Entradas and Royal Inspection Expeditions
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THE SOLIS DIARY OF 1767
(Solis traveled from Mexico to the Texas missions of Rosario and La Bahía along the La Bahía Road. The party then traveled up the river to the San Antonio missions then returning to La Bahía he visited the East Texas missions. Father Solis reported on both the missions and the associated ranches. Bracketed notes in bold from the current editor, WLM)
This Diary was Written by the Reverend Padre Fray Jose de Solis During His Visitation of the Missions of the Province of Texas. The Visitation of These Missions was Undertaken in 1767 by Order of the Very Reverend Father Guardian, Fray Tomés Coriez, and the Venerable Council of the College of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe of the City of Xacatecas. In original form, it is in the public archives in Documentos para la Historia Ecclesiastica y Civil de la Provincia de Texas. It was translated to English by Rev. Peter P. Forrestal and published by the Texas Catholic Historical Society in 1931.
The Diary reads as follows:
I left the College of Guadalupe on November 15, 1767, and came to Vañon, a sheep ranch belonging to Don Mariano Canal. Here I remained until the 20th of the same month, procuring provisions and awaiting a companion, Brother Joseph Gómez, who was, coming with the supplies and the servants.
November 20. I arrived at the town of San Cosme, where I spent the festival days and remained until the 23rd. At San Cosme there are some springs or brackish water and a pond.
November 23. After having passed through Rosillo, where there is a draw-well belonging to the Vañon ranch, and Caña, a ranch on which there is also a small supply of water, I reached Tener. Here I found a pond containing rain water and a draw-well in which there was brackish water.
November 24. I passed through Burro and Durazno, but there was water in neither of these places. Later on I came to Salto, a sheep ranch where I found a draw-well with rather good water and also a pond.
November 25. I reached Agua Nueva, a horse and cattle farm, belonging to Doña Ildefonsa de Campacos. Here I saw a great number of men at work, hauling coal in ox-carts to Real de Masapil. Next I came to Arroyo Seco, a place so dry and arid that it was necessary to fetch drinking water from a distance of two leagues.
November 26. I reached Gruñidora, a sheep ranch which at one time belonged to the Jesuit Fathers. This place, which also supplies Masapil with coal has very poor water.
November 27. I passed Candelaria, one of the ranches belonging to the hacienda of Gruñidora, and here I came across a very small but good spring. Then I came to Puerto de Cedros. Here there is a small reservoir which is dry at certain seasons. My next stop was at Cedros where silver of very good quality was mined on an hacienda belonging to Don Juan Lucas de Lasaga. On this hacienda there are several foundries, one of which is run by water and four by treadmills. At this place, which has also a very good vineyard and a spring that produces plenty of water, I was invited to stop through the courtesy of its administrator, Don Joseph de Esparsa. As I was in need of provisions for the journey, I accepted the invitation, and partook of his hospitality until December 1. A large quantity of wine and brandy is produced here.
December 1. I set out again, and after leaving behind me San Joseph, which belongs to the hacienda of Cedros and is supplied with a reservoir, and Bonanza, where there are large silver mines belonging to the Marqueses de Patos [Aguayo], I came to Canutillo, a Bonanza ranch, on which the water is good, but not very plentiful.
December 2. I went through the Alcalados Pass and came to Santa Elona, a ranch beloning to the Marqueses de Patos. Here I found only a draw-well containing brackish water.
December 3. I passed El Puerto del Frayle, where there is no water of any kind, Tinajuela, where there is only rain water, and came to EI Puerto del Capulin, where I found a reservoir. After leaving behind me Agua Encantada, which has some good springs, I came within sight of Buena Vista, a farm belonging to the Marqueses de Patos. Here there is also plenty of drinkable water.
December 4. I arrived at Saltillo, a pleasant town with a large supply of good water. In this part of the country there are abundant crops or wheat, corn and other grains. I stayed here two days in order to rest and secure provisions. Due to its extensive vineyards and orchards, large quantities of wine and brandy are produced here.
December 6. I reached Molinos de San Antonio, a farm which its owner, lion Francisco Turundarena, inherited from Don Prudencio Basterra. This farm has a verv good orchard and vineyard, and produces wine and brandy.
December 7. Traveling over a rugged and stony country, I passed through Puerto Cabrito and later came to Puerto Carretas, not far from a rather shallow river. After this I crossed over the Almidón Hills and came to Mesillas, a ranch belonging to the Marqués de Turundarena. At this place there is a good vineyard, and both wine and brandy are produced here. As the eighth was the feast of the Immaculate Conception, I spent the day at Mesillas, where I said Mass and found shelter from the rain which was falling.
December 9. I went through Morterillos, crossed the Sierra Galana and passed the Anelo Divide, Barranquillas and San Nicolas before reaching La Popa, a large ranch on which I found plenty of good water.
December 10. Traveling through a very mountainous country, I passed El Puerto de la Popa, went through San Bernabe, Estaca and Huisache, before reaching Saos, where I came across a rather good spring.
December 11. I went through Pescadito, and later came to Boca de Tlaxcala, a place situated among craggy bills and lofty mountains. Here there is a canyon about two leagues in length, and at the beginning of the canyon there are fountains and abundant springs that farther on form a deep river. The river runs along the canyon, and in it there are shrimp, bagre [a species of catfish], trout, mojarras [small round fish about 6 inches in length], eels and other kinds of fish. In the middle of the canyon there is a volcano [probably the chimney of the García Cave at Villa García, not far from Monterrey], from which currents of air issue, and, after leaving it, about half a league down the river, one comes within sight of Hascala. In this town, which was formerly attended by the priests of Santa Cruz from Querétaro, there are silver mines, a great number of corn-fields and some wheat-fields. The Indian, of this mission grow peaches, quince and pears. I reached Boca de Leones, which is situated on the banks of the river below Hascala, and which has several silver, lead and grieta tremescuitate smelteries. The mission has several corn-fields, and raises horses, mules, cattle and a great number of goats. It has a hospice, which is taken care of by the College of Zacatecas, and there are living at this hospice a priest, who holds the office of president, a lay brother, who takes care of the cooking and two almoners. The mission church is very pretty, beautifully decorated and well supplied with vestments, sacred vessels, etc., and all the articles are kept in good condition. In the dwelling-quarters, which are arranged in convent style, there are a sufficient number of very decent cells, the necessary offices, a kitchen and a refectory. It is a curacy maintained by His Majesty, and there reside here the parish priest, all assistant pastor and other clerics. The church is kept in good condition. Because of the bad weather, I remained at this mission until February 1768, when I continued on my journey.
February 4. I left Boca de Leones, passed through Salitre, Guisache, and Golondrinas, and crossed some hills that contain a strata of Jam stone before reaching Carrizal, a sheep and goat ranch belonging to the Marqués de Turundarena. At this place, which is three leagues from the Candela mission of the Province of Coahuila, I found a good supply of fresh water.
February 5. I went through La Cruz Canyon, which is not far front the town of Santiago, and which is attended by the priests from the Candela mission. The Indians of the place are uncouth and wild; they go about naked and live on rats, dormice, rabbits, snakes and other wild animals found along the Catujanes plateau. This plateau is situated on the top of a high mountain, accessible from only one side, and is said to be twenty leagues in circumference. It has plenty of water, and is used by the fugitive Indians from the mission of Coahuila and Punta de Lampazos as a place of refuge. I passed La Presa and came to Punta de Lampazos. The latter town in which there are some Spaniards and mestizos, and which was formerly attended by priests from the College of Santa Cruz, has a large supply of good water. At present its spiritual needs are taken care of by a priest appointed by the Bishop or Guadalajara, and it has has an alcalde mayor, appointed by the Governor of Monterrey. This town has a neat and well-decorated church, its dwelling-quarters are adequate and its climate good. It is hemmed in by three mountains: the Boca de Leones, the Iguana and the Vallecillo del Talcotlote. These are the last mountains on the road leading north from Zacatecas to the Province of Texas. Because of the fact that a stiff norther was blowing and because I wished to say Mass on a feast that happended to fall on one of these days, I stopped there the 6th and 7th.
February 8. I passed through Los Pozos and through El Campanera, and came to Mesquite, all uninhabited place, where I found ponds containing water which was fit to drink.
February 9. I went through Los Magueyes and through El Corral del Indio, places likewise uninhabited, and came to the Salinas or Salado River, on whose banks is located San Ambrosio, a ranch belonging to the Marqués de Turundarena. The aforesaid river is very deep and contains a great quantity of fish of various kinds: piltontes [yellow catfish], pullones, bagres, trout, etc., and also shell-fish, such as catanes, abujas and shrimp. It also contained pearls although they are not so good as those gathered from the sea. Its banks are beautiful, pleasant and shady, and are covered with willows, sabines, mesquites and other tall and shady trees. Canoes are used to cross the river. Due to the fact that a cold norther began to blow, I stopped here the 10th, and heard the confessions of some men and women. In this place I found water that was not fit to drink.
February 11. I arrived at El Charco del Indio, all uninhabited place, where I followed rather good water, and many woods covered with palms, mesquites, huisaches, fluted cacti, tasajos, uñas de gato [catsclaw, a leguminous plant], ebonies and many chaparrals. In these woods there are a great number of wild horses, that run into the brush at the approach of human beings.
February 12. I passed through several woods in which I found some magueyes and also all the various kinds of trees I had seen on the previous day. The Carrizo Indians, who are half barbarous and uncivilized, inhabit these woods and live on maguey plants and on wild animals, such as snakes, dormice and rabbits. I entered the densest part of the woods and struck a path along which it is impossible to travel except in single file. After passing Loma Blanca I reached the Estacas ranch, on the banks of the Rio Grande del Norte. Along this river there are a great number of ranches belonging to the Carrizo Indians. The river is well supplied with fish, such as piltontes, pullones, bagres, etc., and its banks are rather beautiful. Here I baptized a Carrizo Indian baby that was dying. I christened him Manuel José and gave him to his godparents, the owners of the ranch, with instructions that they should educate him if he recovered. From the surrounding woods they brought me three Indians, a young man, probably between the ages of eighteen and twenty, and two girls, one about sixteen and the other about eighteen years of age. But, as they had not been instructed in our holy faith and had not studied the catechism, I did not baptize them, but sent them to the priest at Laredo, a town some ten leagues up the river, so that he might instruct and baptize them. At this place also I heard the confessions of several men and women. The water of the Rio Grande is drinkable.
February 13. I reached Dolores, a stock farm which belongs to Don Joseph Borrego, and which is situated on the banks of the Rio [Grande] del Norte. I crossed this river in an excellent sailboat, the property of the governor of Nuevo Santander del Seno Mexicano. The apostolic preacher, Fray Pedro Alderete, was waiting for me at Dolores, and I remained with him until the 16th. On Ash Wednesday a number of men and women went to confession and communion. I said Mass the three days I was here and distributed ashes to several persons. At this place I was met by Fray Francisco Sedano, procurator and conductor of the misiones internas of Texas. He came to greet me with an escort of eight soldiers, sent by Don Hugo O'Conor from the presidio of San Antonio de Béjar, and four Indians armed with guns, sent from San Joseph by the president of this mission, Fray Pedro Ramirez de Arellano. These soldiers were to serve as an escort, because the road which I was now to travel was infested by unfriendly Indians. From Zacatecas as far as the Rio Grande del Norte, a distance of some 227 leagues, I had traveled in a northerly direction. On my way I found many woods covered with gobernadoras, ebonies, palms, chaparrals, mesquites, huisaches, prickly-pears, magueyes, cacaos, biznagas [cactus family], tasajos, lechuguillas [species of agave], and many other thorny plants. In Popa de Leones and Tlaxcala I came across great herds of swine, an occasional deer, rabbits, squirrels, wolves, coyotes, sparrow-hawks, owls, crows, vultures, ospreys, several coveys of quail, parrakeets, macaws, and a great many mocking-birds and sparrows. In the woods between Boca de Leones and Punta de Lampazos I saw large flocks of tiguerilos, cardinals, pheasants, thrushes, sanates [bird resembling the magpie], turtledoves, calendar larks in large numbers, and many other birds with whose names I am not familiar. sdct
February 16. I reached El Charco del Rosario, traveling through a sandy and hilly country. Here I found water which was fairly good.
February 17. I continued my journey over the hills and sands until I came to a place somewhat densely covered with ever-green oaks, palms, prickly-pears, huisaches, mesquites and many uncultivated plants. In this part of the country the soil is very fertile. I traveled on for about three leagues and came to the Salado, in which I found drinkable water. This part of the country, as also those parts through which I had just passed, was uninhabited. The Apaches and Lipanes live to the north of the Salado.
February 18. Before arriving at San Casimiro, in which there are neither trees nor hills, I traveled through a rolling country, covered with small, fine stones, and over extensive plains, dotted, here and there, with chaparrals, mesquites and prickly-pears. In all these places I found rather good water. North of the Rio Grande there are a great number of enormous snakes. Before we had reached the end of the day's journey we ran into a bitter norther: rain, snow and a strong wind. Along the road there was no protection whatsoever from the inclement weather, and I was obliged to search for firewood.
February 19. I continued my journey, and through rain and snow made my way over rolling, bare hills. I passed by Retamita and came to San Joseph, which, though uninhabited, is protected by a grove of mesquites, huisaches and prickly-pears. I remained here until the 22nd, because the norther still raged so fiercely that, had I not ordered that braziers be lighted in our tent, I believe I would have perished from cold. I said Mass here, and during the Holy Sacrifice some huge fires that had been started near our tent offered me some relief from he cold. Here I found a lake with rather good water.
February 22. As I was leaving San Joseph my mule fell, but I escaped without injury. I crossed some rolling hills that, except for a few walnuts and chaparrals, were completely bare. During the day the soldiers cut to pieces with their swords several long, thick snakes that crossed our path. The day's travel came to an end at Tablitas, where I found brackish water. This place, as the others that I had just left behind, is inhabited by great numbers of Apaches and Lipanes, who, if the opportunity offers, kill, steal and do a great deal of harm.
February 23. I passed Mesquite, Arroyo Blanco and Mota and went through a great number of woods, in which I saw mesquites, palms, prickly-pears, chaparrals, oaks and other kinds of trees. In these woods there are boars, wildcats, snakes and other animals. I came to the Nueces, a large river with pleasant, shady banks, but with very bad water. It contains a great number of bagres, sardines, eels, piltontes, pullones and other fishes. The country between the Nueces and the Rio Grande is inhabited by Apache Indians. Here I received supplies from Fray Joseph Escovar.
February 24. I passed through Leona, where the Reverend Fray Joseph Escovar and six armed men came out to the road to receive me. Then I continued on my way over a number of rolling hills and very beautiful plains and through woods sparsely covered with oaks and other trees. At Agua Dulce, where I found good water, Don Francisco Tovar, captain of the Bahía del Espíritu Santo mission, came out to receive me, accompanied by ten soldiers. As it was the feast of Saint Matthias, I celebrated Mass here.
February 25. I passed through Puentecitas, Cunillo and Mugerero. At this last place I was received by Fathers Francisco Joseph López and Ignacio Lanuza. From here I pursued my journey over plains and hills, and through some woods, in which the trees, although not very numerous, were very green and beautiful. Later I came to a ranch belonging to the Santisimo Rosario mission, and here I found good water. The mission is established near the San Antonio de Béjar, a large river, whose shady and pleasant banks are covered with sabines, willows, walnuts, oaks and many other trees. In this river there are a great many eels, bagres, piltontes, pullones, mojarras and other kinds of fish. The captain of the Bahía del Espíritu Santo mission bore me company as long as I remained here.
[Father Solis arrives at Mission Rosario just south of La Bahía mission having followed the La Bahía Road from Mexico which crossed the Rio Grande just south of Laredo]
February 26. I passed through several puertos [mountain passes], one of which is called El Guardian, before reaching the Santisimo Rosario mission, where I was received with every attention by its minister. Many of the Indians had fled off to the hills or to the seashore, but those that had remained at the mission came out on the road, all covered with paint and in festive attire, to welcome me. That day I appointed the apostolic preacher, Fray Ignacio Lanuza, secretary for the Visit, an office which he accepted gladly. The captain of La Bahía remained here and ordered that a picket keep guard day and night. This mission, at which everything is kept extremely neat, is supplied with good water from the San Antonio de Béjar River, the surrounding country is very beautiful and wooded (as we shall see later), the weather is bad, unhealthful and sultry, and when the breeze is from the south everything, even within the houses, becomes as wet as clothes soaked in water and the moisture runs down the inside walls just as if it were raining.
February 27. In thanksgiving for my happy arrival a most solemn Mass was sung in honor of our Most Blessed Patroness, Mary of Guadalupe. I announced the opening of the Visit, and wrote to the governor, Don Hugo O'Conor, who was at the presidio of San Antonio de Béjar, and also to the Father President of those missions, Fray Pedro Ramirez de Arrellano, who was at San Joseph.
February 28. I went, with invitation of its captain, to take dinner at the royal presidio of Bahía del Espíritu. I was accompanied by Fathers Gamuza [Lanuza?] and Upez, and by Brothers Francisco Sedano and Antonio Casas. (I had brought the latter lay-brother from the hospice of Boca de Leones so as to have a traveling-companion during my visitation of the missions.) The captain received us with every mark of respect and civility, ordering that we be greeted with a salute from the infantry, four cannon-shots upon our arrival and three in the afternoon on leaving. He was open-hearted, served a very sumptuous meal, and in every way showed the magnificence and opulence of a prince.
February 29. I said Mass for the opening of the Visit, and inspected the church, sacristy and the entire mission.
March 1. I continued the Visit, complying with all the duties incumbent upon me as Visitor, and on the second day I did likewise.
March 3. I continued the Visit. On this day the captain called on me and remained for dinner. At night thirty-three of the Indian families that had fled off from the mission came to see me, and I received them gladly and kindly.
March 4. I concluded the visitation of the Rosario mission. A stiff norther began to blow and lasted for two days. I have already expressed my opinion with regard to the mission of Nuestra Señora del Rosario. As far as its temporal goods are concerned, it is in a flourishing condition. It possesses two droves of asses, and, approximately, forty tame horses, thirty tame mules, twelve harnesses, five thousand head of cattle, two hundred milch cows and seven hundred sheep. The mission buildings and the living-quarters of the priests, as well as those of the Indians and the soldiers, are good structures and sufficiently large. A very good palisade, formed of thick, strong stakes, protects the mission from attack. The church, a very fine, frame building, is white-washed and beautifully decorated. On the inside it is plastered with clay, and it is beautifully roofed with strong beams and shingles. It has sacred vessels, clean vestments, the necessary utensils, a pulpit, a confessional, altars, a baptismal font with its silver shell, and all things pertaining to divine cult. Furthermore, each article can be found in its place and in good condition. This mission has sown fields, but must depend upon the rains, because it is impossible to draw water from the river, on account of the high banks, and there is no water on the site where the mission was founded, in 1754.
The minister, who is, as I have already stated, Fray Joseph Escovar, makes every effort to develop and improve this mission. He is affectionate, charitable, gentle, tractable and cheerful in his dealings with the Indians. He makes them work, teaches them to pray, endeavors to instruct them in the catechism and in the doctrines of our holy faith, urges them to comply with their civil duties, furnishes them with food and clothing and assists them in all their corporal and spiritual needs. After sundown, and before night prayers, at the sound of the bell, he gathers them, big and little, into the cemetery. He has them say their prayers and recite the Christian doctrine; he explains to, them and tries to instruct them in the mysteries of our holy religion, exhorting them to observe the commandments of God and of our holy Church, and teaching them the things necessary for salvation. Each Saturday he calls them together and has them recite the Rosary, with the various mysteries, and has them sing the Alabado [hymn of praise to the Blessed Sacrement]. Before Mass on Sundays and feast days he makes them recite their prayers and the lessons of the catechism, and after Mass he preaches and explains to them the Christian doctrine and the things they should know and understand. When punishment is to be meted out to such as deserve it, he orders that this be given with due moderation, merely as a chastisement for their faults and excesses, and that it be imposed without exceeding the bounds of charity and paternal correction and without stooping to cruelty or tyranny.
The Indians with whom this mission was founded are the Coxanes, Guapites, Carancaguases and Coopanes. At present, however, there are but few of this last mentioned tribe, for most of them are living out in the woods or along the banks of some of the many rivers that abound in these parts, or have joined some other friendly tribe along the seacoast, about thirteen or fourteen leagues east of this mission. The padre is willing to assist them in all their wants and sufferings, but, in spite of this, all of these Indians, who are savage, indolent and lazy, and who are so greedy and gluttonous that they devour meat that is parboiled, almost raw and dripping in blood, prefer to suffer hunger, nakedness and the inclemencies of the weather provided they be left free to live indolent in the wilds or along the seashore, where they give themselves over to all kinds of excesses, especially to lust, theft and dancing.
They are very fond of certain kinds of dances which they call mitotes. These mitotes, according to the instrument that accompanies them, are expressive of joy and mirth, or of gloom and sorrow. In the festive dances they play on a sort of tambourine, a tortoise-shell, the half of a calabash, a French pot, a reed flute, or an ayacascle. The dances that express sentiments of sorrow are played with a caymán, an instrument which emits a mournful, inharmonious sound. The music is accompanied by unnatural and dreadful shrieks, and the dancers make gestures and grimaces, wriggle their bodies in strange fashion and keep jumping and leaping as they move about in a circle. For their mitotes they build a great fire and dance about it, day and night, without any stop. These mitotes last three days and three nights. The women do not take part in the dance itself, but keep within sight of the bonfire and, perplexed and melancholy and with their hair down over their faces, lend their assistance to the ceremony, uttering sad cries. During the ceremony the men make horrible grimaces and look like demons; they are painted in bright red or black colors and with rings about their blood-shot eyes. They have several saints in whose honor they held these mitotes: one is the god Pichini; another the saint Mel. Of these they ask, through their superstitious dances, victory over their enemies, success in their campaigns, abundant crops, or good luck in hunting deer, bison and bear. They have priests, whom they call Conas, and captains and chiefs, whom they call Tamas. For the office of Tama there are many candidates, but these are subjected to severe tests before admitted to office. For example, they are scarified from the back of the head to the soles of the feet with a sort of comb made from fishbones, thus losing a large quantity of blood. They are then taken off to a carrizal [land covered with reed grass], from which place, after being compelled to fast for several days, they come forth emaciated and almost dead.
All the Indians of this province of Texas, whether living at the missions, in the wilds or on the seashore, get married. Those at the missions are instructed and are married in facie Ecclesiae; those who do not belong to the missions are united by natural contract. But, these latter unions are attended by many abuses, and in order to prevent them at the missions it is necessary that the minister be on his guard and that great caution be used. The men sell and trade their wives. If they take a fancy to other men's wives they exchange for them their own and something of value besides. They trade their wives for those of other men, sell them and lend them to their friends so that these may make use of them. They sell them for a horse, a gun, powder, bullets, beads, or for other things which they prize. Although the men commit these atrocious crimes, the women are very modest. From the time they are born they use a pabigo or breech-cloth, made of hay or pastle [Spanish moss], that modestly covers their loins. They wear this until they die, replacing it with a new one whenever necessary. The married women and those that have been corrupted have their entire bodies covered with marks, figuring flowers, birds and other animals. Those who still preserve their virginity are marked with but one narrow line that extends from the forehead to the chin, passing over the middle of the nose and lips. With rare exceptions, the men and women are sullen and ill-tempered. Whether out in the wilds or along the seashore, the men go about stark naked, while the women are always decently covered. These Indians are very keen-witted and shrewd. They light fires and by means of the smoke give numerous signals. Smoke of one kind is used as a signal to assemble, another as a signal to flee, and others to announce news of various kinds. Those who have received the signal give another of the same kind to those that follow; these, in turn, pass on the signal to those farther back; so that within a very short time the news spreads throughout the entire province.
In their tribal wars they are cruel, inhuman and ferocious toward the conquered. Except for an occasional victim, whose life is spared temporarily so that later he may be obliged to dance in honor of their gods and saints, the old men and women are put to the sword, the children are carried off and eaten, the little boys and girls are sold, and the fighting-men, the grown-up women and the larger girls are taken off and made to serve the victors. The dance is carried on in this fashion. They drive a stake into the ground at the place where they are going to hold the mitote. They then kindle a huge fire and bind to, the stake the victim whom they are to make dance or whom they are going to sacrifice. All of them gather together, and as soon as the discordant notes of the caymán are heard they begin to dance and to jump about the fire, making a great number of gestures and terrible grimaces and uttering sad, unnatural cries. Dancing and leaping and with sharp knives in their hands, they draw near to the victim, cut off a piece of his flesh, come to the fire and half roast it, and, within sight of the victim himself devour it most ravenously. Thus they continue cutting him to pieces and dismembering him, until, finally, they have cut away all of the flesh and he dies. They cut off the skull and, with the hair still clinging to it, place it on a stick so as to carry it in triumph during the dance. They do not throw away the bones, but pass them around, and whoever happens to get one sucks it until nothing of it is left. They act in like manner toward the religious and toward the Spaniards whenever they capture them. Sometimes they hang the victim by the feet and beneath them start a fire, and after the body is roasted they devour it. Other times they cut stakes, about an inch in thickness, from the pitch-pine, which grows so plentifully in these parts; they stick these stakes to the victim and then set fire to him, and as soon as he is half roasted they eat him. Some, instead of using knives to cut up their victim, tear him apart with their teeth and devour him.
When out in the woods they live on horses, mules, deer and bison, that can be found in large numbers, and on bears, wild boars, rabbits, bares, rats, dormice and other quadrupeds. They also eat snakes, geese, ducks, chickens, partridges, cranes, quail, various species of birds found along the seashore and on the river-banks, and all kinds of fish, of which there is a great abundance. At the mission their food consists of beef and cooked corn. They do not make tortillas for want of metates [square stone for grinding corn] with which to grind the corn and of comales [earthen pan] in which to cook it. Both of these articles are very scarce, each metate costing twenty-five pesos.
These Indians are very dirty, and the stench which they emit is enough to turn one's stomach. They are fond of all that is foul and pestiferous, and for this reason delight in the odor of the polecat and eat its flesh. They pierce the lobes of the ear and nose and hang from them beads, small shells, and feathers of various colors. Among these Indians there can also be found a great number of hermaphrodites, or monanguias, as they call them. They take these with them on their campaigns, not only to make use of them in immoral ways, but in order that the hermaphrodites may drive off the horses and mules that are being stolen while they themselves attack the owners. sdct
The task of converting and of inducing the Indians to live at the mission has been a difficult one, and some of those who had been living there have fled back again to the hills, to the river-banks or to the seashore. The reasons for this are various. First of all, these Indians are naturallv inconstant and fickle; they are anxious to be free from all servitude and from work and wish to return to their life of freedom and idleness. They have, moreover, a repugnance and distaste for the teachings of our holy faith and for the things of God, and they are loathe to observe our holy commandments and sovereign precepts. Another reason why it is difficult to convert them is their innate cowardice, fear and baseness, for they imagine that in the aforesaid places they are safe and will be free from the cruelty, blows and tyranny of unfriendly tribes. Still another reason is because the military officers neglect to bring into the town or to inflict punishment upon those that run away, and because they neglect to pursue them and bring them back. Whenever they do bring back any of the fugitives they fail to administer to them any punishment that might serve as a check and that might instill into them the fear of fleeing from the mission.
Although these Indians are nothing but cowards and weaklings, they boast of their strength and bravery. Even on days when the sun is scorching hot they go about without any clothing whatsoever and without even seeking the shade. In winter-time, when the ground is covered with snow and when it freezes so hard that rivers, ponds, lakes and brooks are frozen over, at early morning they go off to bathe, and break the ice with their bodies. They do this merely to show off, to exhibit their strength and bravery. When they leave on a campaign they carry with them a certain herb, whose properties they alone know, and which they refuse to show to the Spaniards, with which they stop the flow of blood. For this reason, even if they be wounded, they keep on fighting, for they do not faint from loss of blood. Other things still more characteristic of the Indians I shall explain in the course of this Diary. What I have stated applies in some instances to all, in others to individuals, although most of what I have said is true of all the Indian tribes inhabiting the vast, remote and extensive Province of Texas.
March 6. I went to the Bahía del Espíritu Santo mission. Here forty Indian horsemen, armed with guns and marching in double file, came out to the road and held a skirmish in my honor. Their minister, the apostolic preacher Fray Francisco López, received me with great ceremony and with every mark of attention. Later on I shall give an account of this mission.
March 7. I opened the Visit with Mass, and afterwards made a close inspection of everything at the mission. I received from the captain of the presidio, Don Francisco Tovar, a letter which contained many points for consideration.
March 8. I answered the captain's letter and replied to all his questions. I continued the Visit, and that evening the captain of the presidio left for Mariscada. He wanted the soldiers to return without going to confession, but I did not permit this, as there was no reason, occasion or necessity for their doing so.
March 9. I continued the Visit, complying with all the duties pertaining thereto.
March 10. Continuation of the Visit.
March 11. I concluded the Visit, and then went to the presidio to take leave.
I have the following report to make on the state of the Bahía del Espíritu Santo mission: This mission, which is in better condition than that of Santisimo Rosario, is situated on the banks of the San Antonio de Béjar, a large river, as I have already stated, with pleasant, shady banks and with a large stock of fish. It is within sight of the royal presidio, for there is nothing separating them but the river, which is crossed in a canoe. The church, though smaller than the one at the Rosario mission, is sufficiently large. The vestments, sacred vessels and all things pertaining to divine cult are kept neat and clean and arranged in the proper order. For a long time the Blessed Sacrament had been preserved in an inside oratory, and this with the authorization of his Lordship the Bishop of Guadalajara, who had granted this privilege during his visitation of the mission. Day and night all the Indians used to keep continuous watch before the Blessed Sacrament. At the door of the oratory there was a lamp, in which nut oil was burned with the bishop's approval. Besides the necessary offices and church buildings, the Bahía mission has dwelling-quarters for the religious, the soldiers and the Indians, and all of these structures are respectable and sufficiently large.
The minister works hard and shows zeal and solicitude for the preservation and development of the mission. He labors for the corporal and especially for the spiritual welfare of the natives, who, at the call of the bell, assemble for their religious exercises. Frequently, even daily, the padre teaches them to pray and explains to them the Christian doctrine, the mysteries of our holy faith and such things as are necessary for salvation. He manifests love and charity towards them, supplying them with food and clothing and administering to all their corporal needs. He also assists them spiritually, teaching them the commandments, urging them to be good Christians, tolerating no wicked practices, punishing all offences and misdemeanors, and insisting that all work and observe the law. In fine, he educates them, and, in so far as he is able, instructs them to comply with all their obligations. Although our Majesty the King (May God protect him!) supplies enough funds to pay the salaries of two ministers, at the present time this mission has but one priest, who takes complete charge of the administration of the royal presidio. On feast days he celebrates two Masses, one at the mission and the other at the presidio, and on these days also he preaches and explains the catechism.
As for temporal goods, this mission has eight herds of animals and thirty harnesses. Of the former there are about one hundred tame horses, about seventy tame mules, four droves of asses used for breeding mules, which are raised in large numbers, fifteen hundred head of sheep and goats, and two hundred yoke of oxen. It has also large corn-fields, but in dry seasons the crops are ruined, because there is no water on the farms, and it is impossible to draw it from the river or from any other place. On these lands cotton, melons, potatoes, various kinds of peaches, figs, etc., are grown in large quantities. The farms are supplied with several plows, plowshares, hoes, bars and all kinds of farm implements.
The tribes with which this mission was established are the Taranames, Tamiques, Piquianes and Manos de Perro. All told, counting big and little of both sexes, the mission probably numbers some three hundred. Among these there are about sixty-five warriors, thirty of whom are armed with guns and the other thirty-five with bows and arrows, spears and boomerangs. These Indians are better civilized and of a fairer complexion than those at Rosario. They have given up the practice of eating horseflesh, and confine themselves to beef, venison, bison, bear, turkeys, ducks, quail, geese and partridges, and to fish, such as the bagre, the robalo, etc. But, they have the same bad habits, inclinations and vices as those at the Rosario mission and those in other parts of the province of Texas. To withdraw them from their pagan dances and diabolical mitotes the ministers have introduced some Spanish dances.
(This has also been done at the Rosario mission.) These dances have been taught with violin and guitar accompaniment, and the Indians have learned them very well. For such performances they wear a special dress, which is of very good material and very gaudy, and use palms, crowns, masks and ayacastles. As a result, they have partly forgotten their mitotes and pagan dances. I say partly, because when the ministers are not watching them they go off to the woods and there hold their dances, although when found guilty of this they are given some mild form of punishment. This mission was founded by the Very Reverend Padre Margil in the year 1717. Since its establishment there have been 623 baptisms and 278 burials. The Rosario, mission was founded in 1754, and has had, approximately, 200 baptisms, 110 burials, and 34 marriages in facie Ecclesiae. My Diary continues.
March 12. I returned to the Rosario mission, with the intention of going from there to that of San Joseph.
March 13. I spent the day at the Rosario mission.
March 14. In the morning I visited the royal presidio, and in the afternoon went to the Rosario ranch. At the Rosario ranch I was met by an escort of eight soldiers, sent by the captain, and six Indians, armed with guns, sent by the minister of the Bahía mission.
[The Solis party embarked for San Antonio probably along the western border of current DeWitt County]
March 15. I passed by San Joseph, a ranch belonging to the captain of Bahía, traveled almost along the banks of the San Antonio de Béjar, went through groves and woods, sparsely covered with trees, and over rolling hills before reaching La Escondida, which has a supply of good water and is located at the foot of some hills, also covered with trees.
March 16. I passed La Parrita, the Capote ranch, located on the banks of the San Antonio River, went through the Mora ranch, the property of the San Juan Capistrano mission and located on the banks of the same river, and finally arrived at the Padre Cárdenas ranch, also on the banks of the river. In this part of the country there is very fertile soil, and there are bare, rolling hills, extensive plains, and woods covered with oaks, mesquites and huisaches.
March 17. I passed through a goat ranch on the banks of the San Antonio, went through La Mota, crossed the Padre Mariano Creek and the aforesaid river, and, traveling through woods and over valleys, arrived at the Corral de San Juan Capistrano.
March 18. Taking the road that leads from the San Antonio River, I crossed the Salado near the San Juan Capistrano mission. Here Fray Asis Valverde, president of the Querétaro missions, Fathers Humiel, Zárate and Ramirez and a great number of people came out to the road to greet me, and they accompanied me to the San Joseph mission, where I was received with great ceremony. That afternoon Don Hugo O'Conor, Knight of the Order of Alcántara and governor and captain-general of the Province of Texas, came to visit me and manifested towards me sentiments of friendship and good-will.
March 19. Mass was sung in thanksgiving for my happy arrival, and after the Mass I blessed the foundations and first stones of the church which is being built at the mission. Don Hugo O'Conor laid one of the stones and I laid another. This church, which is to be a stone structure with a vaulted ceiling, is to be 150 feet in length and, including the transept, 30 in width.
March 20. I set out for the presidio of San Antonio de Béjar to pay my respects to Don Hugo, to Don Luis Menchaca, captain of the presidio, and to the priest then in charge at the mission. In the afternoon I crossed the river in a canoe and proceeded to the San Antonio mission, which is being taken care of by the religious of Santa Cruz from Querétero. From here I went to the Concepción mission, about two leagues down the river, and later returned to the mission of San Joseph. The banks of the river are very shady and pleasant and are covered with a great number of trees of various kinds: sabines poplars, walnuts, etc. Along the road to the presidio there are a great many mesquites, huisaches and oaks. The river is well supplied with eels, bagres, pullones, piltontes, mojarras, sardines, and other fishes. In the woods between La Bahía and San Antonio there are a few lions and a great number of cattle, horses, deer, wolves, coyotes, rabbits, wildcats and boars. Along the river I found herons, ducks, geese, turkeys, quail, partridges, sparrow-hawks, eagles, owls, and other birds with which I am not familiar. The sounds which they utter are different from those uttered by the birds in Spain.
March 21. Opening of the Visit at the San Joseph mission. I celebrated the Mass for the commencement of the Visit and inspected the entire mission and all the offices. I found everything in very good condition, as I shall have occasion to state later.
March 22, 23 and 24. Continuation of the Visit.
March 25. I continued the Visit, and during the day Don Hugo de O'Conor called on his way to los Adais.
March 26. I saw Don Hugo off, and then went to the San Juan Capistrano and Espada missions to visit the Fathers.
March 27, 28 and 29. Continuation of the Visit.
March 30. As this was Wednesday of Holy Week, I suspended the Visit.
March 31. Holy Thursday. I said the Mass, at which all the religions and many of the Spaniards and Indians of the mission received communion.
April 1. I went to the Concepción mission to perform the Good Friday services.
April 2. Holy Saturday. I concluded the Visit at San Joseph, and went to take leave of the Fathers of the Querétaro missions.
April 3. I received a letter informing me of certain outrages and injustices committed by Don Francisco Tovar, captain of Bahía del Espíritu Santo. As was stated in the letter, the captain had prevented the Indians of Rosario from attending the mission, and had tried to do the same thing at Espíritu Santo, but the Indians of the latter town refused to obey him. He had arrested and placed in the guard-house the sacristan of the mission, to whom he refused to return the sacred vestments which he had borrowed from him on Holy Thursday. The letter stated, finally, that both he and Don Melchor de Rivera, captain at Orcoquisac, have been antagonistic toward the minister of the mission.
April 4 and 5. I spent these two days, Monday and Tuesday of Easter week, at the San Joseph mission.
April 6. The animals and supplies of the misiones internas started off, but I remained behind, intending to overtake them later.
The report which I have to make on the mission of San Joseph de San Miguel de Aguayo after my visitation in the present year, 1768, is as follows: This mission is so pretty and in such a flourishing condition, both materially and spiritually, that I cannot find words or figures with which to express its beauty. It forms a perfect square, is built of stone, and on each of the four sides, 660 feet in length, there is an entrance. On diagonal corners there are two towers, each of which protects two sides of the building. The living-quarters for the Indians, which form a part of the outer wall, are from fifteen to eighteen feet in length and twelve in width. The mission is provided with a small kitchen twelve feet in length, a fireplace, embrasures for the cannons, a vaulted silo made of stone, and a workshop in which are woven blankets, gunny sacks and some excellent cotton goods. At this mission there is an luidance of both cotton and wool. Here the Indians have their carpenter shop, forge and tailor shop, their lime and brick kilns and a well from which there comes as large a flow of water as from a small river. The water from the well runs into a canal, which contains a great quantity of fish and irrigates many fertile fields. In these fields, that cover more than a league and are fenced in, there are abundant crops of corn, beans, lentils, melons, peaches, potatoes and sugar-cane. San Joseph furnishes supplies to the presidios of San Antonio, La Bahía del Espíritu Santo, Orcoquisac and los Adais. It has a garden in which are raised all kinds of vegetables and fruits, and its peaches, which are own in large quantities, weigh about a pound each.
Although up to the present the mission has been without a church, very suitable building, of stone and mortar with a vaulted ceiling, is now being erected. An arched hall that leads to the priests' house is being used as a church and is sufficiently large. The mission is provided with ample dwelling-quarters and the necessary offices, and the articles of silver, sacred vessels, ciborium, monstrance, vestments and alI things necessary for divine cult are of excellent material and are put in good condition. It has a baptismal font and shell, silver oilstocks, a silver sprinkler and a holy water pot. At a distance of about ten or twelve leagues from the town it has a ranch, known as El Atasso, where all the stock is kept. On this ranch there are, approximately, in droves of mares, four droves of asses, thirty harnesses, 1500 yoke oxen for tilling the soil, 5000 head of sheep and goats, and all necessary farming implements, such as plowshares, plows, hoes, axes, bars, etc. White overseers or administrators are not needed, for the Indians take complete charge of the ranch. The Indians themselves take care the work in the cloth factory, carpenter shop, forge, tailor shop and carry, and attend to all other work that is to be done in the town. They are industrious and diligent, and are skilled in all kinds of labor. They act as mule-drivers, masons, cow-boys, shepherds, etc., there being no need to employ anyone who does not belong to the mission. sdct
The mission of San Joseph y San Miguel de Aguayo, which was estabhed, in 1716 or 1717, by the Very Reverend Father Fray Antonio Margil de Jesús, is made up of the following tribes: the Pampoas, esquites, Pastias, Canamas, Tacames, Canas, Aguasallas and Xamiaes. There are, counting big and little of both sexes, about 350 grown men, 110 of whom are warriors. Of the latter 45 are armed with guns and 65 with bows and arrows, spears and other weapons. All the men and omen are very polite, well instructed in the truths of Christianity know the catechism and the mysteries of our holy faith. With the exception of such as were already old when they came to the mission, and who still remain uneducated and ignorant, all of these Indians speak Spanish and are baptized and know how to pray. Most of them play some musical instrument, the guitar, the violin or the harp. All have -good voices, and on Saturdays, the 19th of each month and on the feasts of Our Lord and of the Blessed Virgin they take out their rosaries, while a choir of four voices, soprano, alto, tenor and base, with musical accompaniment', sings so beautifully that it is a delight to hear it. The procession moves along within the walls and is protected oil each side by warriors in double file and also on the outside of the walls by sentinels on horseback that keep guard lest an attack be made by some unfriendly tribe. Both men and women can sing and dance just as the Spaniards, and they do so, perhaps, even more beautifully and more gracefully. They dress decently, being provided with two suits, one for weekdays and another for festival days. The men are not bad looking, and the women, except an occasional, coarse-featured one, are graceful and handsome. The able-bodied men attend to the manual labor, the old men make arrows for the warriors, the grown-up girls weave cloth, card wool and sew, the old women catch fish for the padres, and the younger boys and girls go to school and recite their prayers.
That these Indians have a weakness for their mitotes is evident from the fact that both men and women of the San Joseph mission, who are so cultured and so well instructed, go off to the woods to dance them with the pagans whenever the priests are not watching. Great care is taken in order to keep them from this wicked practice, and whenever they are found guilty of it they are punished severely. All of them sleep in beds raised off the ground and are provided with fine, large blankets made of wool and of cotton, with sheets made from gunny-sack, and with mattresses made from bison hides. All of these articles are manufactured In the mission shops. These Indians are so polite, so well mannered and so refined that one might imagine that they had been civilized and living at the mission for a long time. Since the establishment of San Joseph, which was, as I have said, in the year 1716, or 1717, there have been, if I am not mistaken, 1054 baptisms, 287 marriages in facie Ecclesiae, and 359 funerals of adults. The priests of San Joseph are endeavoring to draw the pagans from the seacoast and from the frontiers, so that, emulating the example of the Indians at the mission, they also may be converted and educated. My Diary continues.
April 7. I left the San Joseph mission. A strong, cold wind was blowing from the north, and it was raining, snowing and freezing. I passed the San Juan Capistrano mission and crossed the Salado, a river which, though not very deep, has very beautiful banks, covered with large, shady trees. The day's travel ended at El Charco de Quiñones, which contains very good water and which is close to El Monte Grande or El Monte del Diablo, a place also covered with a great number of shady trees.
April 8. The weather was very bad and the norther was raging more freely; so, I decided to remain at El Charco de Quiñones. There were also stopping at this place a convoy and some travelers, numbering about 100 men that were on their way to the Adais presidio.
[The party departs south back to La Bahía before departing for the East Texas missions]
April 9. As the weather had cleared up, we set out. We passed by Las Calaveras and, taking the road leading from the San Antonio River came to Chayopines. On the road between Monte Grande and the above river we passed a great many trees: sabines, willows and walnuts. Along the riverbank and at the entrance to the woods there are oaks and evergreens. At Chayopines I said Mass and erected a holy cross.
April 10. After having passed through Patauya and Pajaritos we arrived at the Marcelino Creek, in which we found good water and some fish. This day we had journeyed along very beautiful valleys and hillsides, carpeted with flowers of various hues: yellow, red, violet, blue, white, buff, apastilladas, etc. Here also we found wild hemp and wild marjoram, and on the top of the hills and in a few other places came cross ash-trees, oaks, evergreens, walnuts and many other trees.
[The party traveling along the east bank of the San Antonio River, turns northeast to the Guadalupe River]
April 11. We passed through the San Bartolo, Guerra and Amolderas ranches, crossed brooks containing fish and a good supply of wholesome water, and after traveling over some hills that were very beautiful and covered with vegetation, arrived at Los Corralitos de Reyes, a ranch belonging to the Espíritu Santo mission and stocked with cattle and horses.
April 12. We passed by a place called Sinfonia, and afterwards came to a large brook, in which we found good water and a large supply of fish. The brook, which is called Deto, supplies water for the livestock for the Bahía mission. We traveled on until we reached Cuchillo Creek, here we stopped for the night. During the day's journey we had crossed hills and plains that were very green and beautiful, though without tree. In Cuchillo Creek there are bagres, mojarras and robalos. some Indians, armed with guns, that had come from the Bahía mission and that were to accompany me on my journey, met me here.
[According to historian Robert Thornhoff, the above Encinas de la Sinfonia is believed to be near current Runge in KarnesCo and Cuchillo Creek (Cuchiyo Arroyo) Knife Creek is current Sandies Creek or upper Coleto Creek in DeWittCo]
April 13. We set out, although we had very bad weather: a stiff norther, rain and snow. After traveling a short distance we stopped in the Adaysénos thicket, near which there is a brook of drinkable water. Along the way we had traveled over beautiful, green plains, covered here and there with oak trees. On the pastures throughout this territory also we found a great number of cattle and mules, belonging to the Bahía del Espíritu Santo mission.
April 14. Due to the fact that the bad weather continued, we decided not to venture any farther this day.
April 15. We reached the Guadalupe and crossed it on a raft. This river, in which we found good water, is large, wide and rapid. It contains eels, bagres, piltontes, pullones, mojarras and many other kinds of fish. Along its banks there are many beautiful, tall and shady trees: sabines, willows, poplars, walnuts and oaks. We found several kinds of vines climbing even to the very tops of all the trees growing along the riverbank. These vines produce fruits of various sizes. Although all of these fruits have a wild, distasteful flavor, and are injurious to the mouth, I am fully convinced that if cultivated they would be edible and healthful [probably a reference to the Mustang grape, common in the area]. On the banks of the river and along the brooks north of it I found plants that looked like lettuce, and also some wild onions. These plants, prepared with vinegar and oil, make very fine salad.
[The crossing here is believed to be the Governor's Ford at Hochheim]
April 16. We stopped on the banks of the Guadalupe, waiting for the convoy to pass, and while here the gout began to bother me. I received letters from the presidents of the missions at Boca de Leones and at San José, and also from Father Urbina and from my cousin, the licentiate Don Francisco Carrera del Valle. This same day Brother Antonio Casai, who had accompanied me from Boca de Leones and who had been poisoned by a certain kind of ivy which grows very plentifully in these woods and along these rivers, took sick, and I decided to send him back to the Bahía del Espíritu Santo mission to get cured. The ivy of these parts has the same noxious qualities as that of Spain.
April 17. We crossed two creeks, with beautiful, shady banks, in which there was wholesome water and some fish. We went past Cuero, and our day's journey ended on the banks of the Guadalupe.
April 18. We went through Rosal, and later came to a place called La Mota del Padre Campa. All along our journey, which took us over hills and beautiful, green plains and through woods covered with shady oaks, we found water that was drinkable. In these parts there are several droves of deer, flocks of turkeys, and many coveys of quail. During the day we saw vipers which, though poisonous and of enormous size, were sluggish, some very dangerous water snakes, very poisonous spiders, called monillas, and also chigres, gnats, mosquitoes and all kinds of ticks. The air, on the other hand, is very pure in this part of the country and the climate is very mild and healthful.
April 19. We passed through Los Ramitos, La Cabeza and La Vaca, and finally, came to a place called Breviario. During this day's journey we had traveled over hills and extensive plains which were green and covered with flowers. Along the way we passed some oak groves and came across a great number of deer, turkeys, partridges, and other animals. We found unwholesome and unsavory water in the valleys and found even the hills covered with mud and with pools of water. In these parts one must be careful not to come in contact with the trees, or some of them are very poisonous. One of the men thoughtlessly took hold of a stick to stir his atole [gruel or porridge]. He ate the atole, but scarcely had he one so when he swelled up like a balloon, and only with the greatest are did we succeed in saving his life.
April 20. Although a brisk norther was blowing, we set out, and, raveling over rolling hills, over plains and valleys which were very green and covered with a great number of flowers and along which we saw many deer, partridges and turkeys, we came to a place called Lamedita. We crossed the Natividad, a creek shaded with many walnuts, sabines, oaks, willows, elms, poplars and other trees, and stopped at Creditos, where we found a stream of water fit to drink. Travel trough this country is very dangerous, because all of it as far south as the Guadalupe is inhabited by Indians. It is possible, furthermore, that the Xaramenes, all of whom are either pagans or baptized apostates from the Bahía del Espíritu Santo mission, live also in these parts.
April 21. We reached the Colorado, a large, deep river. Along its beautiful banks there are many shady trees: poplars, elms, sabines, waluts, cedars, oaks and many others, all covered with vines. In the river here are various kinds of fish: piltontes, bagres, pullones, robalos, etc. A great number of pagan Indians of the Coco tribe live on the banks of this river. We crossed four creeks, in all of which we found fish: the Perdenal, the Azúcar, the Sandia and the Piltonte. The day's ourney ended at the Piltonte. Scarcely had we left the Guadalupe hen we came cross bison, deer and other animals. The day's journey ad been over a very beautiful country, through shady woods, and over ills, plains and valleys.
April 22. We crossed the Soledad and the Juana Rosa creeks, both of which have pleasant, shady banks, covered with the species of trees above mentioned. The Cocos live along these creeks and a little north of the latter the road, winding its way through a narrow glen, leads to the presidio and the mission of Orcoquisac. We passed by La Mota del Indio, and later came to Bernabé, where we found a brook with good water. Our road had been through pleasant woods and over plains and hills which were green and covered with flowers. During the day we came across many deer, turkeys, quail, bison, bears and several droves of horses and cattle of Castillian breed that ran about wild and without any owner. These animals are very plentiful for the reason that Captain León (of happy memory), who was the first to discover and conquer these lands, left on the riverbanks a bull and a cow, a stallion and a mare.
April 23. We crossed the Peñitas and Tinajas creeks, went through Las Cruces and soon afterwards entered Monte Grande or Monte del Diablo, a wood thick with shady trees of various kinds. In these woods there are many paths so narrow that we had to travel in single file and at times had to cut our way through the brushwood. At places the ground was very muddy and sticky. We had not gone more than three or four leagues through these woods when we came to a very muddy creek called Quita Calzones, and about a league and a half or two leagues farther on came to another called Don Carlos. Here and there through these woods there are clearings with springs, and in these spots we saw very large numbers of bulls, cows, calves, bison, deer, turkeys, quail and partridges. In many parts of the woods there are bears that feed on nuts, acorns and other things that grow on those trees. In the summer the bears get very fat on these things and during the winter months seek shelter in the hollow of some tree, where they manage to keep alive by licking their paws. As soon as the bad weather has passed they come out of the trees, but as they have sapped their strength by licking their paws, they appear lean and wasted away, and remain so for a long time. In these woods there are horseflies, known as Apaches, that are as easily provoked as wasps or bumble-bees (both of which are also very numerous), and whose sting is even more painful and more dangerous than that of these insects. Here we found ash-trees, oaks, elms, walnuts, vines, sassafras, excellent zocosotes, storax, various species of blackberry, pomegranates in large numbers, medlars, hazelnuts, chestnuts, strawberry-plants, laurels, tarais and many other trees and plants. In one of the clearings, named La Pulsera, we stopped for the night.
April 24. As this was the feast of the Patronage of Saint Joseph, Mass was celebrated. A large cross was erected and the prayers for this ceremony, as ordered in the Ritual, were recited. After the services we continued our journey through those woods, traveled along six very narrow paths, went through places that were very muddy, through a clearing, in the center of which we found wholesome water, crossed the Cibolo and Diluvio creeks, and stopped at a large spring of good water which runs into the Brazos de Dios. At Encadenado, a place south of the spring, there are some very famous Indians, all of whom are pagan.
April 25. We came to, the first branch of the Brazos de Dios. This branch of the river is large, has a good supply of fish and. along its banks there are ash-trees, sabines, willows, walnuts, elms and many other species of very tall and shady trees. After crossing the river on a wooden raft we journeyed through a beautiful woods, covered with shady trees. Later on we reached the second branch, about three leagues distant from the first. We waded across, and after traveling about three leagues arrived at Paes, not far from the two branches.
[The party continued northeast where Father Solis visited, inspected and reported on the East Texas missions after which the party returned on the same route to Mission Rosario and La Bahia. They reached the Brazos River on July 1, the Colorado River on July 9 and the Guadalupe River on July 16. The expedition returned south along their earlier route arriving back at the College of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe on October 13] sdct
Spanish and French Explorers by William Foster from DeWitt County History. On April 17, Father Solis reported that after crossing the Guadalupe River, they "arrived at Cuero, which is at an oak tree on a bend or corner down the river." The Solis diary translation made by Margaret Kenny Kress notes that Solis arrived at an overnight campsite named Cuero, without making any reference to any directly associated creek. In fact, the April 16 diary records that after crossing the Guadalupe, most likely at the Govemor's Ford near Hochheim, the padre's party camped on the river bank awaiting the company to pass. The following day, the 17th, they moved along the east bank downstream twelve miles past two creeks (most likely Queen's Creek and Cuero Creek) before camping overnight at Cuero where, on the 18th, the father's party seems to have picked up the northern leg of the La Bahia Road above the Guadalupe to follow the road toward the Colorado River and on to east Texas. By the date Solis visited a place on the Guadalupe he called Cuero in 1768, La Bahia had been relocated on the San Antonio River for about 20 years, and the La Bahia Road northward to east Texas as well as southward to Mexico had been well marked. The father consistently refers to following "the road."
Solis suggests that from the use of the Spanish word "Cuero," some location or camp site associated with animal hides or skins on the east bank of the Guadalupe close to the La Bahia Road was the overnight camp used by him on April 17. It was customary for the Spanish to name major rivers or creeks for a prominent church or national figure and to give smaller streams descriptive place names associated with contemporary local conditions. But the Spanish before the 1760's may not have prepared animal hides or skins on the east bank of the Guadalupe River, an area cognized then as Indian country beyond the operating and grazing lands of La Bahia. However, there had been buffalo and wild longhorn cattle in that area of the river for well over one hundred years. The Aranama Indians, and perhaps other tribes, during that time may have used Cuero Creek and that immediate area as a convenient location to skin animals, both cattle and large game, for their personal use or shelter. Governor Alarcon, fifty years earlier had reported a very sizable community of Indians living just 30 miles upriver, above present Gonzales.
But the creek or location called "Cuero" more likely predates the appearance of both the Spanish explorers and longhorn cattle. Cuero" probably referred to a location where the Aranamas and other tribes had cured hides for buffalo and smaller game for centuries. Father Massanet reported in 1691 that tribes he met from west Texas and New Mexico, where there were no buffalo, annually visited the Guadalupe area to kill buffalo and tan their hide,
This thought is also supported by the journal of Cabeza de Vaca who related that buffalo, deer and small game were in the Guadalupe River area in the 1530's and that the inland Indian tribes then made leather capes, blankets and straps from leather hides. He reported trading leather straps made by inland tribes for shells and other sea products from the coastal Indians; and during his escape (near the Guadalupe River), he personally engaged in scraping animal skins for his Aranama Indian hosts to cure for leather and for him to obtain scraps of meat to eat.
Having a particular location to prepare animal hides and skins each year would be consistent with the itinerant seasonal life cycle of the local Indian tribes that annually moved on circuit to gather pecans on the Guadalupe (River of Nuts) and to feast on cactus tuna near Corpus Christi. A location customarily used for cleaning and skinning animals and for drying hides and preparing leather would be easily identifiable, and would gravitate toward a special set of natural conditions - first, an abundant supply of accessible local game to kill, abundant fresh water available to clean the game; sharp, preferably flint, rocks to scrape the hides, and motts of live oak trees to provide both strong low branches for stretching and drying the hides and oak bark for curing or tanning the hide for leather.
An area near a creek called "Cuero" met this conditions for some Indian people who were clever enough to produce leather, faithful enough to accept the requirements of the Catholic Church, and tough enough to become Texas first cowboys, but still were not adaptable enough to survive swift and persistent encroachment and avoid extermination. Cuero is one of the few Spanish place names in Texas that has its origin in pre-Spanish Indian culture. It should be noted that the word "cuera" was also used in Spanish mission days to refer to the protective thick leather jacket wom by presidio soldiers as armor. The soldiers who wore the armor were known as "hombres de cuera."
But Cuero was not only the location identified by a place name by Father Solis along the La Bahia Road east of the Guadalupe in the immediate DeWitt County area. The La Bahia Road by the 1770's had a number of clearly identifiable and well used rest stops and overnight campgrounds that offered fresh water which was essential for the horses and herds being driven. On the first day while still near the DeWitt County area, the party first passed through a rest stop at a location named "Rosebush" (El Rosal), The distinctively large wild rosebushes or rose hedges in eastern DeWitt County were perhaps in early bloom and apparently prevalent over 200 years ago. After overnighting at the campground called Cuero, and passing El Rosal, the padre's party moved northeast twenty miles along the La Bahia Road to camp the following night, on the 18th, at "Father Campa's Pond" (La Mota del Padre Campa), where there was ample fresh water. Twenty miles up the La Bahia Road from the Guadalupe crossing would be near the small branches of the headwaters of Cuero Creek.
The notes written by the father at his overnight camp at Padre Camps's Pond in eastern DeWitt County record that "the road" followed that day led through green and pleasant plains spotted with oaks. Deer, flocks of wild turkeys and quail were in abundance. But, Solis found also poisonous spiders, sluggish water snakes, mites, mosquitoes, gnats, flies, and ticks. In his concluding comments on the area he affirms that despite the nuances mentioned, the air was pure and climate was temperate, healthful and mild. sdct
Father Solis and his party continued on to east Texas and visited the missions near Nacogdoches during the months of May and June. Father Solis commenced his westward trip returning to the Guadalupe to visit again the La Bahia mission after his visit to the east Texas missions was completed. The father's party was intercepted by a large number of very hostile Indians near the Colorado River. Only with the protection of his Indian guides from La Bahia was the party permitted to pass. The hostile Indians encountered by the padre were identified as Aranamas, many of whom had escaped from the La Bahia mission.
On July 15, the father returned to El Rosal to camp overnight before reaching the Guadalupe the following day on his return trip to La Bahia. His diary reference to the location where he camped overnight cites "Pielago del Rosal" meaning pond or a lagoon associated with rosebushes.