Victoria in Victoria County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
Presidio La Bahia and Mission Espíritu Santo
Second Site of Mission Nuestra Senora del Espíritu Santo de Zuniga
Spanish forts and missions had different agendas and rules. The presidio was a fort where soldiers lived, patrolled the frontier and protected the mission. The mission was where priests lived,
By 1725, both the mission and presidio had been moved to Tonkawa Bank in present day Riverside Park. The presidio soon moved six miles up the east bank of the Guadalupe River. Priests had elaborate plans for converting the local Native Americans and raising enough crops to sustain everyone at the site. Stone mission complex was constructed as well as an earthen dam – thirty feet high and ninety feet wide – to retain rain water which drained toward the river from the east. Water was also diverted from Spring Creek to water the crops, which were planted alongside the river. In 1726 the mission moved eight miles above Victoria on the west side of the Guadalupe River where it remained for the next twenty-three years.
Life at Mission Espíritu Santo on Tonkawa Bank
Timber, stone and water were more abundant here than along Garcitas Creek where the first mission and presidio were constructed. The inland Indian tribe – the Aranamas – were accommodating to Spanish missionaries and to the Catholic religion. The Spanish Padres demonstrated the rare ability to inspire Indians to learn about agriculture, industry and art. The Indians and Spanish Padres coexisted happily on Tonkawa Bank.
A soldier’s life at a Spanish presidio was hard.
It soon became obvious that more land was needed to accomplish the goals set by the Padres. In 1726 this site was abandoned in favor of land near Mission Creek, where more extensive farming could be done.
“The Padres” Original Illustration by Tom Jones
“Mission Espíritu Santo” Original Illustration by Tom Jones
Erected by El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail Association.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era • Exploration • Settlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1689.
Location. This marker has been replaced by another marker nearby. 28° 49.448′ N, 97° 0.774′ W. Marker is in Victoria, Texas, in Victoria County. Marker is on McCright Drive, 0.2 miles west of North Vine Street, on the left when traveling west. Marker is in field near west of the Victoria Parks and Recreation Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 476 McCright Drive, Victoria TX 77901, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this location. Tonkawa Bank (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Tonkawa Bank (a few steps from this marker); Old La Bahia Road (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line); Victoria (about 800 feet away); Friedrich & Margaretha Hiller House (approx. 0.3 miles away); Steamboating and the Guadalupe River (approx. 0.4 miles away); William Robert Smith (approx. 0.8 miles away); John Howland Wood (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Victoria.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 26, 2022. It was originally submitted on September 8, 2019, by Richard Denney of Austin, Texas. This page has been viewed 201 times since then and 50 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on July 5, 2014, by Richard Denney of Austin, Texas. 2. submitted on February 26, 2022, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. 3, 4, 5. submitted on July 5, 2014, by Richard Denney of Austin, Texas. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.