1768-1777: Building to the Karankawa-Spanish War

[1772] Bonilla’s Brief Compendium of the History of Texas (Breve Compendio) 

Author: Antonio Bonilla

Written In: 1772

Description: Spanish Viceroy Antonio María de Bucareli y Ursúa ordered officer Antonio Bonilla to compile a nearly hundred-year history of the troublesome province of Texas. In fifteen days, Bonilla vigorously wrote a seventy-page document entitled A Brief Compendium of Events in the Province of Texas

Relevance: 

(1) There exists a single offhand mention of the Karankawas in Bonilla’s history. It being the following: “The Carancaguazes Indians were asking to be brought into missions, allowances for ten soldiers were added to the Presidio of la Bahia del Espiritu Santo, in the year 1758; yet even to this day they abide in their heathenism, becoming apostates when the inclination ceases them.” [57]

(2) Bonilla’s work inspired a far more influential text: Father Juan Agustín Morfi’s History of Texas (See Morfi, 1783). Bonilla’s A Brief Compendium claims that that the colonization of Texas failed because of the incompetence of mission priests. Padre Morfi, an accomplished Franciscan friar, became so incensed upon reading Bonilla’s conclusion, that he spent the next decade writing his own history of Texas—this time blaming Indians, presidials, and the Spanish government for Texas’s failures. Morfi’s text is a particularly propagandized depiction of Karankawas.

Access: Antonio, Bonilla, “Bonilla’s Brief Compendium of the History of Texas, 1772.” The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 8, no. 1 (July 1904): 3-78. 

Further Reading: I can not think of any, do you have ideas?

Tags: Missions

[February 14, 1777] Viceroy Bucareli to The Barón de Ripperdá

Author: Antonio María de Bucareli y Ursúa

Description: Discussing the shipwreck of the French ship Renombrado and the Karankawas who helped the survivors. 

Relevance: 

(1) Demonstrates that the Karankawas reacted compassionately to shipwrecks—not always with weapons drawn as popularized under Joseph María’s leadership.

Access: Viceroy Bucareli to the Barón de Ripperdá, February 14, 1777, Karankawas Archive. 

Further Reading: Do you have any ideas?

Tags: Shipwrecks

[February 14, 1777] Viceroy Bucareli to The Barón de Ripperdá

Author: Antonio María de Bucareli y Ursúa

Description: After the shipwreck of the Renombrado, the viceroy is stating that maintaining a “good friendship” with the Karankawas is a wise policy decision.

Relevance: 

(1) This source shows that war with the Spaniards, which explodes a year later, was not a foregone conclusion. The Karankawas had made peaceful acts toward the Spaniards prior to that moment. 

Access: Viceroy Bucareli to the Barón de Ripperdá, February 14, 1777, Karankawas Archive. 

Further Reading: Do you have any ideas?

Tags: Shipwrecks, War

[April 28, 1777] The Barón de Ripperdá to Viceroy Bucareli

Author: The Barón de Ripperdá

Description: The governor of Texas, the Barón de Ripperdá, informed the commandant general, Teodoro de Croix, that Captain Cazorla of the coastal fort La Bahía, approached the Carancahua tribe telling them that the Spaniards would reward them for sparing the lives of the sailors that crashed on their shores.

Relevance: 

(1) This source shows that war with the Spaniards, which explodes a year later, was not a foregone conclusion. The Karankawas had made peaceful acts toward the Spaniards prior to that moment. 

Access: Barón de Ripperdá to Viceroy Bucareli, April 28, 1777, Karankawas Archive. 

Further Reading: Do you have any ideas?

Tags: Shipwrecks, War

 

[October 28, 1777] The Barón de Ripperdá to Viceroy Bucareli

Author: The Barón de Ripperdá

Description: La Mathe acquired a passport to enter Texas in 1775 to collect debts at the virgin settlement of Nuestra Senora del Pilár de Bucareli. Supposedly having a fondness for the town’s namesake saint, La Mathe offered to construct an impressive church for which he hired two workers to build in 1776. While some historians believe that La Mathe’s religious fervor alone “moved him” to erect this sumptuous church, in all likelihood it served as a means of forging a positive reputation for future smuggling operations among the citizens of Bucareli and its leader, Antonio Gil Ibarvo, whom La Mathe had illegally traded with for several years prior.

Relevance: 

(1) Another source giving the motives of Nicholas de La Mathe, a French trader who later proposed exterminating the Karankawas’, for entering Texas. 

Access: Barón de Ripperdá to Viceroy Bucareli, October 28, 1777, Karankawas Archive. 

Further Reading: Muñoz to Ibarvo, requesting information on foreigners residing in Nacogdoches. Includes report, and evidence of copy sent to Pedro Nava, May 12, 1792, Box 2K40, BA; Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas, 1519-1936, volume 4, The Mission Era: The Passing of the Missions, 1762-1782 (Austin: Von Boekmann-Jones Company, 1939), 316; Herbert Eugene Bolton, Texas in the Middle Eighteenth Century, Studies in Spanish Colonial History and Administration (Berkely: University of California Press, 1915), 427; Nicolás La Mathe vs. Antonio Gil Thervo, demanding settlement of accounts, June 26, 1782, Box 2C47, BA; Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas, volume 4, 316; Bolton, Texas in the Middle Eighteenth Century, 427-428; Muñoz to Ibarvo, requesting information on foreigners residing in Nacogdoches. Includes report, and evidence of copy sent to Pedro Nava, May 12, 1792, Box 2K40, BA

Tags: Do you have any ideas?

 

[1777-1783] Morfi’s Memorias para la Historia de Tejas and Historia de Texas: 1673-1779 and Morfi’s Historia

Author: Juan Agustín Morfi

Written in: 1777-1783

Description: Father Morfi wrote two histories of Texas: Memorias para la Historia de Texas and the Historia de Texas. Memorias, his first history, was a collection of documents that he planned to condense into a more concise history—Historia de Texas. He died before fully completing Historia but historian Carlos Castañeda published a rough draft in 1935. Of the two histories, Memorias has far more information on Texas’s Native Peoples.

Morfi wrote his history during the Karankawa-Spanish war. With that the case, Morfi found little issue depicting the Karankawas as demonic. But Father Morfi had never set foot in Karankawa territory. His only encounter with these coastal peoples likely occurred in San Antonio, with Copano mission Indians when he toured the northern borderlands with the new Commandant General of the Interior, Teodoro de Croix. Therefore, Morfi relied heavily on Father Gaspar de Solís’s 1767 journal for information on the Karankawas’ cultural practices (copying it word for word in instances). Nevertheless, Morfi does provide some unique information such as estimated population sizes.

Father Morfi’s histories have since become quite popular and set in stone the image of Karankawas as inherently hostile group. It mythologized the Karankawas as impossible to civilize—as a Peoples who “eat children.”

Access: 

Juan Agustín Morfi, Excerpts from the Memorias for the history of the province of Texas: being a translation of those parts of the Memorias which particularly concern the various Indians of the province of Texas; their tribal divisions, characteristics, customs, traditions, superstitions, and all else of interest concerning them, trans. Carlos E. Castañeda and Frederick C Chabot (San Antonio: Naylor Publishing, 1932).

Juan Agustín Morfi, History of Texas, 1673-1779, v. 1, trans. Carlos Eduardo Castañeda (Albuquerque: The Quivira Society, 1935), 79-81, 93-94, 99-102, 121-139, 191-192.

Juan Agustín Morfi, History of Texas, 1673-1779, v. 2, trans. Carlos Eduardo Castañeda (Albuquerque: The Quivira Society, 1935), 243-244, 252-255, 300-301, 306-307, 338-340.

Further Reading: Juan Agustín Morfi, History of Texas, 1673-1779, trans. Carlos Eduardo Castañeda (Albuquerque: The Quivira Society, 1935), 15-43; Irving A. Leonard, review of History of Texas, 1673-1779 in The Hispanic American Historical Review 16, no. 2 (May, 1936): 229-232.

Tags: Cannibalism, Customs, Hunting, Migrations, Spirituality, Trade, War