Nicholas Albani (1750s-1760s), Joseph Palafox (1761-1765), Estevan de Losoya (1765-1767)


Nicholas Albañil, a Tilpacopal Indian of Concepción, trained at Concepción during the 1750s, under Ybarra, and became recognized as a ‘maestro” sometime before 1764. In spite of the fact that he was called a maestro, he must not have fulfilled the needs of the missionaries.

JOSEPH PALAFOX (1761-1765)

Joseph Palafox first appears in the mission records with his arrival at Valero in July, 1761, clearly taking Hieronymo Ybarra’s place. The accounts indicated that he was building the church of Valero. Palafox was called maestro cantero (stonecutter), maestro albanil (brick maker), and maestro alarife (architect) at various places in the mission accounts; clearly he was a highly qualified mason.

Like Ybarra, Valero paid for the transportation of Palafox’s wife to San Antonio the next year. In 1763, Palafox charged 12 pesos against Valero’s account as payment on a house.

Palafox appeared in the accounts of Espada in 1763, and Concepción in 1763 and 1764, when he was paid for work at those missions. If he was being paid two pesos a day as Ybarra had been by the town of San Fernando, then Palafox worked 38.5 days at Espada in 1763, and 21 days in 1763 and 30 days in 1764 at Concepción, probably in addition to his work at Valero. Palafox was apparently working with the master carpenter Angel, who appears in the records at the same time at Valero, San Juan, and Espada. Both men apparently left San Antonio about 1765.


Estevan Losoya, an Indian from Aguas Calientes, was master mason for the Querétaran missions from about 1765 until his death in 1767. He worked principally at Valero, where in 1766 he was called maestro de la obra de la Yglesia, master of the church project, and in 1767 he was called maestro de albañil, master stonemason. During this period, Losoya was carrying the walls of the church up to the point where the ribs and vaulting would begin. Losoya may not have been an escultor, a fine-carver, and work on the facade was perhaps held up until one was found. Burials in 1765 and 1766 were noted to be in “the new church being built.” Losoya died at Valero on March 15, 1767 and was buried there.

Estevan Losoya apparently designed the new church at San José about 1766. He planned the building to be about 137 feet long and about 27 feet wide across the nave, with transepts and two bell towers. This original design was later changed twice, but in general, the church as it stands today probably looks very much like the church Losoya designed. Losoya probably directed the demolition of the old flat-roofed church in 1767, and laid out the foundations of the new church. It is likely that the excavation for the foundations was still underway when he died.

Edited excerpts from the original work “Of Various Magnificence” by Jake Ivey, NPS 2007
Chapter 2: Development and Construction of a Mission on the Texas Frontier

Last updated: December 22, 2016

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