Message #51
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'"

Date: Wed, 04 Feb 1998 19:53:30
Subject: Rediscovery of Santa Cruz de San Saba

[ AzTeC / SWA SASIG ] :

V. Kay Hindes, Mark R. Wolf, Grant D. Hall, and Kathleen
Kirk Gilmore, with Spanish document translation by Philip
A. Dennis. The Rediscovery of Santa Cruz de San Saba, A
Mission for the Apache in Spanish Texas [San Saba Regional
Survey Report I]. Austin: Texas Historical Foundation and
Texas Tech University, 1995. Pp. viii, 94. $15. paper.

This publication will be of interest to all lovers of Texas
history and the history of our Spanish Colonial period. The
mission site "disappeared" a little over one hundred years
ago and had been the subject of several attempts to locate
it during the past thirty years. The brief history of the
Mission Santa Cruz de San Saba is covered in detail. The
mission was founded in April 1757 as a joint effort of the
Colleges of San Fernando de Mexico and Santa Cruz de
Queretaro. Located in a newly explored area northwest of San
Antonio in the San Saba River Valley, the mission was one of
the last of more than thirty-five missions established by the
Spanish in Texas for the purpose of Christianizing the Indians.
The specific purposes of this mission were the conversion of
the Apache Indians, suppression of raids by the Comanche and
other Northern Indian tribes, and as an outpost against possible
French encroachments. Efforts to attract the Apaches or other
Indians failed and the priests from the College of Santa Cruz de
Queretaro abandoned the mission in late 1757 leaving three
priests from the College of San Fernando de Mexico behind. On 16
March 1758 the mission complex was attacked and burned by an
estimated 2,000 Comanche Indians, killed eight of the
approximately thirty priests, soldiers, auxiliaries, and family
members that were in the compound at the time. The survivors
escaped to the nearby Presidio San Luis de las Amarillas. The
mission was never rebuilt and efforts to convert the Indians in
the area were abandoned. The mission buildings were of a wattle
and daub construction which is a closely spaced wood framework
covered in an adobe-like mud. The buildings were burned to the
ground by Indians and this combined with time and the elements
obliterated surface traces of the mission site. After the Presidio
was abandoned, it was approximately one hundred years before the
area was resettled. These factors all combined to cause the mission
site to become lost. The publication's tables and appendixes
include names, occupations, and dispositions of the occupants of
the mission at the time of the Indian attack as well as itemization
of equipment and supplies original to the mission, including their
cost. One appendix gives translations of Spanish documents relating
to the mission's history and some events subsequent to the Indian
attack. Of particular archeological interest are the descriptions
of the multi-disciplinary methodology used to locate the mission
site. The use and results of resources ranging from information
obtained through Spanish archival records and previous research
to aerial surveys and ground penetrating radar are described and
explained. Like pieces of a large puzzle, these clues all come
together and the actual site was located with minimal field work.
The well-written and easily read text is generously supported
with numerous photographs, tables, charts, maps, and site plots.
The photographs include both those of the site and archeological
works as well as the numerous artifacts recovered. Detailed
descriptions of many of the most significant artifacts are given
in support of the photographs. Other appendixes include a Spanish
vocabulary and the lot number/provenance usually found in
archeological reports. An eight and one half by eleven format was
used by the publisher which allows better definition of some of
the figures and photographs. The authors suggest the same
multidisciplinary approach they used can be adapted to find other
locations. As they conclude, "The mission's location was never
truly 'lost.' It only remained to be rediscovered."

Hal Cherry
Texas Old Missions and Forts Restoration Association.