Entradas and Royal Inspection Expeditions
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The Expedition of Marqués de Rubí, Cayetano María Pignatelli Rubí Corbera y Saint Climent, Barón de Llinas into Texas was part of moves by King Carlos III to solve changing problems in New Spain by sending both the Marqués de Rubí, but also Juan de Villalba and José de Gálvez. Rubís mission was to inspect the northern frontier and make recommendations for reform to meet defensive needs. Two diaries were kept of the expedition, one by Rubí and one by Engineer Lafora. The following is the section from Rubís diary (Itinerario in archives of The Center for American History, University of Texas, Austin, TX) in which the party crossed the future DeWitt Colony area to La Bahía. Afterwards the party continued from La Bahía to the Rio Grande River and Saltillo and Monterrey. (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).
From San Antonio on the way to Los Adaes (East Texas) August 25-31 1767
August 25. Heading: primarily to the east-southeast, but with many variations in the second quadrant. We marched 12 leagues toward Presidio de los Adaes, having crossed the San Antonio River at the beginning. This river has its origin at a spring less than 4 leagues from the presidio. With the river to the right, we continued [downstream] along its bank for some distance. We saw all of the missions: San Antonio, Concepcion, San Joseph, San Juan, and San Francisco de la Espada, which are located along the [river] margin and have abundant [irrigation] dams and farms. They grow all sorts of livestock, which is much pursued by the pagan Indians. At one league from the last [mission of Espadal and 6 from the presidio, we crossed the Arroyo del Salado. It joins the San Antonio River, and contained some standing water. We moved over continuous, gentle hills that could easily be climbed at a gallop, through terrain covered with many herbs, brush, and mesquites, arriving at the [camping] place on the Arroyo de las Calaveras [current Calaveras Creek which joins Eagle Creek in WilsonCo]. Here the road that goes south to the ranches of this presidio separates off, turning south. Its creek bed runs through the deepest of ravines containing limitless tall trees of various types. We continued the march for 3 leagues through sandy soil sustaining a great abundance of trees, among which were many pecans, live oaks, elms, blackberry bushes, and others. Continuing through hills as described before, we returned to the San Antonio River, now united with the Medina. We camped in the place named Los Chayopines on the river bank [near current Floresville in WilsonCo]. -12 leagues
August 26 Heading: east-southeast. We traveled 15 leagues, leaving the San Antonio River far behind. The scenery was not notably different from yesterday's. At 6 leagues we came to a large pond named [Charco] de Marcelino, and 4 leagues later we reached the Rio de Cibolo, which has a medium volume. Along its bank, we found several small ranches; some were farms and others raised cattle and horses. These belong to residents of San Antonio, to which river the Cibolo joins after flowing through Rancho San Bartolome. We forded it [the Cibolo] and marched another 5 leagues through gentle hills covered with trees and filled with numerous deer and wild turkey, seen these past two days. We arrived at the Arroyo de Cleto [current Ecleto Creek in KarnesCo], which has a deep channel, and camped on its bank. -15 leagues sdct
August 27. Heading: northeast. Through constantly gentle hills, like those previously described, the terrain being no more difficult and with few groves of trees, we traveled 14 leagues. About halfway, we found three streams that join each other at a short distance, [where it is] named El Cuchillo [probably current Coleto Creek in DeWittCo, a northern fork near Yorktown]. At the end of our march we forded the Guadalupe River, now united with the Alarcón, discussed on the 7th of this month.
[According to Laforas diary, Vado del Gobernador , some interpretations say near current Cuero, others say the crossing at Hochheim. The same ford is thought to have been used by Alonso De León in 1689 and 1690 and Alarcón in 1718. On Oct 28, on the return trip from east Texas, the group passed the same point]
The river's deep channel was so boxed-in and confined that its currents reached as high as the horses' saddles. Its entire banks are covered with thick stands of various types of good wood for construction, and we camped there. -14 leagues This river runs from north-northwest to south-southeast until reaching the sea. With the bank of the river to our right, we left [behind] the road that goes to the Presidio of La Bahía del Espíritu Santo.
[At this juncture, the party follows an old Indian trade route followed by Alonso De León in 1689-90 and Gregoria de Salinas Verona in 1693 heading northeast across the future DeWitt Colony to the Colorado River near LaGrange. On these two days the party crossed the heart of the future DeWitt Colony and its streams. The Lafora diary mentions streams named El Cuero, Rosal, Padre Campa, Ramitos and San Estevan. Their path essentially follows current Highway 77Alt to Yoakum, Highway 95 to Shiner, Moulton and Flatonia and Highway 609 to La Grange. Estimated from the Lafora entries, Cuero Creek was 10 miles east of the Guadalupe, El Rosal was 15 miles beyond the point on the La Bahía Road and Padre Campa 2 miles more]
August 28. Heading: north-northeast. We marched 14 leagues through the same kind of hills and frequent vales, through which various creeks ran. The terrain had more pasture and fewer trees. We only saw some slight hills in the vicinity of the creeks whose names, consecutively, [are known] by means of the regular stopping places of the mule trains: El Rosal, La Mota del Padre Campa, Los Ramitos, and San Estevan, where we camped. -14 leagues During all of the past days and on this one, the herds of deer and flocks of wild turkey we passed along the way were innumerable.
August 29. Heading: north-northeast until halfway through the day's journey, then to the northeast. We traveled through 18 leagues of hills, vales, and many pastures like those before, passing the regular stopping places of the mule trains named El Breviario, La Navidad, and Los Cedritos, all of which have in their vales some water standing in pools but become filled with water during rains. We found others [creeks] along the way that had no known names, and some forests of live oak and pecan crossed the road to form, at intervals, extended valleys which gave it [the road] an attractive view. This was especially [true with] the floodplain of the Colorado River, which has the densest forests of the tallest live oaks, pecans, and cottonwoods all interwoven with wild grapevines and making a continuous shade. The Colorado River runs from north-northwest to the south-southeast at the place where we forded it. The Guadalupe flows in the same direction as the Colorado, and [the latter] is joined by the Florido, San Saba, and [river] of the Janes [Indians]. We made camp, away from the grove of trees in order to escape the infestation of loathsome vermin there. -18 leagues
August 30. Heading: north-northeast, with some deviations to the northeast. We traveled12 leagues through the same kinds of hills, vales, and hillocks covered with trees as previously noted. We passed the regular mule train stopping places, which are the aguajes (waterholes) of Azucar, Piltonte, Soledad, and Juana Rosa. At this last place the road forks, with one branch going east to the Presidio del Orcoquizi. On the bank of this same creek, we saw an abandoned encampment of Jaraname Indians, who were hunting for meat in the area. We traveled another 3 leagues to the Arroyo de Bernabe and camped on its bank. --12 leagues
August 31. Heading: north-northeast. We went 13 leagues through continuous woods, with some clearings. We passed the waterholes of Las Cruzes, arroyo of Don Carlos, woods of Quita-Calzones, whose floor is very boggy, and the [woods] of Mesquite, where we found little water. At a short distance, we found-another dry arroyo named La Plazeta, where we camped, bringing water from the previous creek. -13 leagues
Today we gathered very tasty plums and fruit of the persimmon tree. I note, as in previous days, the long hay known in the country as pastle (Spanish moss), which the animals eat because grass is scarce.
[At this point from the east side of the Colorado River, the party traveled north east to the east Texas missions and presidios at Nacogdoches, Los Adaes and Nathitoches. From Nacogdoches they traveled south to Orcoquisac (current Wallisville) and then proceeded northwest across the Brazos and Colorado River at La Grange where they proceeded southwest back into the future DeWitt Colony] sdct
October 16. With the inspection of the presidio [at Orcoquiza] completed, we left for that of Bahía del Espíritu Santo, passing by the lagoon named El Muelle. It joins the Trinidad River, and they flow united to the sea. The river flows to the south, and it should be a little less than 6 leagues [to the coast]. To date, where it empties into the sea is unexplored, and entering it [by boat] is not feasible because of a sandbar formed by the river's inundations. We crossed this river [Trinity] by canoe, during which the baggage and mules caused us no small difficulties. With an expectation of three days, we traveled along [up] the same river, which makes a great turn from the south toward the northwest. We crossed a plain called Puente, having many swamps and bogs, and then we crossed another that had been formed by Cayo Creek, which is a branch of the Trinidad. Climbing a small hill, we marched always to the northwest through a small forest of live oaks. At 4 leagues from the outset, we crossed Carrizo Creek and a much more meager plain by this same name, where we camped. Because of the problem we had crossing the river, we traveled only 5 leagues. -5 leagues
October 17. Heading: west-northwest. We began to move across the difficult plain or low land of Caramanchel, whose bogs make it impassable most of the year. We encountered parts of the boggy land, with frequent lagoons, throughout its length Of 7 leagues, during which we crossed the creek by this same name [Caramanchel], which permitted us to ford it. Following another mucky-clay plain like the preceding one or a little more than a league, we entered the forest that runs down the entire bank to the San Jacinto River, an obstacle that required rafts to cross. We camped on its south bank, where there was an intolerable plague of mosquitoes. -8 leagues
October 18. Heading: west, with several course changes toward the third and fourth quadrant. We went 9 leagues, crossing in the first 3 the thick forest of the San Jacinto River, full of marshes and bogs. Coming out at the head of these, we entered into some clearings or low lands of great capacity, though [this advantage was] negated by an insufferable plague of mosquitoes. Having passed through them [the clearings] a distance Of 4 leagues, we crossed by bridge the deep Arroyo del Gallo, which gives its name to the last plain. After two more forests and clearings within the stands of live oaks, oaks, castafios, and pines like the preceding ones-with less marshes-we arrived at the Arroyo de los Sabinos. The Sabinos flows from south to north, joining later with the Arroyo de la Rifa. Then the river's [direction] changes from north to south, and it becomes the river of the San Jacinto that we crossed yesterday. The flooded creek required that we unload the baggage, which was passed across by hand [like a waterbucket brigade] using a large tree that crossed the creek as a bridge. For this reason we camped on the west bank of the creek. -9 leagues [The party traveled almost due west across central Harris and Waller counties fording the San Jacinto northeast of Houston]
October 19. Heading: west, a quarter northwest. We traveled 13 leagues across level land, crossing the spacious [vale of] Rifa, which extends for 5 leagues, almost circularly, and terminates in the creek with the same name in a small wooded area. [The woods] divide another plain Of 3 leagues, named Santa Rosa, which has a creek at its exit. After these woods we encountered the plain of Los Primeros Pinos, [so named] because of a strip of these trees that cannot be seen until arriving at this place, which is 3 leagues from the last one, and has some standing water. In another 2 leagues we arrived at the San Ysidro, Creek, with the Magdalena Creek to our right. We camped near the former stream. -13 leagues
October 20. Heading: west. Through a plain so extended that it was almost lost to view, we traveled 6 long leagues. Toward the end we reached the creek and spring named Santa Magdalena. It takes a turn around the entire plain [before] coming to this place, which was proposed as the location for the Presidio de Orcoquizi. A small wood follows, going through another plain of brief extension. There, as has been the case all along this route, we saw bear and deer and killed some of them. Entering the thick forest that precedes the Brazos River, we found it to be supremely mucky and troublesome because of the palisade of trees and bogs, and we were forced to make a bridge. Having gone another 3 leagues, we came to the bank of this river that flows in one, united branch at this point, and toward the south. We were able to ford, but with some difficulty because of its great width, rapid current, and irregular, rocky bottom. The river forded, we proceeded through the same forest for the space of a league, seeing infinite clay deposits and marshes wider and deeper than the same river, to which they are connected. We continued for 2 leagues through the clay plain or marsh which is a continuous swamp, the most difficult and boggy of any along this route. We camped on a hill named La Viperina, because of the abundance of this herb, next to a clump of live oaks, having arrived at night behind the livestock after indescribable hardship. ---12 leagues
October 21. Heading: west-northwest. We marched 8 leagues through terrain more elevated and sandy with small hills and creeks that carried some water, forming bogs. The land was open and without obstacles, with some clumps or strips of live oaks and other oaks separated by clearings. We found at the distance of 2, 1, and 5 leagues [respectively] the places or creeks [named] La Caxa, San Sebastin, and La Zorrilla. We made camp on the latter stream, even though it was short of water for the horses. They were so fatigued from the two previous days Of laborious travel, that we stopped and camped. -8 leagues
October 22. Heading: west-southwest. It was raining when we awakened and it continued until noon, which made the march very difficult through the bogs and mud. We went through the woods of La Zorrilla that extend about 3 leagues to the place named El Tapestle. From there we crossed in succession, about a league apart, the plains and creeks of Pefiitas and San Bernab6 with some groves of live oaks and oaks in the vicinity. After these, we crossed other spacious plains with frequent bogs, and we could discern the woods [extending] far into the distance to where they join the Adaes Road, a little more than a league before the creek and place of Juana Rosa, the same that we crossed and mentioned on August 30 of the same year, page 63. We camped there, having gone 10 leagues. --10 leagues [Brazos River east of Bellville, AustinCo]
October 23. We marched 9 leagues to the bank of the Colorado River. We could not ford because it was flooding, which made it necessary for us to camp at this place. We were here on the 29th of last August, when we also saw and killed the guajolotes or wild turkeys. --9 leagues
October 24 and 25. We remained in camp while trying to salvage a canoe submerged in the water that we had noticed when we were heading toward Adaes. With indescribable labor and no small risk we transported all the baggage and the personnel to the other side. The horses had to swim across and six head drowned. sdct
October 26. With the [high] water continuing, we finished crossing the river and traveled to the place named El Breviario, a distance of about 13 leagues. The terrain here was described on the 29th of the past August. Because of the continuing rains and the necessity of some soldiers getting soaked during the river crossing, the majority of the escort and some of my familiares (family or close friends) began to get sick with fevers. -13 leagues
October 27. We traveled 11 leagues to El Rosal, the place described last August 28. There we received a relief shipment of food supplies from the Presidio of La Bahía that we had requested because of the scarcity of supplies we had for this march when we left the Presidio del Orcoquizi. Flooding on the Guadalupe River delayed its arrival until today. -11 leagues
October 28. We traveled 8 leagues across the same terrain and places as last August 28 to the ford named Gobernador, where we had taken shelter on the cited day. As it [the Guadalupe] was totally impassable at this place, we continued the march downriver, where the river makes a great, almost circular turn to the bend named El Pielago, another ford that was also impassable. Continuing down the bank, toward the southeast, about 2 leagues from the Paso del Gobernador, we camped and began to cross the river in a canoe and rafts made of hides, having traveled a total of 10 leagues. -10 leagues [This was the same point described above on August 27/28 on the outbound trip, from Lafora it is estimated they were 25-30 miles from the ford presumably at Hochheim, el Pielago means a large pond or lagoon]
October 29. The obstacles presented by trying to cross the river detained us today. Because of the narrowness and the insecurity of the canoe that we found, it was necessary to make another from a thicker tree trunk to transport the baggage and persons. And [it was necessary] to search for a better place for the horses [to ford], which was found a long way downriver.
October 30. We finally finished crossing the river. Continuing our march for a short distance, we took the Presidio Road toward the south. The land was sandy and had frequent creeks an equal distance from each other, their names being Las Rositas de San Juan, El Sauquillo, Las Mojarritas, El Bagre, Las Cruces, and El Perdido. Flowing to [from] the west, [the creeks] all combine to form the large Arroyo de las Animas, which, merging with the Guadalupe River, goes to empty into the sea. The disemboguement, located above Espíritu Santo Bay and a little below the cited Arroyo del Perdido, is in a clump of oaks, some of which some can be seen from this road. We camped a short distance from the Presidio de la Bahía, having gone 10 leagues. -10 leagues [
October 31. Heading: -south, a quarter west. We marched 4 leagues, crossing in the first one, the Pequeño Bosque and La Monahuilla Creek, which unites with others until, forming one large stream named Sal-Si-Puedes, it empties into the sea. We then marched about 3 leagues across well-pastured, boggy, and marshy terrain, covered with wild, roaming cattle attributed to Mission Rosario. We arrived at the San Antonio River. It is here united with the Medina, which joins it at the missions of the presidio and town of San Antonio de Bexar. It flows at the foot of the [Presidio] La Bahía del Espíritu Santo. There we stopped in order to conduct its inspection. -4 leagues sdct
The location of this presidio---free, unhampered, and commanding---is on a hill in which they have found a vein of stone that offers great advantage for construction, inconsistent with the misery of its inhabitants. The San Antonio and Medina River runs nearly east-west at the foot of this hill, and very close on the north side is the Mission Espíritu Santo, with some twenty-five families of Cocos, Cujanes, Carancaguazes, and Jaranames, possessing lands and livestock sufficient to supply all of Mexico City. Another [mission], Rosario, which like this one pertains to the Franciscan fathers of the College of Zacatecas, is located on the south side of the river to the west about 2 leagues away. Its possessions and property are less extensive and the number of its Indians is less certain, for they frequently desert and flee to the coast. They [the priests] go there to get them-or others, which is the same thing, for it is evident that the mission is composed mostly of pagans. The difficulty of drawing [irrigation] water from this river has [not] been to the increase of the population. Despite the advantages offered by this land for the raising of all kinds of livestock, people have been oppressed at the same time by the enormous extension [of lands] that the missionaries have taken, which reach to the boundaries of the pastures used for the King's horse herds. [The civil population] has not exceeded more than forty-six poor families, who are usually absent. To some extent Manuel Ramirez de la Piscina, the deceased presidio captain and perpetual lay brother of these missionaries, attempted to improve the [well-being of the] populace. This presidio pertains to the coastal climate, which makes it unhealthy and exposed to scurvy and severe scurvy.