Since its original printing in 1952, the publication of the Handbook of Texas has been made possible through the support of its users. As an independent nonprofit, TSHA relies on your contributions to close the funding gap for the online Handbook and keep it a freely accessible resource for users worldwide. Please make a donation today to preserve the most comprehensive encyclopedic resource on Texas history. Donate Today »

SAN LORENZO DE LA SANTA CRUZ MISSION

Donald E. Chipman

SAN LORENZO DE LA SANTA CRUZ MISSION. After the destruction of Santa Cruz de San Sabá Mission in March 1758, Spanish presence at the site of the future Menard, Texas, was reduced to the military outpost of San Luis de las Amarillas. The presidio commander, Col. Diego Ortiz Parrilla, was relieved of command in 1760, after his defeat in the disastrous Red River campaign of the previous year. His replacement was Felipe de Rábago y Terán, the infamous former captain of the San Gabriel presidio, who had languished in prison over the previous eight years. Rábago carried instructions from Viceroy Marqués de Cruillas to explore lands between the San Saba River and New Mexico, with the objective of establishing Spanish presence in a region that was threatened by the French. But results of the new commander's reconnaissances, coupled with the entreaties of Lipan Apache chieftains, persuaded him to ignore the viceroy's directive and to found a settlement on the upper Nueces River. Therein lay a serious problem that plagued the undertaking, for the viceroy steadfastly refused to provide badly needed financial support. The agreed-upon site, situated about halfway between San Sabá and San Juan Bautista, was called El Cañón. Initially, the settlement of San Lorenzo de la Santa Cruz was founded, and a mission with the same name was set up on January 23, 1762. Stationed at the religious outpost were fathers Diego Jiménez and Joaquín de Baños, as well as a garrison of twenty soldiers detached from the presidio at San Sabá. Although the mission attracted 400 Indians within a week, the priests soon perceived that the Apaches had no real interest in conversion. Rather, the natives viewed the site as a haven from their enemies, for the Spaniards would serve as their defenders. The mission complex itself included a square plaza of seventy varas (sixty-four yards) on each side, which was surrounded by poorly constructed walls that provided some security. The mission came under attack by 300 Comanches and their allies in October 1766, followed by a second assault in the following month, but both were repulsed. When the Marqués de Rubí visited San Lorenzo in July 1767, he was highly critical of it and the nearby mission, Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria del Cañón. In Rubí's judgment, there was no hope for converting the Apaches, and he recommended that both missions be abandoned. That sentiment was echoed by Jacobo de Ugarte y Loyola, governor of Coahuila, in April 1770. The official date of closure for the El Cañón missions was set at June 21, 1771, but in actuality they had been abandoned before that date. The remains of mission San Lorenzo have been excavated by Curtis D. Tunnell. They are located at the north edge of Camp Wood "on a low ridge which runs parallel to the east bank of the Nueces River" in Real County.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Hons Coleman Richards, The Establishment of the Candelaria and San Lorenzo Missions on the Upper Nueces (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1936). Curtis D. Tunnell and William W. Newcomb, A Lipan Apache Mission: San Lorenzo de la Santa Cruz (Austin: Texas Memorial Museum, 1969). Robert S. Weddle, The San Sabá Mission (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964).

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, Donald E. Chipman, "SAN LORENZO DE LA SANTA CRUZ MISSION," accessed September 21, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/uqs26.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on February 18, 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...