As you get older, sometimes you lose track of time. Taking into consideration that we’ve been “on the Road” for about three weeks and you’ll understand that Part 2 did not end the San Antonio part of the “Great Tour!” Our actual last day was cold and rainy AND our travels down the Mission Trail.
There are four missions on this trail, The Alamo, which we visited earlier was the first mission for a total of five. It will take the better part of a day to see them. Some have historians on site to tell you little know facts and local lore and all of them have free admission.
These missions were started by Franciscan Friars in the 1700s. They were financed by Spain and the missions served both the Crown and the church. Missions were tasked with converting the Coahuiltecan Indians spiritually and expanding the Spanish empire further north in New Spain.
Missions were also walled forts to protect the Friars, settlers and Native Americans. The Native Americans went to the missions to escape disease and raids by Apache and Comanche Indians. The Natives could not escape the European diseases, however, and most died either from disease or in the raids. Most of the missions had failed by the late 1700s.
The Espada (sword) Mission founded 1731, finished 1756 and abandoned before the Texas Revolution in 1835.
Mission San Juan Capistrano started 1731 and unfinished after 20 years due to Apache raids. Spain sold the land to ranchers in 1794. The missionaries had left but 12 Coahuiltecan remained.
Mission San Jose built 1720, booming by 1768 and left by Spain in 1821. Native Americans totaled 281 and did much of the work building the mission. Life was segregated from the soldiers and others there.
Mission Concepcion was started in 1731 and completed in 24 . From 1731-1762 Native Americans totaling 792 were baptized and 588 of them were buried due to contracting European diseases such as smallpox and measles. Some of the original paints have been uncovered and restored here. Absolutely beautiful.
History, architecture and artistry of the missions, designed by the Friars and built by the Native Americans. I will leave it up to each of you to decide if the Missions helped or damaged the indigenous people who were living in the area. I highly recommend visiting and learning more. More info: https://www.nps.gov/saan/planyourvisit/things2do.htm
Stay tuned for the Del Rio, Texas leg of this trip.