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First Publication of the Bosque-Larios Expedition to Texas in 1675

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481.     PORTILLO, Estebán L. Apuntes para la historia antigua de Coahuila y Texas. Por Esteban L. Portillo. Miembro corresponsal de la Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística editor Amado Prado Miembro tambien de la Misma Sociedad. Saltillo: Tipografía ‘El Golfo de México,’ de Severo Fernández, 1a. calle de Galeana Núm. 10, [1886]. [1-5] 6-482, [1, errata], [1, blank] pp. 8vo (20 x 15.5 cm), contemporary half brown sheep over red and black marbled boards, spine tooled and lettered in gilt, corners in cloth. Spine with some voids, corners bumped, moderate shelf wear, hinges open but holding; title page separating from gutter, pp. 7-8 torn with no loss, a few scattered marginal pencil notes, name written in crayon on pp. [3] and 93, paper uniformly browned. Printed on very inferior paper. Overall, a good copy of a very scarce work on colonial Texas.

     First edition of the first publication of documents of the Bosque-Larios expedition in 1675. Basic Texas Books 19n. Eberstadt 113:422. Howes P492 (“aa”). Palau 233502. Rader 2696. Steck, Spanish Borderlands, p. 64. Tate, The Indians of Texas: An Annotated Research Bibliography 494: “Discusses Coahuilatecan groups and the early missionaries.” See Wagner, Spanish Southwest, p. 518. Clark, Old South I:3:

The original documents of the Bosque-Larios expedition, along with a large body of documents bearing upon the conquest of the province of Coahuila, were first published by Esteban L. Portillo, Apuntes para la Historia Antigua de Coahuila y Texas (Saltillo, 1886), pp. 44-181…. The Bosque-Larios expedition was the product of the orders of Antonio Balcárcel Riva de Neira Sotomayor, alcalde mayor of Coahuila, who dispatched these individuals across the Río Grande to learn about the Indians in Texas. The expedition entered Texas in the neighborhood of Eagle Pass and penetrated possibly as far as the headwaters of the Guadalupe River. The expedition brought back a valuable account of the Indians in this area and is an important, but minor, step in the process of Spanish expansion into Texas at this early time.

Bolton remarks: “As a result of the reports and recommendations of Bosque and Father Larios, the Spanish established several missions in the Coahuila district to serve Native Americans living near the Rio Grande” (Spanish Exploration in the Southwest, 1542-1706. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1916, pp. 283-309).

     In addition to the early exploration narratives Portillo prints here (some for the first time), this work is valuable for its early histories of Borderland missions and towns, many of which had vanished by the time this book was published. Among the missions he discusses are San Antonio de Béjar, Nacogdoches, San Bernardino, San Juan Bautista, and San Buenaventura. Some of the towns he reviews are Viesca, Monclova, Rosales, Cuatro Cienegas, and Saltillo. He also reprints a portion of Conde de Revillagigedo’s 1793 report and includes observations on Borderland tribes, some of whom had gone into extinction, or nearly so. This classic work was derived almost exclusively from the Coahuila state archives in Saltillo, of which the author states, “hasta ahora permanecian olvidados, sin que estubiesen al alcanze del pueblo, que tanto necesita conocer su historia local.”


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