Texas History, 1721-1744


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The History of Texas: Texas Between 1721 and 1724

(Previous Section: French and Spanish War)

THE council of the Indies, being duly advised of the irruption of the French, their retreat, and the subsequent measures of De Aguayo to settle the country, induced the king of Spain to issue a royal order in May, 1721, directing the authorities in Texas not to commit further hostilities against the French, but forthwith to fortify all the important places, especially the bay of St. Bernard. Accordingly, a military post and mission were established at the crossing of the Neches; and another garrison, called our Lady of Loreto, was located on the bay of St. Bernard, at the place formerly occupied by La Salle. The mission of La Bahia, under the protection of this garrison, was established on the San Antonio, some thirty leagues distant. The marquis added yet other improvements; three of the missions, that had been driven by the French to San Antonio, were located permanently on that river, which, added to the one already there, made five missions under the protection of the garrison at Bexar.

The marquis de Aguayo, before he returned to his official residence at Monclova, recommended the introduction of colonists, being well satisfied that the country could never be per manently occupied by missionaries and soldiers alone. St. Denis was still at Natchitoches, enjoying the unbounded confidence of the Indians, familiar with their language, furnishing them with arms, and disposed, at any favorable time, to light the torch of war. There were other considerations operating on the Spanish. The expenses of the garrisons alone were heavy, costing the royal treasury not less than sixty-three thousand dollars per annum; while the troops were not generally composed of Spaniards, but of the inferior classes of natives, having idle, disorderly, and turbulent habits. It was therefore better to introduce colonists, who would feel that Texas was their home, and have a lively interest in its improvement and defense, and a like interest in preserving peace with the Indian tribes.

De Aguayo departed for his home in May, 1722. He left in Texas (or, as it was then called, the New Philippines) four garrisons for its defense; that is, at the Adaes mission, one hundred men; at the Neches, or Mound prairie, twenty-five; at the bay of St. Bernard, ninety; and at San Antonio, fifty-three, making in all two hundred and sixty-eight soldiers.

A brief notice of these troops may be appropriately given. Each soldier received four hundred dollars per annum, out of which he had to pay for his clothing and provisions. What he purchased was furnished by contract, at stipulated prices, and transported on mules from Mexico. These prices were necessarily, high. The greater part of the soldiers spent the remainder of their pay in gaming ; they then contracted debts, sold their horses and arms, and became servants to the officers —caring nothing for the dignity of their station, or the public service. They were always ready for a quarrel with the Indians, giving the missionaries more trouble than the savages themselves; and it was not without reason that the enterprising De Aguayo declared that, if colonists could be substituted for soldiers, the friars would be enabled to gain the affections of the Indians.

Trade Between France and Spain in Texas

No sooner, however, had De Aguayo departed, than a trade again sprang up between the French and the Spaniards. The friends and relatives of St. Denis favored it. He was still at Natchitoches; his popularity with the Indians was unbounded, and his ability to raise at any time, among the Texan tribes, many thousand warriors, operated powerfully upon the fears of the Spanish garrison at Adaes. This trade was greatly favored by the removal of the capital of Louisiana from Mobile to New Orleans. The introduction of horses, mules, and cattle, from the Spanish possessions into those of the French, in exchange for the goods of the Company of the Indies, was carried on with little or no interruption.

The Spanish authorities were jealous, and bound by the orders of their government to prevent this trade and these intrusions of the French; but the captain-general of the province resided at Monclova, many leagues from the French frontier, and the local officers were not more virtuous in those days than at present. In 1726, however, a war broke out between Spain and England, in which France took part with Spain. This produced a friendly disposition on the frontier; and while Perier, governor of Louisiana, was giving indirect aid and comfort to Spain, in stirring up the Choctaws against the English, Captain St. Denis, at Natchitoches, was increasing the contraband trade with the people of Texas.

At this period, the Medina seemed to be well understood as the western limit of Texas; and, although it was called a separate province, it appears to have been under the control of the governor of Coahuila, or at least both provinces were under the jurisdiction of the same governor. De Aguayo was appointed by the viceroy, in 1719, as governor of both provinces; and so the appointments continued till 1727, when a governor was appointed for each province.

Spanish Colonize Texas from the Canary Islands

In the spring 6f 1728, the Spanish government, impressed with the necessity of colonizing Texas, ordered that four hundred families should be sent thither from the Canary islands. They were to be transported in parties of ten or twelve families at a time—first to Havana, and thence to Vera Cruz, whence they were to proceed by land to Texas. The government was to support them for one year. The Canary islands, lying near the coast of Africa, had been conquered by Spain in the latter part of the fifteenth century, and the Guanches, its former occupants (a race closely connected with the Berbers of northern Africa), totally extirpated. Their places had been supplied by pure Spaniards, who were distinguished for regular habits, respect for females, and a rigid adherence to the catholic faith. With these advantages, it was believed that they would be good subjects, and supply the places of a licentious soldiery.

In the meantime, in anticipation of these imported citizens, and to relieve somewhat the royal treasury from the heavy expenses of the garrisons in Texas, a considerable reduction was made in the number of the forces stationed at the various forts. The post on the Neches was entirely suppressed; the force at the Adaes was reduced from one hundred men to sixty, at the bay of St. Bernard from ninety to forty, and at San Antonio from fifty-three to forty-three—thus leaving, as the entire force of the three garrisons, only one hundred and forty-three men.

Indian Wars in Texas

When we consider that the different Indian tribes of Texas could at that period muster a force of ten thousand warriors; that the Spaniards were by no means their favorites; that the Comanches and Apaches, and other tribes in the interior, were naturally warlike; and that the troops in the garrisons took little pains to secure their friendship—we shall see at once the bad policy of this reduction of the forces. But they relied upon the friendship of the French, the good offices of St. Denis, and an early arrival of the new colonists. St. Denis, however, was otherwise engaged. The once-powerful tribe of the Natchez had been driven from the banks of the Mississippi, and was hanging in a threatening attitude around his position at Natchitoches. They had determined to attack him; and, to prevent the Spaniards from giving him aid, had the address to stir up the Apaches to assail the post of Bexar, and thus bring on a general war between the Indians and Europeans. The Apaches, originally of the same tribe with the Comanches, were possessed of like traits of character. They occupied the country between San Antonio and Santa Fe. Their principal villages, in 1730, were about the pass of Bandera, in the Guadalupe mountains, some fifty miles from the post of Bexar. From these strongholds they made their forays, not only upon the settlement at San Antonio, but extended their depredations across the Rio Grande. They had excellent horses, and were good riders ; they had also firearms (supplied them mostly by the French), and used them, as well as their bows, with great dexterity. They were inveterate thieves, and exceedingly treacherous, being ever ready to treat when the fight went ill, and as ready to break a treaty when they had a hope of the least advantage.

Sioux War Party

Indian Warriors

In 1730, the war broke out; but St. Denis conducted it very differently from the Spaniards. Rallying his small force in the garrison, together with the neighboring friendly Indians, he surprised the Natchez, killing many and dispersing the remainder. The Spaniards acted on the defensive only; while the Apaches came down in parties, and committed murders and thefts with impunity.

 More Settlers Arrive in Texas

In the meantime, there arrived at Bexar thirteen families and two single men, conducted hither from the Canary islands by order of the king. Others came from the banks of Lake Teztuco; they were Tlascalans—sturdy republicans, whose ancestors the powerful Montezumas had not been able to conquer. Others, again, came from the new settlement of Monterey. These fresh colonists, uniting, laid the foundation of San Fernando, around the present plaza of the Constitution in San Antonio. This location answered admirably for irrigation.

This great addition to the small European population of Bexar gave an impetus to the missions, which was seen in the fact that more Indians were captured, and brought in to be civilized; and, on the 5th of March, 1731, was laid the foundation of La Purissima Concepcion de Acuna, which for many years afterward was a refuge for the savage and the stranger.

The new settlers, feeling themselves at home, and galled in person and property by the inroads of the Indians, made some incursions into their strongholds, but, at first, with no great success. In 1732, however, a more vigorous campaign was undertaken. The Spaniards met them in battle, and defeated them. This victory gave peace and a temporary security to the colony, and substantial improvements were the result. Don Juan Antonio Bustillos y Cevallos, the governor, appeared to have at heart the welfare of the province, and, while he was prompt to chastise the Indians, he was equally zealous for their conversion.

More Indian Troubles in Texas

In the first of the year 1734, Don Manuel de Sandoval was appointed governor of Texas. He was an old soldier, and had served the king for more than twenty years, rising from the rank of a cadet to that of captain of grenadiers. In 1727, he had been appointed governor of Coahuila, the duties of which office he discharged with satisfaction for seven years. This fact alone is a strong evidence of his popularity with the viceroy, as it was the policy of the superior government to change the governors of provinces at short intervals. His appointment to the gubernatorial office of Texas was one of the last official acts of the prudent, disinterested, and renowned Casa Fuerte, viceroy of Mexico. The Apaches had again become troublesome; and the viceroy selected Sandoval, not only for his integrity, but with instructions to chastise the Indians.

Governor Sandoval immediately entered upon his duties; and, in pursuance of his instructions, made a campaign against the Apaches, and checked their depredations for some years. But, while he was engaged in his wars with the Indians, and in improving and consolidating the country under his charge, he became involved in a quarrel, first with St. Denis, and then with his own government, which gave him much trouble.

More Trouble Between France and Spain

Among other instructions from the superior government, Sandoval was directed to keep an eye on the French, and see that they committed no trespasses; and, if any should be committed, to give notice to the viceroy before engaging in hostilities. Since 1716, the French had a settlement on the right bank of Red river, among the Natchitoches Indians, and had formed there the mission of St. John the Baptist of Natchitoches. Their buildings were so situated, that, on a rise of the river, the water ran round them and formed an island. Making known this inconvenience, they were directed by the governor of Louisiana to remove their settlement some short distance from the river, on the same side. Accordingly, in the latter part of 1735, St. Denis, who was always active about everything to which he turned his attention, commenced the rapid removal of the fort from the island, locating it a few miles farther toward the Adaes, which was some eighteen miles distant. Sandoval was at this time at Bexar, but being informed by Don Jose Gonzalez, his lieutenant, in command at the Adaes, of what was transpiring, he wrote to the latter, communicating his instructions, and also to St. Denis. Sandoval had no documentary evidence of the boundary of Texas on that frontier—in fact, there was none; but he represented to St. Denis that Alonzo de Leon, Teran, and Captain Don Ramon, had preceded the French in that section of the country; that Red river had been considered as the boundary between the territories of the two governments; and, as his instructions required him to refer such matters to his government, he proposed to St. Denis to suspend further labor on the new location until they could hear from their respective sovereigns; but, should St. Denis refuse this request, he would be obliged to repel him.

St. Denis, in reply, referred to the discovery of Texas by La Salle in 1685; represented that the marquis de Aguayo established the post of Adaes only in 1721, at which time he found the French settled on the island of Red river, having without, on the side of Adaes, houses, enclosures, and other possessions; that since that time neither De Aguayo nor any of his successors had opposed these establishments; that when Don Ramon visited him, in 1718, he had shown him much kindness; that the Spaniards were indebted to him for the possession of the Adaes, and the foundation of its missions; that the French were acting in behalf of the Natchitoches Indians, who were the owners of the lands on both sides of Red river; that the boundary-line between the two settlements had never been laid down, and he thought it very strange that the Spaniards should claim the entire territory to the river; and, in short, that he was acting under superior orders, which he would not disobey, and, if attacked, he would defend himself, and protest against the consequences.

First Lawsuit in Texas

This is the summary of a correspondence which extended to August, 1736; and, in the meantime, the French continued their buildings, having erected, besides the fort, a chapel and some fourteen other buildings, on the Texan side of the place. Shortly before the close of this correspondence, however, Colonel Don Carlos de Franquis was sent to Mexico from Spain, to fill the office of governor of Tlascala; but, on his arrival, he found the office filled. Casa Fuerte had died, and Vizarron, archbishop of Mexico, who knew nothing of the merit of Sandoval, was filling the office of viceroy. As Franquis had to be provided for, Vizarron appointed him governor of Texas. Franquis reached San Antonio in September, 1736. He very soon exhibited the proud and overbearing traits of his character. Disregarding the sacred functions of the missionaries, he acted toward them in the most insolent manner. He opened and read the letters that were sent out of the province; and, to complete his tyranny, caused Sandoval to be arrested and bound in fetters, deprived him of all his papers, and, to give some color to these wicked proceedings, ordered a criminal prosecution to be commenced against him. These transactions being made known to the viceroy, and Sandoval being falsely charged with conniving at the removal of the French garrison at Natchitoches, the governor of New Leon was dispatched as a special commissioner to investigate the affair. That functionary arrived in Texas about the first of August, 1737; and, after taking a summary of the evidence and proceedings, he sent Franquis to the garrison of the presidio on the Rio Grande. But the latter thought he could do better at court, and fled to the viceroy. As Franquis had no effects wherewith to discharge the fees and costs of the commission, amounting to something over three thousand four hundred dollars, Sandoval had them to pay. But this did not terminate the matter; for, although it often happens in courts of justice that the party who gains his suit is mulcted in the costs, yet Sandoval was not satisfied. His honor was concerned; so also was his purse. The sympathies of the Texans were on his side. They loved him for his zeal in driving off the Indians, and in building up their new country ; and they hated Franquis for his despotic conduct while governor. Hence this suit became a state affair, in which all Texas was deeply interested, and in which nearly half her citizens were witnesses. But, while the two ex-governors were carrying on their lawsuit, the viceroy appointed Don Justo Boneo governor.

In 1738, Sandoval, after paying up the costs, presented to the judge his petition against Franquis, complaining of the injustice done him in the previous proceedings. The papers were duly transmitted to the viceroy, and by him laid before the attorney-general Vedoya. These papers consisted, not only of the petition of Sandoval, but a transcript of the previous proceedings, and of such new charges as Franquis could make out. He had made several different accusations against Sandoval, who was charged with not having kept his official residence at Adaes instead of San Antonio; with not having kept a regular account with the soldiers of that garrison; with having reduced the number of paid missionaries, in order to save for himself their salaries; and also, what was most important, with conniving at the removal of the French garrison at Natchitoches.

On the 28th of March, 1740, a partial decision of the case was had. Sandoval was not acquitted of the charge of not residing at Adaes, although his presence was necessary at Bexar, in defending that post against the Apache Indians; nor was he cleared in the matter of keeping the books, although he showed that he could not keep them when he was not there. He, however, kept a memorandum of the funds received and transmitted, which exhibited a balance in his favor of more than thirteen hundred dollars. On the charge of reducing the number of missionaries, he was entirely acquitted. He was fined five hundred dollars for the first-named offences. In relation to the more serious charge of conniving at the encroachments of the French, Senor Vedoya could make no decision without further evidence on various points. Sandoval, seeing in this decree the influence of Franquis at court, and the uncertainly of the law, paid the five hundred dollars, and left the capitol.

On the 14th of July, 1740, the order was sent to Governor Boneo to take testimony at Adaes, and report what distance it was from that post to the French settlement on Red river; what houses or forts they had erected; when this was done; who was governor of Texas at that time; what diligence he had used to prevent the removal of the French; if he had neglected his duty; what he ought to have done; if, afterward, a free passage had been allowed to the French, for what reasons; had there been any negotiations for contraband trade; and any other information that would throw light on the subject in litigation.

The governor proceeded to take the testimony. He examined many old soldiers that had come out to Adaes with De Aguayo twenty years before, and proved that the Arroyo Honda and Gran montana, situated half way between the two posts, had always been considered the boundary between the respective crowns; that when the post of Adaes was established by the Spaniards, they found the French at Natchitoches, and in possession of the country on the hither bank of Red river as far as the Arroyo Honda; that, although Sandoval had pursued all lawful means to prevent the removal of the French, yet the Spaniards had never claimed farther than the Honda; and that as to the matter of contraband trade, notices had been set up everywhere, at Adaes, prohibiting all intercourse with the French. This evidence was overwhelming; and the attorney-general, in his opinion of November 28, 1741, entirely acquitted Sandoval. But, in the meantime, the old archbishop Vizarron had gone out of the viceroyalty, and the duke de la Conquista came into office in the month of September, 1740. Scarcely had he entered the palace, when he was besieged by Franquis; and Sandoval, who had gone to Vera Cruz, was pursued and again thrown into prison! But finally, in December, 1743, the proceedings coming up before Count Fuenclara, the new viceroy, with whom Franquis seemed not to have so much influence as over his predecessors, he acquitted poor Sandoval, and enjoined Franquis from prosecuting him any further. In January, 1744, Sandoval was furnished with a summary of the proceedings; and a copy of the whole, filling thirty volumes of manuscript, were sent to the king of Spain!

The details of this trial are given, not only because it was the first recorded lawsuit in Texas, but because we can gather from it something of the mode of legal procedure in those days. It is also an important link in the great diplomatic controversy concerning the ownership of the country.

Texas in 1744

Texas in 1744, after all the expenses that had been incurred, and the pains taken by the missionaries and the government, was not prosperous. Governor Boneo, with all his good intentions, was a weak man, and ill suited for pushing forward the great enterprise of settling a new country. All the efforts made had not increased the population since 1722. The withdrawal of the troops, the continual wars with the Indians, the great insecurity of life and property, the prohibition of commerce with the French of Louisiana, all tended to continue Texas a barren, isolated waste. It was in vain that the fertility of her soil, the abundance of her waters, the mildness of her climate, the excellence of her game, and her vast resources in general, were painted in bright colors to the council of the Indies; it seemed to be their policy from the beginning, to leave the province as an unsettled frontier—a barrier against the encroachments of the Europeans of the north. By a "law of the Indies," the governors of the colonies were forbidden to invest any amount whatever of the public funds in defraying the expenses of colonization, discoveries, or improvements, without special instructions for that purpose from the king; and these orders, when asked, were almost uniformly refused.

The European population of Texas, at this period, did not exceed fifteen hundred, which, added to a like number of converted Indians (Yndios reducidos), was divided mostly between Adaes and San Antonio; a few only being at La Bahia, and a small fort and mission at San Saba, which had been established out among the wild Indians for the humane reason of the friars, that it was better to civilize than to kill them. If there was a mission at all at this time at Nacogdoches, it was dependent on the post at Adaes for protection. Spain and France were now on excellent terms, and the colony of Louisiana was gradually extending its trade, but without disturbing the Spanish authorities on the frontier. The settlements on the south of Texas were making but little progress. At Monclova, the capital of Coahuila, there was a small garrison of thirty-five men; half way between that post and the presidio of the Rio Grande (at Sacramento, on the Sabinas), there was another garrison of fifty men; and at the presidio itself thirty-two more. The province of Coahuila extended from the Medina southward three hundred miles; south of that, again, was the province of New Leon, leaving along the gulf-coast a skirt of a hundred miles of country unsettled and unorganized. This long line of coast afforded abundance of rich pasturage, whither the flocks of the provinces were driven in November, and, under the care of escorts and soldiers stationed to guard them, remained till the following May; but, notwithstanding all their precautions, the Indians along the coast committed frequent robberies and murders.

The Texan missionaries kept up a regular correspondence with the parent-convents of Queretaro and Zacatecas, which, if ever published to the world, will exhibit a painful history of their trials and privations. In the ecclesiastical organization of New Spain, Texas, with Coahuila and New Leon, were attached to the bishopric of Guadalajara.

From the close of 1744 to 1758 we find no important event in the history of Texas. The few people living in the territory, sunk in obscurity and indolence, seem only to have been waiting events. Their lives were merely passive. It is, of course, understood, however, that the faithful missionary was doing his duty—that he was enlarging and civilizing his flock. It is also understood that the wild Apaches and Comanches permitted no opportunity for robbery or murder to pass unnoticed.

San Saba Indian Massacre

In 1758, however, a tragic scene occurred at the San Saba mission. The Indians, in large numbers, assaulted the mission, took it, and killed all, both pastors and flock, including the small guard stationed there. Tradition informs us that none were left to bear the news of the dreadful massacre. This mission had been established far beyond the then Texan frontier. We have seen its benevolent object. Such a return for such love, while it calls down blessings upon the heads of the devoted followers of the cross. This fearful butchery had its effect in causing the missions in Texas to decline. In fact, they never recovered from the blow.

Efforts were made to avenge this cruel outrage. Captain Don Diego Ortiz de Parilla was dispatched with a body of troops to chastise the ruthless savages; but the latter fled to their strongholds, and we have no evidence that they were ever punished.*

* Kennedy, vol. i., p. 222. In 1752, there was discovered at San Saba a silver-mine, which drew to the fort quite an increase of population. It is probable that the bad behavior of the miners toward the Indians brought on the terrible massacre of 1758. At the time of its occurrence, there was a fort, surrounding an acre of ground, under a twelve-feet stone wall, enclosing a church and other buildings.—Holly, History of Texas, p. 164.

[Next Section of Texas History: The French and Indian War]




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