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Missions. First missions in Texas. Friars in 1682 founded the first permanent settlement of Europeans in Texas—the mission of Corpus Christi de la Ysleta—located near present-day El Paso. Most Spanish activity during the 1690s was in east Texas, near French Louisiana.

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First missions in texas

First missions in Texas

  • Friars in 1682 founded the first permanent settlement of Europeans in Texas—the mission of Corpus Christi de la Ysleta—located near present-day El Paso.

  • Most Spanish activity during the 1690s was in east Texas, near French Louisiana.

  • Fearing La Salle’s arrival in 1685 would produce French settlements, Spanish officials worked hard to establish Spanish colonies. They built missions, military outposts called presidios, and towns in lands occupied by Native Americans.

  • When the Spanish heard of La Salle’s fort in Texas, they set out to destroy it. Alonso de Leon led the expedition, only to find the fort was abandoned.

A tejas mission

A Tejas Mission

  • De Leon led his troops northeast toward the Colorado River where they met the Hasinai people, whom they called “Tejas,” a word meaning “friend.”

  • Damian Massanet, a Catholic church official, was granted permission by the viceroy of New Spain to start a mission among the Tejas people in 1690.

  • The mission San Francisco de los Tejas was a log building located a few miles west of the Neches River near the present-day town of Weches.


  • Drought killed many of the mission’s crops, and disease killed many of the Native Americans and one friar.

  • The Tejas rejected the Catholic faith and resented the Spaniards’ attempts to change their way of life.

  • Realizing there was no threat from France, the Spanish decided not to spend any more money supporting the missions so far from the Spanish settlements, so they abandoned the mission.

Mission san juan bautista

Mission San Juan Bautista

  • From 1693 to 1714, Spain made no effort to settle Texas, but settlements along the Rio Grande grew quickly.

  • Mission San Juan Bautista was built in 1699, five miles from the Rio Grande near several crossings that allowed for easy access to Texas.

  • The mission eventually grew into a complex of 3 missions, a presidio, and a town.


  • The mission was called “The Mother of Texas Missions” because it was the base for many expeditions to establish missions in east Texas, and it provided grain, cattle, and horses to the missionaries.

  • Father Francisco Hidalgo was a gentle friar who had worked with the Tejas people.

  • He repeatedly asked to return to the Tejas to start another mission, but he was denied.

France threatens again

France threatens again

  • In 1699 France made another attempt to claim the lands around the Mississippi River by establishing a colony on the Gulf Coast at Biloxi, Mississippi.

  • The French were not interested in conquering territory or converting the Native Americans to Catholicism.

  • The wanted to open trade, so they befriended the Native Americans and began making large profits by exchanging guns, blankets, and wine for furs and skins.

  • They also wanted to trade with the Spanish, but the Spanish law prohibited foreigners from trading in New Spain colonies.


  • Without the Spanish government’s knowledge, Father Hidalgo wrote a letter to the French governor in Louisiana asking that the French establish a mission among the Tejas.

  • The French recognized this request as an opportunity to open trade.

  • Louis de St. Denis was appointed to negotiate with the Spanish officials on the Rio Grande.

  • On the way to the Rio Grande, he built a trading post called Natchitoches on the Red River.


  • When he arrived at San Jaun Bautista in July of 1714, it alarmed the presidio’s commander, Captain Diego Ramon.

  • Ramon arrested St. Denis and sent him to Mexico City to be questioned by the viceroy.

  • St. Denis told the viceroy that France had no intentions of occupying East Texas.


  • The Spanish government did not believe St. Denis and ordered that new missions be built in East Texas with the Spanish soldiers to protect them.

  • Trade between the French and Spanish stopped.

  • Oddly enough, the viceroy appointed St. Denis to guide the Spanish into East Texas. They felt they could benefit from his knowledge of the Texas trails and his good relationships with the Natives. He was also given permission to marry the granddaughter of Captain Ramon.

  • The Spanish successfully set up 6 missions and a presidio to protect the families from Native American attacks called Nuestra Senora de Los Dolores de los Tejas.

Founding of san antonio

Founding of San Antonio

  • Because of the 500 mile journey from east Texas to the Rio Grande, the Spanish needed a settlement midway between New Spain and the missions.

  • Spanish officials chose a site on the San Antonio River to build the presidio San Antonio de Bexar in 1718.

  • Many of the soldiers brought families, began digging irrigation canals for farming, and settled permanently.

  • Across the river, Mission San Antonio de Valero was built in 1718. This is now known as the Alamo.

  • These settlements established present-day San Antonio.

Defending the missions

Defending the missions

  • The settlement in East Texas halted when war broke out between Spain and France in 1719.

  • A small French unit seized the Spanish mission near present-day Nacogdoches.

  • Panic-stricken missionaries fled with their families to San Antonio later that year.

  • The viceroy ordered Marques de San Miguel de Aguayo to organize troops to meet the French.

  • Aguayo marched 500 soldiers-settlers, thousands of horses and mules, and large herds of sheep and cattle to re-establish the abandoned missions .


  • Aguayo built a large presidio called Nuestra Senora del Pilar de los Adaes in French territory in present-day Louisiana.

  • Aguayo established Los Adaes as the unofficial capital of Texas in 1722, where it remained for 50 years.

  • Aguayo then established a mission and presidio at La Bahia, near present-day Goliad.

Plains people resent the missions

Plains People resent the Missions

  • The Plains cultures resented the Spanish who had intruded on their hunting ground.

  • The Apaches regularly raided the European settlements, and the Comanches fiercely fought and stole their horses.

  • Despite this resistance, the friars continued to establish missions in central and western Texas.

  • The Texas missions failed in their efforts to Christianize the Plains people.

  • Isolated missions lacked the supplies and people to survive in the remote areas, and the Apaches and Comanches refused to give up their lifestyle.

A day in the life of a mission

A day in the life of a mission

  • The natives who accepted the mission life were kept busy from morning to night by the strict friars.

  • Each day started with prayer.

  • After breakfast, the children attended school, the women wove cloth, molded pottery, or cooked. The men worked in fields or learned carpentry or blacksmithing.

  • After dinner were more religion classes, followed by prayer.


  • Food was plentiful with herds of cattle, sheep, and goats guaranteeing a regular supply of meat and milk.

  • Farming was popular, including corn, beans, cantaloupes, cucumbers, watermelons, peppers, peaches, and sweet potatoes.

  • Although some Native Americans adapted to mission life, most refused to stay at the missions.

Hardships of soldiers

Hardships of soldiers

  • Soldiers’ duties included protecting the mission and nearby settlements, maintaining control over the Native Americans in the missions, and scouting the land for intruders.

  • Most of the soldiers were also settlers who had brought their families to the military towns and farmed and soldiered for a living.

  • Military men were poorly equipped nd lived in poor conditions.

  • They sometimes traded with the Native Americans living in the missions (usually unfairly).

Life in spanish texas

Life in Spanish texas

  • People living in Texas became farmers, ranchers, shopkeepers, shoemakers, fishers, barbers, blacksmiths, tax collectors, oven drivers, seamstresses, healers, and servants.

  • Mestizos, people of mixed Spanish and Native American heritage, lived in Spanish Texas.

  • A few African Americans living in Texas were free, but some were slaves.

  • Most men and women were married with families.

  • The Tejano (people of Mexican heritage who consider Texas their home) culture was very evident in Texas.

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