Proceedings of the Second Annual Mission Research Conference
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"La Purisima Concepción is located about one league1 from Mission San Antonio de Valero due south with sufficient fields and water for its farmlands and livestock. Since its founding 792 persons, young and old, have been baptized. . . . There are 58 families belonging to the Pajalates, Tacamenes, Sanipoas tribes. . . . The mission has a church of masonry, 32 varas2 long, 8 wide, and a dome, a cupola, two towers with bells. In the sanctuary . . . there is a gilded tabernacle with an oval retablo in front of which there is an elegantly carved image of Nuestra Señora de La Purísima Concepción with the Child in her arms and wearing her silver crown . . . below the two towers are two chapels, one to San Miguel and the other serves as a baptistry, where there is a copper baptismal font. . . . There are living areas for the missionaries with adequate offices appropriately built in a dome-type structure and fronted with an archway; (it is) sufficiently furnished for the management needs of the missionaries and with provisions for the Indians.

"There is a room large enough to operate 3 looms which are kept there for weaving cotton cloth, skirts and blankets to clothe the Indians. . . . There are 45 yokes of oxen with harnesses, yokes, plows, plowshares, crowbars, hoes and other equipment to work the farmlands. . . . There is a storage room for tools, a smithy with all tools such as anvil, pincers, hammers . . .; for the masons and the carpenters, chisels, plummets, shovels, saws, jointer planes, brushes and other tools. . . . The pueblo consists of two rows of stone houses and huts where the Indians live and . . . are provided with domestic utensils. The town has its farmlands fenced, a water supply, its acequia for irrigation with a dam constructed of stone and a ranch (El Paistle, 28 miles east) with a home for families who care for 200 mares, 110 horses, 610 head of cattle and 2,200 goats and sheep. . . . In the granary . . . they keep about 800 fanegas of corn and 50 fanegas of beans."

Fr. José Guadalupe Ramirez and Fr. Pedro Parras, 1762

1League (Spanish, Legua), approximately 5,572.7 meters or 3-1/2 miles.

2Varas (Spanish, singular vara), a vara was between 834 and 835 millimeters, or slightly less than 32.9 inches. The decrees of Philip II in 1573 and 1581 designated the Castilian vara as the official Spanish standard and in 1801 Charles IV ordered its use in all overseas possessions.

Mission Nuestra Senora de La Purísima Concepción
San Antonio, Texas, established in 1731
Photo courtesy of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park


". . . this mission (compound) . . . is so attractive and well arranged . . . that I have no voice . . . to describe its beauty. The structure consists of a perfect square of stone and lime, each side is two hundred and two varas long and has a gate; there are towers at the opposite corners, each one guarding its two sides. The dwellings of the Indians are built against the wall. . . . Within each there is a little kitchen . . . a chimney and loopholes which point outward for defence against the enemy; there is an arched granary of stone and lime.. . . there is a workshop where woolen blankets and very good cotton and woolen cloth are woven.

"This mission has . . . (a) ranch called El Atascoso (30 miles south) where there are close to ten droves of mares, four droves of burros consisting of about 30 pair, and about 1,500 head of cattle, some used as oxen for plowing. (The ranch) has . . . all that is necessary; and about 5,000 head of sheep and goats. The Indians take care of all of these . . . and serve in the textile shop, carpentry shop, smithy, tailor shop and at the stone quarry.

"The tribes . . . are the Pompoas, Mesquites, Pastias, Camamas, Cacames (Tacames), Canos, Aqustallas and Xuanes. There are about 350 men. . . . All men and women are very well trained in civilized customs . . . speak Spanish . . . and have been baptized. . . . Most of them are skilled in playing guitar, some of them the violin and others on the harp. The Indians who are armed . . . patrol in two files for security. . . . The Indian women are comely and graceful. . . . The men occupy themselves with work. . . . Old men make arrows . . . young Indian women spin and untangle wool and sew. . . old women fish. . . boys and girls go to school and pray."

Fr. Gaspar José de Solis, 1768

Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo,
San Antonio, Texas, established in 1720
Photo courtesy of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park


"This mission is located about 3 short leagues from Mission San Antonio de Valero . . . which has lands although not sufficient for its cattle and horses. Since its founding 847 persons have been baptized. . . . There are 51 families of Orejones, Sayopines, Pamaques and Piquiques tribes consisting of 203 persons. The convento is next to the church sacristy and has four cells with their porch, two offices, refectory, kitchen, workshop and main entrance. These rooms are decoratively painted and well furnished for the management needs of the missionaries and with provisions for the Indians. Blankets as well as shawls, shirts and mantles are of cotton and wool to clothe the people. Cotton is planted, and wool is sheared from sheep and for this reason efforts are made to increase the herds. The workshop is a room large enough for 3 looms with their lathes, winches, cranks, combs and needles and other needed equipment.

"There are axes, bars, hoes, plowshares, yokes and plows to operate the farmland and to plant corn, beans, chili and cotton. . . . The pueblo . . . consists of huts well designed until the stone houses are built. Twelve oxen carts are in readiness for this purpose. The above mentioned houses are furnished with pots, griddles, metates and other domestic utensils. They have two stone-throwing weapons and 20 guns with ammunition.

"The carpenters and masons have tools needed for their crafts. In a large room which is the granary, there are a 1,000 fanegas of corn and beans needed for the sustenance of the Indians. Also for this purpose, there are 1,000 head of cattle (and) 3,500 sheep (San Juan Capistrano operated Rancho de Pataquilla, 40 miles southeast). To herd the livestock and to perform other mission work, there are 100 tame horses with 400 mares in eleven droves to maintain the number of horses.

Fr. Benito Varel and Fr. Manuel Rolan, 1762

Mission San Juan Capistrano,
San Antonio, Texas, established in 1731
Photo courtesy of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park


"The Mission of San Francisco de La Espada is located about a quarter of a league south of Mission San Juan Capistrano. Since its founding 815 children and adults have been baptized . . . and 52 families remain, which including widows, singles and children number 207 persons from the Pacaos, Borrados and Maraquites tribes. More than 1000 fanegas of corn, 60 fanegas of beans, cotton, wool, chili and salt are stored in the granary for the Indians. Likewise, the workshop consists of 3 looms, textile warper, combs, needles, small cranks and other relevant equipment. There are 37 yokes of oxen, 40 plowshares, 58 hoes, 46 axes, 10 sickles, (and) 16 crowbars to operate the farmlands; all necessary tools for the smithy, the carpentry shop, and for the masons, also two stone cutters, . . . (and) . . . 16 guns with ammunition required for unexpected attacks.

"There is also a ranch (Las Cabras, 30 miles southeast) on which stands a stone house with all needed furniture for families who live there and take care of 262 head of cattle, 4,000 sheep, 145 saddle horses in 11 droves and 9 donkeys.

"The pueblo consist of three rows of stone houses where the families have metates, pots, kettles, earthenware, griddles and other kitchenware."

Fr. José Ignacio Maria Alegre and
Fr. Tomás Arcayos, 1762.

Mission San Francisco de La Espada,
San Antonio, Texas, established in 1731
Photo courtesy of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park


They have a carpentry shop, a smithy, a tailor shop, a furnace in which to burn lime and brick, and an irrigating canal so large and carrying so much water that it seems like a small river and has a great number of fish in it. The canal waters many fertile fields. . . . In these fields they have sown corn, brown beans, lentils, melons, watermelons, peaches, sweet potatoes, potatoes, sugar cane."

Fray Gaspar José de Solis, 1768

The aqueduct, constructed in 1740's, comprises part of the acequia of Mission San Francisco de la Espada.
Photo courtesy of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

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Last Updated: 24-Apr-2011