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 »


Robert Wooster

SAN AGUSTÍN DE AHUMADA PRESIDIO. San Augustín de Ahumada Presidio was on the east bank of the Trinity River near the site of present-day Wallisville in northern Chambers County, forty miles west of Beaumont. It was established in 1756 and named after the viceroy, Agustín Ahumada y Villalón, Marqués de las Amarillas. The viceroy, following the suggestion of Governor Jacinto de Barrios y Jáuregui, ordered the construction of the presidio and its accompanying mission, Nuestra Señora de la Luz, at the site of a French trading post formerly occupied by Joseph Blancpain. Lt. Marcos Ruiz established the presidio, which was to hold a garrison of one officer and thirty soldiers. During the construction of the presidio and mission complex, often referred to as El Orcoquisac, Lt. Domingo del Río took command of the military post. In March 1759 an uprising by Orcoquiza Indians was averted only by the execution of a Spanish soldier who had killed one of the tribesmen. Conditions at San Agustín grew progressively worse as insects, disease, and the lack of supplies reduced the garrison. Discord over the proper site of the presidio arose. Del Río blamed many of the problems on Governor Ángel de Martos y Navarrete, and called upon Spanish officials to place the presidio under a captain who would be responsible only to the viceroy. Acting upon del Río's recommendations, the viceroy appointed Capt. Rafael Martínez Pacheco to command the military forces at El Orcoquisac in 1763. Martínez won the support of the Indians and missionaries and helped spur a temporary increase in missionary activity. The troops, however, protested against his methods as cruel and autocratic. Eighteen soldiers deserted, taking refuge with the French and petitioning for the captain's removal. Governor Martos suspended Martínez on September 13, 1764, and sent twenty soldiers with Lieutenant Ruiz to restore order at San Agustín. Martínez refused to submit to his arrest and escaped with a follower after Ruiz set fire to his house.

In the absence of a suitable captain, Lt. Melchor Afán de Rivera commanded the presidio. Having arrested the old lieutenant, Domingo del Río, on charges of perjury, Rivera appointed Cristóbal de Córdova to the post on May 3, 1765. Hugo Oconór arrested Ruiz six months later for his part in starting the fire, which had destroyed the governor's quarters and some barracks as well as Martínez's house. A hurricane demolished the Orcoquisac facilities on September 4, 1766. Although the presidio was rebuilt about a quarter of a league to the east of its former site, the Marqués de Rubí judged the Orcoquisac base useless when he inspected the northern provinces in 1767. Troops from the garrison had ousted French intruders in 1759; the cession of Louisiana to Spain in 1763 made the post obsolete. By 1772 orders to suppress the base on the Trinity had been made official. In the meantime, however, Captain Martínez Pacheco, having cleared the charges against him, again assumed command at El Orcoquisac in 1769. The following year he stripped much of his garrison to answer Governor Juan María Vicencio, Barón de Ripperdá's call for troops to check Apache depredations. In February 1771 Martínez and most of the remaining troops also departed. The three soldiers who had remained behind with Fray Ignacio María Laba were withdrawn a few weeks later. In the wake of Rubí's critical report, San Agustín was abandoned. Almost no traces of the Spanish occupation at Orcoquisac remain. The state of Texas erected a marker to denote the general location of the mission and the presidio in 1936. Thirty years later archeological excavations and the tireless research of John V. Clay pinpointed the exact site of San Agustín on the east bank of the Trinity River, near Lake Miller.


Herbert Eugene Bolton, Texas in the Middle Eighteenth Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1915; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1970). Miriam Partlow, Liberty, Liberty County, and the Atascosito District (Austin: Pemberton, 1974). Curtis D. Tunnell and J. Richard Ambler, Archeological Excavations at Presidio San Agustín de Ahumada (Austin: State Building Commission, 1967).

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.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, Robert Wooster, "SAN AGUSTIN DE AHUMADA PRESIDIO," accessed August 07, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/uqs01.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on February 11, 2019. 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...