THE MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT OF SAN FERNANDO
DE BEXAR, 1730-1800.1
MATTIE ALICE AUSTIN.
TEXAS STATE HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION
Vol. VIII. APRIL, 1905. No. 4.
The publication committee and the editors disclaim responsibility for views expressed by contributors to The Quarterly.
In their efforts to civilize and christianize the Indians of Texas, and to hold it against the encroachments of the French, the Spaniards employed three instrumentalities: the mission, the presidio, and the civil settlement. These were tried, not all together at the outset, but successively, in the order mentioned, in accordance with the demands of circumstances. The development of the plans for the colonization of Texas was further affected by the fact that these plans were worked out by two different agencies—the government and the missionaries—who responded in inverse order to the two motives that have been indicated. To the government the thing of prime importance was the keeping back of the French; while the efforts of the padres were directed mainly toward the spread of the catholic religion and the elements of civilization among the Indians. Each was, however, affected by the special motive of the other; and, as a rule, they worked in more or less hearty co-operation. This will be made clear by a brief summary of the early efforts of the Spaniards to occupy Texas, showing the operation of the motives and the use made of the instrumentalities already named.
The missionaries having heard of the rich and fertile country of the Texas,1 became interested in the conversion of its inhabitants as early as 1683; and they tried, though without avail, to secure the co-operation of the government for this purpose. The project of Peñalosa for the conquest of Quivira, which, according to reports, lay next to the country of the Texas, whose inhabitants were of a superior character, brought the matter still more prominently before the government. These two circumstances together with reports, which reached the City of Mexico in 1684, of the coming of the French to settle on the Gulf of Mexico, finally forced the Spaniards to action. The government at once fitted out a series of expeditions both by land and by sea to find and expel these intruders. The third of the land expeditions (1689) succeeded in reaching the French settlement which was located on la Bahía del Espíritu Santo; but found that all of the intruders, with the exception of a few scattered among the Indians, had died either by disease or by violence at the hands of the savages. While trying to find some of the French who had escaped, the Spaniards, who were encamped on the Guadalupe River, were visited by the governor of the Texas Indians accompanied by eight of his men. A missionary, Padre Manzanet, who is to be remembered as the originator of mission work in Texas, had joined the expedition; and, judging from what he saw of these Indians that they were tractable,1 he was filled with the desire to attempt their conversion. The fact that the Indians themselves requested that missionaries should be sent to them encouraged him in this undertaking. The military commander of the expedition, Alonso de León, having made a favorable report of these Indians to the viceroy, sent to the College of Querétaro2 to ask for missionaries to begin this great work. Padre Manzanet, together with three religious from the College of Querétaro appointed to assist in the undertaking, joined a party of soldiers, under the leadership again of De León, which was sent out in 1690 to find any Frenchmen that might still be remaining in the country, and to assist in the inauguration of the mission movement. For the time, the mission was regarded as sufficient for the purposes of both the government and the padres, although De León suggested in a report to the viceroy that presidios be established along the route from Coahuila to the country of the Texas. At San Francisco de los Texas, which was the first mission founded in Texas, and the only one established by this expedition,1 three soldiers were stationed as a guard. This was in accordance with the viceroy's instructions to the effect that no large force should be left in the country unless the Texas Indians proved dangerous; and, in that event, only the number asked for by Padre Manzanet. De León insisted on leaving a force of fifty men to guard the mission. Padre Manzanet, however, considered this entirely unnecessary and even unwise; but he consented that three soldiers should remain. The objective point of this expedition was the country of the Texas Indians, because it was among them that the outlook for missionary work seemed most promising. In the course of the advance of the French up Red River this district became the north-eastern frontier of Spanish occupation. The bay of Espíritu Santo, where the French had been first discovered, was, for the time, neglected. The advantages of the locality which later became the center of Spanish attention, and was known as Béxar (San Antonio) had not yet been recognized by the government, and it was left meanwhile unoccupied and nameless.1
The next year, encouraged by the work among the Indians, the government sent out another expedition under the leadership of Don Domingo Terán the purpose of which was to found missions, to see if there were any foreigners—especially French—in Texas, and to explore the country. With Terán went Padre Manzanet, four Observants, four Barefooted Friars, and two other Franciscans from the College of Querétaro..2 The government was willing to encourage the work of the padres, as it fully realized the importance of Texas for the purpose of resisting French invasion. Upon Terán's return to Coahuila, he left only ten men and one corporal to guard the two missions, San Francisco and Santísimo Nombre de María. Again the eastern frontier alone was guarded. Both the Texas and the Cadodachos Indians were to be Christianized.
The padres experienced great difficulties in dealing with the savages—the Texas Indians even declaring that they were tired of the Spaniards. The government furnished no aid; and in 1693, the missionaries were forced to abandon the country. Nothing further was done toward its occupation for over twenty years, although the padres, who by this time, had come to realize that soldiers were needed to enable them to convert the Indians, were urgent in their request for troops.1
In 1715, the entrance of Saint Denis, who had been sent out from Louisiana by Cadillac, at the instance of Antoine Crozat, to establish commercial relations with Texas, aroused the government to action. It dispatched under Domingo Ramón an expedition whose object, again, was to found missions to serve the double purpose of keeping back the French and of christianizing the Indians. The College of Zactecas, which had been founded at the beginning of the century, sent out with Ramón eight representatives. Their number was strengthened by the addition of five missionaries from Querétaro. Mission San Francisco was re-established about four leagues to the east of its original location, while three new missions, Purísima Concepción, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, and San Joseph, were founded—the first among the Asinais Indians, the second among the Nacogdoches, and the third among the Nazones. Ramón founded also a presidio in the Texas country. These establishments, as will be seen, were all placed on the eastern frontier where, it was thought, lay the great danger of French invasion. Ramón left only twenty-five soldiers in Texas, but was of the opinion that at least twenty-five more were needed. Although he saw the necessity for a larger force of soldiers, and reported that the missionaries were practically helpless without this guard, some aggressive move on the part of the French was needed before any action could be expected from the government.2
The last missions founded during this period1 were Santísima Virgen de los Dolores and San Miguel de los Adaes. These were established by Padre Margil, the most prominent representative from the College of Zacatecas, as Padre Espinosa was from that of Querétaro. These two missions were also placed on the eastern frontier. No soldiers were left at either. Until this time, with the exception of Santísimo Nombre de María, all missions in Texas had been founded in the course of some military entrada and under government direction. The detachments of soldiers left by these successive expeditions numbered respectively three, ten, twenty-five. It seems to have been the policy of the government to increase the number,2 even though it could not be done adequately.
With the year 1718 came a change of policy. The government having realized that the mission alone was ineffectual, placed all three of the instrumentalities in operation together. French encroachment again furnished the motive for an attempt to occupy Texas. In 1716 and 1717, the padres had reported that there was danger from the French on the eastern frontier; and, as a means of warding it off, they had planned to found a mission among the Cadodachos. They had asked for fifty men to be settled here as well as for fifty to be placed in the country of the Texas. Reports of the projects of the French for settling Bahía del Espíritu Santo had increased the fear of the Spaniards that the whole country would be overrun, and its trade monopolized. It was, therefore, thought wise to guard the threatened points.
In November, 1716, the fiscal advised several measures. A mission was to be founded among the Cadodachos Indians. A permanent settlement was to be formed in the Texas country, and mission work among these Indians continued. A mission that Padre Olivares had planned to establish on the banks of the San Antonio River was, by all means, to be founded since it could be used to prevent invasion through Bahía del Espíritu Santo, and as a connecting link between this bay, when settled, and the country of the Texas. A place was to be selected as headquarters for the missions on the eastern frontier, and to be fortified with moated houses of stone (casas de piedra fuertes).1 This was to be used as barracks for the soldiers until a presidio supplied with artillery might be founded. The building of the presidio and the settlement of Bahía were to be deferred until the king might be consulted in the matter.2
In pursuance of this advice, orders were issued for the establishment of one or more missions between the San Antonio and Guadalupe Rivers. Instructions were given that in locating these missions and the Indian settlements connected with them, space should be left for the founding of two cities or villas which, as time passed, would be needed as capitals of the province. A settlement containing at least thirty families was to be, at once, begun on the San Antonio River. As early as 1690, Padre Manzanet had suggested that this region was especially well suited for the founding of a mission. In 1693, he had advised that the work among the Texas Indians be abandoned, since they could not be induced to settle in pueblos.3 Later, as a result of this suggestion, an attempt was made to establish the missions nearer Coahuila. The report of Padre Olivares concerning the country between the Rio Grande and the country of the Texas, suggesting the San Antonio River as a suitable place for founding the mission he had planned to establish, again attracted the attention of the government to this locality. It will be noticed that the three important points, the eastern frontier, Bahía, and Béxar were now all in the mind of the government at the same time. It is interesting to note how Béxar arose into prominence as a result of the way in which these plans were executed.
In March, 1718, Don Martin de Alarcón was appointed to lead an expedition into Texas to carry out the orders of the government. He was accompanied by some seven or eight priests who were to continue mission work. Although instructions were not fully followed,1 thirty families were settled on the banks of the San Antonio River2 near its head, and thus the government took the first step toward the formation of a settlement that might be expected to endure.3 The presidio of San Antonio de Béxar which had been founded by Alarcón, and the mission of San Antonio de Valero which had been founded just before by Padre Olivares were placed near this settlement. Hitherto the Texas country had been the objective point of occupation. Now, Béxar, which was to become the final rallying point of the Spaniards, begins to rise into view; while the eastern frontier becomes a secondary consideration, and finally relatively unimportant. Béxar was at first founded to prevent invasion through Bahía, while later the settlement at Bahía was kept up as a means of protecting the more important stronghold on the San Antonio River. The military policy in accordance with which Alarcón had been sent out to Texas was not at this time followed up; for, when he asked for additional troops, his request was refused. He visited the eastern frontier, and added some six or seven soldiers to again make the number twenty-five, which had been left by Ramón. These with the soldiers and their families settled at Béxar completed the guard for the entire country. The settlement and fortification of Bahía were entirely neglected.4
The next movement toward occupation came in 1721, when as a result of the French invasion of 1719, a more strenuous military policy was undertaken. For the time, almost the entire attention of the government was directed toward the foundation of presidios garrisoned by a much larger force than had ever before been used. Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo was entrusted with this work. He restored the presidio in the Texas country, founded those of Adaes and Bahía, and moved that of Béxar to a more satisfactory location. As in the previous expedition, however, the mission and a modified form of the civil settlement were also used. Aguayo was accompanied by representatives of both the College of Querétaro and that of Zacatecas—to the number of nine—and the following missions were established: San José de Aguayo, San Xavier de Náxera, and Espíritu Santo de Zuñiga. The first two were at Béxar, the last, as its name would indicate, was at Bahía. Aguayo also settled families of soldiers at Adaes. He left the province garrisoned by a force of two hundred and sixty-eight soldiers—one hundred at Adaes, ninety at Bahía, twenty-five in the Texas country, and fifty-three at Béxar.1
The policy of the military occupation of Texas was not followed up. In 1727, when Pedro de Rivera made his tour of inspection into that country, he decided that the missions had proved ineffectual in inducing the natives to settle in pueblos, and that danger from French invasion was not so imminent as to demand the presence of a strong military force in Texas. The number of soldiers stationed in the province was, therefore, much reduced, and the presidio in the Texas country was abandoned.2
The mission alone, and the mission guarded by the presidio having proved ineffectual, the government resorted to actual colonization, thus trying the last means known to the Spanish system. The padres were the first to realize the necessity for this step, and had long before suggested the plan to the government. In fact, the idea was developing throughout the whole period in which military occupation was most strongly emphasized; and, as has been shown, a modified form of the civil settlement—the colony of citizen soldiers—had already been used. The plan, however, of settling families other than soldiers, and granting them municipal rights was not tried until all other means had failed. How gradual was the development of the plan of employing the purely civil settlement may be seen from an examination of the various efforts of the government to strengthen its hold on the country from 1718, when the first soldiers with their families were settled in the country, to 1731, when the fully matured plan was carried out in the founding of the villa1 of San Fernando de Béxar.
Even as early as 1691, Padre Francisco de Jesus María had suggested the settlement of families among the Asinais Indians,2 but it was not until about 1716 that the plan seems to have been urged upon the authorities. In July of this year, the missionaries had suggested the placing of families on the eastern frontier. In the same year, they had asked that fifty men be settled in the Cadodachos country, and fifty among the Texas Indians. In 1716, also, Padre Olivares, in writing to the viceroy of his plans for founding the mission of San Antonio de Padua on the San Antonio River, asked that families be sent in addition to the soldiers he had thought necessary. The first settlers, however, sent into Texas by the government were those brought out by Alarcón in 1718.3 The sending of these families may have been the direct outcome of the request of Padre Olivares.
The next step taken toward the settlement of families was in response to the suggestion of the padres. Disgusted with Alarcón's failure to execute orders,1 one of them went to Mexico and made a report to the viceroy. By representing the imminent danger of French invasion and the consequent necessity for settlers this religious, Fr. Mathias Sanz, succeeded in obtaining from the viceroy an order that families be sought for at once to settle in villas. The plan was not carried out at this time, and nothing further was done in this direction until Padre Espinosa took the matter in hand.
Some time after Aguayo entered Texas, this priest went to Mexico, and laid before the viceroy his plan for making the Spanish hold on the country permanent. He says: "I had sufficient opportunity for conferring with the Marqués de Valero and with others in high positions concerning the condition of that poor province—Texas; and I shall never have to feel regret for not having proposed, as far as my limitations would permit, the most suitable means for the settlement and permanent occupation of that fertile country. That the plans of all the missionaries, counting Padre Margil in this number, might be evident to all, [I stated that] it was our opinion that, in accordance with the Leyes de la Nueva Recopilacion de las Indias,2 married men with their families, who should desire to volunteer as settlers,3 should be taken instead of conscripts—as were the majority of those previously taken (although I am not speaking of all). To the men was to be given, for two years, the pay of soldiers, to their wives and to their children over fifteen years of age half pay—this to be furnished in money in order that they might carry everything necessary for settlers. Upon their arrival in the province, land was to be assigned each family to cultivate4—this to become the property of the said family. The families would doubtless cultivate the lands, regarding their labors as a means of leaving an inheritance to their children. The latter, being reared in the province, would look upon it as their fatherland.1 I, likewise, proposed that among these families there should be some men understanding the trades and liberal arts. Of this class of people, many could be easily found who, not being comfortable in the cities, would gladly go to try their fortunes in a new country."2 Espinosa began the work of carrying out this plan by securing from the viceroy an order authorizing him to procure families. Seven poor families with trades offered to go in the hopes of bettering their miserable condition. The undertaking was, however, frustrated by the suggestion of those managing the affair that it would be better to secure the recruits from various cities. This was done to Espinosa's displeasure, for he complains that but few persons went voluntarily, but that most of them were taken from prison. With these recruits he joined Aguayo in his expedition into Texas. These settlers located on the banks of the San Antonio River.3
It is quite evident from all the preceding evidence that the plan of settling families originated among the padres. The first request for settlers had come from them, and the first families of soldiers sent out were in a degree placed under their control. Padre Espinosa distinctly claimed that the plan he laid before the viceroy for the settlement of families was the work of the missionaries. His plan was essentially the same as that followed in Alarcón's instructions. This supposition is further borne out by the fact that Espinosa, a religious, is the only authority yet found who gives any detailed account of the settlement of families during Aguayo's expedition. It does not seem to have been a matter of any special interest to Aguayo for he mentions the settlement of families but once, and then as if it were a subject of no real importance. This was the settlement of thirty-one soldiers with their families at Adaes.1
After Aguayo left Texas in 1722, the government seems to have abandoned its efforts to colonize the country. The work of colonization by means of families up to this time may be summarized as follows: in 1718, Alarcón settled a company of soldiers with their families on the San Antonio River and placed seven families at Adaes; in 1721, Aguayo stationed a company of thirty-one soldiers at Adaes; while during the same year, Espinosa settled the families he had raised, at Béxar. These settlements had all been made under government direction. But at least one group of families had come independently, and that, too, before 1718; hence this date which is usually given for the beginning of Béxar must be incorrect. This the following translation of an extract from the petition presented in 1787 by the cabildo to Governor Rafael Martinez Pacheco2 will show. "It is certainly evident and clear that the settlement of this province of Texas was begun in the year 15 of our present century.3 [The Province was given this name by the captains who made various expeditions into it in times past in obedience to superior orders. In these [expeditions] they had only the satisfaction of reconnoitering the province, but never the pleasure of settling it until the above mentioned year. Then, some bold citizens, from the two neighboring provinces—Nuevo Reyno de León or Monterey, and Nueva Estremadura Monclova or Coahuila—which were at that time the last and frontier provinces of Nueva España, desirous of renown or wishing to advance their own private interests, had well authenticated and individual information that the many gentile nations living in these two provinces and in their principal districts about this time were at peace. . . . [These citizens] conceived the idea [of settling in Texas], and with manly courage set out to seek the famous and much lauded river of San Antonio,1 on whose banks they formed a settlement very near the point at which our villa San Fernando is planted today. They brought with them not only their wives and children, but all their goods, cattle, horses, goats, sheep, and such other things as they thought necessary for their sustenance, returning from time to time to the presidio of San Juan Bauptista del Rio Grande for the comforts of religion. They had no troops for their defense except the guard they themselves formed from their own number. There remains at this time only the memory of their coming, of the names of the most prominent men among them—these were Don Mateo Carabajal, Cristóbal Carabajal, and Don Francisco Hernandez—and of the survival and increase of the cattle they brought. This memory exists in the minds of their descendants—our relatives,2 but it is not such as those men deserve as first settlers."
After Aguayo left Texas in 1722, the padres continued their labors under great disadvantages. They finally despaired of success unless they could induce the government to send out more people to furnish to the Indians an example of the life they were expected to lead, and to teach them the most necessary arts.3 These plans were not regarded with favor by Rivera, as the padres had so fondly hoped. Instead of adopting the policy recommended by them, the government actually abandoned the presidio in the Texas country and reduced the garrison at Adaes. In 1730, therefore, the three Querétaran missions which, up to the time of Rivera's inspection had been protected by the presidio in the Texas country, were removed from the eastern frontier to Béxar, making five in all at this point.1 Here the padres were soon to see their long cherished plan for the settlement of families carried out in the founding of the villa of San Fernando de Béxar. The three Zacatecan missions were left on the eastern frontier. These with the mission at Bahía completed the list of such establishments in Texas at this time.
The first officially recognized civil settlement in Texas was the villa of San Fernando de Béxar, which was founded in 1731 by a group of families from the Canary Islands. In the plan for the establishment of this new villa appear several new features. Hitherto the arrangements for the settlement of families had been worked out by the missionaries, the orders had been issued by the viceroy, and all families brought in had been natives of Mexico. Now the idea was taken up by the king, all orders were issued by him at the suggestion of Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo, and all families were brought from the Canary Islands. The advisability of settling families in Texas from Galicia, or from the Canary Islands, from Havana, and from the Province of Tlascala, as a means of preventing French invasion, had been recognized by Aguayo after he had succeeded in bringing Texas back under the dominion of the Spanish crown, after the French invasion of 1719. Both he and the corporal of Bahía had recommended this measure. As a result of this recommendation three royal orders for the transportation of families to Texas were issued, the first March 18, 1723,2 the second on May 10, 1723,3 and the third on February 14, 1729.4 Nothing came of the two orders issued in 1723. The order of February 14, 1729, recites that Marqués de Aguayo had proposed, as a means of holding Texas more securely, and at the same time avoiding the expense of maintaining so many presidios, and so large a force of soldiers there, the settlement of four hundred families from the Canary Islands, from Havana, and from the Province of Tlascala, suggesting that they be distributed among all the missions, at Bahía [de San Antonio],1 at Adaes, and among the Texas Indians. He also thought that it would be well to form a mission with a settlement of Spaniards and Tlascaltecans half way between San Antonio and the country of the Texas. The king gave orders for the transportation of four hundred families, including the two hundred for which orders had previously been issued.2 All these were to come from the Canary Islands. The volunteers were to be transported and maintained for one year at government expense, and to be settled in the places mentioned above. In response to this decree a few people—numbering when they left the Canary Islands but ten families3 —volunteered to come to Texas. These immigrants reached Béxar at eleven o'clock, March 9, 1731.4
Something should be said here as to the seeming discrepancy in the number of settlers mentioned in the various accounts given concerning them. The exact number of families, and the number of persons composing them has been the subject of much discussion. The conclusions reached have been various—the number of families ranging from ten to sixteen, and that of the persons from fifty-two to fifty-six. The authorities vary, but the discrepancies can be easily explained. To begin with but ten families, under the leadership of Juan Leal Goras,5 who was the oldest man among them and the one who subsequently received the greatest honors within their gift, started out from the Canary Islands.1 Within a month the number of families was increased from ten to fifteen. This was brought about by marriage among the colonists, as may be seen from a comparison of the list of the families taken at Quautitlan, September 9, 1730,2 with the list taken just before they left Quautitlan, November 8, 1730.3 The first list is as follows: "Juan Leal Gonzal, wife, three sons, and one daughter; Juan Carbelo, wife, two sons, and three daughters; Juan Leal y Moso (son of the first man), wife, four sons, and one daughter; Antonio Santio [Santos?], wife, one son, and four daughters; José Padron, and wife; Manual de la Nis [Niz?], wife, and daughter; Salvador Rodriguez, wife, and son; Maria Rodriguez (widow of Juan Cabrara who died near Vera Cruz), two sons and one daughter; Maria Rodriguez, (widow of Juan Rodriguez Granadillo), and two sons; Maria Melian (widow of Luca Delgado), three sons, and one daughter; five single men: Antonio Rodriguez, Phelipe Perez, José Antonio Perez, Martin Lorenzo de Armas, Ignacio Lorenzo de Armas—a total of fifty-two persons containing ten families." The list taken of the families just before they left Quautitlan includes the following persons:4 Juan Leal Goras, and two sons; Juan Curbelo, wife, two sons, and one daughter; Juan Leal, Jr., wife, four sons, and one daughter; Antonio Santos, wife, one son, and three daughters; Joseph Padron, and wife; Manuel de Niz, and wife; Vicente Alvarez Travieso, and wife; Salvador Rodriguez, wife, and one son; Francisco de Arocha, and wife; Antonio Rodriguez, and wife; Joseph Leal, and wife; Juan Delgado, and wife; Joseph Cabrera, son, and daughter; Maria Rodriguez Provayna, three sons, and three daughters; Mariana Melano, two sons, and one daughter; and four single men: Phelipe Perez, Joseph Antonio Perez, Martin Lorenzo de Armas, and Ignacio Lorenzo de Armas—a total of fifty-six persons and fifteen families, or sixteen families if the unmarried men be counted a family as they sometimes were. The following changes had taken place. Vicente Alvarez Travieso and Francisco (de) Arocha — if they had not been overlooked in making the first list — had joined the party after the list was made.1 Two women had died: Maria Rodriguez (widow of Juan Cabrera), and the wife of Juan Leal Goras. In taking the first list three daughters of Maria Rodriguez (widow of Juan Rodriguez Granadillo) had been overlooked, and one son had been born later. The following five men had married daughters of the Islanders: Vicente Alvarez Travieso, Francisco de Arocha, Antonio Rodriguez, Joseph Leal, and Juan Delgado, and consequently, there were fifteen families — not counting the four single men—when the second list was formed.2
These fifteen families founded the villa of San Fernando de Béxar. The settlement was given this name in honor of the heir to the Spanish crown, although many persons desired to name it Casafuerte in honor of the viceroy of Mexico.1 According to the viceroy's orders it was to be made a ciudad, and created the capital of Texas because it was the first civil settlement founded in the province by families from the Canaries.2
The new settlement was to be governed by a city council or cabildo, and orders for the appointment of the members of this body had been issued long before the Isleños, as the Canary Islanders were often designated, arrived.3 The law in regard to the formation of such a body in a new settlement founded under similar conditions to those existing at San Fernando declared that whenever any private individuals desired to form a new settlement, and had the necessary number of married men for the purpose—not less than ten4 —they should be given permission to form a settlement, should be assigned lands, with prescribed limits,5 and should be granted the right to elect from their own number alcaldes and other annual officers of the cabildo.6
All these directions had been followed. The viceroy had issued a decree authorizing the governor of Texas, or in his absence, the captain of the presidio of Béxar to select from the heads of these fifteen families six persons as regidores, one as alguacil mayor, one as escribano de consejo y público, and one as mayordomo de los bienes y propios. These were to have the power to elect from their own number two ordinary alcaldes as judicial officers. The first nine offices were to be given to the men whom the governor considered most suitable for holding them for life. In accordance with these instructions, on July 20, 1731, Don Juan Antonio Pérez de Almazán, captain of the presidio of Béxar, named all of the officers with the exception of the two alcaldes. The officers thus appointed were installed on August 1, 1731. They immediately held a meeting, and proceeded to the election of the two judicial officers1 to whom they were entitled. These two alcaldes took the oath of office on that day. Now, nothing but the viceroy's approval was needed to complete the organization of the cabildo of the villa of San Fernando de Béxar.2 Notification of the result of the election was forwarded at once, but the viceroy's approval was not given until October 24, 1731,3 and over six months elapsed after the arrival of the Isleños before they had a completely organized municipal government.
As has been said, the number of officers provided for was eleven. These were to be six regidores,4 two alcaldes,5 one escribano de consejo, one mayordomo de los bienes y propios, and one alguacil mayor.6 To fill these offices, however, as will appear from the list that follows, only nine men were needed; for the two alcaldes served also as regidores. This became the custom. The men appointed to these positions were: Juan Leal Goras, 1st regidor (regidor decano), and first alcalde (de primero voto); Juan Curbelo, 2nd regidor; Antonio Santos, 3d regidor; Salvador Rodriguez, 4th regidor, and 2nd alcalde (de segundo voto); Manual de Niz, 5th regidor; Juan Leal Alvares, 6th regidor; Francisco de Arocha, escribano de consejo y público; Antonio Rodriguez, mayordomo; and Vicente Alvarez Travieso, alguacil mayor.1 Only married men were chosen, and the preference was given to the older men among this number.
The documents I have examined in the Béxar Archives show that various names were applied to the body thus organized. The titles used in the Recopilacion when speaking of the bodies charged with the municipal government of ciudades, villas or lugares are consejo, ayuntamiento, or cabildo, justicia, y regimiento. The latter form is used in the minutes of the cabildo of San Fernando throughout the period under consideration. During its early history it was usually referred to simply as the cabildo. Still other names used were consejo municipal, and cuerpo municipal. Forms of address were Muy Illustre Cabildo, Noble Cabildo, and Illustre Cabildo, Justicia, y Regimiento. Toward the end of the century the name ayuntamiento almost superseded that of cabildo; and this, in turn, during the first quarter of the nineteenth century was displaced by the term municipalidad.
To understand the government thus organized a brief consideration of the history of the Spanish municipality is necessary; for, although all cabildos under Spanish dominion had certain features in common there were peculiar customs developed in each individual case. History will show that there was great latitude for the growth of these differences. During the eleventh and twelfth centuries the kings of Spain organized consejos in the various settlements of their dominion. These bodies were composed of all citizens or of all heads of families in the pueblos, and were used as a means of holding in check the nobles who always stood ready to usurp the royal power. The consejos supervised the economic activities of the settlement and exercised civil and criminal jurisdiction in all cases except those coming under the cognizance of the king himself, and appeals were taken directly from these consejos to the king. They elected alcaldes and other judicial officers together with certain administrative and military officials. The size of the consejos, however, proved inconvenient. Therefore, during the fourteenth century, the number was restricted, and the germ of the modern ayuntamiento was formed. A system of laws similar to those in Spain was developed for the government of consejos in America. Most of the laws that were in force at the time San Fernando was founded are contained in the Recopilacion de Leyes de los Reynos de las Indias. The first edition of these laws was issued in 1680, the second, which was merely a reprint of the first, in 1774, and the third in 1791.1 It has already been shown that the Spaniards, in their various efforts to hold the Province of Texas from 1689 to this time, had been controlled by the laws of the Recopilacion. Now, it was the intention of the government to found this villa, and have it governed in accordance with these same laws. That this is true is easily established. In accordance with the laws of the Recopilacion the new settlers were created hidalgos2 and were given a municipal government,3 and detailed instructions, based upon the Recopilacion, were given for the laying off of the town.4 Other examples showing obedience to the Recopilacion might be given, but these are doubtless sufficient.
It is clear, however, that in practice the laws were modified to meet peculiar conditions at San Fernando. One of the most striking instances of such disregard, or in fact of violation of these laws, was the establishment of the villa near the missions, and the groups of settlers that had gathered about Béxar between 1718 and 1730. The law prescribing the regulations for the settlement of villas governed by ordinary alcaldes and regidores declared that the boundaries of the four leagues of land set aside for the said place should be distant at least five leagues from any ciudad, villa, or lugar de Españoles5 which might have been previously established. Blackmar interprets this law to include missions.1 If this be true—which, however, is doubtful—the settlement of the villa at the point selected by the viceroy was undoubtedly in violation of the law in question, as there were several missions nearer than five leagues. At any rate, the groups of settlers gathered at this point must be considered as forming a lugar de Españoles, and, therefore, if it were recognized as such by the government,2 the location of the new villa so near this settlement was illegal. That the villa was placed near the missions and the presidio is proved by the following statement. "In 1731, four settlements were made on this river [the San Antonio] three for the conversion of the heathens, and one called the villa of San Fernando in which the Islander families, and other citizens of the place are settled. These with the presidio form but one settlement."3 In fact, the villa was placed but a few hundred yards from the presidio which was located on what is now known as the military plaza. The center of the villa settlement was marked by the spot now called the main plaza.4
Other cases in which the organization and methods of procedure in the municipal government of San Fernando were in violation of the Recopilacion may be mentioned. The law fixing the length of the term of municipal offices was, at first, modified to meet conditions at San Fernando. This law declared that officers of the cabildo should be elected annually, and that having served in any capacity for the period of one year, no man should be eligible to the same office or to any other municipal office until at least two years had elapsed. In the case of an alcalde an interval of three years was required before he could be again elected alcalde.5 In this new settlements it was impossible to fulfill these requirements. There were, as will be seen from the list of Isleños1 only thirteen married men over eighteen years of age—the age of Antonio Rodriguez, the youngest member of the first cabildo. Unmarried men were not eligible. Therefore the number of those available for election was, at the outset, limited to thirteen. As the younger men were married the number was gradually increased. But there were also, as has been shown, other settlers at Béxar when the Isleños reached that place2—those who had come out with Alarcónand they should have had a share in the municipal government of the newly founded villa, but practically, in the earlier years of the municipality, this was not true. The settlement established by Alarcón on the banks of the San Antonio River, in 1718, contained thirty families. According to the laws of the Indies, this was the requisite number for founding a villa to be governed by a consejo composed of ordinary alcaldes and regidores.1 It was the intention of the government that the settlement founded by Alarcón should be organized as a villa.2 It was even subsequently referred to as a villa,3 but no evidence has as yet been found to show that these settlers had any distinct municipal government. Yet if this were true up to the coming of the Canary Islanders, the viceroy, in making provisions for the laying off of the town, had provided that such persons as might join the Isleños should be eligible to municipal office. This, however, may have been intended to apply to other settlers that were expected to come from the Canary Islands. The first cabildo was composed entirely of Isleños, and with the exception of the alcaldes, the members were appointed for life. Consequently there was not much chance for a non-Isleños to hold office at first. From 1731-1749 only some three or four men who did not belong to this favored class, so far as the records show, enjoyed the honor of serving on this body.4 By the early 50's, however, some twenty years having elapsed, the number of the original cabildo had become thinned by death and incapacity.1 It became necessary then, in some cases, to select other men to fill the vacancies, and the policy was adopted of regularly electing a few of the younger members of the Isleños, or even the vecinos agregados.
Although, at first, the law providing for the annual election of officers was disregarded except in the case of alcaldes,2 toward the end of the century, it was strictly enforced. In 1794 Manuel Muñoz, who was then governor of Texas, wrote to the cabildo in regard to the election report sent him for approval, as follows: This government is not unmindful of the irregularities in the elections you report. In most cases you have left to those re-elected the same offices they had previously held. I cannot believe that there is a scarcity of individuals in the settlement to fill these places."3 The same question had arisen the year before. The governor had written to the cabildo saying that before Don Clemente Delgado could be legally re-elected, at least two years interval after the expiration of his term of office was absolutely necessary.4 As to the time for holding elections, and for installing the officers of a new cabildo nothing has been found previous to 1778. In this year, however, the time for holding the elections, the time for sending the report of these elections to the governor for approval, and the time for installing the officers was fixed. The election report for 17915 states that elections had been held on the 20th of the month of December in accordance with an order of Don Theodore de Croix, general comandant of the Provincias Internas which had been issued on January 13, 1778, and that reports of elections had been sent to the governor for approval on the 21st of the same month in obedience to the same orders. The new cabildo was to be installed on January 1st. This arrangement was strictly adhered to, at least, as late as 1800.
Another instance in which the laws of the Recopilacion were violated, was in regard to the place of meeting. The law provided that all sessions of the cabildo, all elections, etc., should be held in the municipal hall. The penalty imposed for violation was permanent loss of office.1 Special provision was made that no meetings should be held at the governor's house unless there were urgent reasons therefor.2 Both of these laws were violated. There was no municipal hall at San Fernando for years after its foundation,3 and consequently meetings had to be held at other places. As late as 1783, the cabildo met in the jail.4 Sessions were frequently held at the house of the alcalde. It was not unusual to hold meetings at the governor's house even toward the end of the century.
Another case of violation of the laws of the Recopilacion was the election of alcaldes who were unable to write.5 Of the nine officers of the first cabildo only four men could sign their names. Juan Leal Goras, 1st alcalde, could write sufficiently well for any person knowing that his signature was affixed to a document to identify it. Salvador Rodriguez, 2nd alcalde, however, had to have some one sign for him. The only man among the Isleños upon their arrival at Béxar who could write a legible hand was Francisco Joseph de Arocha, secretary of the cabildo.6One more instance in which the laws of the Recopilacion were violated may be mentioned. It was provided that in new settlements formed by groups of private persons, having the proper number of married men for the purpose—not less than ten—the settlers should be given the right to elect ordinary alcaldes and other annual officers of the cabildo from among themselves.1 Contrary to these provisions the first cabildo, with the exception of the alcaldes, was appointed by the captain of the presidio of Béxar in obedience to the orders of the viceroy, who had provided that the captain should perform this duty if the governor of the province could not act. These officers were given their positions for life. In obedience to this same order, the alcaldes were elected, either by the regidores alone (Cf. ibid., tit. XI, ley, ii, and report of first election, appendix VI.), or by the whole cabildo with the exception of the escribano de consejo. (Cf. Election report, 1750, Béxar Archives.) As to the way in which they were elected previous to 1750, no evidence has been found. On January 1 of this year the two alcaldes for the incoming year were elected by the vote of all the officers of the cabildo with the exception of the regidor decano, who was not present, and the escribano de consejo, who was present, but did not vote. This arrangement was not in accordance with the law providing that the people should elect the alcaldes. Shortly after 1750 a complete series of the election reports are found. From these it is evident that it became the custom for the cabildo to elect all the municipal officers. It is not possible, however, to ascertain whether or not all of the members of the cabildo, with the exception of the escribano, voted as in the election for 1750. The cabildos in Spain had become close corporations, membership in which was either inherited or purchased, and the consejos in America had followed this course of development.2 This probably explains the state of affairs at San Fernando, although, during the period under consideration, no attempt was made to sell any of the municipal offices,3 and no member, so far as the available records show, ever inherited any office at San Fernando during the eighteenth century.
The functions of the cabildo are, in the main, well defined although the exact way in which the various duties devolving upon it were apportioned among the members is not exactly clear. To describe these functions, however, is a difficult task, since the judicial, the executive, and the legislative powers vested in this body are not clearly differentiated. The political hierarchy of the Spanish government was headed by the king, and included in a descending series, arranged in order of importance, the viceroy of Nueva España, the general commandant of the Provincias Internas, the governor of Texas,1 and finally the cabildo itself.2 The cabildo was practically restricted to carrying out the orders of the higher authorities. The Spanish cabildo was charged with the politico-economic government of the settlements under its control.3 According to Moses this was "the care of the public health and accommodations, to watch over prisons, hospitals, and benevolent institutions that are not of private foundation, primary schools sustained by public funds, the construction and repair of bridges, highways, and roads, the raising and expenditure of public moneys from taxes, licenses, and the rents of municipal property; to promote the advancement of agriculture, industry, and commerce, and to assist the alcalde in the preservation of peace and public order among the inhabitants."4 The duties of the cabildo of San Fernando, as defined by one of the governors in his charge to a newly elected body, were the administration of justice, and the protection of the interests of the commonwealth.1 In all of these definitions the political dependance and subordination of the cabildo are assumed.
In fulfilling the obligations placed upon it, the cabildo of San Fernando had first to discharge certain duties involving its own continued existence and organization. These duties included the filling of vacancies in the body itself, and the election of the succeeding cabildo. But, as the reports in the Béxar Archives show, such elections required the approval of the governor, and he had also to install, in person or by deputy, the newly elected officers. On the cabildo devolved, in the second place, the duty of keeping public order by seeing that the various laws and regulations of the superior authorities were observed, and of preserving the public health, of looking after the general welfare, and of managing the business affairs of the villa. The law provided also for judicial appeals to this body from the decisions of the alcaldes,2 but there is nothing to show that such appeals were ever made in San Fernando.
Although from all these definitions and examples, the powers exercised by the cabildo seem far-reaching they were, in reality, much restricted by the powers of the governor, the next higher authority. In the first place, the governor had to approve the election of municipal officers made by the cabildo.3 This approval was usually granted, but, in case it was withheld for any reason, the elections were null. In considering the election of officers for 1784, after charging the acting members with gross neglect of duty in that they were so frequently absent from the villa on private business that the settlement had suffered in consequence, Governor Cabello ordered the newly elected members not to absent themselves when, as a consequence of such an absence, any of their duties might be neglected. He refused to approve the elections until the members should have promised to obey these instructions.1 He likewise refused to approve the election of a certain individual on the grounds that he did not possess the necessary qualifications, as there were two criminal charges pending against him.2 Manuel Muñoz, the succeeding governor, objected to two other persons named for municipal office because their conduct had not made them worthy of the honor of serving in this body.3 The elections, in each case, were not approved until the objectionable characters were excluded.
In addition to this power of approving and disapproving elections the governor, as has already been stated, had to install new officers, or to appoint some one in his stead to perform that duty. The honor was usually conferred on the regidor decano. The governor, likewise, sometimes presided over the cabildo,4 and could cast the deciding vote in case of a tie in elections.5 Besides this supervision of elections made by the cabildo, the governor had power over matters that one would naturally expect to be entirely under its control. Among these may be mentioned the management of school affairs. The petition of a teacher6 asking to be allowed to establish a school, to receive certain pay for his services, and to have the rules and regulations for the school prescribed was referred to the governor for decision. Another instance of the governor's authority is shown by the petition of an alcalde7 asking to be allowed to go with certain companions to get twenty-four head of stock beyond the Guadalupe River. When granting this petition, the governor restricted the number of cattle they were to kill, and prohibited further slaughter, and also marking, or branding of stock. In case the cabildo desired to make any improvements in the villa, for instance, if it wished to build a municipal hall or a prison, it had not only to secure the governor's permission to erect the buildings in question, but had also to submit the plans of the buildings for approval. After the specifications had been accepted, however, the matter of construction seems to have been entirely in the hands of the cabildo.1 The governor was likewise appealed to in the matter of preserving order in the villa. In one petition, for instance, the cabildo informed the governor that the various members had witnessed many lawless acts while making the nightly patrol in the execution of their duties, and asked him to take steps to prevent the people from going upon the streets so much at night, to preserve order in the fandangos. which were frequently continued past the hour fixed by law, and to re-publish the order for good government issued upon his entrance to office. The governor complied with this request although he declared that these matters were within the peculiar province of the cabildo.2 The power of the governor to grant land and the subordination of the cabildo in this respect are illustrated by a petition presented to Governor Larios in 1745 by Thomasa de la Garza, asking for a certain building lot.3 The governor granted the petition, and ordered the cabildo to place her in possession of the land in question. In obedience to these instructions, the cabildo sent an ordinary alcalde—the alguacil mayor being absent—to carry out the orders of the governor.
A summary of the municipal ordinances of the villa of Goliad, although issued later than the period under consideration,4 will be of value as illustrating the inner workings of a cabildo. Many of the usages at Goliad can be paralleled at San Fernando. The title of these regulations is Municipal Ordinances for the Government and Internal Management of the Ayuntamiento of the Villa of Goliad.
Part 1, chapter I, which consists of general provisions, declares that the cabildo shall meet every Saturday from eight to eleven for ordinary business sessions;1 that it may hold extra sessions when necessary2 —the president giving due notice of said meetings; that the secretary shall keep the minutes of the ayuntamiento; that all members may discuss business under consideration; that a majority of one vote shall decide a question;3 and that the regidor decano shall preside in case of the absence of the alcalde.4
The duties of the presiding officer are defined in the second chapter of this division. These are, in general, to name the various standing committees of the cabildo and to give instructions as to the duties devolving upon the officers in consequence; to preside over the meetings of the cabildo; to see that members attend regularly—granting leave of absence when necessary; to preserve order during the deliberations of the body; to extend the time of meetings when necessary; and to see that the secretary keep the archives properly.5 The duties devolving upon the alcalde in addition to those just named—which he exercised by virtue of the fact that he was the presiding officer of the cabildo—were to see that the municipal ordinances were observed, to hear cases brought before him, to examine the archives to see that they were properly kept or to appoint the regidor decano to do so, to see that a census be taken yearly, and compared with the one taken by the síndico procurador.1
Chapter I, part 2, deals with matters pertaining to the public health and police. It provides that there shall be a board of health, while all officers of the cabildo shall be charged with the duty of seeing that the following rules be observed: the síndico procurador shall keep the river free from dead animals and other contaminating matter,2 the streets and plazas clean and unobstructed, the food supply fresh and unadulterated;3 with the help of the alcalde, he shall see that physicians have the proper diplomas and credentials, that weights and measures be honest; while, the alcalde alone, shall inspect all new buildings, seeing that they are built straight with the street, that they are of the proper size, shape, etc., that they do not interfere with the rights of persons in the vicinity, and that the proper building fees are paid.
Part 2, chapter II, deals with public security. It provides that all members shall be responsible for the maintenance of public order; that the síndico procurador and his assistants shall see that lots are properly enclosed, that fires are not built where conflagrations might result, and that animals are properly secured; that the procurador and the first regidor shall have charge of the weights and measures; that all possible steps be taken to prevent gaming, and to preserve proper order in saloons and public halls; that at least three rounds per month be made to secure proper order in the villa1 —the alcalde being the first officer; and that the cabildo shall elect two ward commissioners and two juezes de campo2 whose duty it shall be to watch over crops in the district, to prevent the cutting of valuable timbers, to see that fires, except on stated occasions, are not built within a certain distance of the villa, and that roads in their districts are kept in good condition.
The next chapter of part 2 deals with public accommodations. It provides that all members shall have the right to propose such measures as they may think necessary for the well-being of the settlement; that in times of scarcity of seed or other necessaries, the ayuntamiento shall secure a supply with municipal funds, when possible, taking measures to see that these supplies last and that prices do not become exorbitant; and that it shall build bridges and sidewalks, repair streets,3 care for unfortunates, establish and control private schools,4 selecting from its own number a treasurer for the school fund.
Chapter IV, part 2, deals with the question of public improvement and provides that the ayuntamiento shall attend to the laying out of a cemetery, and see that all citizens contribute to this work, and that it be properly kept; that a municipal hall be erected; and that an alameda be planted for which the procurador must care.
The last chapters of part 2 deal with the collection and expenditure of municipal funds.5
Further light on the work of the cabildo may be had from an examination of the functions of the several officers. Those having a vote in the cabildo will be considered first, and this includes all except the escribano.1 The most important officer was the alcalde, who combined the functions of law-maker, judge, and policeman. He issued municipal ordinances for the preservation of good order, and the promotion of the healthfulness and cleanliness of the villa, and, on occasion, he arrested and punished individuals for disobedience to these ordinances.
A few examples of ordinances issued by alcaldes will serve to illustrate the nature of the legislative powers they exercised. One issued in 1735 by Juan Leal Goras, regidor perpetuo and alcalde of San Fernando, required owners of certain grain lands to enclose them with stakes, and to place irrigating ditches in good condition, and charged citizens and stock-raisers to secure a herdsman for their stock. Penalties were prescribed for failure to observe this ordinance.2 Another issued in 1744 by Alcalde Joseph Curbelo prohibited citizens from going upon the streets after nine o'clock at night without urgent reasons therefor under penalty of imprisonment and fine, and provided that idle and objectionable characters should either secure employment or leave the villa.3 And another issued in 1746 by Alcalde Juan Joseph Montes de Oca,4 forbade, under penalty of a fine, the carrying of small arms in the villa.5 Other instances could be cited, but these are sufficient to show that the alcaldes of San Fernando exercised legislative power in local affairs.
The alcaldes, as has been said, also exercised judicial power. The laws of the Recopilacion provided that in Spanish settlements where there was no governor or lieutenant-governor the ordinary alcaldes should have cognizance of all civil or criminal cases that would come within the jurisdiction of the governor or the lieutenant-governor, and that appeals from the alcaldes' decision should go to the audiencia, to the governor, or to the ayuntamiento, according to the provisions of the laws of Spain and New Spain. Although the governors played an important part in the life of San Fernando, and even, on some occasions, presided over the cabildo,1 the alcaldes of the villa exercised both criminal and civil jurisdiction.2 In the Ordinances and Instructions of Don Alexander O'Reilly3 the judicial powers of the alcalde are defined thus: "(1) the ordinary alcaldes shall have cognizance of all matters in dispute, either civil or criminal, between the inhabitants residing within their jurisdiction, which shall extend throughout the city and the dependencies thereof, excepting those that may come within the cognizance of the ecclesiastical, military, or other special courts." These same Instructions provide further that "(7) alcaldes may hear and decide verbally any civil cases, when the demand shall not exceed twenty dollars, as also criminal causes of little importance. They may also hear and decide verbally those exceeding that sum when the interested parties shall consent thereto. (8) Causes legally brought before one of the judges shall be continued and determined in his tribunal, and neither the governor nor any other shall deprive him of the cognizance thereof. The governor, however, being required thereto by the parties, may, by an order in writing, and suitable to the case, require and summon the alcalde to render speedy justice conformably to the law." This definition would apply substantially, as far as I have been able to determine, to the jurisdiction of the alcaldes of San Fernando. The only definite restrictions on the power of these officers yet found are those fixed by a provision of the Nuevo Reglamento issued by Viceroy Casafuerte in 1729,4 giving the captain of the presidio exclusive jurisdiction over Spaniards, mulattoes, and mestizos settled in the vicinity of the presidio. The alcaldes, visit prisons, and to take all possible measures to prevent the commision of crimes within their jurisdiction; and they had also many duties to perform in connection with the management of the internal affairs of the cabildo. As president of this body the 1st alcalde had to be present at the election of his successor,1 and to see that the archives of the cabildo were properly kept.2
The functions of the alguacil mayor of San Fernando, who like the alcalde had a vote in the cabildo,3 and was elected by it, may conveniently be considered next for the reason that the functions of these two officials were very closely connected. According to the laws of the Indies, the alguacil mayor was charged with the duty of making rounds at night,4 and of arresting culprits in obedience to the orders of his superior authorities.5 In regard to his duties the Ordinances and Instructions of Don Alexander O'Reilly6 say: "1. The alguacil mayor is an officer charged with the execution of sentences and judgments rendered, as well for payments ordered, taking possession of goods for sale, and imprisonment, as for the punishment of crimes. . . . 2. The recovery of moneys upon writ of execution, orders for taking possession of goods, and seizure of real property, shall be executed by the alguacil mayor. . . . 3. The alguacil mayor shall also have the superintendence of the prisons, [and] shall commission the jailors and keepers of prisons, after having presented them to the governor [for approval]. The alguacil mayor and his lieutenants shall go the rounds, and shall visit the public places, both by night and day, to prevent noises and disputes, under the penalty of being suspended from their offices, and payment of the damages that may result from their neglect. They shall arrest, without other authority, the offenders, and shall give immediate information thereof to the alcaldes. They shall not tolerate unlawful games, nor public and scandalous offenses. . . . 6. . . . He shall also assist with the judges ordinary at the visitation of prisoners, which shall be made at the times prescribed by the regulation." The duties exercised by the alguacil mayor of San Fernando must have been practically the same as those here enumerated. In fact, evidence could be adduced to prove that he actually performed nearly all of them. He was, however, a great part of the time relieved of his duties in connection with the superintendence of the prison and the care of the prisoners, owing to the fact that there was no jail for the town, and consequently the prisoners had to be kept in the presidial guard house.1 His duties were therefore practically restricted to carrying out the orders of the governor, the alcalde, and the cabildo, and to preventing, as far as lay in his power, the commission of crimes.
The offices of mayordomo and procurador in the cabildo of San Fernando were held by the same person. When he was first appointed at the initial organization of the cabildo in 1731, he bore the title of mayordomo de los bienes y propios de la república. A little later he was called, without any apparent preference, mayordomo or procurador and even síndico procurador general. At New Orleans, however, the offices of mayordomo and that of procurador were separate. According to the Ordinances and Instructions of Don Alexander O'Reilly2 the procurador general of New Orleans was "an officer appointed to assist the public in all their concerns, to defend them, to pursue their rights and obtain justice, and to pursue all other claims which have relation to the public interest." It was his duty, therefore, to see that the municipal ordinances were observed, and as far as possible, to prevent the occurrence of anything detrimental to the public welfare. In performing the last mentioned duty, he was to take steps, in the capacity of attorney, to recover debts and revenues due the city funds, to see that such officers of the cabildo as had to give bond should present the proper securities and that all should discharge their duties faithfully. According to the Instructions "he was to be present at, and interpose in the directions of lands,1 and other public matters to the end that nothing unsuitable or injurious might occur in the distribution of the same."
According to these same Instructions2 it was the duty of the mayordomo de propios to manage the city funds, and to keep an account of all receipts and of all expenditures made for the account of the cabildo. These Instructions would probably serve to define the functions of the mayordomo and procurador of San Fernando also, but there is little evidence as to the duties he actually performed. A complaint made against the members of the cabildo in 1783 by Governor Cabello indicates some, at least, of the duties performed by the incumbent of the double office as procurador. The governor stated that because of the absence of this officer the settlements were not supplied with water from the arroyo either for drinking or for other purposes—especially for irrigating the lands from which funds for the villa were collected. Likewise all bridges over the arroyo and the irrigating ditches of the presidio and villa were neglected.3 At San Fernando, it was the duty of the mayordomo to collect the money arising from the lands belonging to the villa,4 but no evidence has been found to indicate that, previous to 1800, he managed these funds after they were collected, as the mayordomo at New Orleans was required to do by the Ordinances and Instructions. In one instance at least, these funds were turned over to the regidor decano.5 In 1799, in writing to the governor in regard to the functions of the various municipal officers of San Fernando, the cabildo stated that it was the duty of the mayordomo or procurador to attend to everything conducive to the cleanliness and neatness of the villa, and to collect the municipal funds.6 This combines the two definitions just given, and corresponds, in a general way, to those derived from the Ordinances and Instructions above quoted. The term mayordomo did not always refer to the officer of the cabildo who exercised the duties just enumerated. When plans were placed on foot for the building of a parish church at San Fernando, Vicente Alvarez Travieso, alguacil mayor, and Francisco de Arocha, escribano, were appointed as mayordomos; and, as such, they were charged with the duty of collecting money for building the church.1
Although the regidores were primarily administrative officers, some of them exercised judicial power. By the laws of the Indies, in case of the absence or death of the alcalde, either the alférez real or the regidor decano could act as his substitute.2 Many instances are found in which a regidor acted as alcalde at San Fernando, and although the documents do not always indicate that it was the regidor decano this may be safely assumed. As will appear later, one of the regidores exercised, as alcalde provincial, independent judicial power. There were six regidores, among whom the alcalde could apportion the various administrative duties not performed by himself, by the alguacil mayor, or by the procurador or mayordomo. Some evidence as to the way in which the work was most probably divided among them toward the end of the century has been found. In consequence of a royal decree issued May 3, 1797, ordering that salaries be fixed for the regidores of all the ayuntamientos of the Indies, the cabildo made a report to the governor in which they indicated the duties discharged by the various officers, and suggested the salaries that should be paid each. The apportionment of duties indicated by this report was as follows: The regidor decano, at times, served as alcalde, and saw that superior orders were carried out; the second regidor acted as alcalde provincial, and saw to the security of prisons; the third regidor acted as fiel executor and had charge of weights and measures; the fourth regidor was depositario de los embargos; the fifth regidor had charge of unclaimed property falling to the king; the sixth regidor had only to vote in the cabildo.1 The apportionment of duties indicated by a list sent by the governor to Intendente Don Bruno Diaz December 11, 1799,2 was as follows: The first regidor was the regidor decano; the second, real alférez;3 the third alcalde provincial; the fourth, depositario general;4 the fifth, contador de menores, and the sixth collector of funds for the ramo de mesteñas.5
The lists do not agree exactly, but the governor's list was probably a suggestion as to the way in which the duties might be divided, while that of the cabildo was a description of the actual apportionment at that time. It should be observed that the alférez real was included in the governor's list, but not in that of the cabildo. The governor's suggestion may have been followed; for Governor Herrera in writing to Nemecio Salcedo, November 11, 1811, suggested that six regidores be appointed at San Fernando among whom should be divided the offices of alférez real, alcalde provincial, alguacil mayor, and fiel executor.6 The office of alférez was, a least, kept in mind, but whether one was ever appointed or not can not be determined. With the apportionment shown by all these lists should be compared the statement of the duties devolving upon the regidores at New Orleans. According to the Ordinances and Instructions of O'Reilly7 six regidores were to be appointed, among whom were to be distributed the offices of alférez real, alcalde mayor provincial, alguacil mayor, and receiver of penas de cámara.1 There was, however, no provision to indicate which regidor was to have any particular one of these offices.
The regidor decano presided over the cabildo, and exercised judicial authority whenever the first and second alcaldes were absent from the villa. In addition to this, as the election reports in the Béxar Archives show, he usually nominated men to municipal offices, and was, in most cases authorized by the governor to install the new officers after the cabildo had elected them.2
According to the list of officers sent by the cabildo to Governor Elguezabal, the second regidor served as alcalde provincial.3 As to the duties of what must have been the same officer at New Orleans, the Ordinances and Instructions of Don Alexander O'Reilly say:4 "The regidor alcalde mayor5 provincial shall bear the rod of justice, and shall have cognizance of crimes committed in the uninhabited places without the cities and villages. Thefts, robberies, carrying away of property by force, rapes, as also treason, assaults, accompanied by wounds, or followed by death, setting fire to or burning down houses or crops, and other crimes of this nature, shall be within the competency of the said alcalde mayor provincial. 2. He may also take cognizance of the aforesaid crimes, although committed in cities, when the offenders have quitted the same, and have withdrawn to the country with their plunder; as also of murders or assaults committed on officers while in the exercise of their duties, or in the interval thereof, if the same are the effects of malice. If, however, the governor, or one of the ordinary judges of the city, shall have previously taken cognizance thereof, the alcalde mayor provincial shall not interfere therein, by reason that the jurisdiction of the same is vested in the ordinary alcalde. The judge, however, who shall have apprehended the offender, shall have the preference therein, even if the other shall have preceded him. 3. Whenever it shall be known that the crime does not concern the tribunal of the Saint Hermandad,1 the alcalde mayor provincial shall refer the cognizance of the same to one of the ordinary alcaldes, without waiting until he may be required thereto. 4. The alcalde mayor provincial shall see that travelers are provided with provisions at reasonable prices, as well by the proprietors of plantations, as by the inhabitants of the places through which they may pass. 5. The principal object of the institution of the tribunal of the Saint Hermandad being to repress disorders, and to prevent the robberies and assassinations committed in unfrequented places by vagabonds and delinquents, who conceal themselves in the woods, and attack travelers and the adjacent inhabitants, the alcalde mayor provincial should assemble a sufficient number of commissaries or brothers of the St. Hermandad to clear his jurisdiction of those kinds of people, by pursuing them with spirit, seizing, or putting them to flight. 6. For the purpose aforesaid, and conformably to the usages of the other Indian provinces within the domain of his majesty, the alcaldes mayores provinciales, their commissaries, and the brothers of the St. Hermandad, shall have the right of arresting, either within or without the city, all runaway negroes and fugitives, and may exact a reasonable fee therefor; which right shall not be vested in any other person save the master of the fugitive slave. The said fee is so much the more just, inasmuch as the alcalde mayor provincial, to comply with his duty, must at his own expense, travel through the unfrequented places, for the benefit of the inhabitants. 7. The said officer shall render speedy justice in all matters within his competency, and from his judgment there shall be no appeal; otherwise it would be impossible to remedy the consequences that would result therefrom. But, on the other hand, his judgments shall be pronounced in conformity with the spirit of the laws, to which end he shall consult some lawyer; but, in the interim, he shall be guided by the instructions herein contained, which relate to the administration of justice and the forms of proceedings. 8. This office of the Hermandad being created with a view to prevent those disorders which may be committed in unfrequented places, the alcalde mayor should make frequent excursions from the city. This duty consequently renders his employment incompatible with that of ordinary alcalde, to which he can not be elected, unless he shall have previously obtained permission of the king, to commit to a lieutenant, apointed by himself, the duties of St. Hermandad."1
In 1760, Don Alverto Lopez was serving as juez comisario de la hermandad y subdecano of the villa of San Fernando.2 As juez comisario de la hermandad he must have exercised practically the duties of the provincial alcalde as above defined.
It would seem from the list sent by the cabildo to Governor Elguezabal, that the third regidor or fiel executor3 had to oversee the markets for the purpose of preventing fraud in goods sold, either in quantity or quality; that the fourth regidor, or depositario de los embargos had to take charge of all goods seized by order of a judge when this measure was necessary to secure judgment; and that the fifth had charge of all unclaimed property falling to the king. The sixth regidor, since he had only to vote in the cabildo need not be discussed.
The escribano at San Fernando de Béxar, who was the only member not having a vote, acted both as secretary of the cabildo and as notary public. Hence, one can not always be sure, in any particular case considered, in which capacity he was acting. Francisco Joseph de Arocha was the first and only man who served as escribano at San Fernando during the eighteenth century. He kept the minutes of the cabildo, signing them with the other members.1 He, likewise, drew up various legal documents, and took depositions in lawsuits before the alcaldes.2 He also performed various duties assigned him by the alcaldes or by the governor. On one occasion, for instance, he went at the governor's order, with the alcalde and the alguacil mayor to see whether or not Juan Leal Goras had gone beyond the limits of his lands as charged by Joseph Padrón.3 He often served notice upon interested parties of the orders of the alcaldes and the governor. In New Orleans, the duty of preserving in the archives all the papers concerning the cabildo or its proceedings was assigned to the escribano.4 The evidence as to the method followed in this particular at San Fernando is scant. It is clear, however, that it was the duty of the whole cabildo to oversee the archives, and form inventories of documents contained therein. Arocha signed these inventories, as long as he served as escribano, with the rest of the cabildo.5 Other duties performed by this officer were the keeping of certain municipal and other accounts; but no records have been found of municipal accounts previous to eighteen hundred, and it cannot be proved that Arocha performed the duty in question, although it is probable that he did, and that he also kept the archives in order, and that the cabildo inspected both at the end of each year.
In regard to the payment of municipal officers the information is too fragmentary to be of much value. It was the intention of the government to pay the salaries of the regidores out of the revenues from the town lands.1 This land, however, could not have yielded any very large amount. Certain expenses of the cabildo also had to be paid from the same fund.2 In 1745, because the existing town lands yielded little or no revenue, the cabildo decided to lay off new bodies of such lands which would be better situated and hence more productive. These new lands were to be divided into nine blocks which were to be rented at twelve reales each.3 Whether this means per week, month, or year cannot be determined. In any case, the amount would not have been large even if the fund were increased by money paid for water privileges, from money arising from fines, occupation taxes, etc. Then, when other necessary expenses were paid, such for instance as those incurred in the building of a municipal hall and prison,4 the regidores must have received small compensation for their services. Some of them may have received fees from other sources. According to the Instructions of Don Alexander O'Reilly the alcalde mayor provincial and the officers of the Saint Hermandad were to ceive certain fees for signatures and sittings, the two regidores appointed to hear appeals were to receive pay for these same services, while the depositary general was to be paid a certain per cent. of the money placed in his care.1 Since no account-books of the cabildo have been found in the Béxar Archives for the period under discussion, one can not be sure that this custom was followed at San Fernando; and, if so, no idea of the amount these officers may have received can be formed. According to the Ordinances and Instructions, escribanos were likewise, to receive certain fees for drawing up legal documents, and performing certain other duties. This officer at San Fernando could not have received a very large amount; for, in 1757 Francisco Joseph de Arocha presented a petition to the cabildo praying to be relieved of the duties of his office on the ground that it did not yield enough to support his family.2 In regard to what the alguacil mayor received the information is a little more complete. The Ordinances and Instructions of O'Reilly provided that the alguacil mayor should receive a sum amounting to one tenth of a debt in case there was any delay in the payment of the same after executions had been levied. He was, likewise, to receive certain amounts for arrests.3 In a meeting of the cabildo of San Fernando, February 20, 1783, it was decided that the prison fee of ten reales per prisoner, usually paid to the alguacil mayor, should be placed in possession of the depositario de propios to be kept for the purpose of building prisons, as the prisoners were at that time kept in the presidial guard house, and the alguacil was therefore relieved of this duty. Later in 1800, the cabildo decided to pay to the alguacil mayor eight of the ten reales usually paid for each prisoner.4 As to the payment of the procurador no evidence at all has been found.
Royal Dispatch Providing for the Transportation of the Canary
Islanders to Texas, February 14, 1729.1
[To] Don Bartolome de Cazabna. [Casablanca] y Mesa, Juez del Comercio de Indias in the Canary Islands.
Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo has informed me that, as a consequence of the French invasion of the Province of Texas and Nuevas Philipinas—in Nueva España—in 1719, which forced the soldiers stationed there as guards to abandon the [first named] province and the six missions erected in it, the Marqués de Valero, who was viceroy of that kingdom, at the time, made him in my name, governor and captain-general of the provinces above mentioned and of Coahuila; that when he had succeeded in pacifying these parts—the country of the Texas, Bahía del Espíritu Santo, and the presidio of San Antonio, the said provinces being again brought under my dominion—he left them fortified by the necessary presidios, one in the center of the Texas country with a guard of twenty-five men to protect the missions, one at Adaes with one hundred men, one at Bahía del Espíritu Santo with ninety men; and that this work was finished on the thirty-first of May 1722. He suggested, for the greater security of the provinces mentioned, and for the saving of expenses to the royal treasury, since there would be so many soldiers and presidios to maintain, that it would be a good plan for four hundred families to come from your Islands [the Canaries], from the city of Havana, and from the Province of Tlascala, and be distributed in Bahía de San Antonio,1 in all the missions, at Adaes, and among the Texas Indians; that, at the same time, a new mission, with a settlement of Spaniards and Tlascaltecans, should be founded half way [between San Antonio and the Texas country] in one of the following locations: la Añguila, or Nuestra Señora de Buena Vista, since the one hundred and seventy-two leagues between San Antonio and the first mission among the Texas Indians is unsettled. It seemed to him that, without these families, it would be hard to hold the province, which is one of the most valuable in America. It is very fertile in all kinds of grain, seed, and stock; and likewise rich in mines which can be worked. After the above mentioned report had been seen in my Council of the Indies, together with the opinion of the fiscal in regard to it, I was likewise consulted on the point; and, as it was remembered that by an order of March 18, 1732, issued por la via reservada, Don Juan Montero, who was then serving as intendente ad interim of those Islands, was given instructions that every register ship leaving the Islands for Campeche should carry over two hundred families of such persons as desired to volunteer to settle in the above mentioned places, in the Bay of San Bernardo, [or] Bahía del Espíritu Santo, and the Province of Texas, to be distributed proportionately in all these places; and that said families should be left in the port of Campeche from whence they should be carried to Vera Cruz in trading vessels, I have now resolved, that, for the peace and security of the aforesaid provinces, there should be sent from those Islands four hundred families, including the two hundred for whose departure I had previously provided by the above mentioned order of March 18, 1723. It must be understood that these additional two hundred families shall set sail from the Canaries in such register ships as may leave for the port of Havana, each vessel carrying ten or twelve families, and as many more as is possible, in order that from the said port they may be transported to the port of Vera Cruz, and from there they may travel by sea to the places which they are to settle and inhabit. I, therefore, command and order that you make known my royal will in those Islands, and see if there be families in them who desire to go by way of Havana to the places above mentioned. If they agree to this voluntarily, and in no other case [y no en otra forma], you shall arrange for the transportation of at least ten or twelve families in each register ship as above stated. Know that by dispatches I this day order the governor and royal officials of Havana, as soon as the families arrive at that port, to receive them and to give them such assistance as they may need, and to arrange for their transportation to Vera Cruz; and [that I also issue an order] to the viceroy of Nueva España that he shall see that the same measures are taken in his port, that he shall arrange for their transportation by sea to the places in which they are to settle, and that he shall provide them with what they may need for their maintenance for one year, until they plant their crops. He is, likewise, to see that they are cared for, and are given the proper treatment. This is my will. Likewise, you shall report, at the earliest opportunity, the receipt of this dispatch, and such measures as shall be taken in consequence.
Seville, February 14, 1729.1
Don Franko. Dias Roman.
By order of the King,
List of Canary Islanders taken at Quautitlan, November 8, 1730.2
—Juan Leal Goras. Son of Antonio Goras and Maria Perez, native of Lancerota island, 54 years old, tall, long face, thick beard, dark complexion, sharp nose, blind in the left eye, black beard &hair, light grey eyes.
—Vicente Leal. Son of foregoing and Catharina Rodriguez decd., native of Lancerota, 18 years old, medium height broad shouldered, long face, beardless, aquiline nose, eyebrows meeting, light grey eyes, black curled hair, black eye-brows, dark complexion.
—Bernardo Leal. Son of Juan above, native of Lancerota, round face, 13 years old, flat nose, light grey eyes, chestnut eyebrows and hair.
—Juan Curbelo. Son of Domingo Curbelo and Maria Martin Enriquez, native of Lancerota, 50 years old, tall, broad-shouldered, full-faced, fair complexion, grey beard, &hair, light grey eyes, black eyebrows, rather bald, sharp nose.
—Garcia Perdomo y Umpienes. Wife of above, daughter of Marcos Perdomo y Umpienes and Maria Cabrera, native of Lancerota, 46 years old, medium height, large face, dark complexion, black eyes, aquiline nose, black hair &eyebrows.
—Joseph Curbelo. Son of above, native of Lancerota, medium height, 25 years old, broad-shouldered, full-faced, beardless, pitted with small-pox, sharp nose, light grey eyes, dark complexion, black hair &eyebrows.
—Juan Francisco Curbelo. Son of Juan above, native of Palma Island, 9 years old, fair complexion, round face, light grey eyes, chestnut eyebrows &hair, thick eyelids.
—Maria Curbelo.—daughter of Juan above, native of Lancerota, 13 years of age, small body, round-faced, dark complexion, red nose.
—Juan Leal Jr. Son of Juan Leal of the First family, native of Lancerota, 30 years old, medium height, broad-shouldered, dark complexion, long face, thick beard, sharp nose, meeting eyebrows, curled hair, black eyebrows &hair, eyes almost grey, blobberlipped.
—Garcia de Acosta. (called also MARIA de Acosta), Wife of above, daughter of Peter Gonzales Cabezas, and Francisca de Acosta, native of Teneriffe, 30 years old, tall, full-faced, fair complexion, light grey eyes, black hair &eyebrows, pointed nose.
—Manual Leal son of above, native of Lancerota, round face, 2 years old, dark complexion, aquiline nose, light grey eyes, chestnut curled hair, scar above the left eyebrow.
—Miguel Leal. Son of above native of Fuerteventura, round face, 10 years old, large grey eyes, meeting eye-brows, light chestnut hair, thin nose, scar at the end of the left eyebrow, blobberlipped, black curled hair.
—Domingo Leal. Son of above, native of Palma island, round face, 7 years old, fair complexion, black eyes, reddish hair, flat nose, freckly face.
—Pedro Leal. Son of above, native of Havana, round face, 5 months old, fair complexion, black eyes, black hair &eyebrows.
—Maria Leal. daughter of above, native of Fuerteventura, 6 years old, round face, dark complexion, grey eyes, black hair &eyebrows.
—Antonio Santos. son of Simon &Anna Rodriguez, native of Lancerota, 50 years old, more or less, medium height, broad-shouldered, round face, dark complexion, large nose, black eyes, thin beard, black beard &hair, rather grey and curled, black eyebrows.
—Isabel Rodriguez. wife of above daughter of Domingo de Vargas and Leonor Rodriguez, 34 years old, native of Lancerota, tall, fair complexion, thin nose, round face, light grey eyes, black eyebrows &hair.
—Miguel Santos. son of above, native of Lancerota, about 17 years old, medium height, broad shouldered, round face, dark complexion, flat nose, light grey eyes, black eye-brows and curled hair.
—Catharina Santos. daughter of above, native of Lancerota, 12 years old, more or less, round face, dark complexion, black eyes, flat nose, black eyebrows, &hair, pitted with small pox.
—Maria Santos. daughter of above, native of Palma, about 7 years old, long face, dark complexion, grey eyes, thin nose, light chestnut hair &eyebrows.
21. about 2 years old, round face, flat nose, light grey eyes, chestnut hair &eyebrows.
—Joseph Padron. native of Palma, about 22 years of age, good figure, long face, dark complexion, black eyes, black hair &eyebrows, thin black beard.
—Maria Francisca Sanabria. wife of above, daughter of Luis Sanabria y Francisca Lagarda, native of Lancerota, about 22 years old medium height, slender, thin face, thin nose, light grey eyes, fair complexion, chestnut hair &eyebrows.
—Manuel de Niz (called also Manuel de Nistrosa) son of Juan and Andrea Mireles, native of Grand Canary, about 50 years old, medium height, broad-shouldered, long face, dark complexion' thin beard, flat nose, light grey eyes, black beard &hair, rather bald, black eyebrows.
—Sebastiana de la Peña. wife of above, daughter of Domingo de Leon, and Gregoria Suarez de la Peña, a little over 42 years old, good figure, dark complexion, long face, black hair, eyes &eyebrows, thin nose.
—Vicente Alvarez Travieso. son of Juan Alvares Travieso and Catharina Cayetano, native of Teneriffe, medium height, 25 years old, broad-shouldered, round face, thin nose, light grey eyes, thick beard, fair complexion, chestnut curled hair.
—Maria Ana Curbelo. wife of above, daughter of Juan Curbelo, and Gracia [sic] Perdomo Umpienes, native of Lancerota, about 18 years old, medium height, broad shouldered, fair complexion, long face, light grey eyes, chestnut hair &eyebrows, thin nose.
—Salvador Rodriguez, son of Francisco Rodriguez, and Isabel de los Reyes, native of Lancerota, about 42 years old, good figure, broad face, dark complexion, greenish eyes, thick beard, rather grey, black hair.
—Josepha Santos. daughter of above, native of Lancerota, 29.
—Maria Perez Cabrera. wife of above, daughter of Domingo and Maria Perez, native of Lancerota, about 42 years old, good figure, long face, dark complexion, thin nose, light grey eyes, black hair &eyebrows.
—Patricio Rodriguez. son of above, native of Lancerota, about 15 years old, medium height, slender, dark complexion, light grey eyes, thin face, chestnut hair &eyebrows.
—Francisco (de) Arocha. son of Simon de Arocha and Angela Francisca, native of Palma, 27 years old, tall, long face, grey eyes, dark complexion, meeting eyebrows, thick beard, thin nose, black hair.
—Juana Curbelo. wife of above, daughter of Juan Curbelo and Garcia Perdomo de Umpienes, native of Lancerota, 14 years old, full faced, dark complexion, grey eyes, black hair &eyebrows, flat nose.
—Antonio Rodriguez. son of Juan and Maria del Carmen, native of Grand Canary, 18 years old more or less, medium height, broad shouldered, full-faced, fair complexion, pitted with small-pox, flat nose, grey eyes, chestnut hair &eyebrows, mole on right cheek.
—Josefa de Niz. daughter of Manuel de Niz and Sebastiana de la Peña, wife of above, native of Grand Canary, good figure, 19 years old, long face, pitted with small-pox, black eyes, hair &eyebrows, thin nose, dark complexion.
—Joseph Leal. son of Juan Leal Goras and Louisa Hernandez, native of Lancerota, 22 years old, good figure, long face, dark complexion, thick beard, black hair &eyebrows, meeting of eyebrows, thin nose.
—Ana Santos. wife of above, daughter of Antonio Santos and Isabel Rodriguez, native of Lancerota, 15 years old more or less, medium height, broad shoulders, full face, fair complexion, lively grey eyes, flat nose, light chestnut hair and eyebrows. Twelfth Family.
—Juan Delgado. son of Luis Delgado and Maria Melean, native of Lancerota, 19 years old more or less, good figure broad shoulders, round face, dark complexion, meeting eye-brows, little beard.
—Catharina Leal. daughter of Juan Leal and Lucia Hernandez, wife of above, native of Lancerota, about 16 years old, medium height, dark complexion, flat face, flat nose, lively grey eyes, black hair &eyebrows.
—Joseph Cabrera. son of Manuel Cabrera and Maria Rodriguez, native of Lancerota, about 50 years old, medium height, broad shoulders, dark complexion, round face, flat nose, pitted with small-pox, grey eyes, chestnut hair and eyebrows, blobber-lipped.
—Marcos (de) Cabrera. son of above, native of Lancerota, about 6 years old, dark complexion, round face, black eyes, hair &eyebrows, flat nose.
—Ana Cabrera. daughter of above, native of Lancerota, about 13 years old, medium height, slender, long face, dark complexion, light grey eyes, chestnut hair, and eyebrows.
—Maria Rodriguez-Provayna. daughter of Manuel and Paula Umpienes, native of Lancerota, about 27 years old, good figure, slender, long face, fair complexion, black hair &eyebrows, thin nose.
—Pedro Rodriguez Granadillo. son of Juan Rodriguez and the above Maria, about 13 years old, good figure, fair complexion, broad shoulders, full face, light grey eyes, thin nose, light chestnut hair &eyebrows, pitted with small-pox.
—Manuel Francisco Rodriguez (Granadillo) son of Juan Rodriguez and the above Maria, native of Lancerota, about 3 years old, fair complexion, reddish hair, blue eyes.
—Josefa Rodriguez Granadillo, daughter of Juan Rodriguez and the above Maria, native of Lancerota, full faced, about 10 years old, reddish flat nose, chestnut hair.
—Paula Rodriguez Granadillo. (also called Pabla Rodriguez) daughter of Juan Rodriguez and the above Maria, about 10 years old, native of Lancerota, fair complexion, flat nose, round face, black eyes hair &eyebrows.
—Maria Rodriguez Granadillo, daughter of Juan Rodriguez and the above Maria, 5 years old, native of Lancerota, round face, fair complexion, reddish hair &eyebrows, grey eyes.
—Juan de Acuña. (Rodriguez Granadillo) son of Jaun Rodriguez and the above Maria, native of Quautitlan, about 1 month old, round face, fair complexion, blue eyes, reddish hair &eyebrows, flat nose.
—Mariana Meleano. (called also Maria Meleano) daughter of Francisco and Ynes de Hoyos, native of Lancerota, about 30 years old, good height, fair complexion, long face, black eyes, hair &eyebrows.
—Francisco Delgado. son of Lucas and the above Mariana, native of Lancerota, about 16 years old, medium height, fair complexion, thin nose, light grey eyes, chestnut hair &eyebrows, two moles on the right cheek.
—Domingo Delgado. son of Lucas and the above Mariana, native of Lancerota, 2 years old,fair complexion, round face, reddish hair, thin nose, greenish eyes.
—Leonor Delgado, daughter of Lucas and the above Mariana, about 4 years old, native of Lancerota, round face, fair complexion, large black eyes, black hair &eyebrows.
Consisting of four single men.
—Phelipe Perez. son of Domingo and Maria Granados, native of Teneriffe, 20 years old, medium height, broad shoulders, long face, dark complexion, thin nose, blue eyes, black hair &eyebrows, large forehead.
—Joseph Antonio Perez. brother of foregoing and son of the same parents, native of Teneriffe, 19 years old, good height, long face, thin nose, black hair eyes and eyebrows.
—Martin Lorenzo de Armas son of Roque and Teresa de Aviles, native of one of the Canary Islands about 20 years old, good height, broad shoulders, flat face, dark complexion, flat nose, long eyebrows, grey eyes, black beard, eyebrows &hair, three moles on the left cheek toward the nose.
—Ignacio Lorenzo de Armas. brother of the preceding and son of same parents, native of one of the Canary Islands, about 22 years old, good height, long face, dark complexion, thin nose, black eyes, beard &eyebrows and hair, pitted with the small-pox, several moles between the nose and the left cheek.
Dispatch authorizing the governor of Texas, or, in case of his absence, the captain of the presidio of San Antonio, to examine the place in which is to be founded the settlement for which the fifteen families have come, and to measure, mark out the boundaries, assign lands, and do the other things ordered, in accordance with this dispatch.
Don Juan de Acuña, etc.2 ..... I now command the governor of the province [of Texas]3 Don Juan Antonio Bustillo y Bustamante, or in case of his absence, his failure to act, or of any other impediment, the captain of the presidio of San Antonio to go, as soon as the families shall arrive, taking such persons of intelligence as may be available, to examine the site a gunshot's distance to the western side of the presidio, where there is a slight elevation forming a plateau suitable for founding a very fine settlement. On account of its location it will have the purest air,1 and the freshest of waters flowing from two springs or natural fountains situated on a small hill a short distance north-east from the presidio of Béxar. From these are formed, on the east, the San Antonio River, and, on the west, the small river called the Arroya which flows to the south. These two rivers unite eight or nine leagues from their sources, and before joining the Medina River. Between these two streams the presidio is built. East of the river is the mission of San Antonio; while to the west of it is the mission of San Joseph from which one can go to the presidio without crossing the river; and since there is a church at the presidio which they can visit for that purpose, until a church is built for them, these families may attend the mass and and other catholic services [at that place] without the trouble of crossing the river.
The governor, after having examined the elevation and the plateau, shall survey the land, lay off the streets, the town blocks,2 the main plaza, and the site for the church, the priest's house, the public hall, and the other buildings,3 shown on the map which is sent [with these instructions] to the end that, observing the measurement in feet and varas indicated in each direction for each block and street, and for the plaza, church, and public hall, he shall mark these out with a cord.4 In addition he shall make a furrow with a plow, and to distinguish every block from every other block, he shall place stakes in the four corners; and to mark the center of each block he shall dig a hole and place a stone in it. In the same way he shall mark off the site for the church, the public hall, and the plaza, taking care to make the streets straight and exact as shown on the map.
As soon as the fifteen families arrive, he shall give a block5 to each of them in order that each family may build its house thereon, indicating to them the limits marked out by the stakes so that they may not go beyond them. He shall assign the blocks facing the plaza to the principal families,1 giving to each one of them possession and title to the corresponding block or lot by virtue of this order, so that it may enjoy its possessions. If the families desire at once to go to their lot, (which the governor shall encourage them to do, in order that they may more quickly build their houses) he shall see that the tent which each family carries, or the awning, or the hut of twigs which it may think more suitable for its dwelling,2 be placed in the center of its block.
In addition to these blocks and streets, the governor shall, with cord and plow, mark out others for such families as may be added to these fifteen, or may desire to join them.3
Likewise he shall go with intelligent persons to examine the land suitable for cultivation adjoining the lands assigned as blocks for the settlement. These are to the north and south of the presidio. Having reserved as much as he may think necessary both for these families and for those who may come in the future, he shall set apart a sufficient amount for commons (exidos),4 so that if the population increases, the people will have ample recreation grounds, and room for the stock to graze without doing any damage.
In addition to these commons, he shall lay off sufficient lands for pastures (dehesas) on which to keep the work oxen, the horses, the stock for the slaughter-houses that may be subsequently built, and the other stock which by law the settlers are required to keep.
Coterminous with the pasture lands, he shall set apart others as the property of the consejo or cabildo (propios)5 which is to be formed from these families and those who may join them.
In addition to the pasture lands, he shall mark off the farm lands (tierras de labor) making just as many tracts as there are lots in the town. From the irrigable lands he shall make divisions (suertes), and distribute them in just proportion among the first settlers. The remainder shall be unappropriated lands (valdias) to be given to such families as may afterwards come. From the farm lands he shall reserve the amount he may think proper as public lands; so that from these public arable lands and from the above mentioned public pasture lands, which shall together compose the lands for the town, it may be possible to secure from the yield or rent, the salaries of the regidores and the expenses incident upon the public duties which the consejo has to perform.1
In order that the division of lots, commons, pastures, and farm lands may be made with such exactness that it will be possible to apportion the lands destined for the inner town, as well as the irrgable, the non-irrigable, and the pasture lands; and in order that the settlers may have an equal share in each class, the governor, using the map on which there are marked out from the door of the church four exact squares—the laterals not being marked off (and these are sufficient for the families who are now coming and for those who may soon come)—shall measure from the door of the church, passing over the four squares above mentioned, one thousand and niney-three usual varas containing three thousand two hundred and eighty geometric feet or tercias in a straight line from the church door in one direction, making up twelve blocks. From the door of the church, including the church itself, he shall measure one thousand and niney-three varas in the opposite direction in which shall be included twelve other squares and streets. From the door of the church, on one side, he shall measure one thousand and ninety-three varas containing twelve other blocks and streets. From the same door, on the other side, he shall measure one thousand and ninety-three varas in which shall be twelve other blocks and streets—all of the same size, each block containing two hundred and forty feet square—every geometric foot equal to a third of a usual vara—and each street between the blocks forty feet wide. Having thus formed a cross with the church as a center, he shall make a square on the four sides of the whole area or plan with a cord one thousand and ninety-three varas long, and shall place at each of the four corners of the square a large stone in a hole which he shall have dug, in order that the plan destined for the present and future inner town may be marked out. He shall make a furrow with a plow along the four sides of the square marked by the cord, in order that willows and other trees may be planted to mark out the four sides of the area of the inner town. They will serve not only to beautify it, but as soon as they grow to the height of a man their branches will furnish shade to the settlers.
In order that the dwellings may be beautiful they shall be of the same size and similar to each other with patios and corrals in which the horses and other work animals of the owners may be kept. The houses shall be [adapted] for defense, for cleanliness and for the healthfulness of the inmates, and shall be built so that, as indicated on the map, the four winds north, south, east, and west may enter the four angles or corners of the town and of each of the houses, making them more healthful.1
When this measurement has been made in the form and manner prescribed, the governor, using the usual vara of three tercias shall measure one thousand and ninety-three varas from each of the furrows which he has made at right angles to each other on the north-east, south-east, north-west, and the south-west in forming the square about the above mentioned plan, making this measurement in the same directions [as before], and placing large stones in the corners to mark the boundaries of the commons.
From these boundaries he shall begin another measurement, and lay off two thousand one hundred and eighty-six varas, that is, twice one thousand and ninety-three varas in the same directions, placing stones in holes in the corners of the square [thus formed] to mark the boundaries of the territory containing the lands destined for pastures. He shall set apart a fifth of this for propios.
From the boundaries of this square he shall begin another measurement, and mark off two thousand one hundred and eighty-six varas in each direction as above mentioned. All the land within this square he shall set apart for farms; and, having reserved one fifth for town lands, he shall give the remainder to the fifteen families, assigning to each the tract which it should have for its farm.
The lands remaining after this measurement has been made, the governor shall declare unappropriated lands, so that from them grants may be made to the families who in future may desire to settle at that town.
To each of these fifteen families he shall give possession of the tract of land assigned it, and title to the enjoyment of the posession of the same in the name of his Majesty, and by virtue of this order, and ley iv, tit. XII, lib. V, of the Recopilacion de Indias charging each family to plant trees on the boundaries of its tract of land, and to make use of the waters of the above mentioned Arroyo, and of the San Antonio River. The governor must remember that, in this division, he shall apportion the tracts of land and the water equally among all the families, and that if, in any of the directions he can not make any one or any number of the squares, on account of the land being occupied, he shall make them in the other directions. He is, likewise reminded that this order must be kept in the strong box of the consejo or cabildo, so that what should be done in the future may always be evident. .
A. D. 1731. July 11th at the "Presidio" of
of San Antonio de Bexar, Texas.
Record of the division and distribution of the lands between the San Antonio River and San Pedro Creek, having the advantage of being irrigated, among the fifteen families from the Canary Islands by the order of the governor—also the names of those 15 families.
Don Juan Antonio Perez de Alamazan, Captain of said "Presidio" and Chief Justice of this jurisdiction say: that in conformity with the order at the beginning of these proceedings relating to the partition and distribution of irrigable and arable lands ofdered to be executed among the fifteen Islander families; in consideration that in the whole space and neighborhood corresponding to the four surveys I ordered to be made,1 and which have been executed for this new settlement, there are not to be found any other arable lands than those situated between the San Antonio River and the San Pedro Creek which waters this "Presidio", which ground extends in form of Peninsula from north to south, which lands measured and surveyed with all possible care and accuracy, notwithstanding the difficulties encountered in some of the windings of said San Antonio River because of its being very timbered, I have found, as I have said in another report, ten "caballerias"2 and three quarters of a "caballeria" of arable lands, every portion of it susceptible of being irrigated and cultivated, from which quantity of land, by my order of the eighth instant to that effect, a little more than two "caballerias" have been set apart as commons3 for this new settlement remaining free more than eight "caballerias" of land to be distributed between said families, reserving some more to be distributed in the future among settlers that may come to join these families; and in order to do it with the greatest equity and notwithstanding the survey made of all the lands of the "Potrero", it has been necessary to make two separate measures of said lands, one of them measured so as to show the lands clear and free from any timber, which was executed by me from the limits of the "Presidio" and in a line from north to south were found lands clear of timber and cultivated by the ancient settlers1 of this "Presidio" excepting some windings, which have been cleared by said families, which land was found to measure twenty-four "cordeles" of seventy varas each in length, making one thousand six hundred and eighty usual varas; which being distributed among the sixteen families of said Islanders, the number of which has been increased from fifteen expressed in the order to sixteen, four single men natives of said Islands, who were included in the roll and discription sent to me from Quautitlan, and who received and are receiving the assigned per diem having been reckoned as one family, for which reason they have been entered in said distribution of land among the sixteen families: and according to said distribution there was allotted to each one of said sixteen families one "suerte", or lot of land, hundred and five usual varas, wide making fifty-two and a half "brazas" (the usual measure in their Islands) and in length the distance from San Pedro Creek to the San Antonio River; and because of the windings of the said stream some of the "suertes" are larger than the others, lots1 were cast with sixteen tickets, on each one of which a number was written from one to sixteen, and each one of these drew his lot in the following form and manner without any preference whatever—Joseph Curbelo drew the first "suerte"; Joseph Leal drew the second; Salvador Rodriguez drew the third; Juan Leal Junior drew the fourth; Antonio Rodriguez drew the fifth; Francisco Arocha drew the sixth; Vicente Chavez [Alvares] drew the seventh; Francisco Delgado drew the eighth; Manuel de Nis drew the ninth; Joseph Padron drew the tenth; Maria Rodriguez (widow,) drew the eleventh; Juan Delgado drew the twelfth; Antonio Santos drew the thirteenth; Juan Curbelo drew the fourteenth; Martin Lorenzo for himself and in the name of the three single men drew the fifteenth; Juan Leal Goras drew the sixteenth and last "suerte"; and in this way was made the partition aforesaid, of the lands cleared and cultivated by the first settlers of this Presidio, which I approve in the best form I can and must, and is vested in me by the superior order at the begining of these proceedings. And in order that the right of said sixteen families and their successors may be known at all times I have reduced it in writing and signed it with those of said families who know how to write and my assisting witnesses, acting with them as justice ex officio in default of a Notary Public in this jurisdiction to which I certify.
Juan Antonio Perez de Almazan.
Juan Leal Goras.
Francisco de Arocha.1
By request of Juan Curbelo,
Vicente Juarez Travieso.
Francisco Joseph de Arocha.
Dispatch ordering the governor of Texas,2 or, in case of his absence, the captain of the presidio of San Antonio to make a new inspection of the fifteen families going to settle there, and to elect the municipal officers, and to perform the other duties expressed in this dispatch.
. . . This dispatch . . . authorizes the said governor to appoint from the heads of these fifteen families six persons as regidores, one as alguacil mayor, another as escribano de consejo y público, and another as mayordomo de los bienes y propios of the commonwealth. They shall have power to elect two ordinary alcaldes to administer justice. These nine offices shall be given to the persons whom the governor shall consider most suitable for holding them continuously. The governor, in person, shall be present at the first meeting of the ayuntamiento to administer the oath to the officers elect, as well as to install them into the offices to which he has appointed them. He shall send me a record of these elections for my approval, and shall, likewise, attend the first election — the election of the ordinary alcaldes — in order that he may give instructions as to the method of procedure to be followed in that settlement. He shall send a report of this to my superior government.
Mexico, November 28, 1730.
Report of the appointment of the first cabildo of San Fernando de Béxar.1
I, Don Juan Antonio Pérez de Almazán, captain of the presidio of San Antonio de Béxar, and justicia mayor of this jurisdiction, etc., do certify that, exercising the power which, for this occasion, his Excellency, Marqués de Casafuerte, viceroy, governor, and captain-general of Nueva España confers upon me for electing and naming regidores and other individuals to form, constitute, and compose the cabildo of this new settlement do now, exercising the said power, elect and appoint, in the name of his Majesty, Juan Leal Goras, as first regidor of the six to be appointed, since he is one of the principal men among the fifteen Isleñas families and a person in whom are found all the qualifications and the standing necessary for the position. As such, he shall exercise his office in all cases and causes connected therewith and pertaining thereto in the same form and manner in which all other regidores of cities, villas, and lugares of Nueva España have exercised and enjoyed it, and as his Majesty (God save him) has decreed and ordered by royal cédulas. I command that the said Juan Leal Goras be, and be held as first regidor, and that he be granted all the privileges, exemptions, prerogatives, and immunities belonging by right to the said office. This title, together with all other papers that may be drawn up, shall be put,—so as to be a record for all time, in the book of the cabildo which shall be formed, beginning with the original dispatch, and with the acts in pursuance thereof. A verbatim legal copy of all the preceding documents shall be sent to his Excellency, the viceroy of Nueva España, together with separate copies of these appointments for his approval, if he thinks it well, first making known to the officers-elect their duties and administering the oath for the faithful discharge of their duties according to law and the viceroy's order to me in his dispatch. In order to make a permanent record, I attach my signature and confer my authority with attesting witnesses, acting with them as juez receptor, since there is no notary in the jurisdiction in which this is dated, July 20, 1731.
Juan Antonio Perez de Almazan Antonio de Espronceda Sevastian de Munnariz