Entradas and Royal Inspection Expeditions
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Pedro de Rivera y Villalón was designated by the King of Spain at the urging of the royal "auditor of war" Juan Manuel de Olivan Rebolledo and viceroy Juan de Acuña y Bejaraño, Marqués de Casafuerte to inspect the presidios and missions of the northern frontier of New Spain which included Nuevas Philipinas province of the Tejas Indians or Texas in 1727. His diary, Diario y Derrotero, was self-published in 1736 in Guatemala while he was governor and an original copy is in the Benson Latin American Center, University of Texas, Austin, TX. His party explored south from San Antonio into the future DeWitt Colony region which is described below. (Bracketed notes are in places based on those by Jack Jackson and William C. Foster in Imaginary Kingdom: Texas as Seen by the Rivera and Rubí Military Expeditions, 1727 and 1767, published 1995).
September 26 to December 23 1727
September 26. Having finished inspecting the [Adaes] presidio, began my return to the Presidio Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de los Texas, by way of the same road and campsites used in coming. We arrived there on October 5, having traveled 61 leagues. -61 leagues
October 11. I finished my inspection of the Texas presidio and departed for the Presidio San Antonio de Bejar, with no deviation in route or campsites. I arrived on October 31, having traveled 154 leagues. -154 league
November 1 and 2. I stayed to allow the horses to rest.
November 3. Heading: southeast. We left the Presidio de San Antonio enroute to Presidio de Nuestra Señora de Loreto y Bahia del Espiritu Santo. We traveled 9 leagues through flat terrain with sparse mesquite and oaks. At 4 leagues we crossed Salado Creek and went on to camp at an uninhabited place called El Aguila. -9 leagues [near current Eagle Creek which runs into the San Antonio River in WilsonCo] sdct
November 4. Heading: east, a quarter southeast. We proceeded 9 leagues through level land with woods of live oaks, oaks, walnuts, and mesquites. After crossing the Sibulo [Cibolo], we camped on the east of that stream. 9 leagues [WilsonCo east of Floresville]
November 5. Heading: east. We traveled 6 leagues through the same terrain and woods as yesterday. We stopped on the west side of the arroyo called Cleto, where water was found only in the deepest pools. -6 leagues [current Ecleto Creek in eastern WilsonCo]
November 6. Heading: southeast, a quarter east. We traveled 10 leagues through terrain with less brush and fewer trees, but with grass-covered hills. Camp was made on the west side of a Creek, El Mesquite. 10 leagues [believed a tributary of Sandies Creek in current GonzalesCo]
November 7. Heading: same. We traveled 11 leagues through country with no differences worthy of note. At 5 leagues we came to the Guadalupe River and followed its course on the west side to Robalo Creek, where we camped. -8 leagues [believed current Sandies Creek]
November 8. Heading: east-southeast. We proceeded 9 leagues through flat terrain with fertile plains subject to flooding. We went along the west side of the river for the first 3 leagues, before coming to a ford called Benitez. We crossed [the river] and continued along its east bank to the Presidio Nuestra Señora de Loreto y Bahia del Espiritu Santo, where I stopped. -11 leagues [south of current Cuero west of Nursery] Observing the sun, we found this presidio to be located at 28'10' north latitude and 277 degrees 15 minutes longitude. By my order, dated November 12, the above-mentioned Engineer Francisco Alvarez Barreyro [Barreiro] went out with a detachment consisting of twenty soldiers from this presidio and from [that of] San Antonio de Bejar. Their purpose was to reconnoiter the coast, ports, coves, lagoons, and terrain between this presidio and the Nechas River, in the Province of the Texas [Indians]. [the survey included the coastal region between the Guadalupe and Neches Rivers, the latter joins the Gulf near Port Arthur] sdct
November 27. With the inspection of this presidio finished, I returned to the San Antonio presidio by way of the same road and camping places. We arrived on December 2, after traveling 54 leagues. -54 leagues
December 12. Having completed the inspection of Presidio San Antonio, I journeyed toward Presidio San Juan Bautista of the Rio Grande del Norte, returning by the same road and campsites as before, without any change. We arrived on the 18th, having traveled 62 leagues. -62 leagues
December 23. The said engineer returned from his expedition [along the Texas coast], having traveled thirty-five days during his reconnaissance, exceeding what my order required of him. During that time he covered 363 leagues until his return to the Presidio of Nuestra Señora de Loreto y Bahia del Espiritu Santos plus more than 93 leagues between that presidio and this one [of San Juan Bautista]. Between Presidio de los Adaes and Presidio San Antonio, many members of my escort became ill. Several persons died, among them one of my servants, and we buried them along the roadside.
Rivera's Description of Texas
The description of the New Kingdom of Philipinas and Province of the Texas [Indians] is as follows. It is situated between 26 and 34 degrees latitude, going from the mouth of the Medina River where it enters the Gulf of Mexico [upriver] to the Lomeria de los Apaches (Apache Hills), which divides it along a heading to the north. It [the provincial boundary] goes up [east] from the Medina River between 274 and 286 longitude and terminates at the river San Andres de los Caudachos, which the French call the Rivera Roxo [Red River], the boundary with Louisiana, and which has been occupied by the French for a few years in those parts. The climate of this province is similar to that of Europe, because the cold is quite noticeable during the time of snows. The heat depends on the altitude, as the sun approaches the tropic [of Cancer], making it warmer in the summer near the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Corn, vegetables, and other crops can be grown everywhere in the province. Even without the benefit of irrigation the land demonstrates its fertility and utility to the pagan Indians who cultivate it. There are no mountain ranges or mountains-only a few hills that can be climbed on horseback at a gallop. All of the province has continuous Woods, which makes travel very difficult, though some clearings are to be found. Except for pines, oaks, and live oaks, it is covered with trees of unknown species and others that produce wild fruit. The Indians use this fruit for food, especially that of the nizperos tree which is like those of Spain. The [Indian] nations stockpile them for the winter, as well as nuts, of which there is a great abundance. Medicinal herbs useful for maintaining health are also found in the province. sdct
Many animals are found in the countryside, such as the bison (a species similar to cattle). There is an abundance of deer; bears, which provide lard to season food; and mice resembling baby rabbits, which serve as food for the pagans. As there are no other distinct species, I make no reference to them. Birds are plentiful, in particular the turkeys, which are found in flocks, and nocturnal birds called owls, with a song so mournful that it saddens those who hear it. In the rivers that flow through the province-noted in the diary along with their courses-are many types of fish. The catfish (bagre) is most important and among the largest. They serve as food for the Indians most of the year. There are no settlements in the province other than the three presidios-Adaes, Bahia, and San Antonio-and in the latter are two communities of Christian Indians from the Payaya, Mezquite, and Aguastaya nations, who number no more than 25, and are administered by missionary priests from Queretaro and Zacatecas.
All the nations of Indians who live in this vast country are pagans and the majority are nomads who continuously wander across the land. Their clothing is limited to buffalo or deer skins, which have no more adornment than the hides themselves possess. But you can distinguish one group from another by the way they wear their costumes. So that their names can be known, they will be put down here-those that I could remember and they are the following: Adaes, Aes, Aynays, Nacodoches, Nechas, Nozones, Nabidachos, Naconomes, Yojuanes, Anames, Ervipiames, Cusanes, Malleyes, Pampopas, Pastias, Cocos, Coapites, Copanes, Carancaguazes, Tacames, Aranames, Atastagonies, Pelones, Salinas, Parchinas, Annas, Pacaos, Pajalaft, Pitalac, and others I do not have at hand. The ecclesiastical government of the province pertains to the Bishophric of Guadalajara and, in temporal matters, to the Señor Viceroy. sdct