Missions of San Antonio, Texas

Day 612

     In 1493 Pope Alexander VI divided the known world between Spain and Portugal and gave the Spanish king authority to occupy the Americas. From the 1500’s to the 1800’s Spain controlled the largest empire in the world. However by the early 1700’s France was encroaching on Spanish claimed lands in what is now Texas.

     Spain had tried to colonize the area, but Spaniards were not interested. Spain came up with the idea to make the local Indians Spanish citizens and thereby populate the area with tax paying people. The Payaya were the local indigenous people whose territory encompassed the area of present-day San Antonio, Texas.

     To become a citizen the Indians must first become catholics. To that end Franciscan monks were sent here to build missions for that purpose.

     This area was first exploded by the Spaniards in 1691. San Antonio, and the San Antonio River, were named by that expedition for Saint Anthony of Padua. The colonial settlement began here on May 1, 1718 with the founding of the Franciscan Mission San Antonio de Valero.

     In vicinity of the Mission was the Presidio (a fortified military settlement) San Antonio de Bexar, named for one of the great heroes of Spain, Due de Bexar. The place was named San Fernando de Bexar in 1731, when it became a municipality, but the locals still called it San Antonio, Spanish for “Saint Anthony”. Today it is San Antonio in the County of Bexar.

     The mission community was part of Spain’s plan to protect her interests and educate and convert the Indians. The missions were more than churches, they were fortified communities.

     The compound walls that surrounded the church provided protection from raiding Apaches and Comanches and created a secure space in which to live, work, and attend church.

     Spain built 43 missions in what is now the State of Texas. Six of those missions are along the San Antonio River, of which the first was San Antonio de Valero. By 1739, 300 Indian converts lived in that compound.

     Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo was the second of the six missions and named for the Spanish Governor of the providence at the time who approved the building of the mission. 

     It was well fortified, with gun ports at the entrance gate

and along all the walls. The walls also encased the living quarters of the Indians. It was two stories, the top with musket ports, and the lower for cannon:

     Mission San Juan Capistrano was named for Giovanni di Capistrano, the Franciscan priest who commanded the Christian forces that pushed the Turks back from Hungary in 1456. He died of the plague after this successful campaign. (Isn’t that where the birds go?)

      Mission Concepción de Acuña: This mission was named in honor of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and Juan de Acuña, the Marqués de Casafuerte. The Marqués was Viceroy of New Spain (Mexico). Originally founded in 1716 in what is now eastern Texas, the mission was one of the six authorized by the government to serve as a buffer against the threat of French incursion into Spanish territory from Louisiana.

     Mission San Francisco Xavier de Nájera was established in 1722 at the request of the chief of a band of Rancheria Grande natives who had guided an expedition to reopen the Missions of East Texas. No permanent buildings were established (hence nothing to take a picture of). By 1726, Mission San Francisco Xavier de Najera was abandoned and the remaining inhabitants were absorbed into Mission San Antonio de Valero

     Mission San Francisco de la Espada was the final mission of the six. On March 5, 1731, Mission San Francisco de la Espada was established along the banks of the San Antonio River.

     The inside of all the missions looked pretty much the same. 

     Like the other missions, the walls surrounding the courtyard housed the living quarters of the Indians. 

     This was rugged wilderness at the time, but those Franciscan monks sure new how to live in comfort:

      Now that you know all about the missions, which one do we now know as “The Alamo”?

Elmendorf, Texas

Day 611

     Elmendorf, Texas, was founded in 1885 and named after Henry Elmendorf, a former mayor of San Antonio. Born April 7, 1849 and died 52 years later. We are staying here because it is just outside San Antonio, Texas.

Technical Stuff:

Alleyton, Texas to Elmendorf, Texas: 132.3 miles

2 hours 42 minutes

9.2 MPG

Diesel: $2.65

Alleyton, Texas

Day 610

     In 1821, the area which would become Alleyton, Texas was happened upon by Rawson Alley who migrated from Missouri, where he was born in 1793. He helped survey the land which would become the headquarters of Stephen F. Austin’s colony. In exchange he was given this area that now bears his name. 

    Tidbit of Information:  When he died in 1833, his Will was administered by attorney William B. Travis, who became the Commander in the defense of the Alamo.

Technical Stuff:

Iowa, La. to Alleyton, Tx: 222.2 miles

4 hours 20 minutes

10.6 MPG

Diesel: $2.59

Iowa, Louisiana

Day 608

     We are in Iowa, not the State, Iowa Louisiana. The town of “Iowa” is actually pronounced with the long A sound at the end, opposed to the pronunciation of the state of Iowa. 

     The town was established in the mid 1800’s as settlers from the State of Iowa came here by advertisements placed in local newspapers by Seaman A. Knapp, who wanted to attract farmers to the area to employ a method he had developed for farming. They named this town for their State (how original).

     Sometimes we look out of our back window and we see babbling brooks, lazy rivers, or vast vistas. And sometimes we see this:

Technical Stuff:

Ponchatoula, La to Iowa, La: 164.5 miles

3 hours 14 minutes

11.2 MPG

Diesel: $2.59

Ponchatoula, Louisiana

Day 605

     We are back in Ponchatoula, Louisiana to visit with Barbara’s brother and niece, and her children. Her niece has two sons, 4 and 6, who made us these welcome paintings, which we have displayed on our refrigerator: 


     See my posts on day 280 and 296 for my comments on Ponchatoula.  

Technical Stuff: 

Meridian, Mississippi to Ponchatoula, Louisiana: 209.8 miles

4 hours even

10.4 MPG

Diesel: $2.53

Meridian, Mississippi

Day 603

     The area now called Meridian, Mississippi was obtained by the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek signed on September 27, 1830 and ratified by Congress on February 24, 1831, between the Choctaw Indian tribe and the United States Government. This was the first removal treaty carried into effect under the Indian Removal Act. The treaty ceded about 11 million acres of the Choctaw Nation in what is now Mississippi in exchange for about 15 million acres in the Indian territory, now the state of Oklahoma.

      After the treaty was ratified, American settlers began to move into the area. Established in 1860, at the junction of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad and Southern Railway of Mississippi, Meridian built an economy based on the railways and goods transported on them. The junction became a strategic trading center. The name Meridian was chosen as the town’s name because the people there erroneously thought meridian” meant “junction”. Silly rabbit. 

     At the start of the Civil War Meridian, still a small village, was used by the Confederates because of its strategic position at the railroad junction. They constructed several military installations there to support the war. During General Sherman’s “March to the Sea” Campaign, he burned the city to the ground in the Battle of Meridian, February 3–28, 1864. Despite the destruction, workers rapidly repaired the railroad lines and they were back in operation 26 working days after the battle.

Technical Stuff:

Ardmore, Tennessee to Meridian, Mississippi: 252.8 miles

4 hours 44 minutes

11.0 MPG

Diesel: $2.70

Ardmore, Tennessee

Day 598

     Ardmore, Tennessee is a small city, just over 1,000 people, that sits on the boarder of Alabama and Tennessee, next to the city of the same name, Ardmore, Alabama. In fact, as we found out when we went to dinner, one end of Main Street is in Ardmore, Tennessee and the other, about 3/4 of a mile away, in Ardmore Alabama. 

       Ardmore began in 1911 as a railroad stop named “Austin” after a store owner, Alex Austin, who served construction crews working on the nearby railroad line that would connect Nashville, Tennessee, and Decatur, Alabama. When the railroad opened a depot in 1914, it changed the town’s name to “Ardmore.” 

     It appears that the railroad liked that name as it named these cities when it established a railroad depot there: Ardmore, Alabama; Ardmore, Indiana; Ardmore, Missouri; Ardmore, Oklahoma; Ardmore, Pennsylvania; and Ardmore, South Dakota. There is even an Ardmore, Maryland.

     We stopped here because there is a repair facility where we are having some damage to the Sphinx fixed. We are actually hooked up to electric on the repair facility parking lot, where we will be spending the next five days. It is great being able to take your house with you.  

Technical Stuff:

Pelham, Alabama to Ardmore, Tennessee: 128.3 miles

2 hours 35 minutes

9.8 MPG

Diesel: $2.70