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San Francisco de los Tejas Mission, the first Spanish mission in East Texas, was founded in May 1690 as a response to the French La Salle expedition.

The mission was probably originally just east of present-day Augusta, a few miles west of the replica currently in San Francisco de los Tejas State Park in Grapeland. It was one of six original Spanish missions in northeast Texas.

An expedition arrived on May 22, 1690, near the Neches River at a valley settled by the Nabedaches, westernmost tribe of the Hasinai Confederacy. Settlers hoped to convert the Indians to Christianity.

On May 24 a chapel was built. In the celebration, which included high Mass, the Spanish flag was raised, and the native chieftain was given a staff with a cross naming him governor, upon his commitment to fostering the instruction of his people in the Catholic faith. However, the people’s acceptance of the foreigners’ ways did not go so well. The following October the friars packed the vestments and set fire to the picket structure of the mission in an effort to flee from hostile Indians.

A renewal of the missionary effort among the Hasinais finally bore fruit in 1716. Nuestro Padre San Francisco de los Tejas Mission, located southwest of present day Alto, Texas, established that year, was considered the successor of the first Mission San Francisco.

The building at Mission Tejas today is maintained by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

From Texas State Historical Association

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