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Presidio La Bahia finds its final location
by Jeremy D. Turner
Nov 30, 2012 | 1756 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of stories on the history of Presidio La Bahia:

In its infancy, Presidio La Bahía was established to make a statement - the statement being that Texas belonged to Spain and only Spain, and anyone who thought otherwise would suffer serious consequences.

Whether it was a permanent Spanish presence or the miserable failure that had been Fort St. Louis, the French threat had faded rather quickly following the establishment of the Presidio La Bahía. Improvement in relations between the Spanish and local tribes had also evolved, enabling the Spanish presidio to grow and prosper alongside the mission.

With this growth came new development. As the presidios and missions in San Antonio and East Texas continued to expand, it became evident that Presidio La Bahía would play a pivotal new role.

In early 1747, the Spanish government determined that in order to maintain control of Texas the presidio must be relocated. Don José de Escandón was chosen to scout the Gulf Coast region in search of a more suitable location.

On Jan. 29, 1747, Escandón, along with Captain Joaquin Orobio of Presidio La Bahía, departed with a contingent of 50 men from both La Bahía and Adaes presidios.

On Feb. 5, Orobio discovered an excellent location on the San Antonio River. The land was predominantly level and extremely fertile, and there was an abundance of natural stone and trees for timber.

With livestock being a crucial part of the Spanish presidio-mission system, it was also noted that the grass was ideal for grazing. Most importantly, the site offered an excellent vantage point upon which the presidio could be placed. From here, the soldiers could effectively protect and patrol the route linking Mexico to San Antonio and East Texas.

Having been sure of his discovery, Orobio named the location Santa Dorotea. Some historians suggest this was done as a tribute to the Feast Day of St. Dorothy (Santa Dorotea). Naming lakes, mountains, camps, rivers and other geographic locations after a saint was a long-lasting tradition among Spanish explorers.

Upon their return, Don Escandón sent a report of their findings to the Viceroy of New Spain. Obviously satisfied with their discovery, the Viceroy ordered that Presidio La Bahía be moved from its site along the Guadalupe River to Santa Dorotea.

In a Nov. 16, 1749 report, Governor Pedro de Barrio Junco y Espriella confirms that the move was official. From this date forward, Presidio La Bahía would begin its final reign.
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