TSHA is excited to announce a new and improved site for TeachingTexas.org which launched earlier this month. The faster response time, calendar, and other new features make finding materials like lesson plans and staff development easier. The database houses thousands relevant entries gathered from our 24 statewide partners in one place for teachers to access. TSHA is in the process of evaluating each entry and improving our search capabilities and features to continue enhancing the site. Resources include:
- Lesson Plans
- Primary Sources
- Staff Development
- Student Programs
- Interactive Websites and Apps
- Audio Visual Materials
- Books and Guides
- Museum Exhibits and Programs
- Special Events
The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in West College Station, TX will proudly host an in-depth discussion of the documentary film, COWBOYS on September 21 from 7 – 9pm. The creators of the film, Bud Force and John Langmore, will discuss the process behind this cinematic look at the lives of modern day cattle ranchers: from the most remote ranchers in Texas, to the big business “outfits”, and even historic ranchers in the Southwest. Langmore will also host a showing of his photographic exhibit based on the film for an even more detailed view of the cowboy lifestyle. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.
This year, the 8th Annual Save Texas History Symposium presented by The Texas General Land Office will be on September 15th and 16th with a focus on Texas and the Great War. The Texas World War I Resources Workshop will be on Friday September 15th in Austin at 1700 N. Congress Ave. in room 170. The Saturday events include The Save Texas History Symposium at the Commons Learning Center at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of The University of Texas in Austin at 10100 Burnet Road, Building 137, followed by a reception at the Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry in Austin. Visit TeachingTexas.org for details.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park was established in 1978 as a unit of the National Park Service to preserve, protect, and interpret four Spanish colonial missions founded by Franciscan Missionaries in the early 1700s. Together, they illustrate the Spanish Crown’s effort to colonize, evangelize, and defend the far northern frontier of New Spain. Located approximately three miles from each other along the San Antonio River, their collective history illuminates the experience, legacy, and memory of those who lived within the missions’ walls. Today, visitors to San Antonio Missions National Historical Park are awed by the cultural significance and natural landscape of Mission San José, Mission Concepción, Mission San Juan, and Mission Espada, all designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in recognition of their outstanding universal value and importance to all humankind.
At San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, visitors have the opportunity to learn about the 18th-century Spanish Colonial period and the people who built these four communities. As visitors walk through the missions’ grounds they follow the footsteps of those Coahuiltecan people, Franciscan Missionaries, Spanish soldiers, and tradesmen who lived in the missions. Each mission offers a unique learning experience and they all can be explored with a Park Ranger.
Standing as a model of Texas missions is Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo. Established in 1720 by Fr. Antonio Margil de Jesús, Mission San José is also known as the “Queen of the Mission” due to its monumental size and marvelous beauty. Reconstructed in the 1930s, visitors to Mission San José experience how a mission looked and operated at a time when it was a full operational self-sustaining community. Between 1760 and 1780 the Queen of the Missions had become the finished product for New Spain; a community at its zenith, housing almost four hundred people. The mission compound had surrounding protective walls, native and soldier quarters, a mill, a convento displaying Roman and Moorish architectural designs, and a church with a distinct façade.
At Mission San José, educators and students have the opportunity to join a Park Ranger to learn about the day-to-day experience of the Indigenous people who joined the missions. A Day in the Life program takes students back to the time when bands of hunter-gatherers roamed the San Antonio River, surviving in a semi-arid environment and through a time of transition. The bands of Indegenous people left everything behind, either willingly or by force to become Spanish-speaking Catholic citizens of New Spain. With The Kingdom on the River students explore how Spain shaped the culture of the region through their tools, technology, and ideas. As observers from the 21st century, students can evaluate the successes and failures of these royal communities. After each program, students are welcome to stop by the Visitor Center to watch the award-winning documentary Gente de Razón and browse the museum collection that holds artifacts and historical documents.
The impact Spanish colonization had in the cultural and natural landscape of San Antonio can still be experience at Mission San Juan Capistrano. Originally established in East Texas, San Juan was reestablished in San Antonio in 1731. Mission San Juan provides an opportunity to understand the change from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to Spain’s system of agriculture. Miles of irrigation ditches known as acequias brought water from the San Antonio River to the missions’ farmlands. Crops such as corn, wheat, squash, and sugarcane, among others adorned the land just outside the compound and provided year-round food supply for mission inhabitants. At Mission San Juan, Park Rangers offer Seeds of a Community, a program that highlights the connection the river had with the missions, and it demonstrates how mission inhabitants controlled the flow of water of the Acequia Madre to irrigate the labores. This program provides a unique insight as water continues to flow through a Spanish Colonial acequia to a farm where crops are being grown today. To complement their learning experience, students are welcome to visit the Contact Station with its interactive museum exhibits.
The oldest mission in East Texas was re-established in the San Antonio Area in 1731 as Mission San Francisco de la Espada. Being the southernmost mission along the San Antonio River, visitors to Mission Espada admire the architecture of its church and the serenity of the site. Mission Espada’s complex also includes the only functioning aqueduct from the Spanish Colonial period in the United States. At Mission Espada, Park Rangers offer guided walks of the mission compound to help visitors understand the unique history of this site. Visitors to Mission Espada are encouraged to walk into the Contact Station to explore the exhibits highlighting how ranching was an essential activity in a mission community, providing food and materials for daily living. A weaving demonstration led by a Park Ranger or a Park Volunteer is also offered at Mission Espada’s Contact Station. The techniques to produce cloth by using a spinning wheel and a loom help explain how vocational training was an essential part of the acculturation process.
Established in 1731, Mission Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña is home to the oldest unreconstructed church and the largest single collection of Spanish Colonial frescos in the United States. All of these features offer an incomparable sight and learning experience for all visitors. At Mission Concepción, Park Rangers take visitors through the mission grounds and visit the ruins of the convento. The old walls of the building still possess purposeful character, a place where Franciscan Missionaries lived, meditated, and interacted with the mission population. Frescos that have survived almost 300 years are still visible on the walls of the church and conveto, and they exemplify the significance of symbolism to communicate catholic beliefs. The art and process of making frescos are highlighted at Mission Concepción, as Park Rangers offer an in-depth exploration of the artistic traits adopted at the missions and how the mission inhabitants made such art by using local materials available. Thanks to Mission Heritage Partners, the park’s friend group, visitors to Mission Concepción can now enjoy a new audio-visual portrait exhibit located at the mission’s Contact Station. The Four Voices exhibit by artist Michael Nye brings to light the local community’s connection with the missions.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park offers a unique interdisciplinary learning experience for students of all ages. Each mission has its own incomparable character, and they all provide an insight to an important aspect of the American experience, finding among the old missions’ walls our nation’s common heritage with Spain and Latin America. Today, people are still attracted to these places of worship to practice the religion and the language that was introduced to South Texas by the Spanish almost 300 years ago. In partnership with the National Park Service and the Archdiocese of San Antonio, public access is provided to the park’s four historic mission churches, all of which are active today. In 2018 the city of San Antoino is celebrating its tricentennial, which puts a spotlight on all of the missions along the San Antonio River where one can find the roots of this city’s history, unique identity and culture.
Reservations are required for guided programming. Ranger-led education programs at Mission San José are available Wednesday through Friday at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Education programs at Mission San Juan are offered Wednesday through Friday at 10:00 a.m. Each program lasts approximately 45 minutes. There is no charge for any activities. Please visit www.nps.gov/saan to reserve a program. Ranger-guided tours of Mission Concepción and Mission Espada are offered staff permitting. Please call (210) 932-1001 for more information. Ranger-guided tours are offered daily at Mission San José at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m. Tours are weather dependent and may be cancelled in the event of extreme heat or lightening.
The San Antonio Missions National Park is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. everyday except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. For more information call (210) 932-1001 or visit www.nps.gov/saan.
As San Antonio prepares to celebrate the Tricentennial of its founding in 1718, let us consider the significance of East Texas to the Alamo City’s critical first 100 years without which there would be no party. Border security trumped the environment when the Spanish first settled in East Texas to check the French threat from Louisiana even though Franciscans and enterprising Spaniards in northern New Spain commented upon the fertility of the upper San Antonio and Guadalupe rivers as ideal settings for missions and towns. Certainly, East Texas had multiple sources of water for settlement with its many rivers and abundant rainfall. However, the fear that France might capture the silver trade in New Spain following La Salle’s provocative but disastrous sojourn off the Texas coast in the late 1600s meant that a frontera or border had to be created against French Louisiana. This defensive measure meant San Antonio’s founding by 1718 had everything to do with finding a “halfway station” between East Texas and the Rio Grande where the Spanish established San Juan Bautista presidio and mission around 1700, near present-day Eagle Pass, and became what Robert Weddle described as the “gateway to Spanish Texas” from the south. Los Adaes, originally founded as a mission at the end of the Camino Real in present northwestern Louisiana, near Natchitoches and the lower Red River, ironically became the gateway from the east. Meanwhile, Apaches and Comanches increasingly arrived to Spanish Texas from the north in fierce competition over the bison range along a corridor of the Southern Plains that became another dangerous boundary for settlement in San Antonio. The histories of Los Adaes and San Antonio intertwined in so many ways during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries so both are addressed here briefly.
Perhaps the greatest indirect contribution to San Antonio from its beginning was the development of commerce, worship, and kinship between the Spanish in East Texas and the French in Louisiana. Overshadowed in the vast historical literature of the Spanish missions is the fact that Father Antonio Margil, who ventured to East Texas all the way from Panama, celebrated mass and consecrated bread for the residents at French Natchitoches in 1717, just one year before San Antonio was founded.
By 1724, several years after the re-establishment of Mission Los Adaes in East Texas with the addition of a presidio nearby, named Nuestra Señora del Pilar de los Adaes, Franciscans continued the work of Father Margil and resumed a direct line of worship, communication, and trade, which extended de facto the Camino Real another seven-and-a-half leagues (15 miles) to the east from Los Adaes to Natchitoches. Despite the appearance of contraband trade from Louisiana into Texas, the Spanish came to the defense of Natchitoches against the Natchez Indian rebellion in 1731. In return, Natchitoches became a lifeline for supplies considering San Antonio and better-provisioned Spanish settlements like Saltillo were too distant and required passage through treacherous indigenous terrain unlike Caddo country in East Texas. The location of both Spanish and French posts opposite each other across a vaguely defined border at the Arroyo Hondo, a tributary of the lower Red River, thus became mutually beneficial and led to better relations with Caddos whom already had close ties with the French. A relatively tranquil Texas-Louisiana border allowed the Spanish military at San Antonio to concentrate their forces upon Apache and Comanche enemies and to receive the occasional troop reinforcements from Los Adaes as needed.
The gradual development of gift giving between the governors at Los Adaes and the Caddos in East Texas during the 1740s and 1750s also anticipated the shift of Spanish relations toward peace with Comanches in San Antonio by the 1780s. In the aftermath of the Louisiana transfer from France to Spain in 1762 and the royal inspection of military defenses in northern New Spain, including Texas, under the Bourbon Reforms, Spain eventually adopted a French-inspired model of “trade, treaties, and toleration” that the late historian David Weber explained became the “cornerstones” of a new Indian policy no longer subordinate to brute force. The Enlightenment idea was to treat Indians as sovereign peoples and no longer as vassals of the king. Although the Spanish had literally buried the hatchet with Lipan Apaches at San Antonio in 1749, after promises the latter made about entering missions, the Spanish still intended to make them subjects of the Crown. Independent Indians on the frontier were to be treated as independent nations by the late eighteenth century.
The histories of Los Adaes and San Antonio, however, are much more intertwined at the local level among the people themselves in religious, military, and social aspects of daily life beyond distant imperial politics, warfare, and borders. The Adaeseños (soldier-settlers from Los Adaes), the majority of whom were native from Coahuila, Mexico, and the Bexareños shared spaces in the three principal institutions that constituted San Antonio’s core identity with the missions, presidio, and town. For example, on March 2, 1728, at Mission San Antonio de Valero, Father Benito Sanchez said the last rites for the burial of Felipe Espinoza, a soldier from Los Adaes. Later that same month, Father Sanchez also gave last rites to Juan José Perez, the fourteen-day-old legitimate son of Cayetano Perez and Feliciana Guerra, both Spanish from Presidio Los Adaes, not long after the priest baptized their baby and described as “Spanish” in this entry. On the same day as Juan’s baptism, Father Sanchez baptized Gregorio Melchor Vasquez, legitimate son of Cristobal Vasquez, also a soldier from Los Adaes, and Ana Guerra. On July 6, 1728, also at Mission San Antonio de Valero, Father Salvador Amaya baptized Juana Antonia Ybarbo, legitimate “Spanish” daughter Mateo Ybarbo, a soldier from Los Adaes, and Juana Luzgardea Hernandez, Spanish. Apparently, soldiers Cayetano Perez, Cristobal Vasquez, and Mateo Ybarbo were among the troops who arrived in East Texas with their spouses under, or shortly after, the Marqués de Aguayo expedition that established Presidio Los Adaes in 1721 and designated the capital of Spanish Texas in 1729. They became part of the 100 Spanish troops assigned to the new presidio where a third of the soldiers brought wives and children with them to the Texas-Louisiana frontier. Soldiers from Los Adaes found themselves called into duty many times over the following years at San Antonio where Apache raids began as early as 1720 shortly after its establishment as a presidio and mission.
Adaeseños appeared in San Antonio alongside many different independent Indian bands, most collectively known as Coahuiltecans, who lived off the waters of the San Antonio River for centuries and also shared in the joys and sorrows of baptisms and burials. The church records for Mission San Antonio de Valero reveal indigenous peoples such as the Siaguan, Muruame, Pataguo, Payugan, Pomalla, Xarame, and other groups generally called Coahuiltecans, many adopted by their godparents who were soldiers from the presidio at San Antonio. Apache children could also be found in the records among the Adaeseños, Bexareños (soldier-settlers from San Antonio), and Coahuiltecans, mostly taken captives in war, baptized, and raised as servants in Spanish households or as adoptive children. For example, in early September 1726, at Mission San Antonio de Valero, Father Miguel Paredes baptized Rosa Jimenez, “an Apache child of gentile parents” with her godparents listed as Antonio Ximenes, alias the “Veteran,” and his wife, Maria Longoria, both Spanish. Two days later, Father Paredes also baptized Micaela Flores, also an Apache child of gentile parents, whose godparents were Jose Antonio Flores, a “single” soldier from the presidio at San Antonio and Clara Longoria, wife of Pedro Flores, all Spaniards. What most folks do not know are such ties that bound Adaeseños to Mission San Antonio de Valero along with Bexareños, Coahuiltecans, and Southern Plains Indians.
The ties of Adaeseños to Mission San Antonio de Valero included its lands following the pressure of development and the need for secularization to make room for their resettlement after Los Adaes was abandoned in 1773 and the transfer of the provincial capital to San Antonio. Soon after their arrival in San Antonio, Antonio Gil Ybarbo, who was the son of Mateo Ybarbo and born at Los Adaes, successfully petitioned the viceroy to allow him and a majority of Adaeseños to return to East Texas. In 1778, Agustín Rodriguez, leader of the Adaeseños who remained in San Antonio, petitioned for land to allow them to subsist with their families. By 1793, approximately 40 Adaeseños received lands from the recently secularized Mission San Antonio de Valero. Among them were Francisco Carmona, Domingo Carmona, Manuel Franco, Luis Castro, Luis Ramirez, Miguel Losoya, Manuel Losoya, Cipriano Losoya, Diego Herrera, Lorenzo Ramos, Luis Cruz, and Antonio Chiver, along with other Spanish residents and mission Indians in San Antonio. Meanwhile, back in East Texas, Antonio Gil Ybarbo eventually founded the present town of Nacogdoches in 1779 at the site of former Mission Nacogdoches and reestablished commercial ties with French traders from Louisiana.
Adaeseños also celebrated the rite of marriage at the San Antonio Missions and San Fernando church (present Cathedral) before and after removal to San Antonio that brought them into wider social networks like many entered at Natchitoches. In July 1772, Father Pedro Fuentes, the parish priest at San Fernando Church, permitted the marriage between Jose Cristobal de los Santos, age 24, a Spanish native from the Villa of Saltillo, with Maria Mendez, age 25, also from said villa in Saltillo, to take place at Mission Espada. Among the witnesses who gave depositions for this marriage were Juan Feliciano Casanova, a soldier from Los Adaes “now stationed here at the presidio of San Antonio de Béxar,” and stated “he has known Santos well, and knows he has never married.” Casanova added that he also knew Maria Mendez “since he saw her at Mission San Francisco de la Espada” and that she has never married. In late December 1773, for example, Diego Hirineo Hernandez, age 48, who migrated from the interior of New Spain and became a resident at the presidio and Villa of San Fernando, married Maria Ignacia de Peña, age 45, legitimate daughter of the late Joseph Antonio de Peña, whose name appears on the statement of sums due former troops from the abandoned presidio at Los Adaes. Maria Ignacia was also the widow of Manuel Antonio Losoya, who came from Los Adaes. Father Fuentes, who performed the marriage ceremony, was the uncle of Erasmo Seguín and came into contact with other Adaeseños, as well as many migrants and immigrants, through his many years of service at San Fernando Church. The social circles that Adaeseños mingled and became intimate ran the gamut from San Antonio’s elites who descended from the original Canary Islanders and from other villas in northern New Spain to the mission Indians. Historian Frank de la Teja, in his 2008 article published in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, titled “Why Urbano and María Trinidad Can’t Get Married: Social Relations in Late Colonial San Antonio,” describes a case of inequality and drama like a modern-day telenovela or Mexican soap opera, which perfectly illustrates the entanglements of Adaeseños in San Antonio and a reminder that racial and class barriers appeared in Spanish society on the remote frontier of New Spain long before the arrival of Stephen F. Austin and African-American slaves.
The Adaeseños and their descendants in San Antonio and East Texas became caught in the struggle for Mexican independence from Spain in 1810, especially the Battle of the Medina (1813) that established the first short-lived Republic of Texas and the Texas Revolution in the mid-1830s. Gregorio Esparza and Toribio Losoya were some of the Tejano defenders at the Battle of the Alamo (1836) with family roots from Los Adaes whose descendants remain in the environs of the Alamo City today. Adaeseños infused a spirit of accommodation and rebellion from the Texas-Louisiana border at Los Adaes to South Texas. Indeed the spirit of Native Americans and immigrants from many directions provide another reason for celebrating San Antonio’s 300th birthday with its rich, cultural heritage and survival deep in the heart of Texas along the San Antonio River and a more complicated legacy of violent clashes over borders, warfare, and trade too readily overlooked under subsequent flags of the Lone Star State.
Digging Deeper: Mission San Sabá
Texas Beyond History features a lesson plan on Mission San Sabá near Menard, Texas. Students will learn about Spanish and Native American views of establishing missions in Texas through a series of activities including reading, viewing an online exhibit, analyzing Spanish Colonial art, writing, and discussion. Also included are worksheets to assist students in recognizing political, economic, religious, social, intellectual, and artistic motivations of both the Spanish and the Native Americans during the era of colonial Spanish rule in Texas. This lesson plan covers both Social Studies and Art TEKS and is ideal for 7th graders. View the lesson here.
TSHA will be holding the Discovering Texas History Conference on November 7-8 in conjunction with Region XIII Education Service Center and the Bullock Texas State History Museum. The conference will run from 8am- 4pm both days, Tuesday at the Thompson Conference Center and Wednesday at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin Texas. The theme is Texas History from 1836 through 1900. On February 5-6, TSHA will hold the Encountering Texas History conference with the Aldine Independent School District. The location of the conference is the M.B. Sonny Donaldson Child Nutrition Center, Aldine ISD, Houston, Texas. The conference will run from 8am – 4pm each day. The topic will cover Texas History 1900 through the present. For registration information visit TeachingTexas.org.
The Bullock Texas State History Museum presents B Movies and Bad History: Texas Through the World’s Eyes on September 14th from 7:00-8:30 p.m. Expert Don Graham will discuss internationally produced films set in Texas and how they portray the way the world sees Texas and Texans. B-Movies and Bad History brings together historians, authors, and film experts to watch clips from some of the best (and worst) Texas-centric movies and television shows to distinguish fact from fiction portrayed on-screen. Learn more at TeachingTexas.org.
The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station is currently displaying their newest exhibit, “The Legacy of Ranching: Preserving the Past, Embracing the Future.” In partnership with the Department of Animal Sciences at Texas A&M University, the exhibit explores the adaptability of historic ranches in Texas. For details about this exhibit, visit TeachingTexas.org