Alpine in Brewster County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
The Late Spanish Entradas
Big Bend Snapshot History
1683 – Juan Domínguez de Mendoza leads first expedition to La Junta de los Rios in 95 years
1693 – Juan Fernández de Retana leads expedition to protect native Jumano Indians from Apache Indian raids at La Junta
1702-1714 – After the War of Spanish Succession, French Bourbon King Philip V assumes the throne of Spain and its holdings in the New World
1729 José de Berroterán
Captain José de Berroterán, first Spaniards across the southern Big Bend region, explored the La Junta de los Rios area to locate a site for a Presidio, military outpost, and to subdue insurgent natives. The mission was a failure, however, as he found no suitable location nor encountered - any combatants.
1747 – 1748 Pedro de Rábago y Terán
Governor of Coahuila, Pedro de Rabago y Terán, the first Spaniard to explore the area now known as Big Bend National Park, arrived at the Rio Grande near today’s Boquillas del Carmen, and also became the first European to describe Santa Elena Canyon. Rábago recommended building a presidio on the site he located at La Junta de los Rios, and
1756-1763 – Spain and France allied during the Seven Years War to block expansion of the British Empire. Both lose significant North American territory
1759 – French Bourbon King Charles III ascends Spanish throne and begins sweeping reforms that affect military policy in new Spain
1760 – Presidio Del Norte is completed at La Junta de los Rios
1771 – Nicolas de Lafora and Jose Ramon de Urrutia complete the first map that includes the Big Bend region
1773 – Hugo Oconor leads an entrada to establish presidios at San Vicente and San Carlos
1777 Teodoro de Croix
In 1776, when the northern states of New Spain were separated from the rule of the Viceroy in Mexico City, Spanish Emperor Charles III appointed Teodoro de Croix as Governor of Provincias Internas, Interior Provinces, on the northern frontier of New Spain. In 1777, de Croix led a mission to inspect his new jurisdiction and decided the Rio Grande was an artificial boundary that provided little protection for settlers farther south. He recommended that the San Vicente and San Carlos garrisons move closer to population centers, and that Presidio del Norte remain in place.
1775-1783 – Spain allies with France against England during the American War of Independence
Between 1779 and 1783 Juan de Ugalde, Governor of Coahuila Province, led military expeditions against Lipan and Mescalero Apaches. Ugalde’s punitive expeditions in 1782 and 1783 reached into the Big Bend region, and although only a few Apaches were killed and captured, many more sued for peace or fled into the rugged Chisos Mountains. A fifth military expedition that spanned from 1787 to 1788 defeated Mescalero Apache Chief Zapata Tuerta. In March 1789 several Apache bands sign treaty agreements to relocate south of the Rio Grande near Ugalde’s Santa Rosa headquarters, now called Melchor Múzquiz in Coahuila.
1808-1814 – Napoleon’s armies invade Portugal and Spain during the Peninsular Wars in Europe
1810 – On September 16, the Mexican War for Independence from Spain begins
1821 – Mexico achieves national independence even as its political, military, and financial situation set the stage for rebellion and Texas Independence 15 years later
CE: Common Era
The early surge of Spanish entradas, formal entries into the distant lands that began in 1581, was for gold, property and native souls. After the 1683 Dominguez de Mendoza expedition, local Spanish incursions were primarily to establish defensible frontiers and mount military operations. When Apache Indians arrived from the Great Plains with horses, they quickly adapted to the harsh desert environment and began rating settlements in the vicinity of La Junta de los Rios, the junction of the Rio Conchos and Rio Grande. In reaction, indigenous Jumano Indians petition the Spanish governor in El Paso Del Norte, present-day El Paso, to protect them from attacks.
By the end of the eighteenth century a fragile peace existed between Apaches and Spaniards, but the Spanish had found no wealth sufficient to hold them in a harsh, arid country that proved an insurmountable obstacle to creating a secure frontier. Spain soon lost its New World empire, and aggressive far ranging Comanche Indians with unsurpassed writing skills and mastery of horse culture, began a fearful reign of domination across the Southern High Plains and deep into Northern Mexico that lasted more than 150 years.
Spanish Presidial Soldier, 1760-1820
Presidios garrisoned 2 types of soldiers, the Soldados de Cuera, leather armored foot soldiers and their mounted counterparts, the Tropa Ligera. Although each man was armed with a musket into pistols, the Lance and Saber remained the weapons of choice. Presidial soldiers were recruited from local Mestizos with mixed Spanish and Indian ancestry, while officers were usually of pure Spanish descent. Drawing by Jose Cisneros.
1729 Jose de Berroterán
1747-1748 Pedro de Rábago de Terán
1777 Teodoro de Croix
1779-1789 Juan de Ugalde
Espada Ancha (Spanish Colonial Saber)
This short, wide, single edged sword (circa 1770) was carried by a presidial soldado de cuera (leather armored foot soldier). The espada ancha is uniquely characteristic of the northern frontiers of New Spain. They were used by the mounted militia as well as the famed presidial lancers, and were all-purpose tools use not only is weapons but also for clearing brush and chopping wood.
José Cisneros drawing copyright Irene Cisneros, courtesy Adair Margo, President, The Tom Lea Institute. Entrada map adapted from an original drawing by Matt Walter. Artifacts, courtesy of The Museum of the Big Bend, Sul Ross State University, Alpine, Texas, Elizabeth Jackson, Director. Text sources: The Big Bend: A History of the Last Texas Frontier, Ron C. Tyler, Texas A&M Press; The Handbook of Texas Online, Texas Historical Association; Texas Beyond History, The Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, Texas University at Austin. Projects made possible through funding and support of Brewster County Commissioners Mike Pallanez, Luc Novovitch, Hugh Garrett and Ruben Ortega, County Judge Eleazar Cano; The Brewster County Historical Commission, J. Travis Roberts, Jr., Chairman; The Brewster County Tourism Council; and The Texas Department of Transportation. Exhibit Text, Project Management and Editorial Review by Mike Davidson; Research, Compilation and Artifact Photography by Jim Bones/Photographs; Graphic Design by Chris Ruggia/Vast Graphics.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era • Native Americans • Settlements & Settlers.
Location. 30° 22.169′ N, 103° 37.651′ W. Marker is in Alpine, Texas, in Brewster County. Marker is at the intersection of U.S. 67/90 and Paso del Norte Road, on the left when traveling east on U.S. 67/90. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Alpine TX 79830, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Early Spanish Entradas (here, next to this marker); Lawrence Sullivan Ross (approx. 1½ miles away); Burgess' Water Hole (approx. 1.9 miles away); Nolte-Rooney House (approx. 2 miles away); Gage-Van Sickle (approx. 2.1 miles away); J. C. Bird (approx. 2.1 miles away); City Building (approx. 2.1 miles away); First Baptist Church of Alpine (approx. 2.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alpine.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 26, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 25, 2020, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio. This page has been viewed 50 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on November 25, 2020, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.