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OCHOA: FIRST SPANISH MISSION EAST OF THE RIO GRANDE ? 
Presidio County has more than its share of abandoned communities. Little out of the way places that somehow prospered briefly before fading away. Some folks call them ghost towns and doubtless a sprit or two inhabit these places. Probably the oldest known abandoned historic community in the western part of the county is the tiny abandoned village of Ochoa. Ochoa is located ten miles northeast of Presidio on F.M. 170. Only an old whitewashed graveyard and a few empty buildings mark its location along the highway making it an easy place to miss. A few hundred feet west of the pavement at Ochoa, a large granite marker sits amidst the cactus and mesquite facing the mountains of Mexico. It seems curiously out of place. But if you are brave enough to climb a barbed wire fence and venture on you will discover it to be an official Texas Historical Marker, placed at Ochoa in 1936. The marker reads "Approximate Site of Mission San Francisco de los Julimes". When the Texas Historical Commission placed the marker in the 1930's it sat on the side of the road. Later highway construction passed it by.

Ochoa had its beginnings more than three hundred years ago when a remarkable event in Big Bend history took place there or at least near there. In the fall of 1683, Chief Juan Sabeata journeyed to El Paso del Norte, the present location of Juarez, Chihuahua, leading a delegation of his followers. Sabeata is the best known of the Jumano chieftains in the closing years of the seventeenth century. Sabeata was also the last prominent Jumano leader recorded in Spanish accounts before the tribe vanished into obscurity. Little about Sabeata as a youth is known; although, he was said to have been born in Mexico and received baptism at San Jose Parral in present Chihuahua. One source noted that Sabeata was a Tawaehash chief from the mouth of the Rio Conchos. At El Paso del Norte, the cunning chieftain approached Spanish authorities asking Governor Cruzate to establish missions among the Jumano. To entice the Spanish, Chief Sabeata told the governor that thirty-three Indian nations, including the Jumano, eagerly awaited baptism. According to the chief, the reason for this outbreak of religious fervor among the Indians was the result of a miracle that changed the course of a fierce battle with the Apache. The Apache greatly outnumbered the Jumano. Sabeata said the Jumano and their allies were few, "while their enemies numbered more than thirty-thousand." Just when it looked as if the Jumano were going to be defeated, a cross mysteriously appeared in the sky allowing Sabeata's followers to win a bloodless victory over their enemies.
Juan Sabeata like his predecessor One Eye, did not make such a startling revelation known to the Spanish simply for religious reasons. In fact, the chief's story about the appearance of the cross during the battle was pure fabrication. A Tejas Indian who traveled with Sabeata apparently conceived the story. The chief later admitted the story of the miracle as being untrue, but he used it because the Jumanos faced a desperate situation, one, which eventually led to their demise. For better than a century, the cow people had been engaged in a war with the Apache who by late in the seventeenth century had almost driven the Jumano from their source of livelihood, the buffalo hunting grounds of West Texas. Apache raiders struck deep into Jumano territory. They terrorized villagers along the Rio Grande, at La Junta, and in the Chinati Mountains. In addition, the Jumano needed protection from the slave hunters who were always on the lookout for Indians to work the mines of Chihuahua. Sabeata proved himself a pragmatic, resourceful headman who knew that if the Spanish authorities sent priests to live among his people also would come soldiers who the chief hoped would provide a defense against Apache raiders and Spanish slave hunters. The grand chief knew the Spanish well and had no small amount of knowledge about the Catholic religion. As earlier noted, he received baptism as a youth at San Jose Parral where the priests gave him the Christian name Juan. While the chief professed a deep religious faith, the plight of his people motivated his actions. The chief has been described as, a master at frontier intrigue. Sabeata's ruse apparently worked. At the very least, if the chief was not directly responsible for the establishment of missions at La Junta, his actions at least prodded the Church and Spanish military into action. Governor Cruzate reacted positively to Sabeata's petition and ordered Lieutenant General Juan Domnguez de Mendoza to assemble an expedition to the Jumano country. Mendoza was a capable military man with more than thirty years experience serving the Spanish military in present West Texas and New Mexico. To minister to the religious requests of the Jumano, Fray Nicolas Lopez, an official of the Franciscan Order, approved the building of several missions near La Junta and made arrangements to personally join the expedition. Following his petition to the governor, Juan Sabeata journeyed to La Junta in advance of the expedition but returned to El Paso del Norte a short time later to serve as an escort and guide for the priests. Within a few months of Chief Sabeata's petition, the Mendoza expedition set out for La Junta.

The priests led the way down river to the Jumano country. On December 1, 1683 Fray Lopez and a party of church officials left Paso del Norte and headed south down the Rio Grande in advance of Mendoza and the soldiers. Two weeks later, Mendoza and the main body of the expedition followed. Along the way to La Junta, Mendoza passed through many Indian villages and the Indians made the Spaniards welcome. A short distance below Paso del Norte the expedition was welcomed by the chiefs of the Zuma Indians. Mendoza observed that the Zuma were a poor people who subsisted by eating, "mescal which is baked palms". Mendoza noted that not only the Jumano had been threatened by the Apache, "All these rancherias asked of me aid and help against the common enemy, the Hapaches [sic] nation, alleging generally that most of them were already disposed to becoming Christians. In fact a considerable portion of them were already reducing themselves to settlements and alleging that the Apache did not allow them in their lands."

The expedition made its way downstream from Paso del Norte on the western side of the Rio Grande. Mendoza forded the river entering present Texas a few miles from a place Mendoza called Senora del Rosario. Some evidence suggests the crossing took place in the vicinity of the present Ruidosa, Texas. On December 29, the expedition came to a Julime village near the river a few miles southwest of the Chinati Mountains. Mendoza called the place La Navidad en las Cruces Chief Sabeata had told the Spanish that the cross appeared in the sky near La Junta and the Spanish called the place La Navidad en las Cruces. At the village, Fray Lopez awaited Mendoza. Mendoza described the place. These rancherias are the people of the Julimes nation; they are versed in the Mexican language, and all sow maize and wheat. Here we overtook the reverend fathers, Fray Nicolas Lopes, custodian and ordinary judge of the provinces of New Mexico, Fray Juan de Sabaleata,
commissary of the Holy Office, and Fray Antonio de Asebedo. Generally all these Indians asked for the water of baptism, and more than one hundred persons were baptized. All the meadows of the river are very spacious, and have good lands, good climate, and abundant pasturage and wood. At this settlement the Spanish must have been surprised to find that the Indians had constructed, a good-sized church, built of reeds, with an altar the size of that in the church in El Paso.

While it is not possible to pinpoint the exact location of the place Mendoza called Navidad en las Cruces, it likely was situated at or near the abandoned community of Ochoa located some ten miles northwest of Presidio on F.M. 170. Historian Carlos E. Castaneda wrote of the place, "the settlement or pueblos of the Julimes must have been slightly above present day Presidio and Ojinaga." According to a State of Texas historical marker placed at Ochoa in 1936, Fray Lopez established the Mission San Francisco De Los Julimes at Ochoa in 1683-1684. Little is known of the mission for it remained in operation for less than a year. In later times, the Ochoa community grew around the site and a church was built there. Today the place is once again abandoned although descendents of the Julimes are still said to live just across the river in Chihuahua.

The Mendoza expedition remained at Navidad en las Cruces for several days to allow time for the men and horses to rest. The priests ministered to the Indians in several nearby by rancherias. Father Antonio de Acevedo elected to remain at the mission to, minister to the Indians. Guided by Juan Sabeata, the expedition set out again on December 29 traveling 7 leagues or about 19 miles to a place Mendoza called Apostol Santiago (the Apostle Saint James) This location is thought to be at or near Fort Leaton about a mile southeast of present Presidio on F.M. 170. Again the Spaniards found another church the Indians had prepared for them. This church was described as being, "larger and more carefully made, and a dwelling made for the priests." Here the Fray Lopez established the Mission Del Apostol Santiago near the mouth of Alamito Creek. Like the Mission San Francisco De Los Julimes, the mission only remained in operation for a short time before the priests were forced to flee for their lives.

The priests led the way down river to the Jumano country. On December 1, 1683 Fray Lopez and a party of church officials left Paso del Norte and headed south down the Rio Grande in advance of Mendoza and the soldiers. Two weeks later, Mendoza and the main body of the expedition followed. Along the way to La Junta, Mendoza passed through many Indian villages and the Indians made the Spaniards welcome. A short distance below Paso del Norte the expedition was welcomed by the chiefs of the Zuma Indians. Mendoza observed that the Zuma were a poor people who subsisted by eating, "mescal which is baked palms." Mendoza noted that not only the Jumano had been threatened by the Apache, "All these rancherias asked of me aid and help against the common enemy, the Hapaches [sic] nation, alleging generally that most of them were already disposed to becoming Christians. In fact a considerable portion of them were already reducing themselves to settlements and alleging that the Apache did not allow them in their lands."

The expedition made its way downstream from Paso del Norte on the western side of the Rio Grande. Mendoza forded the river entering present Texas a few miles from a place Mendoza called Senora del Rosario. Some evidence suggests the crossing took place in the vicinity of the present Ruidosa, Texas. On December 29, the expedition came to a Julime village near the river a few miles southwest of the Chinati Mountains. Mendoza called the place La Navidad en las Cruces Chief Sabeata had told the Spanish that the cross appeared in the sky near La Junta and the Spanish called the place La Navidad en las Cruces. At the village, Fray Lopez awaited Mendoza. Mendoza described the place. "These rancherias are the people of the Julimes nation; they are versed in the Mexican language, and all sow maize and wheat. Here we overtook the reverend fathers, Fray Nicolas Lopes, custodian and ordinary judge of the provinces of New Mexico, Fray Juan de Sabaleata,
commissary of the Holy Office, and Fray Antonio de Asebedo. Generally all these Indians asked for the water of baptism, and more than one hundred persons were baptized. All the meadows of the river are very spacious, and have good lands, good climate, and abundant pasturage and wood. At this settlement the Spanish must have been surprised to find that the Indians had constructed, "a good-sized church, built of reeds, with an altar the size of that in the church in El Paso."

While it is not possible to pinpoint the exact location of the place Mendoza called Navidad en las Cruces, it likely was situated at or near the abandoned community of Ochoa located some nine miles northwest of Presidio on F.M. 170. Historian Carlos E. Castaneda wrote of the place, "the settlement or pueblos of the Julimes must have been slightly above present day Presidio and Ojinaga". According to a State of Texas historical marker placed at Ochoa in 1936, Fray Lopez established the Mission San Francisco De Los Julimes at Ochoa in 1683-1684. Little is known of the mission for it remained in operation for less than a year. In later times, the Ochoa community grew around the site and a church was built there. Today the place is once again abandoned although descendents of the Julimes are still said to live just across the river in Chihuahua.

The Mendoza expedition remained at Navidad en las Cruces for several days to allow time for the men and horses to rest. The priests ministered to the Indians in several nearby by rancherias. Father Antonio de Acevedo elected to remain at the mission to, minister to the Indians. Guided by Juan Sabeata, the expedition set out again on December 29 traveling 7 leagues or about 19 miles to a place Mendoza called Apostol Santiago (the Apostle Saint James) This location is thought to be at or near Fort Leaton about a mile southeast of present Presidio on F.M. 170. Again the Spaniards found another church the Indians had prepared for them. This church was described as being, "larger and more carefully made, and a dwelling made for the priests." Here the Fray Lopez established the Mission Del Apostol Santiago near the mouth of Alamito Creek. Like the Mission San Francisco De Los Julimes, the mission only remained in operation for a short time before the priests were forced to flee for their lives.

Juan Sabeata guided Mendoza up Alamito Creek passing east of the Chinati Mountains. They crossed the Pecos River probably not far from Horsehead Crossing and a little later encountered several Buffalo herds that provided the expedition with meat. On January 17, 1684 the expedition came upon a jediondo (ill-smelling) Indian village and made a remarkable discovery. Mendoza wrote of the encounter, "Their chiefs and other people came out to received us with much rejoicing, most of them on foot, others on horseback, carrying a holy cross very well made, which apparently must be two and a half long, of somewhat heavy timber, painted red and yellow, and fastened with a nail which they call. The holy cross showed that they had made it some time before. They also brought forth a banner of white taffeta, a little less than a long; in the middle of the banner were two successive crosses of blue taffeta, very well made. At the time of meeting us they fired several shots, Don Juan Sabeata firing with a fuse a harquebus barrel without a lock; and I ordered the salute returned on our part with two volleys."




For more about Chief Sabeata see Chapter One, "Little Known History Of The Texas Big Bend". www.rimrockpress.com

Glenn Justice
Copyright 2005


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AMERICAN LYNCHING AND THE PORVENIR MASSACRE 
I recently received the following email from Gode Davis, director of the film "American Lynching". This is a very worthwhile and important film that very much needs to be finished and its story made public. For more information check out Gode's website at: http://americanlynching.com/. Please take a look at Gode's comments and help if you can. Gj


Hi Glenn: It was great to speak to you again today. As I mentioned on the phone, as director of "American Lynching: A Documentary Feature" I have initiated our first grassroots funding campaign. Every little bit will be helpful in making our project -- the only feature-length lynching film ever undertaken at this level -- a reality. We have completed about 75% of principal photography in several states. Interviews with witnesses, a survivor (H.James Cameron who survived the wrath of an Indiana mob in 1930),"friends and descendants of victims, and even perpetrators -- have been shot and are in the can. You witnessed one of our crews working with the family of Juan Bonilla Flores (who turns 100 tomorrow) as he is the last surviving witness of the Porvenir (TX) mass lynching event in January 1918. That event claimed his father Longino and 14 other men and teenaged villagers. In the short term -- to restore momentum this summer -- we need to raise several thousand dollars for production of a new WIP (work-in-progress) tape and support my full-time involvement in the project this summer. We are seeking modest contributions ($25.00-$500.00) and they should be mailed to me at: Gode Davis, 10 Saint George Street, West Warwick, RI 02893 and made out to our not-for-profit entity, Bitter Fruit Productions, Inc. Can you please help? Maybe you also know of a few others who might wish to help our project as we will insist upon historical accuracy -- a rarity in documentary filmmaking."
Hasta luego,

Gode Davis
Director and Co-Producer



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WARNOCK 
Good stuff, Glenn. Glad to see you still kicking.
Just an update: BORDER BANDITS aired on Texas PBS stations on May 16 and pulled a good audience. We now have the documentary available on DVD. Go to our web site, www.borderbanditsmovie.com to order online, or send in a check.

You saw the film in Fort Stockton, Glenn, so you know what kind of product we're laying out there. It's rather dark and unromantic, but it's all true.

Hope to see you soon. I'll be at the place outside of Stockton over Memorial Day. We'll burn a steak and think about you.

KW


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