SANTA ROSA DEL ALCÁZAR

James Woodrick

SANTA ROSA DEL ALCÁZAR. Santa Rosa del Alcázar was the name given in 1756 to a planned new Spanish civil and military complex in eastern Texas. Located on the headwaters of Cypress Creek at the Waller and Harris county lines, this was intended to become a significant community, similar in scope to San Antonio, protecting Spain’s interests in southeast Texas.  Although officially approved in 1757, objections to the location, a change of leadership, and the ceding of Louisiana from France to Spain in 1762 thwarted efforts to begin the project, and it was ultimately abandoned.   

Texas Governor Jacinto de Barrios y Jáuregui sent Spanish troops under Marcos Ruiz to the lower Trinity River in 1754 to investigate rumors of illegal activities by French traders. Upon arrival they found and arrested Joseph Blancpain and four others in an Akokisa (also listed as Orcoquisa in some sources) village on the Trinity near modern Wallisville. They were told that Blancpain was planning to establish a mission and a settlement of fifty French families at his trading post. Given this information, Barrios recommended that a Spanish fort and mission be established among the Akokisa. A similar recommendation had been made in 1748 by La Bahia presidio captain Joaquín de Orobio Basterra, who had made two trips to the area to investigate earlier rumors of French intruders. Barrios ordered troops to return in 1755 to the site of Blancpain’s arrest, and again they were told of French intruders along the upper coast.

On February 12, 1756, Viceroy Marqués de las Amarillas ordered that the lower Trinity be garrisoned and a priest stationed at the site of Blancpain’s arrest. As soon as a permanent site could be selected, the presidio and mission were to be relocated and a new civil settlement of fifty families (twenty-five Spanish and twenty-five Tlascaltecan Indians) was to be founded at the new site. On May 27, 1756, Presidio San Agustín de Ahumada and Mission Nuestra Señora de la Luz were established on the southern shore of Lake Miller near modern Wallisville. The complex became known as Orcoquisac after the local Akokisa Indians.  

In mid-1756 a surveying party led by Bernardo de Miranda y Flores examined several potential locations for the permanent site and in September identified a suitable location with reliable water (Mound and Snake creeks) and topography allowing irrigation on the headwaters of Cypress Creek at an Akokisa village headed by Chief El Gordo. A nearby elevated area (Hockley Mound) was chosen for the presidio. Miranda named the site Santa Rosa del Alcázar.  Viceroy Amarillas approved the site location on January 7, 1757, and ordered the soldiers and missionaries at Orcoquisac to transfer there and congregate all of the Akokisa and Bidai villages at that location. The mission priests objected to the move, as did the Indians. New Spanish leaders preferred other sites, and the impasse over location for the permanent site continued.  

Miranda’s proposed location was reconfirmed in 1767 when the Marqués de Rubí led a military expedition to inspect Spain’s northern frontier. Ten miles east of the Brazos River at the headwaters of Cypress Creek he described the surroundings and said: “…we reached the creek and spring named Santa Magdalena [Cypress Creek]. It takes a turn around the entire plain before coming to this place, which was proposed as the location for the Presidio de Orcoquiza.”

The Orcoquisac complex was abandoned in 1771, effectively ending any further plans for Santa Rosa del Alcázar and leaving the upper Texas coast open for future American colonization.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Herbert Eugene Bolton, Texas in the Middle Eighteenth Century: Studies in Spanish Colonial History and Administration (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1915; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1970). Robert S. Weddle, The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682–1762 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1991). James V. Woodrick, Elusive Dreams: Early Exploration and Colonization of the Upper Texas Coast (Houston: Kemp & Co., 2009).

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Handbook of Texas Online, James Woodrick, "SANTA ROSA DEL ALCÁZAR," accessed July 22, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hvsra.

Uploaded on April 26, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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