Tag Archives: New Spain

Today in Texas History – March 20

From the Annals of New Spain –  In 1721, an expedition led by José de Azlor y Virto de Vera, the Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo, crossed the Rio Grande near present day Eagle Pass in an attempt to re-establish Spanish control of East Texas.  The expedition was a response to the French incursion into Texas two years earlier.  Aguayo’s force consisted of about 500 men – called the Battalion of San Miguel de Aragón.  The expedition established a base in San Antonio de Bexar and a small force under command of Domingo Ramón occupied La Bahía del Espíritu Santo near present-day Goliad.  Upon arrival in East Texas, the expedition met no resistance from the French or Native Americans.  In fact, the French commander Louis Juchereau de St. Denis,  agreed to withdraw to Natchitoches.  With the essential mission accomplished, Aguayo left 219 of his force at various presidios in Texas, with the remainder returning to Coahuila.  Aguayo’s expedition increased the number of missions in Texas from two to ten, and established three new presidios.   Spain’s claim to Texas was never again seriously disputed by France.

Today in Texas History – January 23


From the Annals of Spanish Texas – In 1691, the Domingo Terán de los Ríos was appointed as the first governor of the Spanish province of Coahuila y Tejas. This is considered to be the beginning of Texas as a distinct political entity. Terán was charged with establishing seven missions among the Native Americans of Texas; to investigate troublesome rumors of French settlement on the Texas coast; and to keep records of geography, natives, and products.  Teran was experienced in governing the far flung provinces of the Spanish Empire as he had served as Governor of Sonora y Sinaloa in New Spain and had spent many years in Peru. Terán crossed the Rio Grande in May of 1691 and travelled across the state to the Caddo settlements on the Red River. By March 1692 Terán  was encamped on Matagorda Bay, where he received instructions from the Viceroy of New Spain to explore the lower Mississippi River. Terán never undertook that project and returned to Veracruz in April.  Terán failed to complete any of his intended mission beyond basic exploration.  He did not establish any missions and provided very little new information about the region.  Terán did write a lengthy report, defending his actions and detailing the dismal situation in East Texas.  The primary lasting impact of Teran’s exploration was to name the Texas rivers which continue to bear the names given by members of his expedition.  Which is a fitting tribute to a man named de los Rios.

Today in Texas History – January 6

From the Annals of Conquistadors –  In 1540, the Spanish Viceroy of New Spain, Antonio de Mendoza, appointed Francisco Vázquez de Coronado to lead an expedition in search of the Seven Cities of Cíbola also known as the Seven Cities of Gold. Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca had described Cibola in his 1536 report after finding his way back to New Spain following his arduous journey from Galveston where he was shipwrecked. The disreputable Marcos de Niza had confirmed Cabeza de Vaca’s report based on his own travels in 1539. Coronado and 1,000 men set out from Culiacán in late April. There was no gold at Cíbola (the Zuñi villages in western New Mexico), but he was led on by stories told by the captive El Turco of great rewards to be found in Quivira, a region on the Great Plains far to the east.  Coronado wandered around the Great Plains for another 2 years finding nothing but poor Indian villages. When he returned to Mexico he was subjected to an official examination of his conduct as leader of the expedition and as governor of Nueva Galicia. He was cleared of charges in connection with the expedition.

Today in Texas History – September 26

From the Annals of New Spain – In 1736, Carlos Benites Franquis de Lugo arrived in San Antonio to serve as ad interim governor of Spanish Texas.   Franquis was extraordinarily unpopular due to his high-handed approach to administration.  One of his first acts was file criminal charges against Manuel de Sandoval who had been in charge of Texas.  He arbitrarily cut the number of guards at the missions leaving them vulnerable to attack.  He failed at almost every aspect of administration such that the province was near bankruptcy under his rule.  Ultimately he was arrested and accused of “arrogant behavior” a charge that has sadly fallen from favor in the world of criminal jurisprudence.  He stepped down as governor in September 1737,  but was found not guilty of the charges against him.

Today in Texas History – December 11

From the Annals of the Indian Conflicts – In 1737, Cabellos Colorados, a Lipan Apache chief, was captured by Spanish forces.  The Spanish established a settlement in San Antonio in 1718 which the Apaches viewed as an easy target for raids against the European invaders.  Not much is known about Cabellos Colorados.  He does appear in Spanish records which comment on his raids.  One known raid on San Antonio occurred in 1731, and in 1734 his band seized two citizens in a raid. He also stole horses from San Francisco de la Espada Mission and killed Indians from the missions of San Juan Capistrano and Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña. After numerous raids in 1736 and 1737, he was captured and imprisoned at Bexar until October of 1738 when he was sent as a prisoner to Mexico.

Today in Texas History – November 5

From the Annals of Neutrality –  In 1806, the United States and Spain established the “Neutral Ground” between Louisiana and Texas.  After the Louisiana Purchase, the US and Spain had been unable to agree on the boundary between Louisiana and Texas despite Spain having once controlled the area.  To avoid an armed clash over the disputed land, Gen. James Wilkinson and Lt. Col. Simón de Herrera, the American and Spanish military commanders, entered into an agreement establishing a Neutral Ground between Texas and Louisiana. Even the boundaries of the NG were never exactly prescribed.  The NG was generally described as being bordered by the Arroyo Hondo on the east and the Sabine River on the west.  The Gulf of Mexico clearly constituted the Southern boundary and most likely the thirty-second parallel of latitude formed the northern boundary. Despite an agreement that no settlers would be permitted in the NG, settlers from both Spanish and American territory moved in.  Predictably, the NG became fertile ground for illegal activity and the US and Spain cooperated in sending joint military expeditions in 1810 and 1812 to enforce order and expel undesirables. The US obtained ownership of the NG with the signing of the Adams-Onis Treaty in 1821.