SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
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New Spain-Index

Entradas and Royal Inspection Expeditions
Future DeWitt Colony
1550-1800

Alonso De León 1689
[Domingo Terán de los Ríos & Salinas Verona 1691-1693]

Martín de Alarcón 1718-1719
Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo 1721-1722
Pedro de Rivera Villalón 1727
Marqués de Rubí 1767
Father Fray Gaspar José de Solis 1767

For Biographies, Search Handbook of Texas Online


Alonso De León

Fourth Expedition into Texas and future DeWitt Colony, & the discovery of La Salle's Colony, 1689


De León (ca. 1639-1691) was born in Cadereyta, Nuevo León, in 1639 or 1640, the third son of Alonso De León and Josefa González.  As a boy he was sent to Spain to prepare for a naval career and returned to Nuevo León by 1660.  De León was chosen to lead overland efforts aimed at finding La Salle's French settlement on the northern Gulf Coast of New Spain in the mid­1680s.  He led four expeditions into Texas between 1686 and 1689.  The third expedition began in May 1688 and resulted in the capture of Jean Jarry, a naked, aged, and confused Frenchman. The fourth expedition which left Coahuila on March 27, 1689 discovered the ruins of the French settlement, Fort St. Louis, on the banks of Garcitas Creek. In 1687 De Léon became governor of Coahuila and three years later he and Massanet cooperated in founding the first Spanish mission in East Texas, San Francisco de los Tejas.   He is credited with being an early advocate for the establishment of missions along the frontier, and he blazed much of the Old San Antonio Road on his expeditions. He returned to Coahuila and died there on March 20, 1691. His survivors included his wife, Agustina Cantú, four sons, and two daughters. His descendants still reside in the Mexican state of Nuevo León. Biography extracted from The Handbook of Texas by Donald E. Chipman


From Our Catholic Heritage in Texas 1519-1936 by Carlos E. Castañeda, 1936It is necessary to go back in our narrative a few months to pick up the thread of the fourth land expedition [of Alonso de León] from Coahuila and Nuevo León. After the examination of the report of Alonso de León on the capture of Jean Géry and the interrogation of the prisoner, the Count of Monclova called a Junta General, General Council, of all the high officials of New Spain to determine what action should be taken in view of the new information acquired. The Junta met on July 23. After due deliberation it was decided that in spite of the confusing nature of the replies made by the prisoner and the very remote possibility of their being true, that "an entrada be undertaken by land after the rainy season, when the large and dangerous rivers of the coast,.had receded; and that His Excellency issue such orders for that purpose as he deemed prudent, appointing the said Captain Alonso de León, as the principal leader, to insure its success." One hundred men should be placed at his disposal for the expedition, fifty of whom were to be taken from the presidios of Cerro Gordo, Cuencame, El Gallo, Conchos and Casas Grandes, in the Province of Nueva Vizcaya, and fifty to be enlisted in Coahuila and Nuevo León.

[Recomendaciones de la Junta General, July 23, 1688, in Auttos y Diligencias q se an Executado pr. el Capn Alonso de León gouor de la prova de coaguila . . . A. G. l., Audiencia de Mexico, 61-6-20 (Dunn Transcripts, 1685-1688). At the time Clark wrote The Beginnings of Texas, the sources for this expedition were very meager. Massanet's Carta, Velasco's Dictamen Fiscal, 1716; and the decidedly deficient copy of the diary in Vol. 27 of Historic, were the chief documents. Since then much additional material giving first-hand information has become available. Reference to these new sources will be made in the remainder of our account]. sdct

The viceroy approved all the recommendations of the Junta and immediately began to take steps to put them into execution. Calling Captain Mendiondo, who, it will be remembered, was sent by De León to escort Jean Géry to Mexico, he was asked to prepare a memorandum of what would be needed for the expedition. Mendiondo complied with the request on July 30, at which time he suggested the most essential items needed for the soldiers. The memorandum was immediately referred to the Fiscal, who, on August 3, pointed out that a list of articles to be distributed as gifts to the Indians should be added. The matter was again referred to Mendiondo, who suggested that fifty dollars worth of beads, two hundred cheap cotton blankets, three large bundles of tobacco, and one hundred and fifty Indians' shirts would be sufficient. His suggestion was approved, but the amounts of goods for Indians' gifts were considerably increased. On August 9, the viceroy formally ordered Alonso de León to undertake the expedition at such time as he considered the most advisable, allowing him full discretion in its organization. The main purpose to be kept in mind was to find the French colony at all costs [Memorias presented by Captain Mendiondo; Respuesta fiscal; Decreto del Virrey, August 9, 1688, all in Ibid., pp. 40-45].

Governor León was busily engaged at this time in the founding of the Villa de Monclova, which he had been authorized to establish since 1687. Once more he was obliged to suspend this long delayed project and to devote all his energies to the organization of the expedition entrusted to him. With characteristic diligence, he soon assembled seven hundred and twenty-one horses, eighty-two loads of flour and hard-tack, and a large store of provisions and supplies as well as many Indian gifts.

On March 24, 1689, the troops from Coahuila and Nueva Vizcaya set out from the presidio near the site of present Monclova and making their way to the northeast, arrived at Sabinas River (Mexico) on March 27. Here they were joined by the detachment of soldiers sent from the Nuevo Reino de León. Before proceeding on their journey, Alonso de León, who had been made general, held a review. As the men marched past him, he made a roll of all the persons present. Heading the list are the names of two Padres: the Bachiller Toribio Garcia de Sierra, curate and vicar of the province of Coahuila, and Father Fray Damian Massanet, minister in charge of the Mission of Caldera. Then follow the soldiers, the half-crazed Jean Géry, who had been sent from Mexico as a guide; twelve mule drivers, most of them well armed, and thirteen servants. The total number of persons, according to the official list, was one hundred and fifteen in all [Massanet says there were only eighty soldiers, see his Carta in Bolton, Spanish Exploration, 284-285. The official list of all the persons is in Historia de Nuevo León (Genaro Garcia, Documentos, XXV, 320-321)].

Map New Spain 1718Route followed. Since this expedition was the first to penetrate as far as the Guadalupe River from the frontiers of Coahuila and has generally been considered as marking the beginnings of Texas, it will be well to determine as near as possible the route followed. All those who have written about this incident have paid little attention to the difficulties which the course first suggested by Clark in his Beginnings of Texas offer. As usual, we cannot place any dependence on the direction of travel as recorded in the comprehensive diary, but assuming that the distances are approximately correct, and that the rivers crossed have not changed their course in the last two hundred and fifty years sufficiently to affect materially the distance from one to the other, a careful plotting of the route on an accurate map of the State reveals some interesting facts. It should be kept in mind, first of all, that the latitude of the location of La Salle's fort is approximately 28° 50'; that of Monclova is 26° 50'; and that of the site of San Juan Bautista, in the vicinity of present Eagle Pass, is 28° 40'. It is evident, therefore, that if De León crossed the Rio Grande near the last location as suggested heretofore, he would have had to follow an almost due east course to reach the colony. Furthermore, the Rio Grande runs to the southeast, while the Gulf coast runs southwest, the two coming together at Brownsville in a V-shape angle. Consequently, De León traveled along the base of this triangle. The higher up on the Rio Grande he started, the longer the total distance to the French fort would be. With these facts in mind, the approximate route followed can be much more accurately traced by the use of a good map of Texas and a divider to plot the course. [For the various routes suggested and the identification of the rivers crossed see E. H. West, "Itinerary of Alonso de León," The Quarterly, VIII, 199-224; Clark, The Beginning of Texas; Bolton, op, cit., 388-404; Hackett, Pichardo; Limits of Louisiana and Texas, Volume I. 334]

From the Rio Sabinas, Mexico, the expedition set out to the northeast on March 28, guided by the Frenchman and the Indian from the mission of Father Massanet. The following day they came to a ranchería of Hapes, Jumanes, Mescales, and Xiaba Indians, who manifested great joy at seeing their old friend the Frenchman. They sat him on buffalo robes and showed him many signs of affection. De León distributed to them cotton garments, blankets, beads, rosaries, knives, and arms, and ordered five beeves to be killed for them. A count of the ranchería revealed there were four hundred and ninety persons in all. Amidst the rejoicings and good feeling that prevailed, there was a ghastly sight to remind the Spaniards of the fierce nature of their friends. "In front of the hut," where the Frenchman was feasted, says the chronicler, "was driven a stake four varas high, on which were fastened sixteen heads of Indians, their enemies, whom they had killed." [West, "Itinerary," in op. cit., VIII, 205. There is a copy of this Derrotero in San Francisco El Grande Archive, Vol. X].

But the Spaniards were fortunate in securing a trustworthy guide in this ranchería. This was an Indian of the Quems tribe, called QuenCoquio, who lived near the Rio Grande. According to his own story, his wife had been captured some time before and carried away by enemy Indians while he was absent from home. When he learned of this, he had gone out to look for her and had come accidentally upon the French settlement, where he spent four or five days. Finding no news of her, he had-returned to the Rio Grande, gone to the Mission of Caldera, and told Father Massanet what had happened to him. Little importance was given to the story at that time, but when Alonso de León organized his expedition, Father Massanet recalled what had been told him and recommended that when the Rio Grande was reached a lookout for the Quems Indian should be kept. It seems that while in the ranchería described, he came and offered to lead the expedition to the French settlement, declaring that the other white men like the Spaniards lived in six or seven houses and that they had women and children with them. [Historia de Nuevo León (Garcia, Dacumentos, XXV, 323-324) ; Cf. Casis, Carta, in Bolton, off. cit., 358] sdct

Continuing their march in a general northeastern direction they arrived on the Rio Grande on April 1, after traveling about eighteen leagues. It has been suggested that they were at this time near San Juan Bautista, [Bolton, op. cit., 390, note 2. San Juan Bautista was not founded until 1698], which would place them five or six miles below present Eagle Pass. It is more likely that they were about half way between present Laredo and Eagle Pass, because to reach the latter place, they would have had to travel a much longer distance and would have had to go due north instead of northeast. Furthermore, knowing the distance from the point where the expedition crossed the river to the first large stream which they called Nueces, we find that if they had crossed at San Juan Bautista, they would have come to this river sooner than they did. To go sixty miles from that place before passing over the Nueces the expedition would have had to go more to the north or to the south, neither of which is likely, because in either case, it would have lengthened the total distance to the Guadalupe. Consequently, it is probable that the expedition actually entered Texas about half way between Laredo and Eagle Pass, perhaps a little below present Guerrero. From this point, if we take a compass and set the distance traveled until April 4, when they came to the Nueces, after going twenty-three leagues, we will find that the point of intersection is in the neighborhood of present Cotulla, which lies east-northeast from the starting point indicated. It was somewhere in the vicinity of this area that De León must have crossed the Nueces. [Cf. Bolton, off. cit., 39o-39I ; West, "Itinerary," off. cit., 182. 336]

The march was continued, evidently more to the east, for a distance of seven leagues, or approximately twenty miles, until they came to another river, which, because of its clear waters, they called Sarco. This was present Rio Frio, which they must have crossed in the neighborhood of present Fowlerton, perhaps a mile or two west of this town. From here they continued their march to the north, inclining somewhat to the east for a distance of about fifteen miles before they came to another stream, which had high banks, for which reason they called it Rio Hondo. This could have been no other than San Miguel Creek, as this is the first stream of any size at that distance from the neighborhood of Fowlerton. They followed its course for four leagues along the south bank, going "sometimes east and others southeast." This fits the actual direction followed by the stream. Crossing it before they came to Three Rivers, they kept generally to the east for a distance of twenty-five leagues, or approximately seventy miles before they came to another large river which they named Medina. This appears to have been not the present Medina, but the San Antonio River, which they crossed probably a mile or two southwest of present day Runge. Continuing their march to the northeast, they reached another river, whose course was dry at first but which had water farther down. This they called Leóna because they found a dead lion in it. A careful study of the map seems to indicate that this stream was Coleto Creek, which appears to have been crossed in the vicinity of present Yorktown. From here the expedition went somewhat more to the south and after traveling twelve leagues, reached the Guadalupe in the vicinity of present Victoria. The river was named for the patron saint of the expedition, Our Lady of Guadalupe of Mexico, whose picture was painted on the royal standard borne by the troops.

The Guadalupe was reached on April 14.  The following day, the expedition found a ford and crossed this stream, but the rain prevented the men from going farther that day. At a consultation, it was decided to reconnoiter the country from here with sixty men, while the rest remained in camp. The guide had assured De León that they were now very near to the French settlement. Next morning, April 16, a High Mass was sung in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the protection bestowed upon the expedition. After the solemn ceremony of thanksgiving, Alonso de León set out with sixty picked men. After going a short distance, an Indian was captured, who declared that his ranchería was not far away and that there were four Frenchmen living there. With all haste the company made its way to the Indian village, only to find it deserted. A diligent search found the Indians hiding in a clump of trees nearby. When assured no harm would befall them, they came, bringing eight or ten dogs loaded with buffalo skins. The Indians said that the Frenchmen who had been living with them had left to visit the Tejas four days before. In the hope of overtaking them, De León and his men hastened to another village, which they reached that evening after going in a general northern direction all day. Here they were told that the four Frenchmen were gone to the Tejas; that the rest who had settled on the little sea (the bay) had all died, some of smallpox and the others at the hands of the Indians of the coast; that the colony had six houses; but that everything had been destroyed three months (moons) before. [West, "Itinerary," in Bolton, op. cit., 394-395].

By a strange coincidence, the details of the fate of La Salle's unfortunate colony now learned by León and his men had been told as accurately to Governor Pardinas at Parral, in Nueva Vizcaya, four days before by Sabeata and his companions. The search that had occupied the attention of Spanish officials for more than three years was nearing its goal. A consultation was held and it was decided that it would be best for the advance guard to return to the main camp and for the entire expedition to proceed together to reconnoiter the site of the settlement. Before going back, however, a letter was written in French by Alférez Francisco Martínez, addressed to the four strangers, explaining that the Indians had acquainted the Spaniards with the fate of the colony and that the expedition would wait for them at the site of the old settlement. Alonso de León signed the missive, to which Father Massanet added a postscript in Latin in case one of the survivors were a priest. The message was then given to an Indian, together with some blank paper for an answer, and sent to the country of the Tejas.

Discovery of La Salle's colony. On April 21 the expedition, which had become reunited, abandoned their camp on the Guadalupe and set out to find the French colony. They traveled about eight leagues to the northeast before they came to a stream of good water, Garcitas Creek. The Indian guide told them that on the bank of this stream they would find the settlement. Evidently they struck the creek much higher than the place where the fort was, because on the next day, April 22, after marching three leagues down the bank of the stream they came at last to the deserted and silent settlement. It was a gruesome and appalling sight that met their eyes.

"We . . . found all the houses sacked, all the chests, bottle-cases, and all the rest of the settlers' furniture broken; apparently more than two hundred books, torn apart and with the rotten leaves scattered through the patios-all in French . . . The perpetrators of this massacre had pulled everything [the colonists had out of their chests, and divided the booty among themselves . . . making a frightful sack of all the French possessed . . . We found three dead bodies scattered over the plain. One of these, from the dress that still clung to the bones, appeared to be that of a woman. We took the bodies up, chanted Mass with the bodies present, and buried them. The principal house of this settlement is in the form of a fort, made of ship's timber, with a second story, also made of ship's timber, and with a slope to turn off water. Next to it, without any partition, is another apartment, not so strong, which must have served as a chapel where Mass was said. The other five houses are of stakes, covered with mud inside and out; their roofs are covered with buffalo hides. All are quite useless for any defence. In and about the fort and the houses were eight pieces of artillery, iron, of medium bore - four or five pounders - and three very old swivels whose chambers were lacking. Some iron bars were also found, and some ship's nails, estimated as altogether about five hundredweight. Some of the guns were scattered over the ground and some were on their broken carriages. There were some casks with their heads knocked in and their contents spilled out, so that nothing was worth anything. Around the building was also some tackle, much the worse for wear. The settlement was on a beautiful level site, so as to be capable of defence in any event. On the frame of the principal door of the fort was inscribed the date of the settlement, which was 1684."

[West, op. cit., 399. For further details see Historia de Nuevo León, 327-33, where there is a drawing of the fort and of the inscription; Alonso de León to the Viceroy, May 16, 1689; Auto of De León, April 22, both in Auttos y Diligencias q se han Executado .4. G. l., fludiencia de Mexico, 61-6-20 (Dunn Transcripts; 1685-1689). For the best secondary account, see Dunn, Spanish and French Rivalry, 102-105. The sight moved one of the soldiers of De León to compose an elegy, lamenting the fate of the unfortunate intruders into the dominions of the king of Spain. This being the first elegy written on Texas soil, we translate roughly the first four lines: Sad and fateful site; Where only solitude doth reign Reduced to this sorry plight; Thy settlers efforts all proved vain]. sdct

Capture of L'Archevêque and Grollet. There was little left for Alonso de León to do. After remaining two days among the ruins of the French settlement, he decided to explore the Gulf coast. Taking thirty men and the Frenchman Jean Géry as guide, who appears now to have given signs of returning memory, they went to the bay, which was five miles below the fort. To this De León gave the name of Espiritu Santo, although the actual bay on which he stood is present Lavaca Bay. After a brief examination of the coast, he returned to his camp, where he found a reply to the letter sent to the survivors among the Tejas. The curious document was written with red ochre and was signed "Jean de l'archeveque de Bayonne," which made Father Garcia think that perhaps he was an archbishop. The letter declared that two of the men were tired of living among savages and wished to join the Spaniards. [Historia de Nuevo León, 334].

Without waiting for the two Frenchmen, De León broke camp on April 26 and going three leagues to the northeast, came to a large river which he explored and called the San Marcos. This was no doubt the Lavaca and not the Colorado as has been affirmed by some writers, since the latter is more than fifty miles beyond. From here the main body of the expedition was ordered back to the Guadalupe, while De León, accompanied by thirty soldiers, went on to the north to meet the two Frenchmen. Twenty-five leagues beyond, they came upon the two survivors, who were living in the camp of the head chief of the Tejas tribe. The two men proved to be Jean L'Archevêque and Jacques Grollet. The whole party now returned to the Guadalupe, accompanied by the Tejas chief. On May 1, the two Frenchmen were formally examined. They informed the Spaniards in detail of all the misfortunes that had befallen the little colony and explained how they had escaped the massacre by having been away from the settlement at the time of the attack. They declared that there were a few other survivors scattered among the Indians, but they disclaimed any knowledge of Jean Géry, who, they suggested, must have wandered down from the post on the Illinois. [Declarations of L'Archevêque and Grollet, in Auttos y Diligentias . . . in op. cit. These have been recently translated and published in English for the first time by Rev. Dr. W. J. O'Donnell, C. S. C. See "Documents-La Salle Occupation of Texas," Mid-America, Vol. 18, 96-125].

The Tejas chief asks for missionaries. But the object of all attention in camp was the chief of the Tejas tribe. Father Massanet marveled at the understanding and natural virtues of this untutored child of the forest. He had a strange familiarity with the Christian religion, he had an idea of a Supreme Being, and he pointed to the sky whenever the word God was said. He had brought with him a portable altar, adorned with the figures of four saints, a cross with a Christ painted on it and many other religious emblems. More amazing still, he caused a light to be kept burning before this sanctuary night and day. No wonder that Father Massanet concluded that his tribe must have been the Titlas visited by Mother María de Agreda. This suspicion was confirmed by the chief himself who frankly admitted, upon being questioned by the good Padre, that he had never seen the Woman in Blue, but that his ancestors and some of the very old men remembered the visitations of a woman, who wore a habit similar to that of the Padre, and a blue cloak. He expressed a desire to visit the viceroy and asked that a guide be left behind to lead some of his kinsmen to Mexico. He said that he wanted missionaries to come to live among his people and teach them. Alonso de León promised the old chief he would inform the viceroy of his wish and Father Massanet gave him warm assurances that he would soon return to instruct his people in the true faith.

Return to Coahuila. Three days later, on May 4, the expedition took leave of the Tejas chief and started its journey back to Coahuila. When the expedition reached the Nueces River, De León hastened forward with a few of his men in order to make a report to the viceroy as soon as possible. On May 16, he sent a detailed account to the viceroy with the diary of the expedition, a map, and the two French prisoners L'Archevêque and Grollet, under the custody of Captain Francisco Martínez. Upon their arrival in the capital, the two survivors were again examined by the viceroy, who learned from them on June 10, the fate of the unfortunate colony. At last the mystery of the French settlement was solved. Pez and Barroto, who were in Mexico at this time and heard the declarations, definitely identified the bay described by the prisoners and named Espíritu Santo by De León, as the one called St. Louis by La Salle and San Bernardo by the various maritime expeditions that had explored it on several occasions. Viceregal authorities were convinced at last of the ultimate fate of the French venture, but although this no longer represented a menace to the interests of Spain, it was decided that to prevent future incursions in this remote area, it would be well to take steps to occupy it formally. This decision was to result in the establishment of the first missions in East Texas, the immediate occasion for the move being the request of the Tejas chief for missionaries. sdct

[Many interesting details concerning this first visit to the country of the Tejas and the fate of La Salle's colony are disclosed in the detailed accounts found in the expediente entitled Autos y Diligencias q se an Executado pr. el Capn. Alonso de León . . . A. G. I. Audiencia de México, 61-6-20 (Dunn Transcripts, 1685-1689). L'Archevêque and Grollet were taken to Spain a few months later by Captain Pez, where they were confined in prison in Cádiz until the summer of 1692. This year they were permitted to return to New Spain at their request. Dunn, Spanish and French. Rivalry, 108, note 45]


Domingo Terán de los Ríos 1691

Crossing the Guadalupe, Navidad and Lavaca

Domingo Terán de los Ríos was the first governor of Texas as a Spanish province.   Terán de los Ríos had served Spain for twenty years in Peru and came to Mexico in 1681.  He was later governor of Sonora and Sinaloa for five years and successful in developing mines and pacifying natives. Terán's instructions for Texas were to establish missions among the Tejas natives, search for foreign intrusions on the coast, and investigate the area's landscape, people and resources. Terán departed Monclova on 16 May 1691.  He named (in most cases renamed) the Texas rivers as they crossed them going east.  The party eventually reached the east Texas mission of San Francisco de los Tejas which the governor renamed Nuevo Reyno de la Montaña de Santander y Santillana.   After a trying trip exposed to the worst of the east Texas frontier in terms of changing weather and terrain.  The party returned to Matagorda Bay on 5 Mar 1692 to meet the ships of Capt. Juan Enríquez Barroto.  Terán's overland expedition which traversed part of the future DeWitt Colony is generally considered unproductive by historians, his report to superiors described a dismal situation in East Texas.  sdct


Map New Spain 1718From The French Thorn.  Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea 1682-1762 by Robert Weddle, 1991.  Terán, with Francisco y Martínez as his second in command, began his march from Monclova on May 16, 1691. The young French captive Pierre Meunier, who had assisted the missionaries with the Hasinai idiom in the founding of San Francisco de los Tejas the previous year, went along as interpreters Additionally, there were fifty soldiers, ten priests, and three lay brothers, the religious group headed by Father Massanet. There were more than a thousand horses---some of them to be divided among the missions and herds of cattle, sheep, and goats to aid the new foundations.   The instructions specified that the ships would arrive at Espiritu Santo Bay (San Bernardo or Matagorda) toward the end of April. Terán was to arrange for Martínez, with twenty soldiers, to be within sight of the bay when they arrived. Terán's departure was delayed; the slowness of communications between Coahuila and Mexico City and Veracruz made close coordination impossible. The resulting snafu should have come as no surprise.   Crossing the Rio Grande at Leon's Paso de Francia, Terán followed the same trail as far as the Rio Hondo (the Frio River), encountering various Coahuiltecan bands along the streams.  He then turned northeast to seek a more direct route to the new mission. On June 3, the feast day of Saint Anthony of Padua, the expedition paused at a pretty little river, where peaceful Payaya Indians were encamped among pleasant groves of cypress and oak. In a flash of prophecy, the governor viewed them as subjects of missions to be established first on the Rio Grande, then at this location, where the city of San Antonio now stands.  Reaching the Guadalupe River below present New Braunfels, the travelers encountered mounted Indians---estimated at two thousand---with curious Apache saddles, said to be the spoils of war. They were principally Jumano and Cibolo, led by the same Juan Sabeata who had taken news of the Fort Saint-Louis massacre to Chihuahua in 1689.  The wanderers now carried news from the missionaries at San Francisco de los Tejas, not all of it good: an epidemic was raging, and Father Miguel de Fontcuberta had died of a fever the previous winter. Massanet's apostolic eye noticed that many of the natives wore saints' images and crucifixes; yet the religious tokens did not place them above suspicion when the horses stampeded the next night with a loss of fifty. At the Colorado River somewhat below present Austin, Terán directed the march downstream for two days and then camped beneath towering pecan trees from July 3 to July 19. During that time Francisco Martínez took twenty soldiers and "Pedro el Frances"---Pierre Meunier, who proved useful as an interpreter of Karankawan dialects as well as Hasinai---to look for the other French children and the ships supposed to have landed at Matagorda Bay. The company drove 56 pack mules and 250 horses for mounting Salinas Varona's soldiers.   On the second day the soldiers left the Colorado above present-day Columbus to follow Indian guides through open woods to a creek called San Laureano---the upper Navidad River. On July 6, they reached the Lavaca, which Martínez identified, on Meunier's authority, as the stream the French called Riviere-aux-Cannes. After reaching the Arroyo de los Franceses---Garcitas Creek---Meunier extracted from an Indian the news that no ship had been seen on the bay.  Tramping out the bay area, Martínez found no sign of either a ship or a recent visit by Spaniards---at Fort Saint-Louis, the head of Lavaca Bay, or along the western shore. Indians fled at the Spaniards' approach, until they neared the place where Leon had captured three of the French children the previous year. Meunier, in the Karankawan tongue, was able to persuade a group to approach him. The natives had seen no ship at the bay since one laded with corn and flour had wrecked at the pass "five moons" previously. But they promised to make inquiry about the remaining French children. During the next two days Jean-Baptiste Talon and Eustache Breman were ransomed separately with horses and tobacco. Despairing of the ships, Martínez left with the Indians letters to be delivered to Enriquez Barroto and set march for Terán's camp. That same day Enriquez Barroto's frigate and the sloop approached Pass Cavallo, too late.   sdct

Martínez, on returning to the main camp, sought permission to make a second journey to the bay immediately, a request that precipitated a row between the governor and the missionaries. While Terán favored sending him back to wait for the ships, he yielded to the friars and proceeded toward San Francisco de los Tejas. Traveling north by northeast, the Spaniards passed among great herds of buffalo, then through woods where they were assaulted by ticks and chiggers. The march seems to have been a little off the later course of the Camino Real, which Terán is credited with marking. The travelers found the river "so low it could be crossed on foot without getting wet" and "more salty than the sea."  All along the way the vast herd of sheep and goats being conducted to the new missions presented problems. Having been carried across the rising Rio Grande on the soldiers' saddles, they now demanded frequent layovers to rest. After the Trinity crossing, northeast of present Madisonville, the impatient missionaries took "French leave" and hastened on toward San Francisco.  Terán inched forward with the livestock along a narrow trail closed in by tall pines and hardwoods. Nearing the Tejas village and the mission, near present-day Augusta, Houston County, he could find no clearing large enough to accommodate his camp. He nevertheless settled in for twenty days, during which time he delivered the livestock to the mission and placed the baton of authority in the hands of the native governor "in recognition of his obedience and his inclination toward the Christian religion and the Catholic faith and as a token of royal protection."  Although a second mission, Santísimo Nombre de María, had been founded (on the Neches River five miles east of the first), the natives' response to the missionaries seemed negative. Terán, suffering disillusionment, was anxious for the safe arrival of the supplies and reinforcements that were to have come by ship. After receiving emissaries from the Kadohadacho (Cadodacho) and Natchitoches Indians seeking friendship with the Spaniards, the troop departed in August 24 for Matagorda Bay.   Now free of the small livestock, Terán encountered a different encumbrance. Since leaving Coahuila, the expedition had experienced severe drought; the horses had become too weak to travel. The soldiers rode mules and left the horses to follow at their own pace. West of the Brazos, the country was grazed bare by vast herds of buffalo. Following Leon's old trail, Terán complained of its crookedness; it led to Leon's former camp on the Guadalupe before bending back to Fort Saint-Louis. Doubtful of finding the vessels, the governor already was framing his excuse for withdrawing to New Spain:

Nearing the fort on September 8, however, he met Salinas Varona's scouts. Salinas himself was encamped with the rest of his troop on the Arroyo de los Franceses, where they had dug an entrenchment since arriving with the ships on July 12, the day of Martínez's departure.  The rest of Terán's diary entry for the day constitutes a harangue against Martínez for having failed to find the ships. He seems to have forgotten the circumstances.  The governor's real irritant was the new order delivered by Salinas Varona: reinforced by Salinas's troop, Terán was to carry out the exploration of the rivers in search of a water route to the new missions. To support this effort, the supplies from the ships were brought to his camp at Fort Saint-Louis, and the vessels made sail for Veracruz to bring more. On September 27, 1692, Terán and Salinas set march for Mission San Francisco.

[On the trek to the east Texas missions the party of Terán and Verona experienced continuous adversity, the worst of changing Texas weather, drought, ice storms, snow, flooding that embittered both Terán and Salinas Varonas on the region and probability of its development.  The group explored the Sulphur and Red Rivers as far as current MillerCo, AR, the Caddo Lake area and the Neches River.  A flood in Jan 1692 destroyed Mission Santísimo Nombre de María on the Neches while they were in the area.  Referring to the area, Terán wrote "no rational person has ever seen a worse one."  On the return west at the Brazos River, the party met Captain Francisco de Benavides who had brought supplies from Nuevo León.  The combined group returned to the coast on Matagorda Bay on March 5 where ships under Capt. Enriquez Barrato were waiting which Terán and Salinas Varonas boarded while Martínez and the troops returned by land to Coahuila.  The ships continued on a largely unproductive mission to explore the Mississippi and destroy any settlements established by the French up the river and then on to explore inland routes from Mobile and Pensacola.  Salinas who later became governor of Coahuila recommended abandonment of east Texas as a site for viable missions describing it as the worst possible site for survival both in respect to the local resources, New Spanish supply lines, and the attitudes of natives.  He recommended they be established in more favorable sites west of the Brazos (Río de Espíritu Santo) or Colorado River (then Río de San Marcos) in closer touch with Matagorda Bay (Bahía de Espíritu Santo) and naval supply lines moving from Vera Cruz to Havana.  He had noted the fertile soil, convenient water sources and nearby supply of timber that would sustain agriculture and shelter as well as the abundant buffalo and other wild game there and further west.  Salinas pointed out that this would support the indigenous populations and also proposed to colonize the area with both Spanish and Tlaxcaltecan families.  Although these recommendations were not implemented, ironically they are the ones that were implemented with success in respect to the colonization idea and the area which became the Austin and DeWitt colonies of Mexican Texas over 100 years later.--WLM sdct]

In spring 1693 Governor Salinas marched again across Texas along what was becoming to be defined as the historic Camino Real in response to the serious plight of the east Texas missions.  On the return trip, he described a hostile encounter on the Guadalupe River, "perhaps Peach Creek, between Gonzales and Hochheim" suggested by author Robert Weddle, with about a hundred Muruam archers in a wooded area.  They demanded to know if the visitors intended to pass again through the area and Salinas' party escaped with minor losses.  In October 1693, the east Texas missions under Father Massanet were abandoned except for a few deserters who remained.  Twenty years later the effort was revived against the advice of Governor Salinas.


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