Misión San Antonio de Valero
Popularly called "The Alamo"
Established by the Franciscan order in 1718, the mission and its presidio or fortified outpost, the Presidio San Antonio de Béxar, was started by Father Antonio de San Buenaventura y Olivares. He first visited the San Antonio region in 1709 and received approval from the Marqués de Valero in 1716 to move an existing but dwindling mission from the Río Grande near Guerrero, Coahuila, to the banks of the San Antonio River. Mission San Antonio changed locations several times before settling at the current site after 1724. Over its lifetime, the mission served Indians from over one hundred different groups, especially the Coahuiltecans. The church that stands today was begun in the 1750s. The mission was secularized in 1793 and has since served several purposes. It is most notable as the site of the Battle of the Alamo (1836) during the Texas Revolution.
Misión Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña
This mission was originally established in East Texas near the present Texas-Louisiana border by the Ramón expedition (1716-17). Domingo Ramón was charged with reestablishing a Spanish presence along the border with French Louisiana, and his expedition brought both soldiers and missionaries to East Texas. The promising initial response by the local Indians to missionary activities was tempered by severe droughts that resulted in poor harvests and hunger. When Spain went to war with France in 1719, Mission Concepción was abandoned. The Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo’s expedition in 1721 reestablished Mission Concepción, but found no great support from the local Indians. After an official inspection tour of Texas in 1727, Spanish Brigadier General Pedro de Rivera y Villalón recommended partial abandonment of East Texas. Mission Concepción was re-located on the San Antonio River in March 1731 and was successful at its new location, serving the Coahuiltecans and other regional Indians. The current church building was erected in 1755. The mission was secularized in 1794 and served as a cattle barn for a period of time before 1855. The mission church is thought to be the oldest unrestored church in the United States.
Misión San José y San Miguel de Aguayo
A war between France and Spain in 1719 resulted in the withdrawal of the Spanish missionaries from the East Texas missions. Refugees from French-controlled Louisiana travelled to the San Antonio area, seeking asylum at Mission San Antonio de Valero, founded the year prior. Father Antonio Margil de Jesús traveled to San Antonio in December 1719 and requested that a new mission be founded there to alleviate overcrowding at San Antonio de Valero. The governor of Coahuila y Tejas, the Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo, issued a decree in January 1720 which authorized the selection of a suitable location. Father Margil selected a tract of land just down the San Antonio River from Mission San Antonio de Valero. Established the same year, Mission San José served twenty-one different Indian groups in the San Antonio area, especially the Coahuiltecans. The mission was secularized in the summer of 1794 and mission activities officially ended in 1824.
Misión San Francisco de la Espada
The Mission San Francisco de la Espada was the first mission established within the Spanish Texas (New Spain) boundaries, though at a different location and with a different name. This mission was founded in 1690 in East Texas, but was quickly abandoned after disease and Indian hostility disrupted mission activities. Reestablished in 1716 as Nuestro Padre San Francisco de los Tejas, the mission was moved to the San Antonio area in 1731 and renamed. Father Pedro Muñoz from the College of Santa Cruz de Querétaro, a Franciscan institution in México, made a contract with the Pacaos Indians, promising that the Mission San Francisco de la Espada would belong to them. The aqueduct and friary along the San Antonio River were completed by 1745, but it was not until after 1756 that a chapel was constructed at the mission site. Mission San Francisco was secularized in 1794. The mission is recognized today as participating in the oldest continually operating irrigation system in the United States.
Misión San Juan Capistrano
The Mission San José de los Nazonis, founded in 1716 near Nacogdoches, was renamed San Juan Capistrano in 1731 and moved from East Texas to the banks of the San Antonio River. Mission San Juan made less progress Christianizing the Coahuiltecans than the other missions in the San Antonio area because it was more susceptible to Indian attacks and had less plentiful lands for growing crops and raising cattle. The mission was the most distant from the presidio or fortified outpost located in San Antonio and was repeatedly raided by the Apaches. Mission San Juan was secularized in July 1794, although it remains an active church today.
Nuestra Señora de Loreto de la Bahía Presidio
Popularly called La Bahía, this presidio or fortified outpost, originally dates to 1721. In that year, Spanish Captain Domingo Ramón, as part of the expedition led by the Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo, occupied the site of the settlement started in 1685 by the French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. This presidio was to guard the coast against possible French intrusions into Texas. At the same location, Aguayo founded the Misión Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga with the goal of Christianizing the Karankawa Indians. The mission and presidio were moved inland in 1726 as a result of continuing issues with the Karakawa, who were loath to convert to Christianity. The mission and presidio moved again in 1747 to the San Antonio River near present-day Goliad, Texas and a new chapel was constructed in 1749, which still stands today.
After the Marqués de Rubí conducted an inspection tour of Texas missions in 1767, he proposed an abandonment of East Texas once again. Upon this recommendation, the Spanish deserted many of their missions and presidios in 1771, leaving Presidio La Bahía as a solitary guard along the Gulf Coast. The presidio and mission were successful and became the first large cattle ranch in Texas, with nearly 40,000 free-roaming cattle introduced in 1778. The presidio continued to serve as a protective fort after Mexican Independence was achieved in 1821. It was secularized in 1830 and La Bahía was the location of several battles during the Texas Revolution in 1835 and 1836.
Misión Corpus Christi de la Ysleta
This mission was the first mission and pueblo within the boundaries of modern-day Texas, although it was originally located in the Spanish territory of New Mexico. Founded by Antonio de Otermín and Fray Francisco de Ayeta, the Franciscans maintained it with the purpose of Christianizing the Tigua Indians. The Tiguas were forced to flee their ancestral home, the Isleta Pueblo (near present-day Albuquerque, New Mexico), following the Pueblo Revolt in 1680. The Tiguas did not support the revolt and moved to the El Paso area. They settled in a community they named as Ysleta del Sur, or “Isleta of the South” (spelled with a “Y” to differentiate the new settlement from the Isleta Pueblo). The Ysleta Mission was originally located along the banks of the Río Grande; however, the river changed course several times, leaving the mission on a rise of land far from the river. Floods from the Río Grande destroyed the mission twice, first in 1742 and again in 1829. The present church was constructed in 1851, with a distinctive silver-domed bell tower added in 1897. The Jesuit order took over the church in 1881 and renamed it Nuestra Señora del Monte Carmelo. The mission church still serves the Tigua population. In 1980 its name was changed to Mission San Antonio de los Tiguas to reflect that ongoing relationship.
Misión Nuestra Señora de la Limpia Concepción del Socorro
Several early exploratory expeditions into Spanish New Mexico passed through the El Paso area beginning in 1581. Though located in Socorro, Texas, the mission is named after Socorro, New Mexico, from which Spanish and Piro Pueblo Indian refugees fled during the Pueblo Revolt in 1680. During this revolt, various Pueblo tribes banded together to drive the Spanish from the province of New Mexico, as well as tribes like the Piro Pueblo, who were more integrated into Spanish society. In 1692, Franciscan Fray Joaquín de Hinojosa received the royal titles to establish the first permanent mission at Socorro. After floods from the Río Grande washed away two previous churches in 1744 and 1829, the current church building was built in 1843. The Jesuit order took over the mission in 1881, which operates as a church today.
San Elizario Presidio
1752 / 1789
The first Spanish activity at the San Elizario site took place in April 1598, when Spanish explorer Juan de Oñate held a ceremony to formally take possession of the New Mexico territory in the name of the King of Spain. The precursor to the presidio or fortified outpost, named Presdio de Nuestra Señora de las Caldas de Guajoquilla, was originally established near Jiménez, Chihuahua, México in 1752. A government report from the 1760s recommended the removal of this presidio to the Valle de San Eleceario (or Elizario), near present-day El Paso, which was undertaken in 1789. The purpose of the relocated presidio was to protect the missionary settlements of Ysleta and Socorro along the Río Grande. The mission was also to establish a colony of pacified Apaches, offering security, food, and provisions in exchange for peace. After Mexican Independence in 1821, the Apache colony at the presidio numbered over 1,000, but quickly dwindled after the ration program ended in 1831. By 1851, the old presidio had been destroyed by local settlers who pulled apart the walls and buildings to use the adobe in their own homes. The current Presidio Chapel of San Elizario was built in 1877 to serve the local population.
Misión Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
In the late 16th century, several colonizing efforts and exploratory expeditions funneled through El Paso del Norte, the site of present-day El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, México. In 1659, Fray García de San Francisco founded the Mission Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe del Río del Norte de los Mansos. A permanent mission building was started in 1662 and finished four years later. Mission Guadalupe was the southernmost of the New Mexico missions. They were built along El Camino Real (the King’s Road), which ran from Mexico City to Santa Fe (founded in 1609). Fray García established Mission Guadalupe to begin Christianizing the Piro Pueblos and Mansos Indians. By 1680, over 2,000 Indians, including Tiguas, Apaches, and Jumanos, were in contact with the Franciscans at Mission Guadalupe. The 1666 mission church serves as a chapel today, located alongside the city’s cathedral, Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Ciudad Juárez.