SPANISH MISSION RECORDS
AT SAN ANTONIO
HERBERT E. BOLTON, Ph. D.
Adjunct Professor of History in the University of Texas
Reprinted from the Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association,
Vol. X, No. 4, (April, 1907)
SPANISH MISSION RECORDS AT SAN ANTONIO. 1
HERBERT E. BOLTON.
Students of Spanish-American history will ever be grateful for
the detailed and painstaking way in which most Spanish officials
kept the records of their acts. This excellence of the surviving
materials left by them serves to increase our regret for the loss
of those that have been destroyed or have otherwise disappeared.
A case in point is furnished by the records of the Franciscan mis-
sions founded and conducted during the Spanish regime in Texas.
For, while a small quantity of precious mission records are still
available, the larger portion of what we know must have existed at
one time has disappeared from present view. To say that they
are irrevocably lost is unsafe, except where there is positive proof
of destruction, for they may unexpectedly come to light in some
out-of-the-way corner or some unexplored repository. There is
good reason to hope, indeed, that when the archives of Mexico and
Spain have been duly searched, much of the missing material for
the history of these interesting institutions will be recovered.
It is not my purpose here to speculate as to what materials exist
elsewhere, but rather to describe briefly the small collection that
is now the property of the San Antonio diocese of the Catholic
Church, and is in the custody of the Right Rev. Bishop Forest.
Though the collection is small, it contains, besides important ma-
terial for the history of Texas missions, ethnological data that
may in the last resort be our only clue to the classification of a
number of native Southwestern tribes, whose racial affiliation
would otherwise remain forever unknown. This collection is pri-
vate property, is guarded with care by the custodian, and, prop-
erly, is made available for use only under the strictest safeguards.
It is highly desirable, however, that records such as these, which if
once destroyed could never be replaced, should be stored in a fire-
proof building, beyond the danger of destruction.
'For the opportunity to study the valuable records which are briefly
described in these pages, I am greatly indebted to the generosity and kind-
ness of the Right Reverend Bishop J. A., Forest, of San Antonio.
2 Mission Records at San Antonio.
The whole collection of Spanish papers, which does not aggre-
gate more than 3,000 pages, perhaps, falls into two groups. The
larger and much completer one consists of records of the parochial
church which served the Villa of San Fernando de Bexar and the
adjacent Presidio of San Antonio de Bexar. The smaller group is
composed of records of the missions located near by. It is with
the latter that I shall deal here.
In the immediate neighborhood of San Antonio five Spanish
missions were established and operated in the 18th century, while
a sixth was projected and nominally founded, but was actually con-
ducted as a part of one of the other five. The five actually estab-
lished were San Antonio de Valero (1718), which had existed for-
merly on the Eio Grande as San Francisco Solano, San Jose de
Aguayo (1720), Nuestra Senora de la Purissima Concepcion
(1731), San Juan Capistrano (1731) and San Francisco de la
Espada (1731). The sixth, San Xavier de Naxera, was nominally
founded in 1722, and the neophytes intended for it, though minis-
tered to from San Antonio de Valero, were apparently kept separate
till 1726, when they were definitely attached to this mission.
I. KECORDS FOR SAN ANTONIO DE VALERO (INCLUDING THOSE
FOR SAN FRANCISCO SOLANO AND SAN XAVIER DE NAXERA).
Of ihese missions the only one whose records are fairly complete
in the collection under view is San Antonio de Valero, considered
together with its antecedent mission, San Francisco Solano, and
the attached mission, San Xavier de Naxera, both of which can
best be treated with San Antonio de Valero. For these missions
there are the following records :
A. BAPTISMAL RECORDS.
The baptismal records of these three missions are contained in a
leather bound book whose cover title is : Bautismos. Libra I. De
1703 a 17 83. 1
This book is made up of two parts, which really are distinct
units. In fact, the first part is unbound, and is only laid within
the cover of the other; but the title on the outside has been ad-
"Translation : Baptisms. Book I. Form 1703 to 1783.
F.ic-.iinile < f the oldest original entry in t'e baptismal records of mission San
Frnii-i- -o Solano. liter San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo).
Mission Records at San Antonio. 3
justed to include them both, and they will, therefore, be treated as
Parts I and II, which are my own designations. A typewritten
title in English that has been pasted on the outside makes it ap-
pear as though the book includes records of Mission San Jose, but
this is not true. Both parts of the book are well preserved.
The title of this part is: Libra en que se Assientan los Bautis-
mos De los Indios de esta Mission de S. Anto De Valero Sita a la
Rivera del Rio de S. Antonio De la Governacion de esta Provincia
de los Texas, y Nuevas Philippinas, perteneciente al Colegio Apos-
tolico de propaganda fide De la Santissima Cruz de la Cuidad de
Santiago de Queretaro. 1
This is an unbound cuaderno 2 of 16 folios, and is in a good state
of preservation. It contains, under two sub-titles, a beautiful copy
of the records of (a) baptisms at Mission San Francisco Solano,
the predecessor of San Antonio de Valero, down to 1709, and (b)
the baptisms at the Hyerbipiamo District, where the Indians of
this tribe 3 were kept while awaiting the actual establishment of the
nominally founded Mission San Xavier de Naxera. For this record
we are indebted to the care of Fray Diego Martin Garcia, who most
of the time between 1740 and 1754 was laboring at San Antonio
de Valero. In 1745 he undertook the work of copying these rec-
ords, because, as he said, the old ones were in different manuscripts
and in bad shape. His copy is dated Aug. 12, 1745.
(a) San Francisco Solano. The first sub-title of this cuaderno
is Bautismos de Esta Mision En el Tiempo, que se nombro de S.
Francisco Solano. Todos los quales con los demas, que se hicieron
desde el principio, yo F. Diego Martin Garcia, Ministro actual de
esta Mision, translado aqui de dos libros antiguos, por estar estos
^Translation : Book in which are recorded the Baptisms of the Indians
of this mission of San Antonio de Valero, situated on the bank of River
San Antonio, in the jurisdiction of this province of Los Texas and Nuevas
Philippinas, and belonging to the Apostolic College for the Propagation of
the Faith of the Holy Cross of the city of Santiago de QuerStaro.
2 A cuaderno is a number of sheets of paper stitched together. There
seems to be no exact English equivalent, and the word, because of its defi-
nite meaning, deserves to be adopted.
'Another form of this tribal name is Ervipiame. There are still other
4 Mission Records at San Antonio.
ya maltratados, y haver hallado algunas partidas en quadernos
sueltos. Y como se siguen. 1
Just preceding this title, on folio 1, Garcia gives a brief state-
ment of the founding of Mission San Francisco Solano at La
Cienega del Kio Grande, and of its removal to San Ildefonso,
thence back to the Rio Grande, and finally, in 1718, to San An-
tonio. According to Garcia's statement the mission was founded
in 1703, and it is true that the first baptism recorded in this copy
of the records was performed Oct. 6, 1703. According to Portillo,
however, who seems to be right, the mission was founded in 1700. 2
The last baptism recorded in tuis cuaderno was dated 'June 17,
(b) San 'Xavier de Ndxera. The second subdivision of this
document, together with one or two notes entered elsewhere in the
other mission records, gives us a clue to the history of Mission San
Xavier de Naxera, which hitherto has mystified students. The
sub-title of this part is: Bautismos de los Hyerbipiamos Que se
intentaron poner en Nueva Mision, con la advocacion de Sn. Fran-
cisco Xavier, lo que no tuvo efe-cto, por hdverse quedado en esta
Mision de San Antonio. Ponense aqui, por no poderlos poner en
su lugar segun los Anos. 3 Garcia tells us at the end of the cuaderno
that these baptisms were transferred from two older cuadernos.
A word on the history of this mission, since it has never been
written, is in order, as a means of showing the bearings of these
records. Some time before Feb., 1721, a chief of the Hyerbipiamos,
from near River San Xavier, 4 whose rancheria Father Espinosa
and Capt. Ramon had visited in 1716, brought a number of fam-
ilies of followers to San Antonio, and asked that a mission might
be founded among his people. This chief was hereafter called by
'Translation : Baptisms at this mission during the time when it was
called San Francisco Solano 3 all of which, together with the others per-
formed from its beginning, I, Fray Diego Martin Garcia, present minister
of this mission, transfer to this place from two old books, because these
books are now in bad condition, and because some of the entries are found
in separate cuadernos. They are as follows:
2 Portillo (Esteban L), Apuntes para la Historta Antigua de Coahuila
y Texas (Saltillo, 1888) pp. 271-273:
Translation: Baptisms of the Hyerbipiamos, whom it was designed
to place in a new mission named San Francisco Xavier, but which was not
done because they remained in this mission of San Antonio. They are re-
corded here because they can not be put in their chronological order.
"There is ground for thinking that this was the modern San Gabriel
Mission Records at San Antonio. 5
the Spaniards Juan Rodriguez, an indication that he was bap-
tized. When the Marques de Aguayo went to East Texas in 1721
to establish the missions there, he took Juan Rodriguez with him
as a guide, and when he returned to San Antonio he nominally
established (March 10, 1722) the mission asked for, selecting a
site between missions San Antonio de Valero and San Jose de
Aguayo, and put it in charge of a Queretaran friar, Joseph Gon-
zales. 1 That the Hyerbipiamos were kept separate for some time
seems evident, for Juan Rodriguez was hereafter known as "gov-
ernor of the district (barrio) of the Hyperbipiamos," and the bap-
tisms while they were waiting for the actual foundation of the new
mission, though performed at Valero, were recorded in a separate
book, as the above title indicates. This situation apparently con-
tinued till 1726, when the project of a separate mission was given
up, for thereafter the baptisms of the Indians of this tribe are
entered in the Valero book. In 1731 Mission Concepcion was
founded on the same site. 2 Qjjjxycfa Ifiyngr*
Returning to the record, the entries of"Ene Hyerbipiamo baptisms,
only 33 in number, begin March 12, 1721, a year before the mis-
sion was nominally founded, and extend to July 20, 1726.
The last paragraph of the document contains the interesting
statement, signed by Garcia, that on May 8, 1744, was laid the
first stone of a new church at San Antonio de Valero, the minis-
ters being Fray Mariano Francisco de los Dolores and Fray Diego
The title page of this part reads: In Nomine Domini Amen.
Libro en que se asientan los Baptismos de los Indios de esta Mis-
sion de San Francisco Solano. 3
This title is misleading, for the record continues after Mission
San Francisco Solano had become San Antonio de Valero, and ex-
tends down to 1783. While Part I is a copy, Part II is an original
record in its entirety. It contains 215 pages and 1601 baptismal
l These statements are based on Juan Antonio de la PeSa's Diario of the
Aguayo expedition found in Memorias de Nueva Espana, XXVIII, 1-61.
^Testimonio de Asiento de Misiones. This document contains the original
record of the founding of the mission.
'Translation: In the name of God, Amen. Book in which are recorded
the baptisms of the Indians of the mission of San Francisco Solano.
6 Mission Records at San Antonio.
entries, the first entry being dated March 19, 1710, and the last
Nov. 25, 1783.
(a) San Francisco Solano. Conversions at Solano after 1708
were evidently few, for there are no entries for 1709, and from
1710 to 1718, when the mission was moved, there were only 28,
the last one being dated in 1716.
(b) San Antonio de Valero. The record for San Antonio de
Valero begins with a certified statement that on May 1, 1718, D.
Martin de Alarcon gave to Fray Antonio de San Buena Ventura
de Olivares possession of the mission site at the Indian village on
the banks of the San Antonio River. For a period of more than
a year there was apparently but one baptism, and that on the day
of the foundation of the mission, May 1, 1718. I say apparently,
because the dates in the record are confusing, but after some study
my conclusion is that the second baptism was not recorded till June
15, 1719. From this time on baptisms were frequent. In the first
five entries, the mission is still called "San Francisco Solano, sit-
uated at San Antonio de Valero." Thereafter the name San An-
tonio de Valero is used, although for a time not exclusively, I be-
B. MARRIAGE RECORDS.
One book is devoted to the records of the marriages at Mission
San Francisco Solano and San Antonio de Valero. In it are prob-
ably recorded also the marriages at the Hyerbipiamo District, al-
though these are not distinguished from the others. The title page
of the book reads: In Nomine Domini Amen Libro en que se
asientan los cassamientos de los Indios de esta mission de S. Fran-
cisco Solano. 1 This is an unbound cuaderno containing 69 folios,
and is in good condition. The records extend from 1709 to 1785.
As some of the leaves have been torn off the back, I can not say
how much further it originally extended.
(a) San Francisco Solano. The first nine entries were made
at San Francisco Solano, covering the period from 1709 to 1716,
(b) San Antonio de Valero. The records for this mission
begin in 1719 and extend to 1785. By the end of 1751 there had
Translation : In the name of God, Amen. Book in which are recorded
the marriages of the Indians of this mission of San Francisco Solano.
-s&zx> x/.~ : Jj<"c4 &t*ent> (2. Kr, w ?
Facsimile of a page from the baptismal records of mission San Antonio de
Valero (the Alamo).
Mission Records at San Antonio. 7
been 231 marriages, and by the end of 1764 the number had reached
330. Thereafter the number was very small. I did not note the
exact figures. Folios 40 and 41 of this book, covering the years
1749, 1750, and 1751, are lacking. We learn from the marginal
numbers, however, that during these three years only 14 marriages
were contracted. Some of the missing data at this point can bfe
supplied, perhaps, from the baptismal and burial records for the
C. BURIAL RECORDS.
The book of burial records for this mission is, like the book of
baptisms, divided into two parts. Part I (my designation) is a
copy of the early and detached records, made by Father Garcia to
preserve them, and Part II is the original record from 1710. Both
parts are bound together, in leather, and they comprise about 200
folios. They have been badly damaged by water.
(a) San Francisco Solano. Entie\rros\ De Esta Mission] de
S. Antonio [de Valero] Desde su Fundac[ion]. 1 Under this title
fall the first six folios, covering the period from 1703 to 1708, and
including 120 interments.
(b) San Xavier de Ndxera. Entierros de los Hyerbipiamos,
que se havian de haver puesto en la Mision de S. Franco, la. que
no se fundo, por haverse quedado en esta Mission. 2 There are 11
entries, all falling in 1722.
Garcia's note, dated Sep. 27, 1745, states that these records in
Part I were transferred from two cuadernos.
The title page of this part reads: Libro en que se Asientan los
Yndios de esta Mision ya difuntos, de San Franco. Solano. 3 . . .
(a) San Francisco Solano. Ten entries, covering 1710-1713,
translation: Burials at the mission of San Antonio de Valero since its
Translation : Burials of the Hyerbipiamos, who ought to have been put
into mission San Francisco Xavier, which was not founded because they
remained in this mission.
'Translation: Book in which are recorded the Indians of this mission
of San Francisco Solano who are now dead.
8 Mission Records at San Antonio.
inclusive, were made before the mission was moved to the San An-
tonio. They throw valuable light on the change of names for the
mission. The entries for 1710 and 1711 give the name "esta mis-
sion de San Francisco Solano;" the first for 1712 calls it "mission
del Senor S. Joseph, yglecia de San Francisco Solano;" the first
for 1713 reads "esta mission de la advocacion de el Senor S. Joseph,
e yglecia de S. Francisco Solano."
(b) San Antonio de Valero. The burial records for this mis-
sion begin with 1721, but the marginal entry numbers 11-18 are
missing, which indicates that one or more pages have 'been torn out.
The last entries are in 1782, the total number being 1376.
In some years the death rate was extremely high. For instance,
a report shows that on March 6, 1762, the total Indian population
of the mission was 275 persons, 1 and this book shows that in 1763
there were 130 burials, making it appear that nearly half of the
population died in one year.
II. RECORDS FOR LA PURISSIMA CONCEPCION.
For this mission the collection contains only the book of mar-
riages, entitled : Libro de Casamientos de Esta Mission de la Pu-
rissa. Conception. Pueblo de Acuna. Fundado En Cinco de el
Mes de Marzo de el Ano de Mill Setecientos Treinta y Uno en la
Margen de este Rio de San Antonio. 2
This is an unbound cuaderno of thirty-six folios. The first twelve
folios are a copy of older records, made in 1746 at the instance of
Fray Benito Francisco de Santa Ana, president of the Quereteran
missions, and minister at Concepcion. The remainder of the docu-
ment is made up of original entries. The whole cuaderno is in
good state of preservation.
The record extends from 1733 to 1790, inclusive, while some
pages at the back, how many I cannot say, have been torn off. The
entries reach a total of 249 in the fifty-seven years. From time to
time there is entered the record of a visita, or official inspection, of
the mission. While the possession of the baptismal and burial rec-
'"Ynforme de Misiones," 1762, in Memories de Nueva Esparto,, XXVIII,
"Translation: Book of Marriages at this mission of La Purissima Con-
cepcifin, Pueblo de Acufia, founded March 5> 1731, on the bank of this
river San Antonio.
iuvn frtk <*? 'ftez&eKtefatftf*- /
(#i?< 'fatnitfruti,} eiuyiDfifamt^ )
' , * Iff > >i 9
n(', fyi&^M<fa^yfrttst:;ls^M*'Js:t'>.'''.> , 'ff ;.*'<" .frtM. \
'$#* s, .'> v : /:;,/sM'/?& f&K't&.ter-vlW&Sxx't'&flUi.pf&to
'*,$;/*. V--'v-'' Vt^tft^'tiSSitAL- fyv /:*J<->S /~.*Ti&r?^.
$K49r\iy*> .?S*tw.*.. w fCte
Fiu-.siinilc of ;i paj-c fnini tin- marriage records of mission Xuestra Seflora de la
Piirf-. --.i m u ( 'oncejx-ion.
Mission Records at San Antonio. 9
ords would in many points supplement the information given by
the marriage record, this book gives us a very valuable guide to the
general history of the mission.
III. RECORDS FOR SAN JOSE DE AGUAYO.
For this mission there is one book, in which the records do not
begin till Sept., 1777. Hence, if the earlier records can not be
found elsewhere, we shall never know the inner history of the most
active period of this mission, which at one time had "no equal in
all New Spain." The book is entitled: Libro de Bautismos, Ca-
samientos, y Eniierros, pertenecientes a la Mission de Sr. Sn.
On the leather cover has been pasted an analysis, or table of con-
tents, which includes the Concepcion marriage book, but the two
are entirely distinct records, and are not bound together. Orig-
inally the San Jose book contained 247 pages, but numbers of them,
blank ones apparently, have been removed. Otherwise the book is
A. Baptisms. The first part (folios 2-57) is devoted to bap-
tisms, beginning Sept., 1777, and extending to 1824. The entries
begin with No. 832, (the "old book," which has disappeared, having
contained 831), and extend to 1211. Of these, 1067 had been en-
tered before the end of 1803. After this date most of the entries
are for Spaniards, mestizos, and mulattoes.
B. Marriages. Folios to 139, covering the period 1778
to 1822, contain marriage records. The first entry is No. 335, 2
and by the end of 1796 No. 395 is reached. Few Indians are men-
tioned after this date.
C. Burials. Folios 178-229, covering the period 1781 to 1824,
are devoted to burial records. The first entry is No. 847, and the
last one is No. 1837. After 1804 the burials of numerous Span-
iards, mestizos, and mulattoes, but few Indians, are recorded.
'Translation. Book of Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, at the Mis-
sion of Sefior San Joseph.
2 The "old book," which has disappeared, contained 334 entries.
10 Mission Record at San Antonio.
IV. RECORDS FOR SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO AND SAN FRANCISCO DE
A few scattered entries in the San Jose record book, between
1818 and 1824, apply to these two missions rather than to San
Jose. No other records for these two missions are in the collec-
The comparative fullness of the records for San Antonio de
Valero indicate what is lacking from the collection for the others.
In short, for Coneepeion there are no baptismal or burial records;
for San Jose, no records at all for the active period of its existence ;
for San Francisco de la Espada and San Juan Capistrano prac-
tically none at all; while for even Valero and Concepcion the rec-
ords for the few years preceding secularization are missing.
V. HISTORICAL AND ETHNOLOGICAL VALUE OF THESE EECORDS.
The historical and ethnological value of these records, partic-
ularly the latter, is inestimable a potent cause for regret that the
collection is not complete. Their importance can be only briefly
indicated here. On the historical side it may be noted first, that
they clear up the outlines of the history of mission San Xavier de
Naxera, as is indicated above. They also throw considerable light
upon the inner history of the San Xavier mission group founded
later on San Gabriel River. On the missions in general the signa-
tures of the entries for each entry is signed give us a continuous
story of the personnel of the mission forces for the periods covered ;
the dates give us an adequate guide to the chronology; here and
there are recorded notable happenings in the history of the mis-
sions; while the student of institutions finds light on mission ad-
ministration and on the effect of mission life upon the neophytes.
More important still, perhaps, are the ethnological data. The
baptismal records, as a rule, indicate the tribe to which the person
baptized belongs, generally designating the tribal affiliation of both
father and mother. In the baptismal and marriage records it is
in many cases definitely shown what marriages were contracted be-
fore the parties came to the mission. Where such was the case, we
get valuable light on inter-tribal relations independent of mission
influence. Finally, for present purposes, the two hundred or more
native personal names of Indians scattered through the records and
Mission Records at San Antonio. 11
in some cases translated, may be our only means of assigning a
number of tribes to one or another of the great linguistic groups
of the Southwest. Hence, in proportion as language is a satisfac-
tory basis for ethnological classification and as other data are lack-
ing, these will be treasured by ethnologists. 1
*It may be noted here that in the County Clerk's office at San Antonio
there is a considerable collection of documents dealing with mission land
titles, while in the City Clerk's office there are one or two documents of