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El Camino Real -- Site of Mission San Francisco, Mission Tejas State Park, Grapeland TX
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 31° 32.899 W 095° 14.398
15R E 287368 N 3492547
Quick Description: Deep inside Mission Tejas State Park, visitors will discover an idealized commemorative mission chapel which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935, at the actual site of the Mission San Francisco, the first Spanish mission in East TX.
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 1/25/2018 2:13:08 PM
Waymark Code: WMXKQM
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
Views: 2

Long Description:
Mission San Francisco, the first Spanish mission in East Texas, was established at the site in 1690, and abandoned by 1694. Originally established to hold down the Spanish claim to this part of Texas, which was threatened by French inursions into the area by French explorer Sieur de la Salle, mission San Francisco was ultimately a victim of its remoteness and a belief among the Indians (who began dying in large numbers after the Spanish priests had baptized them) that the Spanish were poisoning them with bad water.

The site of Mission San Francisco was selected for its proximity to an established Indian village, the nearness of El Camino Real, and nearby natural springs. The actual site was located in 1934 by Doctor Albert Woldert, a historian and scholar. Shortly thereafter, a civilian conservation Corps project to restore the forest in this area grew to include a project to build a commemoration of the long vanished mission San Francisco. The mission chapel that stands today was built by those civilian conservation Corps laborers and is a popular spot for weddings and get-togethers at Mission Tejas State Park.

A recently-installed interpretive sign at the CCC mission chapel re-creation reads as follows:

To tell the story, the park's founders looked to a distant past

A Spanish mission

Faced with a French entry into East Texas in the 1600s, Spain asserted its claim by founding a mission. In 1690 Spain sent Franciscan Friars to found mission San Francisco de los Tejas, thought to lie just west of Mission Tejas State Park. The Spanish friars attempted to convert the native Hasinai Caddo 2 Christianity while making them subjects of the Spanish crown. Conflict arose when native people blame the disease outbreaks on the baptismal waters and the Spaniards accused them of theft. The Spanish abandoned the mission in 1694.

Attempting to envision a distant past, artists depict a Franciscan friar and a Hasinai village at the time of the missions founding.

Catholic clergy from Texas and Spain gathered to dedicate Mission Tejas State Park on July 4, 1935

A Park for Remembrance

in preparation for the 1936 Texas Centennial, Houston County leaders who founded the park viewed the present Park site as the likely location of East Texas's first mission and pushed for its recognition beginning in 1934. They erected a commemorative plaque, acquired this very land, and worked with the Texas forest service to set aside in honor of the mission. Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) company 888 finished building the park in May 1935."

And a nearby state historical marker reads as follows:

"Mission San Francisco de los Tejas

Was founded near this marker
May 24, 1690,
at the Nabedache (Tejas) Indian Village
Erected, A. D. 1934, by DeZavala Chapter, Texas Historical and Landmarks Association.
Located by: Dr. Albert Woldert, Tyler, Texas.
Miss Adina DeZavala, San Antonio, Texas
Assisted by Mr. J. M. Lovell, Augusta, Texas"

From the Handbook of Texas online: (visit link)

Robert S. Weddle

SAN FRANCISCO DE LOS TEJAS MISSION. The first Spanish mission in East Texas, San Francisco de los Tejas, was begun in May 1690 as a response to the La Salle expedition. The location, according to the most recent research, was on San Pedro Creek just east of the site of present Augusta, a few miles west of the replica in San Francisco de los Tejas State Park. Alonso De León and Fray Damián Massanet, having found the ruins of Fort St. Louis in 1689, encountered Indians of the Hasinai (Tejas) Confederacy and judged them to be suitable subjects for conversion to Christianity. With this information, added to reports of Frenchmen living among the Hasinais, the viceroy Conde de Galve decreed a new expedition headed by De León the following year. With more than a hundred soldiers and four other missionary friars-Massanet, Miguel de Fontcuberta, Francisco Casañas de Jesús María, and Antonio de Bordoy-the expedition left Monclova, Coahuila, in March 1690. It went first to Fort St. Louis and burned the buildings. Proceeding toward the Hasinais, the Spaniards captured two young Frenchmen, Pierre Meunier and Pierre Talon (see TALON CHILDREN), survivors of La Salle's colony. On May 22 they arrived near the Neches River at a valley thickly settled by the Nabedaches, westernmost tribe of the Hasinai Confederacy. The settlement was given the name San Francisco de los Tejas. On May 24 a chapel was built for celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi. In the celebration, which included high Mass, the Spanish flag was raised, and the native chieftain was given a staff with a cross naming him governor, upon his commitment to fostering the instruction of his people in the Catholic faith.

After a search of the area for a suitable mission site, the Spaniards spent May 27–31 building the church and dwellings for the missionaries in the midst of the Nabedache settlement. Father Massanet was given possession of the mission on June 1. The native governor and his people attended a sung Mass, and the new church was blessed. On June 2 De León and Massanet began the return march to Coahuila, leaving behind the other three priests and three soldiers of Massanet's choosing. On reaching Coahuila, De León was relieved of command. Domingo Terán de los Ríos was named governor of Coahuila and Texas, to undertake the following year a new Texas expedition and the founding of additional missions. With Meunier as his interpreter, Terán conducted fifty soldiers, ten priests, and three lay brothers headed by Massanet. He also took herds of cattle and sheep and more than a thousand horses. After the Trinity River crossing the friars hastened on ahead of the main expedition. They reached San Francisco in July 1691 and learned that a second mission, Santísimo Nombre de María, had been founded in their absence. Father Fontcuberta had died the previous February in an epidemic. Terán found the Indians in both missions responding to the friars with growing impudence, more interested in stealing horses than in hearing the Gospel. His march to the settlements of the Kadodacho Indians in November and December 1691 so depleted horses and supplies that the futility of founding additional missions was apparent, even to the friars. So many horses were lost that Terán had to commandeer animals from the missions for his return march. When he departed on January 9, 1692, six disheartened friars went with him. Floods on the Neches destroyed Santísimo Nombre de María Mission the same month.

The difficulty of supplying the missions over such a great distance became evident in the winter of 1693. With word of the severe plight of the missionaries, the viceroy in February ordered Gregorio de Salinas Varona to undertake a relief expedition from Monclova. Salinas reached San Francisco on June 8 and found illness and death rampant among the Indians; one of the missionaries had died. The natives, having come to believe the baptismal waters fatal, blamed the padres and refused to congregate in the missions. The supplies Salinas brought were far short of the need. When he departed six days later, two more of Massanet's friars went with him. Conditions worsened after his departure. The following October the friars buried the cannon and bells, packed the vestments, and set fire to the picket structure of the mission. Stalked by hostile Indians and deserted by four soldiers who chose to remain—including José de Urrutia—they trudged back through the wilderness to reach Monclova on February 17, 1694. Opposing the withdrawal was Fray Francisco Hidalgo, whose plan to bring about a renewal of the missionary effort among the Hasinais finally bore fruit in 1716. Nuestro Padre San Francisco de los Tejas Mission, established that year, was considered the successor of the first Mission San Francisco.

Herbert Eugene Bolton, ed., Spanish Exploration in the Southwest, 1542–1706 (New York: Scribner, 1908; rpt., New York: Barnes and Noble, 1959). Herbert Eugene Bolton, The Hasinais: Southern Caddoans as Seen by the Earliest Europeans, ed. Russell M. Magnaghi (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987). Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Isidro Félix de Espinosa, Chrónica apostólica y seráphica de todos los colegios de propaganda fide de esta Nueva España, parte primera (Mexico, 1746; new ed., Crónica de los colegios de propaganda fide de la Nueva España, ed. Lino G. Caneda, Washington: Academy of American Franciscan History, 1964). A. Joachim McGraw, John W. Clark, Jr., and Elizabeth A. Robbins, eds., A Texas Legacy: The Old San Antonio Road and the Caminos Reales (Austin: Texas State Department of Highways and Public Transportation, 1991)."
Feature Discription: El Camino Real Interpretive Sign

Web address for the route: [Web Link]

Secondary Web Address: [Web Link]

Beginning of the road: Natchitoches LA

End of the road: Guerrero MX

Visit Instructions:
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