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The purpose of this paper is to furnish a partial introduction to the early history of the Spaniards in eastern Texas the scene of their first systematic activities between the Mississippi and the upper Rio Grande by presenting some of the main features of the organization of the compact group of tribes living in the upper Neches and the Angelina River valleys, the first and the most important group with which they came into intimate contact. These tribes furnished the early field of labor especially for the Franciscans of the College of Santa Cruz de Querétaro, who worked for fifteen years in the region and founded in it five missions, while one was founded there and maintained for more than half a century by the College of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe de Zacatecas. It is hoped that this paper will throw new light on the all too obscure history of these interesting establishments, particularly with respect to their locations.
It is easy to gain an exaggerated notion of the numerical strength of the native tribes. Popular imagination, stimulated by the hyperbole of writers for popular consumption, has peopled the primitive woods and prairies with myriads of savages. Students however, have shown that this is an error, and that the Indian population has always been,
It will be helpful, as a means of conveying an idea of the true nature of the work attempted by the early Spaniards, to present a brief sketch of the general character of these Indian settlements and of their numerical strength. They were a people living in relatively fixed habitations, and would be classed as
Of the location of remaining tribes we know even less than of the last, and can only record the few statements made of them by the early writers. Three leagues west of the Nasoni Joutel entered the village of the Noadiche (Nahordike) who, he said, were allies of the Cenis, and had the same customs.
For the rest of the tribes in this group our information is less definite. The Nadaco, though a prominent tribe, can not be located with certainty until 1787, when they, or at least a part of them, were on the Sabine River, apparently in the northern part of Panola County. But in 1716 they were
Above the Hainai, on the waters of the Angelina, were the Nasoni. Joutel, in 1687, reached their village after going from the Nabedache twelve leagues eastward, plus an un-estimated distance north. Terán, in 1691, found it twelve leagues northeast of the Neche crossing below the Nabedache village. The founding, in 1716, of a mission for
Across the Neches from the Nabedache, only a few leagues away, and adjoining the Neche tribe on the north, was the relatively little known tribe called by Jesus Maria the Nacachau, and by Hidalgo the Nacachao. We have seen that Jesus Maria described the Neche tribe as being separated from the Nabedache only by the
The westernmost tribe of the group was the Nabedache. The main village was a short distance perhaps six miles west of the Neches River, above the crossing, near a stream that early became known as San Pedro, and at a site that took the name San Pedro de los Nabedachos. It is this name San
Southwest of the Hainai village, nearly straight west of the Nacogdoche, was the Neche village, near the east bank of the Neches River, and near the crossing of the Camino Real. The diaries usually represent the distance from the Neche to the Hainai as about the same as that from the Hainai to the Nacogdoche some eight or