Texas History ~ Week 4

Exciting things are happening in Texas History!  Week 3 was a little “heavy” on the information side, so we took a week in-between weeks 3 and 4 to do a little review… thus the late post on Week 4.

This week, we studied the beginning of Spanish colonization in Texas with the Spanish Missions.  We learned what a mission was and how they worked.  Indian families were brought inside the mission, where they lived.  They planted crops, raised livestock and worked toward self-sufficiency.  They were given supplies by the missionaries and had to attend daily Mass.  Basically, the Spanish were trying to convert them not only to Catholicism, but to be tax-paying, Spanish citizens, which essentially was the same thing at that time.

We drew maps of what a Spanish Mission would look like.  Here is my masterpiece:

Don’t be jealous of my mad drawing skills.   Those holes in the walls are for guns, cannons and arrows to shoot through during raids or attacks from invaders (usually Apaches or Comanches).

People we studied this week:

Father Massanet
General Domingo Teran de los Rios
Louis Antoine de St. Denis (Established El Comino Real)

We learned the names of several of the Spanish missions.  Three East Texas missions weren’t doing so well due to being poorly run and Spain shut them down.  In the 1730s, they moved to the San Antonio river, near the already established San Antonio de Valero Mission (later known as the Alamo) and Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo.  These missions stayed close together to help provide protection for each other.  The names were Mission Purisma Concepcion, Mission San Juan Capistrano, and Mission San Francisco de la Espada.  All of these missions served the Coahuilitecan Indians.  (Other missions nearer to Goliad focused on the Tonkawas).  There was also a nearby settlement made up mostly of missionaries and soldiers named La Villa de San Fernando.  All these things led to San Antonio being the most populated and important settlement in Texas after 1730.

For resources, we are still using the two books I mentioned in Week 2.  Also, I used this website:  http://www.nps.gov/saan/index.htm

Now the fun part… After studying all week about the Missions, we got to visit some!  We took a quick, one-day trip to San Antonio to visit 4 of the 5 missions.  (The girls have already seen the Alamo, plus I figured we’d end up going back there when we studied the Texas Revolution).  I really enjoyed watching the girls get excited about seeing things we had learned about.  Even on a tour given by a knowledgeable (albeit long-winded) park Ranger, my oldest whispered to me, “Mom, we know all this… can’t we just look around on our own?”

Our first stop was Mission Espada.  This was the girls’ favorite.  I don’t know if it was because it was the first one we stopped at and after that, things looked the same elsewhere or not, but each of them said this was their favorite anyhow.

They liked the way you could see the layout of the rooms that had housed the Indian people so long ago.

I was impressed at how much they really seemed to understand it all, and how “cool” they thought it was.

The next stop was Mission San Juan.  They were doing construction on the church, so I didn’t get a great picture, but here’s a shot of it through one of the windows in the resident quarters:

The kids thought it was funny that the doors were all so short.

They enjoyed exploring the grounds.

Sadly, the mission hours were drawing to a close, so we had to take a break from our historic education for the rest of the evening.  We made good use of our time, though.  We hit the Riverwalk before the mad rush and ate at one of our favorite places in Texas, Casa Rio.  (That might have to be a post all it’s own sometime).

In the morning, we started at the largest of the missions, Mission San Jose.  It is here that the National Parks Department has their vistor center.  The girls got to complete a Junior Ranger pamphlet and got Jr. Ranger badges & patches, so that was fun.  A large part of this mission was reconstructed in the 1930s, so it’s really easy to see how the mission looked back in the 1700s.

Here is a shot down a wall of resident Indian quarters, along with a reconstructed stone oven:

The church grounds were beautiful.  All four of the missions are still home to active Catholic churches.

The last mission we visited was Mission Concepcion.

The unique thing about this mission was that, although the outer grounds were not in as great of shape, the interior of the church  still has some of the original paintings on the walls and ceilings.

As a photographer, I felt that this church had the most “photographable” spots.  Lots of cool angles and light everywhere!

I loved this little door.

All in all, it was a great experience!  I can’t wait for our next field trip!

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About Laura

A Christian wife, mother, daughter, photographer, amateur chef, homeschooler, pretend gardener, cancer-survivor and laundry-hater.

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