Mission archeology work continues today

This is the 13th part in a series on Milam County's 18th Century Spanish missions.

Fortunately, the missionaries, whose work was short lived in Milam County, left written diaries of details of their work with the Native Americans in this area of Texas.

Father Mariano states in his diary " there was plenty of wood and stone in the vicinity."

However, he did not say precisely what materials were used in constructing the mission buildings.

According to Dr. Kathleen Gilmore's thesis "The San Xavier Missions," she states some of the roofs of buildings may have been thatched with corn cane because of the lack of century plants and grass.

Father Mariano also mentioned in his notes that a tree existed in the area that could replace the century plant.

Dr. Gilmore's thesis summarizes that stone and adobe, or a combination of these, were used at Mission San Francisco Xavier.

She detailed a structure as being 84 feet by 75 feet with palisades or a fence. She noted a church on one side with burials in or near the structure.

The church was large enough to hold 153 people.

Mission Ildenfonso's church was large enough to hold 165 persons with burials in a Christian manner somewhat near.

Mission Candelaria's church was large enough to hold 90 persons with burials somewhere near.

In 2009, 40 years after Dr. Gilmore's dig, there is a house located on the area where Mission Candelaria was located.

Across the road from that site, and very near, is a very old, large cemetery with headstones dating back to the mid 1800's.

Dr. Gilmore's findings in 1969 listed the graves as being oval shaped with no evidence of containers or coffins found.

She ha s documented t hat whether the graves were located on the floor of the mission compound or the church floor could not be determined as there were no cross walls found in the area.

Of the eleven burials, only four contained grave goods detailed as follows:

A blue glass bead, several small iron rods and the appearance of a small pouch or bag closed by the bead.

One note from her work did recognize that the burials were not lined up or grouped.

Four were grouped together; five were in an area feet away with three graves separated from each other feet apart.

What is so remarkable about Dr. Gilmore's work is that it continues today 40 years later.

Research: Dr. Kathleen Gilmore's Master Thesis "San Xavier Missions 1969."

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