“In the Name of the King”
The San Jose Papers, The Founding of Mission San Jose, 1720,
Unlike most English colonial religious communities hugging the Atlantic coastline in the early 1700s, the Spanish brought to their possessions in the New World one religion, Catholicism.
Under the energetic and zealous leadership of the Governor of Tejas, the Marques de Aquayo, the Spanish set out to establish communities in their easternmost province to deter encroachment by other European powers, mainly the French. The missions, under the direction of Franciscan friars, and protected by Spanish soldiers garrisoned in nearby presidios (forts), the native people would live, work, and worship, and learn Spanish ways. They cultivated crops, raised livestock, and learned other skills necessary to sustain the group. Through this cultural process the ultimate goal was to create loyal Spanish citizens held together by a common faith. One stunning example of this effort is located in Texas, Mission San José.
Founded in 1720, Mission San José lies just south of present-day San Antonio and is a magnificent symbol of Spanish architecture. Just as important as its physical presence are the written records of its founding. Fortunately, we have access to original documents that are kept and maintained in the Texas General Land Office Archives in Austin, Texas. In keeping with my goal to provide only short “bursts” of historical content, I have posted only the cover page and the introductory text for your reading pleasure.
Written by the previously mentioned Governor Aguayo, the document authorizes a certain Captain Valdez to select a suitable site for a mission community for a local tribe apparently eager to reside within its walls. Governor Aquayo pens a passionate preamble summarizing the mission’s purpose, one that reflects a decidedly Spanish point of view.
Over one hundred years later, a sprinkling of Anglo-American immigrants began arriving in Texas, many, adherents of the Protestant religion. One stipulation of receiving a land grant in Spanish, and later Mexican, Texas would require American settlers to convert to the Catholic religion. What could possibly go wrong.
By the late 1700s, the purpose of Mission San José had run its course and would be secularized and its lands allotted to its remaining inhabitants.
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Until next time.