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Spanish expeditions into Texas usually included priests, soldiers, and native guides and laborers. Drawing: José Cisneros; Courtesy: University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.

One member of the expedition was a Franciscan priest, Father Isidro Félix de Espinosa; he understood the opportunities and possibilities of this lush valley with its spring-fed river, creek, and peaceful Payaya indigenous people who resided here. Father Espinosa recorded in his diary that the creek was to be called Agua de San Pedro. The new Spanish name of the creek was destined to become permanent, but the Spanish explorers did not have the option to settle down here. Their quest was not over; they had more to discover and they needed to move on.

However, another padre who was part of the expedition found he simply couldn’t forget what he had encountered. This part of Texas and the gentle, intelligent Payaya people who lived here captured his intense interest. His name was Father Antonio de San Buenaventura y Olivares. And he began a long campaign to come back and build a mission in this special place. It took almost a decade, but he finally got his chance.

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