Remains of old Spanish missions relocated

Joy Graham

This is the 11th in a series on 18th-Century Spanish Missions in Milam County.

After the murders, and the epidemic broke out at the Missions, Pedro Rabago y Teran, the uncle of Felipe Rabago y Teran, was sent to the Missions to replace Garza Falcon's position of Captain of the Soldiers.

He arrived on Aug. 11, 1754 and he reported back to San Antonio that the fort had never been built. He reported that the soldiers were living in miserable grassthatched huts. Their uniforms were badly worn and their weapons were defective, to the point of being almost useless. The four swivel guns with the unit did not have carriages.

Captain Pedro Rabago sent a report the following September, 1754 that stated the climate was unhealthy, the water was polluted and the few remaining Indians could not work.

However, one-fourth of a league from the Presidio (the location of the soldiers' encampment), there remained two active missions: San Francisco that housed 70 Mayeye and Yerbipamie Indians of both sexes.

One hundred twenty from the Bidais and Orcoquisacs had been coaxed back to Mission Candelaria. Those only stayed there for 12 days. Missions Ildenfonso had no missionaries or Indians.

One hundred Cocos came but did not stay. Pedro Rabago suggested the Missions be evacuated and the mission buildings removed.

Months passed with no rain and the situation grew worse each day. The San Xavier River continued to be polluted.

Finally, on July 16, 1755, the soldiers of the missions petitioned Captain Pedro Rabago for permission to move to any place where they could find running water. Although he thought the petition was just, the Captain replied he could not grant their request without official orders from the Viceroy.

On July 23, the three remaining missionaries joined in the soldiers' petitions and asked for an escort to take the remaining Indians to the San Marcos River.

Given no other options, Captain Rabago granted their request without awaiting orders from higher sources.

Ten soldiers, one missionary and 20 mission Indians were sent to San Marcos to build living quarters and a temporary church. All this was done in subject to final approval by the Viceroy.

By Aug. 16, 1755, the remaining missions and the presidio had been transferred to San Marcos complete with bells, ornaments and other mission property including 40 converted Indians.

Research: Dr. Kathleen Gilmore's master's degree thesis entitled "The San Xavier Missions" (1969).

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2009-05-28 digital edition

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