While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »

MESCAL INDIANS

Thomas N. Campbell

MESCAL INDIANS. In the late seventeenth century, when first mentioned in documents, the Mescal (Mescate, Mexcal, Mezcal, Miscal, Mixcal) Indians ranged from the Rio Sabinas of northeastern Coahuila across the Rio Grande at least as far as the southern margin of the Edwards Plateau in Texas. North of the Rio Grande they were often encountered along the Nueces and Frio rivers. These Mescals were among the Indians for whom the San Juan Bautista Mission was founded at its first location on the Rio Sabinas in 1699. Some Mescal families also entered San Francisco Solano Mission, for a few were reported there in 1706 when it was located near present Zaragoza, Coahuila. Still other Mescals migrated northeastward to the area that became known as Ranchería Grande, near the junction of the Little and Brazos rivers in east central Texas. Here, in 1716, Spaniards reported a number of refugee groups from northeastern Coahuila and vicinity-Ervipiame, Mescal, Mesquite, Pamaya, Payaya, Sijame, Ticmamar, and Xarame. The few Mescal Indians at San Francisco Solano Mission probably followed this mission when it was moved from Coahuila to San Antonio, Texas, in 1718 and became known as San Antonio de Valero. However, many of those reported in Valero records may have come from Ranchería Grande. The Mescals of San Juan Bautista seem to have remained with the mission when it was moved from the Rio Sabinas to present Guerrero, Coahuila, near the Rio Grande. Some were reported there as late as 1738. The Mescal Indians slowly lost their ethnic identity through fragmentation during the eighteenth century. Some of those at Ranchería Grande must have been absorbed by the local groups that later became known as Tonkawa. The remainder faded into the mission Indian populations of Coahuila and Texas. Without question the Mescal Indians spoke a Coahuiltecan dialect. At times the Mescals have been confused with the Mescalero, an Apache group of southeastern New Mexico and southwestern Texas. Both names derived from the mescal plant (maquey or century plant), whose root crowns were used extensively for food.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 
Vito Alessio Robles, Coahuila y Texas en la época colonial (Mexico City: Editorial Cultura, 1938; 2d ed., Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa, 1978). Herbert Eugene Bolton, Texas in the Middle Eighteenth Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1915; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1970). J. Jesús Figueroa Torres, Fr. Juan Larios, defensor de los Indios y fundador de Coahuila (Mexico City: Editorial Jus, 1963). Lino Gómez Canedo, ed., Primeras exploraciones y poblamiento de Texas, 1686–1694 (Monterrey: Publicaciones del Instituto Technológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, 1968). William B. Griffen, Culture Change and Shifting Populations in Central Northern Mexico (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1969). Mattie Alice Hatcher, trans., The Expedition of Don Domingo Terán de los Ríos into Texas, ed. Paul J. Foik (Preliminary Studies of the Texas Catholic Historical Society 2.1 [1932]). Frederick Webb Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1907, 1910; rpt., New York: Pageant, 1959). P. Otto Maas, ed., Viajes de Misioneros Franciscanos a la conquista del Nuevo México (Seville: Imprenta de San Antonio, 1915). Richard Santos, "A Preliminary Survey of the San Fernando Archives," Texas Libraries 28 (Winter 1966–67). J. R. Swanton, Linguistic Material from the Tribes of Southern Texas and Northeastern Mexico (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1940). Robert S. Weddle, San Juan Bautista: Gateway to Spanish Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1968).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Thomas N. Campbell, "MESCAL INDIANS," accessed July 03, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/bmm30.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...