"Mission San Francisco de los Tejas was the first Catholic
mission established in East Texas..."
year marks the 270th anniversary of the removal of a Spanish outpost which led
to the civilization of East Texas
and the origin of word Texas.|
Mission San Francisco de los Tejas
was the first Catholic mission established in East
Texas in 1690, but 41 years later -- after a series of ups and downs -- the
mission was moved to San Antonio
when Spain withdrew its military support from the mission.
If the original
mission were still standing today, few buildings could challenge it as Texas'
oldest landmark. Even the Alamo
wasn't built until 1718.
Tejas Historical Marker|
Click on photo for large image
| In 1690 Franciscan
priests, accompanied by soldiers, came to what is now Houston
County and established a small mission on San Pedro Creek, a few miles west
of the Neches River.|
The mission had religious and political motives. The priests sought to bring
Christianity to the forest-dwelling Indians and to secure Spain's domination over
the vast territory that would become Texas.
The presence of the mission reminded France, which occupied the territory of Louisiana
across the Sabine
River, that Texas belonged to Spain.
The Nabedache Indians the priests
encountered in East Texas were
peaceful agrarians whose fields yielded corn, melons, and beans. The Indians welcomed
the priests and readily celebrated the Catholic rites. A long-standing legend
says the name Texas came from the Indians'
word for welcome, Tejas. But in three years the relationship between the Spanish
and the Nabedache had soured. The Indians blamed the priests for bringing sickness
to their tribe and became hostile. The Spanish were forced to return to Spain
and burned the mission as they left.
In 1716 another Spanish expedition
came to East Texas and reestablished
the mission, this time on the east bank of the Neches
River. But it was abandoned again in 1719, rebuilt again in 1721, and finally
abandoned for good in 1731 when the mission was relocated to San
Antonio and renamed San Francisco de la Espada.
this time Spanish expeditions were more commonplace in East
Texas, leading to a well-traveled route from the Sabine
River to San Antonio,
a trail known today as El
Camino Real or the King's Highway. The route ran near the Tejas mission.|
In 1935 as Texas prepared to celebrate
the centennial of its 1836 revolution from Mexico, the state founded Mission
Tejas Historical Park and workers for the Civilian Conservation Corps built
a log church to commemorate the original mission.
The builders based
their site selection near the Weches community on the discovery of an old cannon
believed to have been buried by the Spanish in the late 1690s.
the building is not a true replica of the first mission, it is a fitting tribute
to the early Spanish religious heritage of East
Texas and the earliest efforts to civilize the region's Indians.
12-18, 2001 Column
Columns by Bob Bowman
- Bob Bowman's East Texas
Columns | East
Texas | Texas Towns List | Texas
|Book Hotel Here