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The Nabedache Tribe and the Mission of San Francisco

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 Pedro, in part, that has caused some persons to think, groundlessly, that the first mission of San Francisco was founded at San Antonio. The exact point at which the main Nabedache village stood I can not say, not having examined the locality in person, but certain data enable us to approximate its location pretty closely. First is the testimony of the diaries and other early documents. De Leon reported in his itinerary (1690) that from the camp half a league from the Nabedache chief’s house to the Neches River, going northeast, it was three leagues.1 The site examined on the river at this point was deemed unsuitable for the mission be-cause it was so far out of the way of the Indians”; consequently the mission was established close to the camp “in the middle” of the village.2 In their reports to the home government Massanet and De León seem to have stated that the mission was some two leagues from the Neches;3 while Terán in 1691 reported it to be only a league and a half from the Mission of Santíssimo Nombre de Maria, which was evidently close to the Neches. Jesus Maria and Espinosa said that the village was about three leagues from this river, the former adding that it was right across...

The Neche Tribe and the Mission of San Francisco

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 nine leagues.1 The air line distance was evidently somewhat less in the former case than in the latter, but the route was less direct, since between the Neches and the Angelina Rivers the road bowed quite decidedly to the north. The usual crossing of this highway at the Neches, as now identified, was at Williams’s Ferry, below the mouth of San Pedro Creek.2 Archaeological remains help us to identify this crossing and give certainty to the approximate correctness of our conclusions. These remains are the Indian mounds east of the Neches River. The first mention of them that I have seen is that by Mezières, in 1779. His record is important. Passing along the Camino Real on his way to the Nabedache, he noted the large mound near the Neches River, raised, he said, by the ancestors of the natives of the locality “in order to build on its top a temple, which overlooked the pueblo near by, and in which they worshiped their gods a monument rather to their great numbers than to the industry of their individuals.”3 This mound and its two less conspicuous companions still stand in Cherokee County about a mile and a half from the river and five miles southwest of Alto, in a plain known to some as...

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