory with all care and exactitude, we 
did not find any place more suitable or nearer the presidio than a 
hill, something less than a fourth of a league's distance to the 
east from the latter and on the same bank of the lagoon. This 
place, Excellent Sir, because of its elevation, commands a view of 
the whole site of the presidio and of a circumference to the west 
and south, where this Kiver Trinity turns, as far as the eye can 
reach. Towards the east the land is a little less elevated. At a 
distance of a league enough corn might be planted to supply a 
large population. . . . All these advantages being seen, the 
mission was erected on this site. It is made of wood, all hewn 
(labrada), and beaten clay mixed with moss, and has four arched 
portals (portales en circulo). This building, because of its 

Viceroy's decree, January 19, 1757 ; Barrios to the viceroy, June 12, 

"The viceroy to Arriaga, April 18 ,1757. 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 359 

strength and arrangement, is the most pleasing in all those lands 
of the Spanish and the French or it would be if your Excellency 
should be pleased to have completed its construction, which for the 
present has been suspended." 1 

Such are some of the glimpses which we are able to get of the 
new mission and presidio. 


To select a site for the colony, Barrios commissioned Lieu- 
tenant Del Rio and Don Bernardo de Miranda, the latter known 
for his recent explorations of the Los Almagres mineral vein, 
each to make an independent survey, which they did in the mid- 
summer of 1756. When, on August 26, 1756, they and their as- 
sistants gave their reports before Governor Barrios and Father 
Romero, all agreed as to the most desirable location. Above the 
presidio, within a space of six leagues, they reported three arroyos, 
on the middle one of which was the village of Calzones Colorados. 
These arroyos, they thought, would afford moderate facilities for a 
town site. But much better was the country along the arroyo of 
Santa Rosa del Alcazar, mentioned before as in the center of the 
Orcoquiza tribe. 2 

Pleased with the glowing description of Santa Rosa, as it 
came to be called commonly, Barrios next had it surveyed by two 
surveyors named Morales 3 and Hernandez. In October these men 
reported favorably upon three sites, but most favorably on that 
near El Gordo's village at the junction of two small branches 
joining the Santa Rosa, about ten leagues or perhaps twenty miles 
west of the San Jacinto apparently Mill Creek and Spring Creek. 4 

father Abad to the viceroy, November 27, 1759. 

"Order for the survey of the banks of the Trinity. N. A., doc. 488, 
2, 8, 9. 

'Miss Brown gives his name as Morelos. 

'Orders for the survey. N. A., doc. 488, 14-22. The survey was begun 
early in September, 1756, Barrios going with the party. He returned to 
Los Adaes on September 6, leaving Miranda in charge, and with orders to 
go up the Santa Rosa to three arroyos that had been mentioned before. 
On the 13th the survey was resumed, the first ojo examined being one 
about three leagues west of the San Jacinto; within three leagues of this 
two others were examined. Going up stream to the village of El Gordo 
they found a larger stream, carrying two hands of water (bueyes), and 
dividing at a short distance into two smaller streams, one coming from 
the northwest and one from the south. This was regarded as the best 

360 The Southwestern Historical. Quarterly 

Barrios required the surveyors to prepare estimates of the cost 
of building the necessary darns and acequias, and in November 
reported to the viceroy in favor of Santa Rosa (as Miranda 
had already done in October), recommending three missions in- 
stead of one. On January 7 this site was approved by a junta 
de guerra y hacienda, and shortly afterward the viceroy ordered 
the presidio moved thither, with the condition that each week a 
squad of soldiers must be sent to reconnoiter El Orcoquisac to look 
for Frenchmen. 

The missionaries were required, likewise, to transfer the mission 
with the people of Calzones Colorados and Canos (assumed by 
the authorities, from previous reports, to be in the mission), to 
El Gordo's village, and to strive to attract thither the people of 
Mateo and also those of the Bidai tribe. Thus was it planned 
to gather all of the Orcoquiza and Bidai into one settlement. 1 

In March and April the central government proceeded in good 
faith to provide 30,000 pesos, the sum asked for by Barrios, for 
equipping and transporting the settlers, and ordered three swivel 
guns to San Agustin, to take the place of the cannon brought 
from Los Adaes. The details of recruiting the families were left 
to Barrios, but he was ordered to take from Saltillo fifty saddle 
horses, fifty brood mares, twenty-five cows, nine thousand one hun- 
dred and twenty-five sheep, and six yoke of oxen. Other neces- 
sary stock was to be purchased in Los Adaes. Each family was 
to be supplied with a limited outfit for engaging in agriculture, 
and a gun and a sabre for defence, while, during the journey, 
each member of the Spanish families was to be allowed three reals 
a day, and each member of the Tlascaltecan families two reals. 
The actual work of recruiting, equipping and transporting the 
families was entrusted by Barrios, some time later, to a French- 
man named Diego Giraud. 2 

place for the site, and is the place marked on Miranda's map as Santa 
Rosa. It was apparently about where Huf smith now is; if not, then at 

Barrios to the viceroy, November 8, 1756; the viceroy to the governor, 
January 7, 1757; decree of the viceroy, January 19, 1757; the viceroy to 
the missionaries, March 23, 1757. 

'Action of the junta of March 3, and a supplementary decree of April 3; 
viceroy's decrees of March 3 and March 8; viceroy to Arriaga, April 18, 
1757; Appeal of the Father, 9 (N. A. doc. 487). 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 361 


To this point prospects seemed good for the beginning in Texas 
of a new civil settlement, the element most lacking, and want of 
which meant ultimate failure. But now ensued a period of dis- 
heartening inactivity, flimsy excuse-making, and pernicious quar- 
reling, that shatters the reader's patience, and that resulted in kill- 
ing the projected settlement. 

The plan for a colony had originated with Barrios, and hith- 
erto he had acted with reasonable promptitude in carrying it out. 
As late as June, 1757, his attitude was favorable, for then, when 
reporting that the Indians at El Orcoquisac might oppose moving 
to Santa Eosa, he had suggested that this difficulty might be 
overcome by leaving one missionary at El Orcoquisac, protected by 
a small garrison, and establishing the other at Santa Eosa. 1 But 
from now on he seems to have entirely changed his mind. It may 
have been sincere conviction that there was no suitable site he 
could not foresee the building in the vicinity of a great city like 
Houston or it may have been some unexplained influence that 
caused him to positively oppose the town. A suggestion of jeal- 
ousy of Miranda appears in the documents, but one is not war- 
ranted in accepting this suggestion as conclusive. 

Whatever the cause, his subsequent conduct is most exasperat- 
ing. In October he reported that he had been deceived by 
Miranda's report and that a personal examination made in Octo- 
ber by himself and President Vallejo proved that Santa Eosa was 
unfit for a settlement, 2 but that a place called "El Atascosito" or 
"El Atascoso y Los Tranquillos" on the JYinity, some nineteen 
leagues above the presidio, was a suitable location. 3 

While the viceroy was putting Barrios's suggestion through the 
usual deliberate legislative routine, 4 the governor was forced into 

Barrios to the viceroy, June 12, 1757. 

2 This report is missing, but it seems from references to it that his 
objection was the difficulty of making an acequia. (See Appeal of the 
Father; viceroy to Barrios, March 3, 1758.) 

"Dictamen fiscal, February 5, 1760. With this report he seems to have 
sent autos of his examination of El Atascosito. 

4 On March 13, 1758, he ordered Barrios to make another report so that 
the government could decide whether or not to accept El Atascosito as a 
substitute for Santa Rosa. Barrios either ignored or failed to get this 
order. (The viceroy to Barrios, March 13, 1758.) 

362 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

temporary activity by the missionary then at Nuestra Senora 
de la Luz, Fray Joseph Francisco Caro. This friar wrote in Feb- 
ruary, 1758, to his superior at Adaes, Father Vallejo, a mournful 
tale about the physical miseries of life at his swampy, malarial, 
mosquito-infested post. Father Chavira had died, he said, from 
the unhealthfulness of the place; his companion, Fray Marcos 
Satereyn, and all the soldiers, were sick from dysentery, due to 
bad water, excessive humidity, and putrid lagoons nearby. He 
requested, therefore, that the presidio and mission be moved at 
once to another site, preferably El Atascosito. If this could not be 
done, he begged leave either to move the mission with a small 
guard of soldiers to the place designated or to abandon his post. 
Vallejo reported the complaint to Barrios and requested that one 
of the alternatives be granted, preferably that looking to the trans- 
fer of the presidio as well as the mission to El Atascosito; he 
closed with a. threat that unless something were done, he would 
order Father Caro to retire and, acting in the name of his College, 
would renounce the mission. 1 

In response to this threat Barrios went in April to San 
Agustin, selected a site within two gunshots of El Atascosito, 
ordered crops sown, and instructed Lieut. Del Rio, as soon as 
the sowing should be completed, to build there a new triangular 
stockade, and to transfer the garrison and the mission. 2 To off- 
set this apparent compliance, however, Barrios gave the idea of 
a colony a serious blow by declaring that neither El Atascosito, 
the place he had himself proposed as a substitute for Santa Rosa, 
nor any of the several others that had been considered, would 
support a settlement of fifty families, and recommended accord- 
ingly that Giraud, his agent sent to Saltillo to recruit families, 
should be repaid for his trouble and expense, and, it is inferred, 
relieved of his commission. 3 

^Appeal of the Father at the Mission of Nuestra Senora de la Luz de 
Orcoquiza for permission to abandon that mission on account of the in- 
sufferable plague of mosquitoes and ants and of the unhealthfulness of the 
locality (MS., N. A. doc. 487), 4. 

'Barrios replied on March 13 that as soon as the weather would permit 
he would attend to removing the presidio to El Atascosito. While at 
Nacogdoches, early in April, on his way to San Agustin, he received news 
of the destruction of the San Saba Mission. Only high rivers prevented 
him from going to San Antonio and leaving the affairs of San Agustfn to 
his lieutenants. Appeal of the Father. 

Appeal of the Father, 9. Barrios had denounced El Orcoquisac and 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 363 

On March 4, ]758, and again on March 13, Barrios was or- 
dered to make another search for a town site,or at least a site to 
which the mission might be removed. But after all the delays 
and failures recounted above, one will hardly be surprised that 
these renewed orders were not obeyed. The reason, if the reader 
were to require a specific one, does not appear, for it happens that 
in our sources there is a gap, so far as events in Texas go, between 
April, 1758, and October, 1759. Before that time Governor Bar- 
rios had gone to his new post in Coahuila, leaving half done the 
task to accomplish which, because of his supposed special fitness 
for it, his transfer had been indefinitely suspended. His suc- 
cessor proved to be no more efficient than he, so far as our present 
interest is concerned. 

When the curtain again rises after the year and a half of 
darkness the tables are turned. The mission and presidio arc 
still at El Orcoquisac, but the new missionary, Fray Joseph Abad 
de Jesus Maria, is in dispute with the new governor, Don Angel 
Martos y Navarrete, over the question of removal to a new site, 
Los Horconsitos, three or four leagues up the river. But this time 
it is the missionary who opposes the transfer. 

Don Angel began his administration on February 6, 1759, 1 and 
after attending to matters of most pressing moment he took up 
the question of locating the proposed villa and transferring the 
mission and presidio from El Orcoquisac. In October he visited 
Santa Rosa and decided against it. 2 On November 4, in company 
with Del Rio and Father Abad, he visited El Atascosito, and de- 
cided against it also. But farther south he found a place called 
Los Horconsitos (Little Forks) three and one-half leagues above 
El Orcoquisac, and a league north of this, a juniper covered 
arroyo called Los Pielagos, either of which he regarded suitable 
for a town, as well as for the presidio and mission. 3 

But Father Abad opposed the governor's suggestion. He argued, 
and with reason, that the trouble with the presidio and the mission 

the San Jacinto site in August, 1756; Santa Rosa in October, 1757, and 
now he declared against El Atascosito and, by implication, against the 
whole plan. 

^Autos de Residencia de Barrios, B. A., Adaes, 1756-1766. 

2 Martos to the viceroy, December 6, 1759. B. A., San Agustln de 

'Martos to the viceroy, December 6, 1759. B. A., San Agustln de Ahu- 
mada; Informe by Father Abad, November 27, 1759. 

364 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

was one of laziness rather than one of faults of the site; that Del 
Rio, being a commo'h soldier, was unfit to be a commander; that 
the Indians objected to leaving their native soil; that the buildings 
and crops, secured at the cost of great labor, should not be aban- 
doned; and that new rumors of the French made removal unwise. 
In spite of Father Abad's opinion, on December 12 Martos re- 
ported favorably on Los Horconsitos, and on March 15 the viceroy 
ordered the removal made to that point. But instead of complying 
with the order, in May Martos took more testimony, which added 
a "Place on the Trinity'*' to the list of sites suitable for a town 
and for the transfer in question, but declared against El Atascosito 
and El Orcoquisac. 1 After recommending to the viceroy, on May 
30, the three places named, Martos inquired of Father Vallejo if 
the removal was imperative. First referring the matter to Father 
Romero, the missionary from Los Adaes who had been at San 
Agustin, the president replied in the affirmative, and with em- 
phasis. 2 Thus Father Abad was now opposed by Fathers Vallejo 
and Romero, while the governor stood between them. 

Meanwhile Martos had added his opposition to the project of 
a villa. On December 16, ten days after recommending El Atas- 
cosito and Los Pielagos as suitable for such a purpose, he asked 
the viceroy to relieve him of responsibility for founding the town. 
What his reason was is not clear, but it may have been his unwill- 
ingness to oppose Father Abad. 3 At any rate, on March 6, 1760, 
his request was granted provisionally, until the site should be de- 
termined. As this never occurred, the plan for the villa was never 
again taken up in Mexico, and it never was founded. 4 

If it were not for the fact that Bonilla, and those who have 
followed him, had made the fundamental error of saying that the 
presidio and mission were moved one or more times, finally to Los 
Horconsitos (which Bancroft confuses with Orcoquisac), the reader 

*Abad to the viceroy, November 27, 1759; dictamen fiscal, February 5, 
1760; Interrogator, May 20, 1760. J3. A., San Agustin de Ahumada. 

2 Martos to the viceroy, May 30. 1760, in Abad's Informe; Martos to 
Vallejo, June 10, ibid.; Romero to Vallejo, June 12, ibid.; Vallejo to 
Martos, June 13, ibid. 

*Abad, Informe, B. A., San Agustin de Ahumada, if. 9-10. 

*A recent writer makes the error of stating that the colony was actually 
founded, and this in 1755 (Coman, Economic Beginnings of the Far West, 
I, 99). In view of the fact that the colony was never established, her 
comments on the laziness of the colonists seem gratuitous. 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 365 

might be spared the pain of following further such frivolous excuse- 
making and disgusting inactivity. Since, however, such errors 
have been made, it is necessary to show that, excepting, perhaps, a 
removal to a site a quarter of a league away, the transfer had not 
been effected down to 1767, when steps for final abandonment of 
the place were begun, and after which, of course, no further effort 
was likely to be made. 1 

A year and a half passed after the events related above had oc- 
curred, when a junta de guerra held in Mexico December 9, 1762, 
again approved Los Horconsitos, and, on December 22, Martos was 
again ordered to move the presidio and mission thither and to do 
it at once. It is clear from what follows, however, that the order 
was not carried out. 

In November, 1763, the presidio was put under the command of 
a captain, Don Rafael Martinez Pacheco, whereupon Martos, resent- 
ing the change, became anxious to do what for five years he had 
neglected. In June, 1764, therefore, he went to the presidio in com- 
pany with Father Calahorra to effect the transfer, but the Indians, 
bribed by Pacheco, as it later appeared, opposed the change, and, 
though the governor remained on the ground a month, the object 
was not accomplished. 2 Martos reported his failure to the viceroy, 
and on August 12, 1764, the command to remove the establishment 
to Los Horconsitos was repeated. 3 In the course of the ensuing 
trouble with Pacheco the presidio was partially burned. Subse- 
quently, in the administration of Afan de Rivera, temporary repairs 
were made on the partly destroyed establishment, which indicates 
that no removal had been made. In 1766 a storm damaged the 
presidio and mission, and a new clamor was made for a transfer, 
there being some evidence that the presidio was moved in conse- 
quence to higher ground a quarter of a league away. 4 Finally, in 
October, 1767, when the Marques de Eubi inspected the place, he 

'Bonilla, Breve Compendia, THE QUARTERLY, VIII, 57. 

"The viceroy to Martos, December 22, 1762; Martos to the viceroy, 
December 14, 1763; the viceroy to Martos, August 12, 1764; Martos to 
the viceroy, December 14, 1763. Testimony was given on January 2, 1765, 
to the effect that Pacheco had bribed the Indians. What his motives were 
does not appear. Declaration of Calzones Colorados before Marcos Ruiz, 
January 2, 1765. L. P., no. 25. 

'The viceroy to Martos, August 12, 1764. 

'The viceroy to Rivera, November 17, 1766; dictamen fiscal, November 
17, 1766. 

366 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

found the presidio at or near the original site, for in his diary 
describing the journey to the coast La Fora records passing El 
Atascosita and Los Horconsitos, and proceeding south from this 
point to the presidio. His entry makes it clear that the presidio 
and mission were still at El Orcoquisac. He says: "We trav- 
eled . . . four leagues to a small ranch at the place called 
El Atascoso, where we camped." On the next day "we traveled 
ten leagues, generally south, although the road forms a semicircle, 
to escape the lagoon formed by the Eio de la Trinidad, which 
during the whole day we kept at our right and two leagues 
away. After going four leagues over level country ... we 
crossed the Arroyo de Calzones, which runs west and empties 
into the Trinity, and leaving behind the Paraje de los Horcon- 
sitos we forded that of El Pielago, . . . which flows in the 
same direction and, like that of Calzones, empties into said river, 
both overflowing in rainy seasons and flooding the six leagues 
between this place [evidently Los Horconsitos] and the Presidio 
of San Luis de Ahumada, commonly called El Orcoquisac." 1 

It is clear, then, that down to October, 1767, no material change 
of site had been made. Rubi recommended that the establishment, 
like the rest of those in eastern Texas, be abandoned. This sug- 
gestion was soon acted upon, and if any transfer was ever effected 
(of which there is no evidence), it was between 1767 and 1771, 
a period when the affairs of the place were going from bad to worse. 


The arrest of Blancpain brought forth a protest from Kerlerec, 
the new governor of Louisiana, who claimed that the trader had 
been arrested on French territory. 2 He added that only with diffi- 
culty had he been able to restrain the Attacapa Indians from de- 
stroying the Spanish establishment, on account of their anger t*t 
the expulsion of the French. On September 11, 1756, he pro- 
posed to Barrios that a joint commission be appointed to examine 
the site of San Agustin to determine the question of ownership, 

l Relaoion del Viaje que de orden del Excelentisimo Senor Virrey Mar- 
ques de Cruillas Hiso el Capitan de Ingenieros Dn. Nicolas de la Fora, 
entries for October 8 and 9. 

2 Kerl6rec protested on January 12, 1755, and again on April 7. (Report 
of the junta de guerra of February 6, 1756.) 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 367 

and named Athanase de Mezieres to serve as the French represent- 
ative. Barrios refused the proffered aid and expressed to his gov- 
ernment the fear that Kerlerec intended to found a presidio near 
that of San Agustin. 

In spite of the arrest and the harsh treatment of Blancpain and 
his party, fear of the Spaniards was not so great as to keep away 
all Frenchmen. Domingo del Rio reported in the summer of 
1755, after his visit to El Orcoquisac, that since the arrest of 
Blancpain four Frenchmen had been there on horseback. Scarcely 
had the new presidio been established when a Frenchman pre- 
sented a petition to the viceroy through Barrios asking permission 
to settle at El Orcoquisac. The petitioner, M. Masse, a stock 
raiser who lived in the Attacapa region, was evidently well known 
to Governor Barrios, for when the latter went to establish the pre- 
sidio he asked permission to go by way of M. Masse's hacienda 
among the Attacapa, but his request was refused. In his petition 
Masse enlarged upon his distinguished birth and his attainments, 
and explained that he was led to make the request by his desire 
to emancipate his slaves, which was not possible in Louisiana. 
As arguments in his favor, he referred to his large herds of stock, 
which would be at the disposal of the new establishment; to the 
increase of population which would result from the settlement of 
his numerous slaves; and to the important service he would be 
able to perform among the Indians. In this connection, he prom- 
ised to secure the allegiance of the Attacapa, as well as the friend- 
ship of the northern nations, the Taovayases, the "Letas" (Co- 
manche) "Patoca" (Comanche) the "Icara" and the "Pares" 
(Panis). He did not speak for himself alone, but also for his 
partner, the Abbe Disdier, whose loyalty he was ready to guar- 
antee. On July 22, Governor Barrios forwarded the petition, 
and added the information that Masse was a chancellor of 
Grenoble, of good standing among the French, absolute master of 
the Attacapa and the northern Indians, owner of twenty negroes, 
seven hundred head of cattle, and one hundred horses, all of which 
he was willing to contribute to the support of the town. When 
we learn that for many years after this date Monsieur Masse was 
a contraband trader on the Gulf Coast, and that Barrios also was 
engaged in this enterprise, we are inclined to suspect something be- 
sides generosity in Masse's request. 

368 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

The viceroy in Mexico regarded the petition as a part of a 
plan to establish a French settlement on soil claimed by Spain, 
and the answer was the only one which could be expected. Bar- 
rios was instructed to inform Masse and Disdier that it would be 
contrary to law for them to even enter the Spanish province, and 
that if they did so their goods would be confiscated and they sent 
prisoners to Spain. He was further instructed to ascertain why 
the Frenchmen had wished to settle in Texas; and to find out if 
the Abbe, during his stay at Los Adaes, had caused any desertions. 

In the course of the correspondence which ensued it was stated 
that Disdier had come to New Orleans as chaplain of a vessel; 
had been made chaplain of a seminary in New Orleans; had been 
ejected by Kerlerec because of trouble with the boys ; had gone to 
the establishment of M. Masse, thence to Natchitoches, and thence 
to Los Adaes, where he had served for two months as tutor for 
the governor's sons. Eegarding Masse it was stated that he was 
a military officer who had been engaged in secret trade among the 
Attacapa. In June, 1757, Barrios reported that Disdier had left 
Texas on the pretext of going to Mexico to visit the shrine of the 
Virgin of Guadalupe, but instead had gone to El Orcoquisac to 
persuade the missionaries there to desert to Lousiana and Europe. 
Barrios professed to refuse to believe that he was a priest, but re- 
garded him as a fraud, and mentioned a correspondence that he 
had carried on with De Mezieres. 1 

Kerlerec did not confine his protests to those made to Barrios, 
but wrote to his home government on the matter, addressing his 
complaint to the Minister of Marine. This correspondence was 
reported to the viceroy of Mexico on March 9, 1757, by the gov- 
ernor of Havana. Writing of the matter to the king on April 18, 
the viceroy suggested the erection of a presidio on the bank of the 
Mississippi River opposite New Orleans "to protect the bound- 
aries" and so that this establishment, the new presidio of San 
Agustin, and that of La Bahia, might defend the coast "and in 
future prevent any introduction whatever." With the dispatch he 
sent a map made by Bernardo de Miranda, the surveyor of Santa 
Eosa, who happened to be in Mexico, and a report on the French 

J Miranda to the viceroy, April 26, 1757; petition of MassC, July 19, 
1756; Barrios to the viceroy, July 22, 1756; the viceroy to the king, 
September 14, 1756; royal c6dula, June 10, 1757; Barrios to the viceroy, 
June 16, 1757; the viceroy to Barrios, 1757, draft. 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 369 

border by the same individual. The map which, as the viceroy 
remarked, is not "subject to the rules of geography," shows Texas 
as extending to the Mississippi.' 1 

Frenchmen continued to operate among the Indians in the 
neighborhood of San Agustin, and to cause trouble for the small 
garrison. Sometime in 1759, for example, two Frenchmen en- 
tered the Orcoquiza country with a band of one hundred Indians 
and were expelled by Del Rio and ten soldiers, after some show of 
resistance. It later was charged that they were connected with a 
plot to destroy the Spanish settlement. In November of the same 
year eight Spanish soldiers were sent to the Brazos to reconnoiter a 
place where Frenchmen had encamped among the Karankawa, 
promising to return to build a town. 2 

Allusion has just been made to a French plot to destroy the 
settlement at San Agustin. In January, 1760, Del Eio wrote to 
Governor Martos that Luis de St. Denis (son of the famous Luis 
Juchereau de St. Denis so long commander of Natchitoches) had 
sent an Adaes Indian among the Orcoquiza and Bidai tribes to 
bribe them to destroy the presidio of San Agustin. Barrios at 
once protested to Governor Kerlerec, and added that he believed 
that the destruction of San Saba in the preceding year had been 
accomplished by French weapons. Kerlerec replied on March 13 
in great indignation, demanding that Martos produce evidence to 
support the charge against St. Denis, and threatening to complain 
to the Spanish king. 3 Martos sent his correspondence with Del 
Rio and Kerlerec to Mexico, whereupon a secret investigation of 
the charges was ordered, and 4 special care enjoined to discover, 
whenever an Indian outbreak should occur, whether it was due to 
French intrigue. 4 

The testimony presented in the investigation which followed 
was not altogether conclusive, but was nevertheless significant. 
Calzones Colorados testified that early in 1760 two Bidai Indians 
had brought a message from St. Denis, inviting his tribe to go to 

J The viceroy to Arriaga, April 18, 1757. 

"Declaration of Miguel Ramos and others, April 17-20, 1761. 

'Kerlerec to Martos, March 13, 1760, in Testimonio practicado sobre 
si Dn. Jasinto de Barrios tuvo comersio, etc. B. A., 1756-1766. 

'Divtamen fiscal, August 26, 1760; viceroy's decree, August 27, 1760; 
dictamen del auditor, September 1, 1760; decree of the viceroy, September 
3, 1760; the viceroy to Martos, September 8, 1760. 

370 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly to secure ammunition with which to return and kill 
all the Spaniards at El Orcoquisac; that he had refused to listen 
(of course) ; that the emissaries had gone to make the same pro- 
posal to Canos and Tomas; and that later one of them had re- 
turned saying that the offer had been made by St. Denis merely 
to test their loyalty to the Spaniards. 

Canos, well known to be a partisan of the French, as his name 
implied, could not be secured as a witness, for he had escaped 
to the Attacapa; El Grordo denied having been offered bribes, but 
declared that during a visit to Calzones Colorados he had heard 
of the proposal. Tamages, another chief, corroborated the story 
as told by Calzones Colorados; Boca Floja, another, testified that 
the two Frenchmen who had been expelled by Del Rio had come 
with one hundred Attacapa to induce them to aid in killing all 
the Spaniards and running off the stock. The conference had been 
broken up by the opportune arrival of Del Eio and ten soldiers. 
The Bidai chiefs, on the other hand, claimed that, so far as they 
were concerned, no bribes had been offered them. 1 

This testimony, considering the circumstances under which it 
was given, is not conclusive, but taken in connection with Ker- 
lerec's avowed design of encroaching upon western Texas, his pro- 
tests against the settlement at San Agustin, his recent proposal 
of a joint commission, and the contemporary Indian attack on San 
Saba, in which French influence was clearly seen, the evidence is 
not to be rejected altogether. 

Again in November, 1763, after the Louisiana cession, but be- 
fore it was generally known in Texas and Louisiana, a lively 
dispute over boundaries arose between Governor Martos and Cava- 
lier Macarty, commander at Natchitoches. The precise point at 
issue was not the ownership of the lower Trinity, but in the course 
of the correspondence Macarty laid claim, on the basis of La 
Salle's colony, to the Bay of Espiritu Santo, saying: "This be- 

ir The whole investigation is recorded in the documents called Testimonio 
sobre si Dn. Jasinto de Barrios tuvo comersio con Muniziones de Guerra 
con los Yndios Barbaras de Esta Prova y fuera de ella, etc. B. A., Adaes, 
1756-1766, Martos sent the correspondence on March 16; on August 26 
the fiscal gave his opinion ; the auditor his on September 1 ; the viceroy 
approved their opinions on September 3, and on September 5 issued his 
instructions to Barrios. Martos received the instructions on January 17, 
1761, and on the 22d began the investigation. The investigation at San 
Agustin was conducted by Del Rio and Juan Prieto. 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 371 

ing granted you cannot fail to be convinced both of our rights to 
the Bay of San Luis (Espiritu Santo), and that if from there we 
draw a line running straight north, the lands lying to the east 
thereof belong to the Most Christian dominions." 1 

After the occupation of Louisana by Spain the question of 
the boundary ceased to have political significance, and troubles 
arising over the French contraband traders on the border were 
matters of internal concern only. 


Regarding progress and events at the mission of Nuestra Sefiora 
de la Luz, which had the misfortune to be placed amidst a multi- 
tude of discordant and hostile elements, natural, moral, and po- 
litical, we have only incomplete data. Nevertheless, here and there 
we get glimpses of occurrences and personalities. t&ftCT ott L'ibntf^ 

Father Chavira's place was filled by Fray Francisco Caro, for- 
merly of the mission of Nuestra Senora de los Dolores de los Ais, 
who was at the Trinity mission in February, 1758. The most 
notable event recorded of his administration was his denunciation 
of the climate, swamps, and insect pests at the site, and his 
strenuous fight to have the mission removed to El Atascosito. In 
1759 and 1760, as we have already seen, the superior of the mission 
was Father Abad de Jesus Maria, He opposed the removal of the 
mission as strenuously as Father Caro had favored it. It is from 
him that we get the description already given of the second church, 
which was being built, in 1759. 

The Indians of the place were not always docile, and there is 
little evidence that they actually entered the mission and submitted 
to its discipline. In 1759, during some trouble, the Attaeapa 
joined the Orcoquiza in an outbreak, and in order to pacify them 
it was necessary to shoot a soldier. The trouble was evidently 
caused by one of the ever recurring instances of misconduct on the 
part of the presidial guards. 2 

Slight as is our information before 1760, we have even less for 
the period between that time and the coming of Captain Pacheco, 

^Macarty to Martos, November 17, 1763. 

"Vallejo to Barrios, February 27, 1758; Father Abad to the governor, 
November 27, 1759. 

372 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

in 1764. But the occurrences at the time of his advent indicate 
that few Indians were living in the mission before that date, and 
that the mission building was in a state of decay when he arrived. 

The coming of Captain Pacheco was followed by a temporary 
revival at the mission under Fathers Salvino and Aristorena, 
aided by the new captain. Pacheco arrived on May 13, 1764, and 
on the next day he began his reforms. Calling an assembly of the 
one hundred and fifty Orcoquiza living about the place, he passed 
them in review, and addressed them in the presence of the mission- 
aries, urging them to settle in the mission at once. A peace pipe 
was passed, dances were performed, and the Indians declared them- 
selves eager to enter a mission for which they had waited three 
years. Del Eio, the interpreter, informed them of the duties of 
neophytes, telling them that they must obey the king, his officers, 
and the missionaries, throw away their idols, attend prayers, 
work in the field for the fathers, remain always in the mission 
enclosure, and defend the place against the French or hostile tribes. 
In return, Del Eio assured them of four rations of food a week 
and clothing when necessary. 1 The Orcoquiza agreed. Gifts and 
feasting followed, and the next day the heathen idols and orna- 
ments were solemnly turned over to the missionaries. 

The new zeal extended to other villages besides that of Calzones. 
On May 31, Chief Canos and his band, now mainly of Attacapa, 
it seems, came, flying a French flag, to consider entering the 
mission. The same ceremony was performed, and after a day's 
deliberation Canos declared himself willing to part with the French 
emblem and the native idols, and to enter a mission, providing 
it were separate from that of Calzones. On June 6 the Bidai 
chief, Tomas, came with forty-eight of his tribe, participated in 
the same ceremonies, and promised to enter a mission if it were 
established in his own country his people had already tried one 
in foreign lands, at San Xavier and also to persuade the northern 
tribes to do likewise. 

On June 14, Captain Pacheco sent to Mexico an account of all 
that had been done, and requested funds to rebuild the mission 
and the presidio, both of which were in a state of decay; to furnish 
supplies for the Indians; and to found missions for the villages 

1 Pacheco to Solis, May 26, 1764. Papeles pertenecientes al Orcoquisa. 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 373 

of Tomas and Canos. He asked^ besides, for permission to go with 
Chief Tomas on a missionary and diplomatic trip among the 
northern tribes. Pacheco assisted further in the missionary work 
by furnishing supplies, and within a short time he was reported 
to have furnished the Indians with clothing to the value of 1079 
pesos, and with tools and implements for agriculture. Calzones' 
village was supplied with two beeves and five fanegas of corn a 
week, and that of Canos with half as much. 1 

This, however, was but a temporary wave of enthusiasm, lasting 
but a few months. The scandalous quarrel which ensued before 
the year was over, between Pacheco and Governor Barrios, resulting 
in the flight of the former and his absence during the next five 
years, removed the best support of the missionaries, and there was 
a recurrence of former conditions at Nuestra Senora de la Luz, 
which the Marques de Rubi, after a visit in 1767, referred to as 
"an imaginary mission." 2 

Nevertheless, the missionaries continued their work, and in the 
course of the next six years effected the "perfect conversion" of 
thirty Indians, mainly adults. Pacheco was welcomed back in the 
fall of 1769 by both missionaries and Indians, and his return was 
followed by another revival. The missionaries whose names appear 
are Fathers Luis Salvino and Bernardino Aristorena, in 1764-1766; 
Fray Bernardo de Silva (?), 1766; Fray Joseph Marenti, 1767; 
Fray Ignacio Maria Laba, 1768-1771; Fray Anselmo Garcia, 1770; 
and Fray Joseph del Rosario Soto, 1770. Presidents Vallejo and 
Calahorra each visited the place once in the course of its existence, 
but Father Soils, who in 1766 came all the way from Zacatecas to 
visit the missions, slighted this one, and caused complaint thereby. 
Missionary supplies were continued with some regularity during 
the administration of Afan de Rivera at San Agustin, between 
1765 and 1769, who spent for the Indians 2724 pesos; and Pacheco, 
during his stay of a year after he returned in the fall of 1769, 
spent 2496 pesos for the Orcoquiza, Attacapa, Bidai, and "Asinaio," 
tribes "resident on this frontier." The Asinai had by this time 
acquired the custom of coming to the post for regalos. At least 

1 Papeles pertenecientes al Orcoquisa. B. MSS. (This collection gives 
an account of Pacheco's assistance to the missionaries. ) ; Pacheco to 
Cruillas, July 22 and July 29, 1764, ibid. 

2 RubI, Dictamen, paragraphs 24-25. 

374 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

one missionary expedition was made by a padre among the Bidai, 
and in all probability more than one. And after the garrison of 
the presidio was removed in 1771, the missionaries, Fray Ignacio 
Laba and his companion, were the last to leave the place. 1 


Up to 1764 the presidio of San Agustin was commanded by 
Domingo del Rio, who was responsible to Governor Martos. But 
in 1763 Del Rio wrote to the viceroy complaining of the lack of 
flour and clothing, and even of ammunition, charging Governor 
Marios with neglect, and recommending that the post be taken 
out of the governor's hands and put under the command of a 
captain directly responsible to the viceroy. On November 23, the 
viceroy acted upon this recommendation (though it seems that the 
change was already under contemplation) and appointed to the new 
office Rafael Martinez Pacheco. 2 The first result of the change 
was the promising wave of missionary activity and general prosper- 
ity which we have already recounted. But this was soon followed 
by one of the disgraceful quarrels which so often marred the success 
of frontier Spanish administration. 

Pacheco was charged by his troops with arrogance, ill temper, 
harshness, and avarice. By June 24 his soldiers had planned a 
general mutiny, which was temporarily checked by a visit of Gov- 
ernor Martos and President Calahorra, who came to attend to 
moving the presidio and mission. The governor's stay of a month 
did not help matters perhaps the contrary and in a short time 
the plan to desert was carried out. One by one the garrison slipped 
away to Natchitoches, and before August, eighteen had sought 
French protection, while two took refuge at the Mission of San 
Miguel, only five, among whom was Domingo del Rio, remaining 
at the presidio. 

Hearing of the event, Governor Martos sent a squad of soldiers 
to the provincial boundary to overtake the deserters, if possible. 
In this he failed, and a few days later Periere, commander at 

^Testimonio del expedience, formado d instancia de la parte del Capitan 
Don Rafael Marttinz. Pacheco, 138. 

''Order of the viceroy. Papeles pertenedentes al Orcoquiza, November 23, 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 375, forwarded to Martos a petition of the deserters, who 
told of their wrongs, but professed a willingness to return if they 
were put under another commander. 1 

Martos proceeded, in the usual way, to take depositions, and in 
consequence, on September 12, he formally suspended Pacheco and 
promised the deserters pardon. He then sent Marcos Euiz at the 
head of the band of twenty deserters to arrest Pacheco and to 
restore peace and order, two entirely incompatible aims, it proved. 
Arriving there on October 7, Euiz proceeded to arrest Pacheco. 
But this doughty warrior barricaded himself and a handful of 
servants and adherents in his presidio, trained two cannon on the 
arresting party, and opened fire. 

Withdrawing to a safe distance, Euiz laid siege to the strong- 
hold. For three days the combined effort of Del Eio, Fray Sal- 
vino, chief Calzones, and a maiden named Eosa Guerra to com- 
municate with Pacheco proved without avail. At the end of these 
three days the chief with his braves, who had been neutral or wav- 
ering, gave allegiance to Euiz, and on the llth the presidio was 
set on fire, to drive the captain out. In the attendant fight blood 
was shed and Pacheco, with one faithful adherent, Brioso, escaped 
through a secret door. Hiding till night in a nearby tule patch, 
the fugitives crossed the river and fled toward San Antonio. 
Two days later they were met by teamsters from San Antonio 
twelve leagues down the road, at Caramanchel. Eeaching La 
Bahia, the captain hid for a day and two nights in the house of 
Capt. Eamirez de la Pizcina. Going thence to the mission of 
San Jose on a horse loaned him by Eamirez and aided by Father 
Cambaros, he took refuge at the mission, but was arrested by Cap- 
tain Manchaca in virtue of a proclamation issued by Euiz. But 
in December he was freed, after an attack on one of his guards, 
and thereafter lived at liberty for several months at the mission 
of San Jose, going to San Antonio with entire freedom. 2 Later 
on he went to Mexico, where he was imprisoned and tried. 

^Testimonio de los Autos fhos por el Govor de Provincia de Texas 
contra Rafael Martinets Pacheco, Ano de 1764. B. A., Adaes, 1756-1766. 
This eaypedientc contains the evidence regarding the trouble at San Agustfn, 

*Testimonio de los Autos; Testimonio de Dilixencias comenzadas en San 
Augustin de Aumada y continuadas en este Preso. de los Adaes por el 
Oovor de esta Prova de Texas contra el Capitan Don Rafael Martinez 
Pacheco. Ano de 1765. B. A., Bexar, 1751-1769. 

376 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

After the escape of Pacheco, Ruiz, aided by Fray Salvino, man- 
aged affairs at San Agustin for a time in peace, writing reports 
of the damage done to the presidio and of Pacheco's misdeeds, 
and making new attempts to reduce the Indians to mission life. 
It now came out that Calzones had been bribed by Pacheco to 
oppose the attempts made by Martos in the preceding summer to 
remove the presidio and mission to Los Horconsitos. This dis- 
closure involved Del Rio, and hastened the appointment of Afan 
de Rivera as commander. In May, 1765, Rivera arrested Del Rio 
for his partisanship with Pacheco. In November of the same year 
Ruiz was arrested by Hugo O'Connor to answer to the charge of 
burning the presidio. Another man of some prominence to become 
entangled was Manuel de Soto, who to escape arrest fled to Natchi- 
toches, and lived there for some years a refugee. Finally, in 1767 
Martos himself fell, under the charge of burning the presidio, 
and subsequently underwent a trial that lasted fourteen years and 
ended with the imposition of a heavy fine upon him. 1 Truly an 
unfortunate establishment was that of San Agustin. 


The remaining five years of the outpost's existence were less 
eventful. Afan de Rivera, successor to Marcos Ruiz, com- 
manded the garrison till the fall of 1769. At that time Captain 
Pacheco, who had been tried, exonerated, and reinstated by the 
government in Mexico, returned to his post, welcomed by both mis- 
sionaries and Indians, with whom he was a favorite. 

The monotony of mere existence at the forlorn place was broken 
on September 4, 1766, by one of those terrible storms which since 
the dawn of history there in 1528 have periodically swept the 
Texas coast. It damaged the buildings, led to more talk of 
"movings," and, it appears, actually caused the transfer of the 
presidio to higher ground a quarter of a league away. In 1767 
Marshal Rubi, the distinguished officer from Spain, honored the 
place with an inspection, but not with his good opinion. In 1769 

^Testimonio de Autos fhos . . . contra . . . Pacheco. B. A., 
San Aguatfn de Ahumada ; Testimonio de la Declaration que hicieron los 
printipales Indios de la Nation Orcoquisa ante Don Marcos Ruiz . . . 
1765, L. P. no. 25 ; Testimonio de la Dilixentia practicada por el Sargento 
Maior Dn Hugo Oconor sobre la remision del theniente don Marcos Ruiz 
al Pretidio de los Adaes . . 1765 B. MSS. 

Spanish Activities on Lower Trinity River, 1746-1771 377 

the monotony was again relieved by the passage that way of a band 
of shipwrecked Acadians who had been rescued at La Bahia and 
sent, after being harshly treated, to their compatriots in Louisiana. 
Another event of these latter years was a three day's campaign 
against Indian horse thieves. 

Rubi had recommended in 1767, since Louisiana no longer be- 
longed to France and the eastern Texas missions were failures, 
that both the presidios and the missions of that frontier should 
be suppressed, a measure which was ordered carried in 1772. 

But before the order came El Orcoquisac was already aban- 
doned. In June, 1770, the governor of Texas, the Baron de Rip- 
perda, made a call for help against the Apaches. In consequence 
Captain Pacheco responded in July with a part of his garrison. 
In February, 1771, the rest of the soldiers, except three, went to 
San Antonio in answer to another call. The three had remained 
behind with Father Laba and his companion, whose departure was 
opposed by their charges. But within a few weeks the mission- 
aries, also, left, and the presidio and mission passed out of 
existence. 1 

References to the events of the last days of the establishment are made 
in Test, del Expediente, 132-134; Thobar to Pacheco, June 12, 1770; cer- 
tificate by Ripperda, July 3, 1770, to the effect that Pacheco had aided in 
an Indian campaign. 

o. c.