His Excellency, the President of the Mexican Republic
with Regard to the Boundaries of the Province
of Texas with that of Louisiana
Press of the Supreme Government
In Charge of
Cavalier Pedro Piñaº
The western boundary of Louisiana, being as it was the line which separated the recently acquired territory from the lands of Texas, then a Mexican province, was a source of much trouble to the government of the United States a century ago. And while the United States endeavored to establish it at the Rio Grande, the Mexican authorities were equally firm in the contention that it extended as far eastward as the Sabine. An expedition to survey this line was undertaken by the latter, and the report of the journey, and conclusions, as prepared by the Monk Jose Maria Puelles, an of the Convent at Zacatecas, forms one of the most interesting and valuable contributions to the literature dealing with the question. The report was published at Zacatecas in 1828, and has become so very scarce that only two copies can now be traced, one of which is now in my private collection. In consideration of its great rarity, and value as a contribution to the early history of our State, it has been deemed worthy of being translated — the original being in Spanish — and printed at the present time. The title page is reproduced exact size.º The translation was made by Mr. Gilbert Pemberton, to whom I now desire to express my gratitude for his excellent work.
The Commission named by the Supreme Government of the Nation, having already left Mexico to fix the territorial boundaries of our Republic with that of the United States of North America, it will be very useful that we Mexicans should know something of what has occurred in former years with regard to this question. With this end in view, and desiring to make known the labors of a native of Zacatecas, the Reverend Fray Jose Maria Puelles, the actualº guardian of the Apostolic College of Guadalupe, to whom the said Supreme Government entrusted the making of a report covering all the information he had acquired during his long stay in those countries as a missionary, which report will undoubtedly prove very useful to the Commissioners, I have resolved to publish same in order to do this service to our country, and also recommend the of the author, who has deserved the approval of the Government, as will be seen from the following communication:
"Ministry of Justice and Ecclesiastical Affairs. Section: I have reviewed the report sent by you under date of the 28th of last November, relative to the occidental boundaries of Texas and Louisiana, and His Excellency, the President, has remarked the thoroughness with which you have prepared them and your zeal in behalf of the interests of the Mexican republic, but as you cite, among other documents, the calendar or commercial almanack written in the year 1807 by Mr. Laffont, his Excellency orders me to request you the loan of said documents which you may send to this office, of which I am in charge, to be returned as soon as it has served its purpose. God & Liberty.
Mexico, the 22nd of December, 1827.
To Reverend Father Guardian of the Apostolic College of our Lady of Guadalupe of Zacatecas."
The report is as follows:
As a consequence of what I have promised your Excellency, and in order to correspond to the confidence of his Excellency, the President of the Federation, you ask me, under date of the 7th of this month, to obtain all the documents existing in the archives under my charge relating to the occidental boundaries of the province of Louisiana with that of Texas, or New Philippines, and that I consult with regard to this matter with other priests of this College who have travelled in these countries, Iº beg to say: that two priests have investigated these archives without finding anything at all, probably because the documents formerly kept here and in the archives of the Province of Texas, were sent to the Capital City of Mexico or to the offices of the Commandant General of Chihuahua, who at the beginning of this century endeavored to collect from all the archives subject to his inspection all the papers bearing on the said subject, or possibly prior to this date these documents had been given to other Colleges in order to form a chronicle of them.
I have consulted, as your Excellency charges me, with the Reverend Father Commissary, actualº Prefect of Missions, Fray Manuel Gaitan, with the Reverend Father ex-Guardian Fray Bernadino Vallejo, and with the Reverend Father Fray Jose Maria Delgadillo, all of whom resided a great many years on the Texan frontier, near Louisiana, and they know no more than what is currently known by everyone living in those places, and that is that the boundary of Texas begins with the River that flows into the Gulf of Mexico at degrees 39 and a few minutes, the line following up to its head waters; from there to the Arroyo Hondo (Deep Creek) or Mountain River (as it is called by some Frenchmen) which is situated •three leagues to the west of Natchitochesº at the degree of latitude and 284th degree and 30 minutes of longitude from the Peak of Tenerife.a From there the line follows cutting in the center of the lakes that are to the westward and that are formed by the Red River (also known as the Nachitoches, Cadaudachos, or Palisade River) up to the 32nd degree 10 minutes latitude, where the said river crosses p24the line and turns diagonally until it flows into the Missouri, which enters the Mississippi at latitude 38 degrees 30 minutes. This is what the Fathers know and what was known by all the old Spanish and French settlers when I was there at the beginning of this century. This knowledge was a tradition which had been handed down to them by their forefathers, and of which in former years the Mexican Government has compiled an act to that effect, sworn to by more than six witnesses of great age, who swore that they had always heard said that such were the limits.
At the beginning of this century, and whilst residing on the referred to frontier, I was commissioned by Brigadier General D. Nemecio Salcedo to look up archives and make plans of these Provinces and their boundaries and make a report of my findings. But after two months I was relieved of my commission on account of (so I was told) misunderstandings between the Commandant General and the Viceroy, and also because the Rev. Father Fray Melchorº Talamantes, who acting under orders of the Government worked on the same subject in Mexico City, and the Rev. Father Fray Jose Maria Rojas, a pupil of this College, who acting under instructions of the Commandant General, investigated the same subject in Chihuahua, found in the course of their work documents bearing upon the subject with which they seemed satisfied, all of which documents remained in possession of Father Talamantes.
All the information acquired during the course of my investigations was turned over to the Commandant General at Chihuahua, and of the plans which I made by accumulating all the data at hand, I gave one to the Commandant General, one to D. Jose de la Cruz in theº year 1815, another to Don Caesareo de la Rosa, who now resides in Guadalajara, when in former years he was sent to Spain as a delegate to Congress; yet another one was stolen from me by the Engineer Don Nicolas Finiels, who accompanied the ex-Marquis of Casa Calvo in 1804 on the occasion of his visit to the frontier of Texas, as delegate of the Spanish Government to settle the boundaries of this Province with that of Louisiana. Various copies of these plans have been made. The foreigners living in the province have also made fairly accurate plans of the region.
The manuscripts you speak of, entitled Memoirs of Texas, written by the Rev. Father Morfi, are full of important errors, inasmuch as this person never had the opportunity of reviewing them. These same errors are contained in History of New Philippines, or Province of Texas, written by Don Carlos Cifuenza y Gongora, for as he wrote a long time ago and without the necessary knowledge, his writings are very incomplete. The Mexican Theatre, written by p25the Cavalier Villasenor,º is also full of errors. The Conquest of Galicia hardly mentions the Province of Texas. What Don Antonio Bonilla wrote on the subject is very fine; he, however, wrote very fast and without practical knowledge of the facts. The same thing occurs with the writings of the Rev. Father Fray Melchor Talamantes of the Order of Mercy. This enlightened writer studied all available documents, but he wrote so far away from the Province of Texas, and as he had never been there he could not give a perfect account of the region, and some of his writings are confused. Better by far is the account of the voyage of the ex-Marquis of San Miguel de Aguayo, printed at the beginning of the last century, a copy of which exists in the Capital. The chronicles of the Apostolic Colleges written by the Rev. Father Fray Isidoro Espinosa in 1746, and Fray Domingo Arrecivia in 1792, both sons of the College of Quaratero,º are also very good. Antonio Herrera and his pupils have also written on the subject, although some of these writings are not quite clear. The same thing occurs with Garcilazo de la Vega in his History of Florida, otherwise known as The Incas of Peru. This is even less clear than the preceding writings. Lately, Señor Onis, the Spanish Ambassador to the U. S., has written intelligently on the subject and his writings, as well as those before mentioned, can be had in Mexico, where also resides Señor don Francisco Velasco, Secretary in the office of the Commandant General of Chihuahua, a man well versed in the affairs of his office and of a great deal of talent, who can inform you with regard to the documents I mention above. Several Frenchmen have also written on the subject, amongst them a certain M. Dupratz, who resided in Louisiana from 1718 to 1734, but his history is full of falsehoods, especially in that part wherein he states that the limits of Louisiana extend to the west up to the Bravo or North River, by which statement he makes known his malice or ignorance and that he had not read, nor does he know in what year the Spaniards peopled the Province of Texas or New Philippines. This is the reason why credit should not be given to writings of French authors, excepting the notes in the commercial almanack, written in New Orleans in 1807 by M. Laffont.
Notwithstanding the foregoing I will say: that the Spaniards were the first to recognize the Province of Louisiana and Florida, as also the Province of Texas. The last province extended at first from the Red River, or de los Cadaudachos, or the Palisades or Nachitoches, as far as the Trinidad River, or River of Flowers or Magdalena River, that is to the westward of the first named river. But after the Cabinet had withdrawn the from the Presidio of Adaix near Louisiana, and sent it to that of Bejar, •200 leagues to p26the west southwest, the limits were fixed in the same direction by the River Nueces, which enters the Gulf of Mexico at the south, and to the north of Nueces by the River Medina, which enters the San Antonio de Bejar, in order to divide the Province of Coahuila from that of Santander.
The Trinidad River, or River of Flowers, or Magdalena River, as it is called by various authors, has its source at the 34th degree of latitude, and enters the Gulf of Mexico at the 29th degree 20 minutes of latitude and •283rd degree of longitude from the Peak of Tenerife. The Red River before mentioned, or as it is otherwise known, the Palisades or de los Cadaudochos,º has its source at the 36th degree of latitude, facing east of Santa Fe, capital of New Mexico, and running east, southeast enters the Mississippi at the 30th degree of latitude.
From the following notes your Excellency will see that the Spaniards were the first to occupy the Province of Texas or New Philippines and that of Louisiana and Florida, and you will also be able to our absolute and incontestable right to all the old Province of Texas before the Anglo-Americans extended themselves to the Sabines River at the beginning of this century, which river is •25 Spanish leagues to the west of the Red or Nachitoches in the 32nd degree of latitude, for the Anglo-Americans desired, as the French had also desired, to extend their boundaries as far as the Bravo or North River, because they had heard it said that these were the limits, or possibly they had read the reports sent to the Court of France in the first part of the 17th century, confusing the above river with another which the French explorers of Louisiana had also called Bravo or North River and which is really an arm of the Mississippi which flows from it at the 30th degree of latitude and enters Mexican territory at the 29th degree and 29 minutes in Vermilion or Ascension Bay.
It is here necessary for me, to advise before I forget it, that there is a Sabines River, or as it is also called Salty River, in the Province of Coahuila, which enters the Rio Grande or North River at the 28th degree of latitude and •the 277th of longitude from the Peak of Tenerife.
In the year 1512 Juan Ponce de Leon, a Spaniard, entered Florida in its southern part, at Easter time, and navigated along the coast of Mexico.
A few years later a pilot named Miruelo was dashed by a tempest on the coast of Florida, but having lost his bearings was unable to return to port.
In the year 1518 the Spanish Captain Juan de Gujalva traveled p27along the coast of Province of Panuca from San Juan de Ulua up to what is now called Tamaulipas or Province of New Santander; he passed the Bravo or North River and called all this region New Spain. (Fasti novi orbis.)
In the year 1520 Captain Lucas Vasquez de Allon traveled along the coast of Texas or New Philippines and explored the mouth of the Mississippi, which he called Mud Cape. He crossed by land the Province of Texas, explored the Sabine or Mexican River with his troops and was killed in a fight with the Indians in the year 1524 at the 30th degree of latitude. According to the book 'Fasti novi orbis' and that of M. Lafont,º all these chiefs led their expeditions by order of the Spanish Government.
In the year 1523, and by order of Francis the First, King of France, Juan Verasani sailed along the eastern coast of Florida and penetrated up to the 50th degree through territory now owned by the Anglo-Americans.
In 1528 the Spaniard, Panfilo de Narvaez, entered western Florida and established himself on the 5th of June in a place now called Apalaches in theº 30th degree of latitude. (Fasti novi orbis.)
Panfilo de Masumes entered Florida in the same year and place as de Narvaez, both acting orders of their Government.
In 1537 Panfilo de Narvaez again entered Florida. His expedition was unfortunate however, only four men surviving. These were called Alvaro Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, Andres Dorantes, Alonso del Castillo and a negro called Estebanico. These survivors seeing the armada lost, their companions dead, determined to push on to Panuca and from there to Mexico. They crossed a great many regions, saw various nations of Indians, who guided them from one place to another as far as Culiacan in Sonora, passing through Louisiana, Texas, and the Province of Coahuila, etc., etc. (See Garcilazo de la Vega.)
In 1539 the Spanish Franciscan Monk, Marcos de Nisa, traveled through the kingdom of Cibula, which, so I have been informed, is situated west of the region now called New Mexico. He explored all that region as far as the Mississippi. This expedition of Marcos de Nisa caused several others to be sent out afterwards. (Fasti Novi Orbis.)
In 1539 the Spanish Captain Fernando de Soto, Governor of Havana, entered Florida the 12th of May, explored all the Province on both sides of the Mississippi up to the 34th degree; he traveled as far as the Red or Cadaudachos or Nachitoches or Palisades River, which is in the same degree, and whilst traveling down this river and fighting with the Indians was killed in the year 1541 at a place p28between the above named river and the Mississippi fronting what is now Rosavellon or Natchez; his companions, headed by Luis Marcos Alvarado, a Spaniard, retreated down the Mississippi near the Mexican coast, which territory they penetrated several times. The referred to Captain Fernando de Soto entered the above regions under orders of the Spanish Government with 1000 men, only 300 of whom survived. In order not to confuse history and know the mistakes of the French, please note that de Soto called the Mississippi Rio Grande, a name subsequently given to the Bravo or North River. (Garcilazo de la Vega.)
In the year 1540, and acting under orders of the Viceroy don Antonio Mendoza, Captain Francisco Vasquez Camero entered California, searched for the Kingdom of Quivira, which I am informed lies west of New Mexico, crossed that of Cibula, which, as already stated, is west of the said Province. (Fasti Novi Orbis.)
In 1562 the French, under Juan de Rivaud, entered southern Florida and penetrated the country •sixty leagues to the north.
In 1582, and acting under orders of their Government, Captain Espejo and the Franciscan Monk, Father Augustin Ruiz, both Spaniards, entered New Mexico after having explored various regions on both sides of the river. (Fasti Novi .)
In 1596, by order of Philip II, contained in his transcript to the Viceroy of Mexico, Zunigaº de Acevedo, Count of Monterrey, Juan Onate, accompanied by various priests, entered New Mexico; afterwards in the time of Philip III don Diego Vargas Zapata, Marquis of Nava, entered the Province for the purpose of reconquering it. In this and various other expeditions our people penetrated up to the 46th degree on the Bravo or North River. Never had the French arrived this far, nor had they ever visited the mouth of the river on the Mexican Coast, although they assert having arrived at this point, because in former years, during the exploration of Louisiana they visited an arm of the Mississippi, distant •about 50 leagues from the real mouth of said river, which they erroneously called Bravo or North River, mistaking it for the real river, which is very far away on the same coast, and also because they had not read very well what is written in the Spanish books. Since then many new settlements have been founded in New Mexico by the Spaniards, which were formerly called New Granada.
In this region the Theguas, and in Theguaya the first mission was founded in 1608, and at the time more than eighty souls were baptized. (See Torquemada, Indian Monarchy — p29book 5, chap. 26 and following). Please note here that the inhabitants of New Mexico have always extended themselves since its foundation, eastward, traversing many countries very near the Mississippi. Hence I do not see with what authority the King of England, who must have been Charles II, gave to the settlers and inhabitants of the Carolinas, which are in the 35th degree in the Anglo-American States, all the lands from the eastern coast down to the southern seas, inasmuch as the Provinces of Texas and New Mexico had already been founded. Thus was it related to me by various Anglo-Americans when I visited those countries in the year 1803.
In 1611 the referred to Captain Juan de Onate set out from New Mexico, eastward, discovered the Canibaros Lakes, whoever knows which these may be, as also a Red River which appears to be the Cadaudachos or Palisade; from here comes the certain rights of the Spaniards to all the lands east of New Mexico, besides those already expressed, and for this reason I judge well placed my dividing line mentioned before between this country and that of Louisiana.
In 1630 his Excellency, the Viceroy Marquis de Cerralvo, commissioned don Hernando de Leon to discover the northern coast, reported this order to Madrid, where no instructions were issued. (This appears in the report P. I. No. 15, page 19, No. 170, of the year 1778, in those archives). The said Hernando de Leon traveled more than •276 leagues from south to northeast up to the Red or Palisade River; where the French afterwards founded Nachitoches.
In 1673 the Jesuit Marquette set out from Canada, discovered various rivers, including the Arkansas, which is west of the Mississippi and which flows into the last named river at the 34th degree of latitude.
In 1679, the same Robert de La Salle, accompanied by Father Annepin, set out from Canada and visited the Mississippi at the same degree of latitude mentioned above. They built a fort which they called Fort Saint Anthony; they explored the western shores of the Saint Francis River, and the first fort built by the French on the p30Mississippi was erected by them at a point now called Black Islands, and its capital Santa Genoveva.
In 1685 his expedition came to grief; he lost three ships on the shores of the Island of Santo Domingo; he could not locate the mouth of the Mississippi, and took refuge on the coast of Saint Bernard in February of the same year, stopping at an island called Culebra.
In 1687, after having erected a wooden fort in the aforesaid bay, Robert de La Salle was killed by a Mr. Duhan and all of his people rebelled against him. This is the only evidence that the French have for alleging that all Texas is theirs. But this claim is without valid foundation, for Robert de La Salle arrived on those shores accidentally and without a legitimate commission. All of his companions were killed by the Indians of the coast. These spared only one little French girl and two little French boys called Talon and Muni, all of whom were afterwards taken from the Indians by the Spanish troops, who presented them to the Viceroy and Vicereine.
In 1688 a few Indians reported to Father Fray Damian Mazanet, a Missionary of the Holy Cross of Queratero in the Mission of Santiago in the Department of Coahuila, that some Frenchmen were settling in the bay of the Holy Spirit, on the Coast of Saint Bernard •about 150 leagues to the east. Father Mazanet reported back to the Governor don Alfonso de Leon, who by order of the Viceroy of Mexico, the Count of Galvez, set out to expel these settlers. He found on arriving at the spot mentioned that all the Indians had said was true, but that they had killed all the Frenchmen and destroyed their fort. (See Padre Espinosa in The Chronicle of the Colleges). During this expedition the Texas Indians asked the Spaniards to people their lands, which lie west of the Trinidad or River of Flowers or Magdalena River, as it is sometimes called, which request was subsequently granted.
In 1690, March the 27th, don Alfonso de Leon, Governor of Coahuila, headed a second expedition into Texas. On the 26th of April they explored the Bay of the Holy Spirit; they found there the artillery brought by Robert de La Salle and they finished the destruction of the fort. The troops navigated the San Marcos, Guadalupe or River of Flowers, the San Antonio of Bejar, the Red or Cane p31River, the Brazos de Dios, the Santa Teresa or Barroso, the Trinidad or River of Flowers or Magdalena Rivers and arrived at the Netches River, in the 31st degree of latitude and •the 282nd degree 30 minutes of longitude from the Peak of Tenerife. On the 25th of May the first Mass was said in those regions. The Texas Indians swore obedience to his Majesty Charles the Second, King of Spain. The Missionaries were placed in charge of the first mission founded in Texas, which was called the Mission of San Francisco. The troops, after leaving four priests and a few soldiers in charge, returned to Monclova, capital of the Province of Coahuila, where they arrived in the middle of July of the same year. (Chronicle of the Colleges, page 409.)
In the same year, 1690, the Mission of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was founded in that region. I do not mention the missions founded in Coahuila, New Kingdom of Leon, Santander or Tamaulipas, for this is not necessary, as they were founded at various times and a great many years before.
In the year 1691 the Council of War held in Mexico decided to send a new expedition into Texas under command of don Domingo Teran, Governor of Coahuila. The new expedition set out and established its first camp on the banks of the San Marcos River, which river enters the Guadalupe from the east at the 30th degree of latitude. From there the Governor set out to again explore the Bay of the Holy Spirit. On the 26th of October a junction was effected with the troops the Viceroy had sent by sea, and the expedition progressed almost up to the Fort of Mataforda. After taking the cannons left by Robert de La Salle at the Arroyo de la Baca, which enters the lagoons at the 28th degree and 40 minutes latitude, and •280th degree and 10 minutes longitude, they proceeded to the Red or Cadaudachos or Palisade River. On the 30th of November soundings were taken of this river for a distance of •three leagues in the Indian canoes at about the 32nd degree of latitude. Thus was it seen that the missions founded before were distant •about 56 Spanish leagues due west, and the troops repaired thereto. (See Chronicle of the Colleges.)
In 1693 the settlers of the missions along the frontier became frightened because of a false rumor that the French in the Provinces of Mobile and Florida, all east of the Mississippi, were about to invade Texas or New Philippines. During the month of October all the missionaries and settlers withdrew to the missions afterwards called Bejar, on the San Antonio or Deep River at the 30th degree p32of latitude. The fears of the missionaries and settlers were groundless, as the French were •about 200 Spanish leagues away to the east southeast. (See Chronicles of the Colleges.)
In 1698 he succeeded in his endeavors, brought families from Canada, and established them •about 15 leagues from "la Baliza del Mississippi" on the right bank of the river at Fort Bourbon, facing Plaquemine. (M. Laffont.)
On the 23rd of October, 1700, his Majesty Philip IV, King of Spain, was informed of the foundation of the Mission of the Holy Cross of Queratero, and of the necessity of founding new missions along the San Marco and Guadalupe rivers, to which he acceded in four transcripts, — one directed to the Viceroy of Mexico Señor Valladares, one to the Bishop of Guadalajara under whose jurisdiction these regions were; one to the Governor of the Province of Coahuila, and another to the Governor of New Leon, all in favor of the missionaries. (See Chronicles of the Colleges.)
In the same year, 1701, the Jesuit Father Francisco Kino, traveled the Colorado (or Red) River that flows into the sea of California. I mention this so as to avoid confusing the said river with the other Colorado (Red) Rivers that are in the Province of Texas.
In 1703 they erected Fort Louis.
In the same year, 1703, the King of Spain was petitioned to found the College of Our Lady of Guadalupe of Zacatecas, for the reason that it was well situated so that its sons could found new missions in the Province of Texas.
In 1704, the 27th of January, a royal transcript was issued to that effect; said transcript arrived in 1706, and on the 12th of January, 1707, the Rev. Father Marjil, founder and first President of the College, took possession of his office.
In 1709, by order of the Viceroy of Mexico, the Duke of Albuquerque, another expedition set out from Coahuila to visit the Province of Texas, and said expedition traveled up to the Trinidad River, or River of Flowers, or Magdalena River, at the 31st degree of latitude. (See Chronicle of the Colleges.)
In 1711 the French occupied Dolfin Island, and in 1712 both the Spanish and French settlers fixed the frontiers of these eastern p33Provinces, and the King of France made a royal grant of lands and privileges in favor of Mr. Croisat, which certainly the said Monarch had no right to do, as these lands were not his to give. (See Mr. Laffont.)
In the year 1714 Father Hidalgo wrote to the French in Louisiana asking them to pacify the nations of Indians by force of arms, and in answer to this invitation three of them penetrated as far as the Mission San Juan Bautista, situated on the Northern Bravo River. The Government did not admit them, but on the contrary sent them under arrest to the Viceroy, to whom they declared that they had come to buy cattle, and Father Hidalgo was reprimanded by the Government of Mexico.
In 1716, inasmuch as the French from Mobile had penetrated as far as the Mission San Juan Bautista de España, which is situated at the 39th degree and 30 minutes on the Northern Bravo River, the Viceroy, the Duke of Linares, ordered that the Province of Texas should again be settled, which was done, the expedition being headed by the Lieutenant of Coahuila, Don Domingo Ramon, who entered in the referred to Province June 28th of the same year, accompanied by the venerable Father Marjil. The old missions founded in 1690 were re-established, and the following new ones founded: On the 7th of May that of the "Purisima Concepcion"; on the 9th that of de Nacogdoches, at the 31st degree and 30 minutes, and July 10th that of San Jose near the others; and the Viceroy ordered that a garrison of 25 soldiers should be left for their custody.
In 1717, in the month of January, the venerable Father Marjil founded the Mission of N. S. de los Dolores de los Aix, or Asies Indians, on the small river of that name, and •about 16 leagues to the east of that of Nacogdoches. In February of the same year the venerable Father visited the Yatase Indians, who were situated on the Red or Palisade River at the 33rd degree. In March the venerable Father founded the Mission of Saint Michael in the Creek of the Adaizº or Adaises Indians, •7 leagues west of the Red or de los Cadaudachos or Palisade River at the 32nd degree. In the same year, by order of the Viceroy, Marquis de Valero, the venerable Father Marjil explored the western shores of the above named river at a place now called Natchitoches.º In this voyage he encountered no opposition whatever, as the French had not yet made their appearance in those regions. About this time the Viceroy issued an order that all the regions were to pass under the control of the Governor of Monclova, capital of the Province of Coahuila, Sergeant-Major Don Martin de p34Alarcon, and that missions, settlements, and fortresses should be established without delay. (See Chronicle of the Colleges.)
In the same year, 1717, September 6th, a Frenchman named Low,º organized the West Indies Company, which company, fearing the advance of the Spaniards through Texas, ordered the creation of the Natchitoches fort on the eastern bank of the Red or de los Cadaudachos or Palisade River at the 32nd degree, directly facing the actualº town of that name (Mr. Laffont), the river being recognized as the boundary by both the Spaniards and the French, so the last claim; and I have been told by the old settlers that if a Frenchman transgressed the law and crossed the river to the western shores he was not followed, out of respect for Spanish territory. In the same year the mission of San Antonio de Valero was founded on the eastern bank of the Deep or San Antonio River at the 30th degree of latitude. (See Chronicle of the Colleges.)
In 1718 the people began to call the Province of Texas New Philippines, in honor of Phillipº V, King of Spain and these Indies. The Governor of Coahuila and Texas, Don Martin de Alarcon, visited the Bay of the Holy Spirit, the interior of the Province of Texas up to the frontier, the Red or Colorado River (Palisade) etc. He left a few soldiers in the Adaix Mission, and so appears in our Chronicle, Bejar began to assume the importance of a garrison, for 50 soldiers and their captain were left at that place.
In the same year, 1718, the French, with a few poverty stricken people, founded New Orleans, and in this same year, 1718, the Mission of San Francisco de Solano was transferred from the margins of the Northern Rio Grande to that of San Antonio de Bejar.
In 1719 news was received through Louisiana at Fort Nachitoches on the frontier, that France and Spain were at war and the French Commandant of Nachitoches, with his few miserable soldiers, attacked the Spanish Mission of Adaix, •7 leagues west of Nachitoches. He encountered no resistance, as the people of the mission fled, believing they were going to be attacked by a large force. The French sacked the sacred ornaments and vases, took as prisoners a lay priest, one soldier, and all the chickens they could find. The news of this feat of arms traveled very fast and all the inhabitants of the missions founded in previous years fled to that of Vejar, •200 leagues west.
In the same year, 1719, the Mission and Fortress of The Holy Spirit was established at the mouth of the before mentioned Arroyo de le Baca.
In the same year, 1719, Mr. Viron, a Frenchman, traveled up the Arkansas River as far as the 35th degree, where reside the Padouca p35nation of Indians. This river enters the Mississippi at the 33rd degree and 30 minutes (Mr. Laffont.)
In the same year, 1720, the venerable Father Marjil founded the San Jose Mission on the San Antonio de Bejar River, •3 leagues to the southwest of the said river, and that of N. S. de Guadalupe in the Bay of the Holy Spirit, then known as Arroyo de Baca.
In 1721 the Marquis of San Miguel de was named Governor of these regions. He arrived at the fortress on the San Antonio River in March, and reached the missions on the frontiers of Texas with his troops July 28th. These missions were re-peopled as far as that of Adaix, and at a short distance a fortress of the same name was erected. One hundred soldiers were left as a garrison, a church was built, dedicated to N. S. del Pilar; he traveled •7 leagues to the east up the margin of the Red or Palisade River, where he observed that the French had not yet crossed this part of the said river. (So say our Chronicles and the Voyages of the Marquis.) According to ancient tradition repeated by the old people of the country, the Marquis of Aguayo left soldiers on the right bank of the river to protect it. These fortified themselves on a hill called Spanish Fort, where Mass was said for both the French and Spaniards by the Spanish missionaries. In the meantime the Marquis returned to Coahuila. (See our Chronicles.)
In 1722 the French made New Orleans a town and established therein the Capital of Louisiana. The following year the Governor removed his quarters there. Immediately they destroyed Fort Yazou. About this time, and at the request of the Texas Missionaries, an investigation was begun about the lack of protection afforded the missions in the preceding years. The Missionaries were absolved from blame and the record is preserved in the College of the Holy Cross of Queratero.
In 1724 Sandoval, the Spanish Governor of Adaix, and the French Commandant of Nachitoches, both acting without authority of the governments, fixed as boundaries the Arroyo Hondo or de la Montana, •3 leagues west of the before mentioned Red or de los Cadaudochos River at the 32nd degree, and for this reason the French crossed to the western bank of the river, erected a small fort which up to the beginning of last century still preserved its name, as I will relate in my last notes.
In the year 1727 the Brigadier don Pedro Rivero visited the Province of Texas, removed the fort situated in the center of its missions, reduced the force stationed in the fort on the frontier p36called Adaix, by forty men, and moved the fortress from the Bay of the Holy Spirit with its mission to the Guadalupe River or River of Flowers.
In 1730 the French settled on the shores of the Palisade or Cadaudachos or Red River, on its eastern shores at the 33rd degree. They established there a miserable trading fort with only six soldiers and two small swivel guns •six inches long to frighten the Indians, one of which I saw myself a few years back in Nacogdoches.
In the same year, 1730, the Missions of La Concepcion, San Jose and San Francisco were removed to the San Antonio River near the fortress that already existed there, left more than •150 leagues to the west of their former situation and at the 30th degree.
In the same year, 1730, the town of San Fernando was founded near the fortress of Bejar, for which purpose 15 families were brought from the Canary Islands at a cost of 720 pesos for their transportation. Besides these, a great many people were brought there by force from the various prisons of these Provinces.
In 1748 The Saint Xavier Missions were founded on the river of the same name, which flows from the westward into the Santa Teresa or Borzoso River at the 31st degree and a few minutes. The missions of San Ildefonso and Candelaria were also founded thereabouts. By superior orders a few soldiers were left in Saint Xavier; the missions were attacked by the Indians and abandoned. (Father Arrecivita.)
In 1749 the garrison and Mission near the bay of the Holy Spirit were removed to the San Antonio de Bejar or Deep River, •40 leagues southeast of Bejar and •18 leagues from where the river flows into the lagoons that empty into the Mexican Gulf. The Mission was afterwards known as the Mission of the Holy Spirit.
In 1756 the Fort Orcoquiza, or de Lampe, was erected and the mission of N. S. de la Luz founded on the Trinidad, or River of Flowers, or Magdalena River, near its mouth at the 29th degree and 30 minutes latitude.
In 1757 Col. Diego Ortiz de Parilla founded the fortress and mission of San Saba and San Lorenzo at the 33rd degree, on the eastern shores of the Red River that is situated in the center of Texas, which is called Espiritu Santo, or Canas, or San Bernardo. (Father Arrecivita.)
In 1762, on the 3rd of November, France sells the Province of Louisiana to Spain, after having concluded peace. The Versailles p37Cabinet advises the Powers of the said transfer April 21, 1764, and in 1765 the orders of the French Monarch reach New Orleans.
In 1764 Father Calaorra of this College of Guadalupe, enters the Red or de los Cadaudachos or Palisade River, at the 33rd degree, 30 minutes of latitude, to the north of Nacogdoches, invited thereto by the Tahuacanas and Tahuayaces Nations of Indians; he visited many ranchos and was requested to found a mission.
In 1768, Sr. Ulloa takes possession of the Province of Louisiana in the name of the Spanish Government; on July 25, 1769, Sr. Orreli is appointed Governor. Please note that up to this time the French had scrupulously respected the boundaries mentioned by me in the beginning.
In a royal transcript dated December 10, 1770, the King of Spain abolishes the mission and fortresses of Aises and Orroquiza, for as Louisiana now belonged to Spain there was no further necessity of guarding these places; a short while after all the soldiers, settlers and Indians living there removed to the Capital of Bejar.
In 1775 some of the inhabitants of Adaix obtained permission to settle on the Trinidad, or River of Flowers, or Magdalena River, which they did. Subsequently, their settlement was flooded and they passed on to the old settlement of Nacogdoches at the 31st and a half degrees, and •40 leagues east, where they remained up to the last few years.
In 1791 the Refugio mission was founded •10 leagues south of the Bay of the Holy Spirit.
In 1799 an American called Nolan, who had come there to gather horses, was expelled from the shores of the Trinidad or River of Flowers or Magdalena River, at the 33rd degree, by Captain Don Miguel Musquiz, because he was in Spanish territory without a license.
In 1799 the Spaniards still maintained the old outposts to prevent smuggling through Louisiana. The soldiers were stationed on the Aloyas River, •10 leagues east of Nacogdoches, on the Sabines or Mexican River, in a line with, but at a distance of •16 leagues from those just mentioned places, and yet another detachment was stationed at Vallapier or Valluco Piedras, •about 20 leagues northwest, on the Red, or de los Cadaudachos or Palisade River.
In 1803 the Governor of Texas placed a detachment of soldiers in Alarcosito, on the Trinidad, or River of Flowers, or Magdalena River, where formerly existed the Spanish fortress of Arroquiza.
In January, 1805, the Marquis of Casa Calvo visited Nacogdoches with his engineers to examine the boundaries. He proceeded as far as the Calcuchueº River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico to the east of the Sabine River.
In the month of April, 1805, the Bishop of Monterrey, while traveling through his diocese, visited Nacogdoches and west up as far as the frontier of the United States, and then returned home.
In January 1805 Sr. Cordero, Commandant General of Texas, established the town of Salcedo, on the eastern shore of the Trinidad, or River of Flowers, or Magdalena River, facing the place where in 1775 the former inhabitants of Adaix or Adaises, had settled at the 31st degree and a few minutes.
In the same year, 1805, a detachment of soldiers sent by Sr. Salcedo to occupy the place where the former inhabitants of Adaix or Adaises had settled, were expelled by the American troops.
In 1806, the 29th of July, the Adjutant Inspector Don Francisco Viana expelled a troop of Americans who were entering to explore the lands along the Red or Palisade or de los River, at the 33rd degree and 30 minutes of latitude.
In 1806 the Spanish and American forces established their camp on either shores of the Sabines or Mexican River, the Spaniards under command of Sres. Cordero and Herrera, and the Americans under command of General Wilkinson. In order to avoid hostilities these chiefs agreed that the Americans were not to cross Arroyo Hondo, whilst the Spaniards would refrain from crossing the Sabines River until their respective governments should come to an agreement.b
In March 1813, Sr. Gutierrez took command of the Spanish and Anglo-American troops at the fortress situated in the Bay of the Holy Spirit, to fight for the cause of independence against the Royalists Commanders Brigadier Herrera and Col. Salcedo. These retreated to Bejar, and surrendered there on the 2nd of April.
p39 On the 18th of August, 1813, General Gutierrez was routed by the Royalists General Arredondo a few leagues away from Bejar. General Elisondo pursued the fugitives up to Salcedo, a town founded a few years before on the Trinidad, or River of Flowers, or Magdalena River, and the news traveled to Nacogdoches, •40 leagues to the eastward, and all the inhabitants fled to the United States for protection stopping at the former settlement of Adaix or Adaises, •7 leagues this side of Nachitoches, where they have remained to this day.
NOTE: From all the foregoing may be our just and unalterable possession of all the Province of Texas in accordance with the boundaries mentioned by me at the beginning of this paper.
No account must be taken of the inexact assertions of the French contained in their books, and much less of the statements contained in a pamphlet printed in Havana at the beginning of this century, which at the time created a great sensation, and which wasº entitled: "La Aurora, Limits and Extension of Louisiana, extracted from a manuscript referring to the said Province, written by a military who was stationed on the Mississippi since the spring of 1803," for I repeat that the said pamphlet is full of lies from beginning to end.
That are in the office of the Minister of Justice and Ecclesiastical Affairs in Mexico, and others that are cited herein.
In the records entitled "Inspection of Fortresses, book 11, page 16, appear the instructions given to the Marquis de Rubi by the Viceroy Marquis de Crullas, under date of the 10th of March, 1766, which among other things say: Inasmuch as the fortresses of Adaix, in the Province of Texas, and that of Nachitoches are at a short distance one from the other, please report if, in your opinion, one of these could be advantageously removed to another place, in the event that the territory of Louisiana should pass under the dominion of his Catholic Majesty." To which I add that the government, fortresses and missions were removed to San Antonio de Bejar.
Again in the same book, page 22, we find the said Viceroy's instructions, dated September 18, 1766, to the Marquis de Rubi, with regard to the Tahuayos Nation.
Page 1 of said book contains the Viceroy's order to the Governor of the Province and Captain of his company; on page 4 areº the p40Marquis de Rubi's order to the same Governor giving him charge as captain of Adaix, and pages 4 and 8 it is recorded that Governor Martos went through the regular formalities with his predecessor, Don Benito Barrios.
Other records on page 9, written by the Marquis de Rubi, show that the Viceroy, having recalled Governor Martos, Hugo O'Connor was appointed captain of the company and Governor of Texas.
Baron de Riperda says in his correspondence dated in Bejar the 28th of April, 1772, as appears in record 41 of the viceregal index, page 2: "If such is found necessary, I shall advance the lines of fortresses from the Mississippi up to New Mexico," etc.
On page 27 he says: "Don Luis de Sandenis is now within the confines of the Province of Texas, District of Nachitoches in Louisiana."
The same record, page 83, proves the Adaix to have belonged to Texas or Spain, for the Viceroy says that although since the creation of the fortress of Adaix his Majesty has maintained four missions there, no Indians had been converted. This, however, is not true, as may be seen from the records of the missions.
On pages 107 and 108, Article 1st of the Regulations, may be seen the transcript of his Majesty under date of the 10th of December, 1772, in which he speaks of abolishing the Missions and in Article 5th of abolishing the fortress of Adaix.
In the Judicial Proceedings instituted by the settlers of Adaix, book 42 of the Viceregal index, page 17, appears the certification of Father Pedro Fuentes, saying that he has received two books of records of the said missions, begun in 1716 the one, and in 1717 the other, which show that the Missions of Nacogdoches and de los Aix were part of the Province of Texas, or New Philippines.
The proceedings of the settlers of Adaix, soliciting that they be allowed to remove to the Mission of Aix; record No. 1 in book 42 of the viceregal index, relating to the foundation of the town of Bucareli; Nos. 5 and 6 of the same book referring to the abandonment of the said town of Bucareli, are convincing proof that the boundaries of Texas extended to the limits I have mentioned before.
In the copy of the Order of the Marquis de Rubi, appearing on page 42 of book 1, in which orders are given to evacuate Orraquiza after the evacuation of San Saba has been effected.
In book 1 appears a communication from Sr. Croix, dated November 19, 1781, and another on the last page, dated August 22, 1782, which says: "In the announced meeting the points your Excellency covers in his report will be resolved."
In book 7, pages 1 and 2, it is recorded that Don Luis Carlos de Branc, Commandant at Nachitoches, informed the Governor of Louisiana, Don Esteban Miro, that inasmuch as the Province of Louisiana belonged to the King of Spain, the people of the region should be permitted to extend their settlements up to the Sabines or Mexican River, as the country they now occupied is rather small for their requirements. This statement, however, is untrue, as to the north and south and east they disposed of vast territories still unsettled; for this reason, and also to preserve as far as possible the frontiers, the Governors of Texas never permitted the French of Louisiana to extend themselves beyond their own frontiers. Governor Miro, however, approved of this request, as may be seen on page 3.
On page 6 there appears a royal decree ordering a report from the Viceroy of Mexico and which ends thus: "Nothing was done with regard to extending the limits of Louisiana."
On page 7 it is recorded that the then Commandant General of all the interior Provinces, the Chevalier de la Croix, reconcentrated all the establishments of Texas to the fortress of Bejar, but that during the incumbency of Governor Don Domingo Cabello the old order was re-established.
In the Royal Decrees dated the 3rd and 29th of November, 1785, the conclusion of this matter is foreseen, (page 9), and on page 31 is the Royal Decree dated September 21, 1793, ordering the Viceroy to take no further action with regard to the matter for the time being.
Record 370, section 22, contains the report of Don Esteban Miro, Governor of Louisiana, to Sr. Rangel, Governor of Texas, in which he says: "I regret not being able to inform you with regard to the boundaries of this Province with that of Texas, for the French have only left in his office a plan of the Mississippi and of the establishments erected by them."
Book 1, page 170, contains the report of Sr. Cabello and a copy of the record concerning reciprocal trading between Louisiana and Texas, extension of the Province, etc., with a letter from Sr. Miro to Sr. Rangel.
The fortress of Nachitoches was constructed in the time that Don Manuel Sandoval was Governor of Texas. This event having come to the knowledge of the King, in a Royal decree dated July 15, 1740, he orders the Governor of Texas, Don Justo Barco, to report back on the subject.
p42 The Crown's attorney, Don Pedro de Ullon, under date of the 28th of September, 1741, requests the then Governor of Texas, to report upon the boundaries of his Province, and also that in Mexico testimony should be taken from six competent witnesses, who all declared that they had always recognized Nachitoches, on the western bank of the de los Cadaudachos River, •two leagues and a half from Arroyo Hondo, as the limits of both Crowns. They added, however, that they did not know that Governor Sandoval had on his own initiative given a track of land to the French, which caused them to cross the Red or de los Cadaudachos, or Palisade River, for which reason Sandoval was brought under arrest to Mexico.
A decree of the Viceroy Acuna,º Marquis of Casafuerte, Governor of Texas, dated July 1, 1730, ordering that two or three soldiers should accompany the Texas Missionaries in their expedition to the friendly Indians. The original exists in the archives of Bejar.
In the Council of War and Finance, celebrated in Mexico, the 21st and 22nd of January, 1754, presided by the Viceroy Sr. Orcasitos, proofs were offered to show that the French of Nachitoches had passed the French frontier into the Spanish lands of Texas. Sandoval having been arrested, the Crown's Attorney asked the new Governor of the Province to report on this subject, and if the matter as reported was found to be true, that he make the necessary political demands on the Governor of Louisiana. All these instructions were followed out, but affairs remained as they were, and after hearing the declarations of more than twelve witnesses, there still remained a doubt as to whether the boundary was on the Arroyo Hondo or on the Red River.
A royal transcript directed to Don Justo Barco y Morales, Governor of Texas, orders him to report if the former Governor of Texas, Don Manuel Sandoval, had permitted the French of Nachitoches to construct a fortress on Spanish soil, etc. The documents are preserved in the archives of Bejar. Later I was told by several old Frenchmen residing in the region that such had been the case.
The copy of the record marked P. Y. No. 15, page 19, No. 170 of 1778, refers to the commerce carried on between Louisiana and Texas, and the extension of the limits of the first mentioned Province up to the Sabines River. In the latter part of the first volume appears the report of the Governor of Texas, Sr. Cabello, which says: that in 1730 (see the subsequent note) the Viceroy Marquis de Toraldo orders that the Governor of the New of Leon, Sr. Hernando de Leon, should explore the northern sea coast. That these orders were carried out and he explored and marked all the coast as pertaining to Mexican territory in its eastern part; he also p43explored new territory for more than •276 leagues from south to north from the Medina River up to the Red or Palisade River, on the banks of which last the French afterwards founded Nachitoches, and that he also traveled the same region from west to east.
NOTE: It is clearly an error to say that Hernando de Leon was designated in 1730 to explore the northern coast; instead it should be 1630, because the third paragraph says that as the Court of Spain did not dictate orders relative to the matter, the Count of Galvez commissioned Domingo Terran, in the year 1688, to visit the Province of Texas, and it is clear that no report concerning Hernando de Leon could have reached the Court before the Count of Galvez sent Domingo Terran to Texas in 1688. It is clear also, that it was in 1630, because the Marquis of Cerralvo was then Viceroy, not Torraldo, for there never was a Viceroy of that name. Further Governor Cabello says in his report: "That Hernando de Leon, having returned to Monterrey, sent his diary to the Viceroy, the Marquis of Cerraldo, and that his Excellency reported to the Court."
There is also an official communication in the archives of your office from the Cavalier de la Croix, dated September 2, 1778, containing a list of all the towns, missions and Indians in the Province of Texas. He even adds thereto a few of the frontier nations who really lived in Louisiana, all of which, it seems to me, I have read in the history written by Father Talamantes in Mexico, and which by accident I found in a private house.
I beg of your Excellency to excuse any defects you may find in this paper, for it is a long time, more than 20 years, that I studied this question. I have forgotten a great deal, lost a great many papers, and what I have left are a few very small notes.
May God keep your Excellency a great many years.
College of N. S. de Guadalupe the 30th of November, 1827.
Fr. JOSE MARIA de JESUS PUELLES.
a This was before the International Meridian Conference (1884) which adopted a single standard longitude system, based on the location of Greenwich: countries often using their own several zero meridians, usually that of their capital. Even in 2006, the remnants of this nationalistic anarchy aren't quite gone: an official Italian military map in front of me uses the longitude of the observatory at Monte Mario near Rome, although each sheet gives the conversion difference with Greenwich.
The Spanish system referred to here is interesting in that the zero meridian is essentially the same as that used by the ancient geographer Ptolemy, and for the same reason: the Canary Islands (or as Ptolemy calls them, the Blessed or Fortunate Isles) are the westernmost land of any significance associated with Eurasia, so that all longitudes will be positive numbers. Tenerife is 16°34 west of Greenwich: the 284 degrees 30 minutes mentioned here is thus 284°30 - 16°34 or 267°56 east of Greenwich — in modern terms, 92°04 W.
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Texas and the Boundary Issue, 1822‑1829
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