Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

S TATE OF T EXAS .

The name, Texas, is probably derived from Tejas, the name of a friendly tribe of Indians met within the territory by the early Spanish explorers.

GEOGRAPHY AND PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The state is bounded on the north by Oklahoma, on the west by New Mexico and Mexico, on the south by Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico, and on the east by the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana, and Arkansas. It lies between 25° 50' and 36° 45' N. lat. and 93° 30' and 106° 30' W. long. It embraces 265,896 sq. miles, of which 3498 sq. miles are water. Four great natural provinces, running in general direction from south to north, are formed by geological development. The first of these, nearest the coast, is called the Coastal Plain, consisting of Coast Prairies, a Tertiary area, and Black Prairies. Extending back from the Gulf Coast for from thirty to fifty miles, an outcrop of underlying clays gives a flat, almost treeless tract running along the whole length of the coast and known as the Coast Prairie. Different climatic conditions with respect to rainfall vary the products of different parts of this region. The eastern and northern part, where the rainfall reaches from forty to fifty inches annually, are suitable for rice culture, which is localized there; in the central portion along the coast where the rainfall is less, sugar-cane, fruit, and "truck" are extensively cultivated, while in the southwest, with a rainfall of only 20 to 28 inches annually, cotton culture and "cattle raising on the range" are the chief industries. Irrigation, however, in this south-western region makes the cultivation of sugar-cane and sorghum as well as cotton of some profit. Favourable underground conditions make this Coast Prairie the location of important oil-fields. Further to the interior the Coast Prairie is succeeded by Tertiary deposits giving a generally sandy condition to the soil. This Tertiary area also is divided by climatic conditions. The south- western and western part, the "Rio Grande Plain", having a very shallow rainfall, produces only a dwarfed and shrubby natural vegetation and is hence called the "Chaparral Country"; the humid part, however, north and north-east, called the East Texas timber belt, grows both the short and long-leaf pine. Lumbering is here the important industry. In the northern part of this region more fertile soil affords the great fruit and "truck" products; cotton and tobacco are also grown. In one part of the west of this Tertiary region cotton is cultivated, and valuable deposits of brick and pottery clays and lignite are extensively worked. Further inland and north of the Colorado River in this Coastal Plain are the Black and Grand Prairies, the most important agricultural region of Texas. Black waxy calcareous clay soil, for the most part underlaid by prolific and widespread water-bearing formations, makes this region the great cotton and corn producing section, while oats, wheat, alfalfa, and sorghum are also extensively grown. Wherever the climate becomes arid cattle raising increases as an industry. The Central Basin is the second great natural province. This region, situated in north-west and central-west Texas, was once covered with cretaceous materials, but now is denuded by the head waters of the Red, Brazos, and Colorado Rivers. Its southern extremity, the "Llano Country", as it is called, has a granite foundation, much quarried, and deposits of hematite and magnetite occur here plentifully. On the eastern side the soils show a carboniferous area, and include sands, loams, black and light-coloured clays, producing in the heavier soils, cotton, wheat, oats, sorghum, milo-maize, and in the lighter, cotton, maize, fruit, and garden products. The western portion contains notably fertile soils, yielding abundant crops of kafir-corn, milo-maize, cotton, wheat, oats, peaches, and alfalfa. Deposits of salt, clay, and gypsum occur in this area. The third natural province of Texas is the Plateau Province, having three great divisions: the Llano Estacado, Staked or Palisaded Plains, which extend beyond the limits of the state, and the Edward's and Stockton Plateau. The Llano Estacado, a plateau 2500 to 4000 feet in elevation, derives its name from being itself an extensive uplifted mesa, surrounded, except on the Edward's Plateau side, by "breaks", cliffs, or walls, which, as palisades, have to be climbed before the plateau is attained. The plateaux are treeless, grass-covered prairies; the soils are fine, sandy loams, and the annual rainfall only from fifteen to twenty inches. Formerly this region was devoted entirely to cattle, but now alfalfa, barley, broom-corn, maize, cotton, wheat, and fruits are being successfully cultivated. The water supply may be made abundant mainly from wells at a depth of 100 to 600 feet. Attempts to utilize these for irrigation on a small scale are now being made. On the Edward's Plateau the upland prairies are mainly given over to cattle, sheep, and goats; in the cañon valleys, however, are alluvial plains in which cotton, corn, milo-maize, wheat, and oats are a success. On the Stockton Plateau the formation resembles that of Edward's, but the rainfall being less, averaging only fifteen inches annually, it is used almost entirely for cattle.

The fourth province is that of the Trans-Pecos Mountains, with elevations ranging from 5000 to 9500 feet. Here the chief wealth is in the minerals, consisting of silver, copper, and lead of good grade and some gold, tin, zinc, and quicksilver. Local conditions have, however, retarded the mining development, and silver and quicksilver are the only ores worked on a commercial basis. The annual rainfall on these mountains is as low as ten to fifteen inches, but irrigation of the valley lands is practised by means of impounded storm-water, and alfalfa and kafir-corn are commonly grown. The chief industry of the section is the care of cattle. Over such an etended area the drainage is naturally diverse. In the east there are numerous small streams flowing south and east into the Gulf of Mexico, in the Trans-Pecos region there are practically no streams at all that reach the sea. In the arid regions the drainage channels flow only for a short time after rainfall. On the west and south-west boundary the Rio Grande runs for 1200 miles. The Pecos River crosses the western portion of the state, from north to south, without a tributary. It has a broad plain where it enters the state, but descends into an inaccessible cañon as it approaches the Rio Grande. The Canadian River crosses the extreme north of the state from west to east merely as a small stream on a wide bed of wet sand. The Red, Brazos, and Colorado rivers and their numerous tributaries rise in the Llano Estacado and flow south and east to the Gulf. Their valleys broaden as they approach the coast and end in very wide alluvial bottoms. Many other rivers originate from artesian springs at the foot of the escarpments, called Balcones, at the south of Edward's Plateau. The annual rainfall in Texas varies from 40 to 50 inches in the east–it is 60 at Texarkana–to 10 in the west. Moreover, the evaporation in the west is excessive as compared with that in the east, hence the eastern part of the state is humid, the west arid. The Gulf breezes cool the air in the summer, and bring rains to the north and east in winter and spring. The northern limit of the Mexican rainy season, with its water from the Pacific in summer and autumn, reaches the Trans-Pecos Province and along the Rio Grande. The cold winds called "Northers", blowing from the north-west or from the Rocky Mountains, sweep at times over the whole state. A considerable difference, 20° in average temperature between various places in the state, is observable.

POPULATION AND RESOURCES

The population of Texas as given by the thirteenth decennial census is 3,896,542. This causes the state to rank fifth in population in the Union. In 1850, when Texas was first enumerated in the United States census, the number of inhabitants was given as 212,592.       Agriculture. –There are in Texas, according to the Federal Census Report (1910), 109,226,000 acres of farm-land, and 27,120,000 acres of this are improved farm-land. It is estimated that the state has 167,865,000 acres of tillable land. At present the number of farms is given by the census (1910) as 416,377, with an average of 262 acres to the farm. Over 1,000,000 acres are now (1911) under irrigation, representing an investment of $17,000,000 for irrigating plants. Several large irrigating enterprises are being inaugurated that will greatly extend the acreage under irrigation in 1912. The total value of farm property in the state (lands, buildings, implements, and machinery) was $1,879,246,000 in 1910. In 1911 the acreage for some staple crops is given officially as follows: cotton, 10,868,000; corn, 9,240,000; wheat, 1,240,956; potatoes 60,000; rice, 275,000; tobacco, 600.

The following figures, culled from the offices of the State and Federal Commissioners of Agriculture, show the values of some Texas crop yields for the year 1910: cotton and cotton seed, $265,955,944; corn, $114,206,000; wheat, $18,404,000; oats, $11,443,000; barley, $135,000; rye, $47,000; rice, $5,942,000; emmet and spelt, $30,000; kafir-corn and milo-maize, $3,900,000; peanuts, $1,430,000; other grasses and seeds, $750,000; potatoes, $3,366,000; sweet-potatoes and yams, $2,600,000; hay and forage, $13,900,000; tobacco, $105,000; sugar-cane, $4,360,000; broom corn, $160,000; truck, $30,000,000; total value, $476,733,944.

The United States Government Bulletin, showing the number of bales of cotton ginned to 20 March, 1912, gives Texas 4,437,876 bales as against 3,172,488 for the entire season in 1910. The table given above names only the principal crops and products. The Texas Haymakers' Association has estimated the value of the Texas hay crop, including local consumption and inter-state shipments–the census does not give such local shipments–at $180,000,000. Altogether, the estimate of Texas farm and garden products, not including livestock, gives a market valuation of $650,000,000 annually. As Texas leads in the production of cotton so also in range cattle, pecans, figs, watermelons, bees, and honey.

Livestock

The livestock statistics given below are taken from the office of the Commissioner of Agriculture of the State of Texas and from the U.S. Census (1910). The figures give the value of animals in the state:

Milch cows, $33,542,000; other cattle, $109,104,000; horses, $97,199,000; mules, $69,408,000; sheep, $5,154,300; goats, $2,000,000; hogs, $18,702,400; poultry, $4,806,653; total value, $340,006,352; number of colonies of bees 238,107; value, $675,000. The wool product given by the Federal census, 1910, for the then current year is valued at $2,202,342. Conservative estimates of the dairying industry in Texas state 4,000,000 lbs. as the output from the creameries in 1910. Official reports of the Fish and Oyster Commission for the year ending 1 August, 1911, relative to the fish and oyster catch in Texas waters, give: oysters, 110,550 barrels; fish, 3,231,159 lbs. Many thousands of pounds of fish are also taken by fishermen and sportsmen who do not come under the License Act, and whose catch is not recorded. The timber and lumber industry from the last report is valued for its output at $1,150,000.

Minerals

The following figures are taken from a statement made by the director of the Bureau of Economic Geology and Technology of the University of Texas. They have been compared with figures from the United States Geological Survey for 1909 and show the increase or decrease that may be expected from one year to another though the general sums may differ but comparatively little.

Asphalt, $1,040,845; clay industries, excluding pottery, $2,744,845; coal, $2,397,858; fuller's earth, $8,582; granite, $60,909; iron ore, $34,003; lignite, $763,107; lime, $226,592; limestone, $477,239; mineral waters, $128,549; petroleum, $6,605,755; silver, $205,374; stone (crushed), $306,862; tin, $2,586; cement, gypsum, natural gas and sand, lime-brick, estimated $500,000; total, $16,597,367.

Manufactures

The value of the manufactured products of Texas as shown for 1909 (U.S. Census, 1910) is $227,896,000, the capital invested being $216,876,000 and the raw material used being valued at $178,179,000. The industries given do not include any whose products are less than $500 a year and likewise exclude steam laundries. The total wealth of the state as shown by the report compiled by the State Comptroller's Department for 1911 is valued at $2,515,632,745. The capital and surplus of Texas banks amounts to $113,055,617, while the deposits, 1 June, 1911, amounted to $206,664,471, these figures being taken from the Texas Bank Directory (1911), excluding a number of private banks not rendering a report.

MEANS OF COMMUNICATION

Texas has 140,000 miles of public highways, 35,000 miles of which are graded and are classed as improved highways. Besides these last many thousand miles are naturally of such good formation as to be passable at all seasons of the year and do not require much expenditure, while many thousand miles more receive attention in places, but are not included in the class "improved highway". The total railroad mileage of the state is 16,192.34 miles. These figures are derived from the report compiled by the comptroller's department of the state. The Port of Galveston is the principal port of Texas and the south-west. The total foreign business of the Galveston customs district for the fiscal year ending 30 June, 1911, was $225,155,912; of this the exports were in value $220,191,365. The coast-wise commerce of the port is estimated at $200,000,000. Port Arthur, the port next in importance to Galveston, had on 30 June, 1911, foreign exports for the year to the value of $23,981,081; the value of the imports was $173,815. The domestic commerce of this port is said to be in excess of the foreign. The towns of Beaumont and Orange will soon share with Port Arthur in the commercial benefits of deep water, all three being connected by the Sabine Noches Canal, now about to be deepened to 25 feet. Houston also is to share with Galveston by the completion of the ship-channel which connects the city with Galveston Bay. The securing of deep water at Aransas Pass will make Harbor Island another deep-water port. Velasco at the mouth of the Brazos River, and Point Isabel at the mouth of the Rio Grande, will yet be important ports for deep-sea commerce, although only beginnings are now in evidence. The project of the Federal Government to form an inland water-way from the west coast to Florida to the Rio Grande, skirting the Gulf Coast, through the protected bays where possible, has been already begun in one section in Texas, between the Brazos River and Matagorda Bay, through the mainland. Other channels are being maintained in various places while some of the rivers are utilized for navigation and projects for rendering them more navigable are being prosecuted. The value of Texas shipping, steamships, and sailing vessels given by the comptroller's department is $2,299,850.

Educational System

The public educational system of Texas includes, under State control, the University of Texas at Austin, and the medical department at Galveston ; the Agricultural and Mechanical College at College Station; four normal schools situated respectively at Huntsville, San Marcos, Denton, and Canyon; the College of Industrial Arts (for women ) at Denton; the normal and industrial school for coloured youths at Prairie View, and the high schools and common schools in the various independent and common school districts of the State. The intention expressed in the Constitution of the Republic of Texas of establishing a university, and the later endowment granted by the Congress to give wit effect (1839), never attained fruition. In 1869 the new Constitution of the State again directed the establishment of a university and in accordance with this mandate the Legislature (1871) refunded a prior endowment of $100,000 and added thereto 1,000,000 acres of land. In 1881 the main university was located at Austin and the medical department at Galveston. The main university was opened in 1883 with an enrollment of 221 students. Not until 1891 did the medical department receive its first students. The income of the university from its lands is about $170,000 yearly; the legislative appropriation for 1912 is $268,545, in 1913 it will be $400,000. The institution has 49 professors, 43 instructors, 10 tutors, 10 fellows, 34 student assistants; the present enrolment in the main university at Austin is 1777; in the medical department, Galveston, 285.

The Agricultural and Mechanical College was opened in 1876 with Federal aid. Its present enrolment is 1126. The Legislative appropriation for its maintenance and that of other colleges is shown below.

  1911 1912 Agricultural and Mechanical College
Sam Houston Normal School
South-west Texas Normal School
North Texas Normal School
West Texas Normal School
College of Industrial Arts
Prairie View Normal and Industrial College $ 96,750
33,000
33,000
33,000
27,500
38,575
48,600 $368,350
51,000
68,600
92,000
59,945
121,300
    1910-11 1912-13 Institute for the Blind
Institute for the Deaf and Dumb $161,430
108,370 $155,540
110,520

The school property in independent school districts, including cities and towns, is valued at $16,602,342, and in common school districts at $6,644,998. Enrolled in the scholastic census of the independent districts are 368,303 children, in the common school districts are 623,106; in all 991,409 between the ages of 7 and 17, the scholastic age fixed by law. The total available fund for the current year from all sources for the education of these children is $13,351,121.

POLITICAL HISTORY

Early in the sixteenth century Spanish explorers along the Gulf Coast and in the interior of the territory had gained a knowledge of Texas, among the first being Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda. Alvar Nunez, better known as Caveza de Vaco, unmistakably investigated the Gulf shore from Florida to Mexico before 1530, and had even traversed Texas from the coast probably near Galveston to a point in the vicinity of El Paso. There is evidence to show that Coronado, in his memorable northern expedition from Mexico, 1540, travelled near San Elisario and entered the pueblo of the Tigvas, afterwards called Ysleta, where a church was built. A church still exists on what is said to be the site of that built under the eye of Coronado. Spain's knowledge of this country, however, had no result towards its occupation before the landing of La Salle in 1685. Robert Cavelier de La Salle, who had sailed down the Mississippi to its mouth in 1682, was returning from France in 1685 prepared to found a colony on the banks of the "Father of Waters" and hold the great river for France ; because of an error in his estimate of the latitude of its mouth he passed the mighty stream, and sweeping along the Gulf Coast landed in Matagorda Bay in Texas, which he named the Bay of St. Bernard. In this neighbourhood he attempted to found a colony and called the place Fort St. Louis. From it he made expeditions to discover the position of his confrère de Tonti, who had been left in charge of a colony near the mouth of the Illinois River. On one of these La Salle was slain by one of his own followers, an enemy of his nephew, Duhaut. His faithful friend and companion, Father Anastase Douay, buried in Texas soil the body of this intrepid and enterprising explorer. The colony was soon scattered and destroyed by sickness and the Indians. When news of the French attempt reached Mexico, Don Alonzo de Leon was sent by the Count of Monclova, Viceroy of Mexico (1686), to scour the country and drive out the French. De Leon visited the ruins of Fort St. Louis and made some little explorations on his way. Later, in 1690 and 1691, some attempts were made to occupy the "New Philippines ", as the territory was called. Twenty-three years later (1714), Cadillac, Governor of Louisiana, sent Hucherau St- Denis into Texas territory to establish trade with Mexico. St- Denis, adventurous and enterprising, met with remarkable success and the trail known as the old San Antonio road from Nacogdoches to the Rio Grande was the artery through which commerce flowed between the nations. Other movements of the French evoked counter actions from the Spanish. It may be remarked that the appellation Texas probably arose from La Harpe's dating a letter from the territory of "Las Tekas", although some ascribe the bestowal of the name to de Leon. The French trade enterprises stimulated Spain to inaugurate in 1715 an extended presidio and mission plan to hold the country and to civilize and Christianize the Indians. Many tribes of these inhabited the broad prairies; some, wild and untamable; others, sedentary, gathered in towns or pueblos, and possessing a rude kind of civilization. Some of these pueblos are still traceable and the ancient town of the Tejas Indians once occupied the site of the present town of Mound Prairie. The Spanish missionary effort spoken of more particularly in another part of this article covers the period from 1715 to 1794. Other efforts were made by the French to utilize this land, claimed because of La Salle's discovery and settlement, and various struggles between both countries were finally settled by the cession to Spain of Louisiana in 1763. Previous to this in 1728, however, Spanish settlers from the Canary Islands supplemented by others from Mexico were introduced at great expense, and Texas was made a separate province. The civilized population, half or more European, however, grew very slowly (3000 in 1714 and in 1805 only 7000).

From the latter part of the eighteenth century there had been renewed attempts to enter the territory of New Spain from the Louisiana side for the purpose of trade. The policy of Spain had opposed all trade with foreign nations, but some contraband was no doubt connived at or legitimate rights to trade granted from time to time. The expedition of Philip Nolan towards the end of this eighteenth century (1797), to provide horses for the army in Louisiana from the wild herds roaming the prairies of Texas, attracted the attention of United States citizens to Texas. When, after the purchase of Louisiana, the excitement of the consequent dispute between the United States and Spain had been allayed in 1805-06 and Captain Zebulon M. Pike had made his famous expedition and returned his glowing report, and when Burr's attempt at empire came to naught, this interest was still more stimulated. Hence, the effots of Mexico to gain independence beginning in 1810 gave rise to filibustering movements into Texas, whose eastern boundary was determined on the purchase of Florida in 1819. These were followed by attempts to colonize, so that when in 1821 Mexico had achieved independence Stephen F. Austin and other empresarios, as they were named, received grants of lands for colonies and introduced many families from the United States into Texas. Great land privileges were given those early settlers, but some restrictions were also involved in their tenure, one being that they profess the Catholic Faith. In practice, however, this was interpreted in a very nominal way. Real Catholics also entered from the States and from Europe at this period. Catholic colonies even were founded, e.g. Irish settlements near Refugio and San Patricio on the Nueces River (1828 and 1829). President Bustamente's decree of 1830 prohibiting further entry into Texas of colonists from the United States and delay in separating Texas politically from Coahuila–they had been united in 1824–with other sources of discontent, brought about a successful revolution in 1835-36. On 16 March, 1836, a constitution was adopted for the Republic of Texas and signed on the seventeenth. Its independent existence lasted until 1845, when it was annexed to the United States.

The Territory embraced besides its present area what now forms part of New Mexico, of Oklahoma, of Kansas, of Colorado, and even of Wyoming. The portions outside its present borders were sold to the United States in 1850 for $10,000,000. The magnificent public domain possessed by the Texas Government as a republic and retained by her as a State gave ample opportunity for colonizing schemes, and hence grants of land were made to promoters of colonies, some of which were largely Catholic. Henry Castro, consul general for Texas at Paris, obtained large grants from the Republic in 1842, and introduced five hundred families from France a few years later. Castroville on the Medina River was thus founded. Similarly New Braunfels was settled by the Prince de Solms, who brought over German and Alsatian families a year or so earlier. By this liberality in granting lands Texas invited settlers, using also the same means to encourage the building of railroads within her boarders. The war with Mexico in 1846 concerning the Texas boundary cemented the union of the young State to her older sister nation, but this union was rudely broken. The Secession movement of 1861 carried Texas away from the Federal Government. Texas furnished not a few distinguished generals and over 90,000 soldiers to the "Lost Cause", and at Brownsville, Brazos Santiago, within its borders was fought the last skirmish of the war between the States, on 13 April, 1865, between a party of Confederates and a detachment from the division of General Banks. After the vicissitudes of Reconstruction the State Constitution at present in force was adopted (1876), and under its provisions and legislation the State has encouraged every form of legitimate enterprise. In population and wealth the State has made rapid strides. The nations of the world have poured, and continue to pour healthy, industrious agriculturists into her territory. Her development has only begun and her untold possibilities promise comfort and wealth to him who fears not toil.

CATHOLIC HISTORY AND PROGRESS

The history of the Catholic Church in Texas begins practically with the landing of La Salle in February, 1685. With him was a missionary force of seven priests, four Recollects, and three Sulpicians, who ministered to the spiritual wants of the French colony at Fort St. Louis while it lasted. On its destruction by the Indians in 1687 some of these doubtless perished with their flock, the others made their way to the French settlements further north. Don Alonzo de Leon, Governor of Coahuila, was accompanied in his expedition from Monelova to the site of La Salle's settlement in 1689 by Fray Damian Martinez or Marzanet from the Franciscan Apostolic college of Santa Cruz at Querétaro. Two of these colleges were established in Mexico, one at Querétaro in the seventeenth century, the other later (1706), at Zacatecas. From these centres missionary activity, on the representation of Father Damian, began among the Indians of Texas. In 1690 Leon again returned to the ruins of Fort St. Louis. This time Father Damian with four other Franciscans again accompanied him and established the mission of San Francisco de los Tejas in eastern Texas among the Tejas Indians on the Trinity River. On 16 May, 1691, Domingo de Teran, successor of Leon as Governor of the Province of Coahuila, with the intent of occupying and settling Texas, set out from Monelova with "officers, civil and military", bringing with them soldiers, labourers, and artisans, together with domestic animals and seeds for farming. With this expedition went nine Franciscan fathers, Francisco Hidalgo, Nicolas Riccio, Miguel Estelles, Pedro Fortuny, Pedro Garcia, Ildefonso Monge, José Saldona, Antonio Miranda, and Juan de Garayuschea. These priests attended the settlements founded during the expedition on the Red River, the Neches, and the Guadalupe, establishing there missions for the Indians and baptizing many thousands of them.

Although, in consequence of the rebellion of the Indians against the military and religious discipline of the presidios and missions (1693), King Philip II of Spain authorized the abandonment of these posts, "until such time as circumstances should offer more hope of success", it is certain that the devoted missionaries did all that was possible to attend to the religious needs of such of their converts as remained faithful. Indeed we know that during the period from 1693 to 1714 the Spanish missionaries, when forced to withdraw, took with them to San Antonion their faithful Indians and were brought back to these missions by Don Domingo Ramon in 1714. In 1703 the Mission San Francisco de Solano was founded on the Rio Grande by Franciscans from Querétaro ; afterwards this mission was moved in 1708 or 1709 to the interior of Texas and called San Ildefonso; again in 1710 or later (1713) it was moved back to the Rio Grande and called San José. This mission was moved by Father Antonio Margil de Jesus to San Antonio de Bexar and located at San Pedro Springs under the name of San Antonio de Valero about 1718; in 1732 it was moved to the military plaza in San Antonio, and in 1744 to the site it now occupies, where it was named the "Alamo". About 1783 the mission became a parish church, and on 2 January, 1793, the Bishop of Monterey directed the records to be handed over to the curate of San Antonio de Bexar. The expedition of St. Denis in 1714 led the Duke of Linares, Viceroy of Mexico, to favour a widespread mission movement in Texas, and so from that date the founding of these religious institutions went on with great spirit. Father Margil, referred to above, whose virtues were declared heroic by Pope Gregory XVI, founded the missions of Guadalupe among the Nacogdoches, Dolores among the Aes, and San Miguel among the Adaes Indians, also the mission of Nuestra Señora del Pilar de los Adaes. The founding of other missions in the northern part of the territory is also ascribed to this holy priest. In June, 1719, during the war between Spain and France, the missionaries and their faithful flocks were again forced to retire to San Antonio, but after the cessation of hostilities these missions were re-established and the French settlers in Louisiana, as well as the Indians, profited by them, that of Neustra Señora del Pilar de los Adaes being only about twenty miles from Natchitoches.

Father Margil was also the founder of other missions; among them one of the most beautiful in the neighbourhood of the city of San Antonio, the Mission San José, founded 1720. Even in decay this mission arouses the most intense interest, its artistic carvings and sculpture exciting wonder. In the same neighbourhood is the mission of La Purissima Concepción, dating back to 5 March, 1731, when the cornerstone of its church was laid by Father Bargarro and Captain Perez of the San Antonio garrison. At the same time and near the same site were built the missions San Juan Capistrano and San Francisco de la Espada, but the original missions of all these titles were founded in 1718 on the San Marcos River. Other missions were founded in various parts of the territory of Texas up to 1791. Among these may be mentioned Espitiru Santo, founded first in 1722 near Fort St. Louis; La Bahia, also founded in 1722 at Fort St. Louis, and with its neighbourhood transferred later to Goliad; Rosario (1754), near San Juan, and Refugio, on Mission River, the last foundation of the kind, in 1791. San Saba Mission, on the San Saba River, in what is now Menard County, was founded in 1734 by a company of priests from Santa Fe, among the Indios Bravos (Wild Indians)–the Apaches and Comanches, for the humane reason of the priests that it was better to civilize than to kill them. This mission gave great encouragement to the zealouos workers until the reopening of the San Saba silver mines, Las Almagras, a project which resulted in the demoralization of the Indians. During a war between the Comanches and Apaches in 1758, the former, seizing the opportunity when the small Spanish garrison was absent, fell upon the mission and destroyed all, both pastors and flock. Even the small guard of soldiers did not escape. Tradition informs us that no one was left to tell the news of the massacre. The remains of the missions still to be seen, in a greater or less degree of preservation or ruin, give ample testimony to the labours of the Franciscans among the Indians, and demonstrate what could have been achieved if the work of God had not been interfered with. Sufficient has been said under C ALIFORNIA M ISSIONS to indicate the method of the missionaries with the Indians, the nature of their buildings and enclosures, and the routine of their work for the spiritual betterment and civilization of the Indians.

When the movement before referred to, of colonizing the Province of Texas with settlers from Canary Islands and other Spanish dependencies, was put into effect (1728), the first colony was founded in San Antonio and the colonists were fairly well established in 1731. They had built their dwellings around the "Plaza of the Constitution", or present Main Plaza (called by these colonists, however, in memory of the sea-girt home they had left, "Plaza de las Islas"), and given their city the name San Fernando. Content for a short time with a small chapel of their own, which, together with the mission church of San Antonio de Valero in the adjoining and pre- existing settlement, temporarily satisfied their religious needs, they founded in 1744 and dedicated in 1749 the church of San Fernando, part of which is still used as the sanctuary of the cathedral of San Fernando, the cathedral church of the Diocese of San Antonio. The spiritual jurisdiction of the Diocese of Guadalajara extended over Texas until the erection, in Mexico, of the Diocese of Nuevo León, now Monterey, under the title of Linares, in 1777; and Texas formed part of its territory. The Franciscan missions were immediately under a president of missions. One of these at this date (1777), by an Indult of Pope Clement XIV, was empowered to administer confirmation in all parts of Texas. Don Pedro de Nava, commandant-general of Chihuahua, whose jurisdiction included part of Texas, issued a decree in 1794 by which the temporalities of all the missions of his two provinces "were placed in the hands of the civil authorities ". It also "directed the division of their lands in severalty among the inhabitants of these establishments". In Texas, however, the process of secularization went on very slowly. In 1813 the missions in some parts of Texas were still flourishing when the Spanish Cortes secularized all the missions in Texas. Not until 1832 did the last of the missions at San Antonio become extinct, when the Government of Mexico put into execution the decree of the Cortes. It was not until 1827 that the last of the mission lands were distributed among the individual Indios reducidos, who formerly had possessed them in common. Diocesan priests took the places of the Franciscan friars as they departed, when the population required it. The archives of the missions went with their keepers to Querétaro and Zacatecas. These with the various reports sent from time to time, during the century and a quarter of missionary activity, would be a most interesting field for the historian, while furnishing unbounded pathos for the poet.

The experiment of 1728 proved too expensive to be repeated and so the population of European extraction remained small, as we have seen. Later, however (1895), when the boundary dispute with the United States seemed likely to assume a warlike aspect, besides troops to occupy military posts Spain hurried hundreds of families of settlers to take possession of the country. These were of course provided with priests and in 1805-1806 we find Don Primo Feliciano Marin, Bishop of Nuevo León, making a visitation in the province, setting church affairs in order, and making a circumstantial report of the spiritual condition of the people.

When Capt. Zebulon M. Pike visited Texas on his famous expedition (1805-06), he remarked the holy lives and refinement of the priests he had met, their blessed influence upon their flocks, and the general happiness and morality of the people . The European population of course remained small (7000 in 1806), and the revolutionary period beginning in 1810 and lasting fully a decade lowered the general standard both of morals and religion. After settlements from the United States began to be made (1820), we find in the correspondence of the settlers occasional mention of priests still serving some of the old mission churches and in the towns. In the official documents regulating the laying-out of colonial towns provision is always made for the site of a church and priest's house on one of the public squares, though of course most of these colonists were Protestant. The Irish settlements, largely Catholic, made near Refugio and on the Nueces River, San Patricio, were served by priests, one of whom, Father Henry Doyle (1830), is mentioned by non-Catholic historians. A Father Michael Muldoon was an especial favourite of the old settlers from the United States, non-Catholic as well as Catholic. His visits and those of his colleagues were events in the settlements, his ministrations longed for. He is mentioned as participating in some of the stirring events immediately preceding the Texas Revolution. When not from Mexico these priests were from Kentucky, the Diocese of St. Louis, or that of New Orleans . Even in the accounts of the Texas Revolution there is mention of the intervention of priests between the contending parties, to arrange for the burial of the dead after a battle or otherwise provide for human needs, corporal as well as spiritual. Yet when the Republic of Texas was established (1836) very few priests were in Texas: Father J.M. Odin and Father John Timon, of the Congregation of the Mission , from their seminary at the Barrens, Perry County, Missouri, in the Diocese of St. Louis, had visited in Texas territory previous to its independence, and continued to visit there with other priests of their congregation. In June, 1838, Archbishop Blanc of New Orleans wrote to Bishop Rosati (q.v., S AINT L OUIS ) of St. Louis and to Father John Timon, then visitor of the Congregation of the Mission in the United States declaring that it was the wish of the Holy See that a trustworthy person be sent to examine into the condition of religion in Texas and to report to Rome. The Bishop of New Orleans wished Father Timon to undertake the work. Father Timon accordingly went to Texas, landing at Galveston in December, 1838, accompanied by M. L'Eberia. On the feast of the Holy Innocents the visitor celebrated in Galveston what was probably the first Mass ever said in the city. Many ministrations to Catholics were required of him, both there and in Houston, then the capital of the Republic, whither he went on 31 December, where he preached in the hall of Congress in the presence of many legislators. On his return to Galveston (9 January, 1839) after his tour through the Republic, a committee whom he had appointed to provide ways and means for acquiring a lot whereon to build a church, met him and reported favourably. On his visit through the country he had found the care of religion in anything but a good state, although there were not a few Catholics. He made an official report of his findings to Bishop Blanc , who forwarded it to Rome. Although Father Timon had previously refused to be made Coadjutor Bishop of St. Louis with the right of succession (7 September, 1839), he was prevailed upon to accept the honour of Prefect Apostolic of Texas with power to administer confirmation (12 April, 1840). He immediately dispatched Msgr. Odin to Texas as vice-prefect and Father Douterlounge as assistant, and a little later obtained for the vice-prefect the power of conferring the Sacrament of Confirmation. On 5 December, 1840, Father Timon reached Galveston for the second time. He at once urged forward the efforts of the people to build a church there and provide means to support a priest, displaying the same energy at Houston. Pushing on to Austin, now the capital, he presented letters from Cardinal Fransoni of Propaganda, addressed to President Mirabeau G. Lamar, which letters were virtually a recognition by the papal government of the independence of the Republic. The Texas executive, Vice-President David G. Burnet, acting for President Lamar, then absent, was greatly pleased to receive these letters. On 23 December, 1840, the first Mass was celebrated in Austin. Mgr Timon was well received by the legislators as well as by the executive. He preached in the capitol more than once, and in conversation with acting-President Burnet and a few prominent members of Congress created a very favourable estimate of the Catholic Faith. With the diplomatic aid of M. de Saligny, minister from France to the Republic of Texas, Mgr. Odin's bill for the restoration of church property was spontaneously endorsed by the legislators to whom it was first read in private, was then introduced to Congress, and passed. Thus by Act of Congress were restored to "the Chief Pastor of the Catholic Church in the Republic of Texas", the churches of San Fernando, the "Alamo" (San Antonio de Valero), La Purissima Concepción, San José, San Juan Capistrano, San Francisco de la Espada, Goliad, Victoria and Refugio, with their lots, the latter not to exceed fifteen acres. Returning to Galveston Father Timon administered confirmation (18 Jan., 1841), to Margaret De Lacy whom he had converted and baptized on the 15th of the same month. The entry in the"Liber Confirmatorum" of Galveston Diocese certifying to this sacred function may be said, together with the baptismal record beginning 7 December, 1840, to mark the beginning of the history of the Diocese of Galveston.

The Prefecture Apostolic of Texas was made a vicariate Apostolic in 1842 by the Bull of Pope Gregory XVI , published 10 July, 1841. Rt. Rev. Jean-Marie Odin, previously vice-prefect Apostolic, was consecrated Bishop of Claudiopolis and made vicar Apostolic. Bishop Odin, too, had previously refused to be made Coadjutor Bishop of Detroit (May, 1841).

In fact Texas was singularly blessed at that time in having labourers who were quickly deemed worthy of important bishoprics. Bishop Timon was visitor of the houses of his order in Texas and throughout the United States until 1847 when he was made Bishop of Buffalo. Rev. John J. Lynch, C.M., one of the companions of Bishop Odin on his coming to Galveston (29 May, 1841), was made president of St. Mary's College, Barrens, Missouri, in 1848; after a service of some years in Texas founded Niagara University (Our Lady of Angels, Niagara Falls, N. Y.) in 1856; and was consecrated Bishop of Æchinas and Coadjuutor of Toronto in 1859. In 1860 he succeeded to the See of Toronto and became its first archbishop and Metropolitan of Ontario in 1870. In 1844 the settlement of New Braunfels, Comal County, was founded and in 1845 Castroville. The colonists were mainly Catholic Alsatians. Other Catholic immigrants, Poles, Germans, Bohemians, Italians, and others, have since continually come into the State. The State of Texas, with the exception of El Paso County, which was subject to the Vicariate of Arizona, was erected into a diocese in 1847 with Bishop Odin as bishop. There were then thirteen priests, including the bishop, in this vast territory. Of these at least six were of the Congregation of the Mission . In 1849 three Oblates of Mary Immaculate were brought from Canada by Bishop Odin and two of these were sent to Fort Brown, Brownsville, on the Rio Grande. In spite of the privations and hardships of the Rio Grande Mission, and even their temporary withdrawal, enforced by lack of means, the Oblate Fathers have exercised their zeal in the State of Texas. Schools, colleges, and churches have arisen where they had trodden on the cactus and chaparral, and today these devoted missionaries have flourishing institutions in every ecclesiastical division of the great State. The very existence of religion among the Mexicans along the Rio Grande is largely due to the mighty labours of this Congregation.

Religious orders of nuns (1848) and of teaching brothers (1853) began their fruitful labours. All the actifvities of a fully developed diocese assumed shape under the guiding hand of Bishop Odin and were prosecuted with all possible vigour and success.

On Archbishop Odin's retirement he was succeeded in the See of Galveston in 1862 by Rt. Rev. Claude Marie Dubois, D.D. In 1872 we find the immense territory of the diocese organized into the four districts of Galveston, San Antonio, Brownsville, and Laredo, a vice-chancellor being provided for each district. This organization prepared the way for the ecclesiastical division (1874) of the State of Texas, El Paso County excepted as before. All east of the Colorado River remained the Diocese of Galveston, while out of the territory west and south of this river and within the limits of the State were erected the Diocese of San Antonio , reaching from the Colorado to the Nueces River, and the Vicariate Apostolic of Brownsville, now (1912) the Diocese of Corpus Christi, westward to the Rio Grande. A second division of the Diocese of Galveston was made in 1890 at the request of Bishop N. A. Gallagher and the Diocese of Dallas was formed out of the northern and north-western portions. In 1891 El Paso County hitherto belonging to the Vicariate Apostolic of Arizona was attached to the Diocese of Dallas . Thus within the State and embracing all of its territory are the four Dioceses, Galveston, San Antonio , Dallas, and Corpus Christi. The population of the Diocese of Galveston is given (1912) as 70,000; whites, 65,000; blacks, 1200; Mexicans, 3800. St. Mary's University, Galveston, is conducted by the Jesuit fathers. St. Mary's Seminary at La Porte is now being managed by diocesan priests, under the presidency of Very Rev. J. M. Kirwin. The Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate have taken charge of parish work in Harris County. A Josephite Father also serves a church in the city of Houston, where the Basilians conduct St. Thomas College. Among the Orders of Nuns formerly recorded may be named the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament who have charge of an academy and parochial


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Proverbs 3:27-34
27 Refuse no kindness to those who have a right to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 15:2-3, 3-4, 5
2 Whoever lives blamelessly, who acts uprightly, who ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 8:16-18
16 'No one lights a lamp to cover it with a bowl or ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 22nd, 2014 Image

St. Thomas of Villanueva
September 22: Augustinian bishop. Born at Fuentellana, Castile, Spain, he was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter