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East Texas' Early History - Everything has a beginning and most are very small.  Texas began in its far eastern region, now called East Texas and  like a tiny acorn it has grown symbolically into the great oak tree called Texas.  It began nowhere else but there.  Spain claimed it and at first, called it their "terra incognito" or unknown land.  After exploring it, they soon named it their "new Philippines." Today, it is called Spain's far northeastern borderland.  They knew almost nothing about it until the Frenchman La Salle planted a tiny fort and colony near the Gulf Coast below present Victoria.  This act set Spain in motion.  Several military expeditions, on land and sea over several years, went looking for these Frenchmen. They were located in 1689, but the fort was already destroyed by sickness, murder and by the Karankawa Indians.

The first attempt to settle East Texas was made in 1690, when a tiny eight-man mission was built and manned by five soldiers and three priests - they called it Mission Tejas.  They soon built a second one that they called Maria.  At this time, many head of livestock were driven up from Mexico and turned loose for the use of these first two missions.  They were located west of the Neches River in East Texas.  Both soon failed.  But, a much bolder thrust was carried out twenty-three years later (1716 - 1717) when six missions with civilians, soldiers and priests, were strung from the east side of the Neches River, not far from the original Tejas mission, to the Rio Hondo a few miles west of Natchitoches, Louisiana -- this was part of Spanish Texas then.  Families and many more soldiers came with this second entrada.  Soon the area called "Los Adaes" with its furthest mission and fort would also become the first capital of Texas -- not Washington-on-the-Brazos or even Houston.  On two more occasions, more thousands of head of livestock were driven overland from Mexico, distributed among these six missions and turned loose in the great virgin forest of East Texas, to multiply until they were counted in the millions -- they were everywhere.

These missions, civilians and soldiers, plus the thousands of head of livestock were the true beginning of Texas.  It began nowhere but in East Texas and our great livestock industry including ranches, cowboys and trail drives began nowhere else but in East Texas -- not in South or Southeast Texas.  It can truly be said, this was the tiny acorn from which Texas has grown -- it all started in East Texas.

For this reason, TEXAS HISTORICAL PRESS specializes in the history of East Texas -- the beginning of Texas. Thousands of the descendants of these original Spanish families still live in the area of Nacogdoches, East Texas and around Spanish Lake, Zowlle, Robeline and Natchitoches, western Louisiana -- formally Spanish East Texas. Books, maps, and diaries that focus on eastern Texas are offered to truth seekers.

You are invited to browse the information found in these unique web pages and learn the authentic history of how Texas began.

Purchase the outstanding and rare books written by outstanding Texas historians and story tellers. Get an overview.

Obtain copies of the original diaries and live vicariously with the brave men who wrote them -- both soldiers, and missionary padres who braved dangerous wild animals and unhappy Indians as they brought European civilization to East Texas -- and eventually to all of Texas.

Buy the old maps, reproduced for you so that you can follow the progress of the diarist and see exactly where they traveled on the ancient trails that went from Indian village to village. Many of these are in color and beautifully drawn, suitable to hang.

Even some correspondence between these early pioneers is available to you. Letters that helped shape Texas.

Thus the mission of Texas Historical Press is to make the vibrant and exciting history of Old, Old East Texas available in all its formats, under one web site. These include books that deal with early Texas history, One-Of-A-Kind Rare Books, cook books of Old East Texas and the south, diaries of the early explorers - Spanish missionaries, Mexican, French and Anglo pioneers, maps showing early East Texas that portray the original trails and roads, some of which are our highways today, locations of the Indians, Spanish land grants showing the first ranches in Texas and much more. Peruse the following to see the many things that are available.

Unique And Rare Books - Most of our books are one-of-a-kind and can be purchased nowhere else but from this website. Many books are large, printed on eight and one-half by eleven size paper and are double sided, profusely illustrated and footnoted for laymen and scholars alike -- this makes a 200-page book 400 pages of common size. Select a category below, then click on each for details or to purchase.

If you are a purchasing librarian or the manager of a bookstore, interested in single copies or bulk purchases, please click here to contact us about your needs.


by H. Gordon Pettey, PhD.

In this space, you are invited to read periodic articles on very early East Texas history where European Texas began in 1690 with Missions Tejas and Maria on the Neches River. When these first two missions were closed in 1693, four Spanish soldiers from these 1690-93 missions refused to leave East Texas and they stayed with the Caddoan/Hainai/Tejas/Hasinai tribe for at least ten years. One of these soldiers was their captain - he was respected by them and led these Indians on more than one war party.

No doubt the first half European/Spanish children were fathered by these four men, a Creole group that would eventually become one-half of the population of old Texas.

Beginning with these early dates, the history of European Texas begins. As you can see, we at Texas Historical have written on many subjects that pertain to this early history, including the foods that were harvested, raised and prepared by the races who controlled this great region called Texas. These were the original Indians, Spaniards, Mexicans and Anglos.

In the space below, we will present various fascinating topics that pertain to Old, Old East Texas. Return to this location periodically to read these fascinating articles, so please read the article below.


The original pack trains were the only solution for getting supplies into unsettled, road less Spanish Eastern Texas. There were no bridges and the terrain was difficult. Wagons and ox carts were of little use and as a rule, imposable to use. In the early days, long mule trains, some consisting of hundreds of mules, were loaded below the Rio Grande and driven the thousand miles across cactus and scrub brush plains to the dense forests of Eastern Texas. The trip involved crossing many alligator infested rivers and even smaller boggy streams. Often the under brush was so thick it had to be hacked out with machetes and axes, and could be penetrated only by mules. And there were times during the year when floods, snows and storms made travel impossible. At these times, the trains remained south of the river waiting for improved weather conditions. This could cause delays of up to two months. Another course of delays were the activities of certain Indians. These could be deadly to the Spanish. A few tribes murdered the drivers and stole the mules and goods to use in trade, so the trains could only travel when enough soldiers were available to protect them. Because of this protection, civilians and the religious men also often traveled with these pack trains.

A train usually consisted of around forty mules with a lead bell mare. To run it required the services of at least two strong expert packers and a bellboy who rode the mare and guided the train.

Pack mules were raised and trained for that purpose. The bell mare lived with them and always wore the small cowbell suspended from her neck. The mules associated the bell and this mare with a parent and as long as they could hear her bell, they faithfully followed and stayed near her. However, if she got down, died or lost her bell the pack mules would stray away, or if they could not hear the bell, they would not try to keep up, which made them impossible to control as a group.

The bellboy was paramount to the delivery of the pack train. He was usually a young Indian boy who rode the bell mare. His function was to lead the entire train and guide the mare along the correct trails. He also stopped and started the train by his control of the mare. As long as she moved forward there was no stopping the mules in the train - they followed her blindly and would charge headlong into any situation, swim rivers or wade into bogs. A single mule that was losing its load could be stopped only temporarily by a "packer" jumping in front of it where it would stand nervously and allow itself to be handled then turned loose to trot off and re-join the others.

These trains were a real living unified entity. Of course, their leader was the mare. Each had a name and its own packsaddle. They could be turned loose at night and pastured with another pack train, but in the morning they followed their own mare to a place where the packers unloaded and loaded them. When this loading was done correctly, the packs would stay on the mule as long as he could carry it. Each carried a weight of about three hundred pounds. Thus a train of forty mules could transport twelve thousand pounds of freight. A typical train could be made up of rum, nails, cloth (including lace), toiletries, gold or silver for pay rolls and for making jewelry, plows, seeds, tools, iron for shaping into horse shoes and other metal needs stockings, house-hold and farm goods and other assorted items that the Spanish colonial men, women, soldiers and churches used but could not make locally, Also included in these pack trains were trinkets and other gifts to give to the Indians such as clothes, ribbons, knives and cheap jewelry,.

The weight of these goods was equally divided on both sides of each animal. Rum, their favorite drink, was shipped in raffia-covered long necked, hand-blown green glass demijohns. These held up to ten gallons each and were strapped on either side of a mule. In the 1960s one of these large glass containers was found in Nacogdoches County, intact and buried along side the original old El Camino de los Nachitos (road to Natchitoches, Louisiana) near present Highway 21 in the vicinity of the Attoyac River. The mystery is, why was it buried there? Was this place a rest stop and its contents slipped as other trains traveled that way?

These pack animals were valuable to the Spanish and they were handled with care. After a hard day's work, a campsite was chosen near a stream. The animals were unloaded and taken to the water where they could bath and cool off. Danger always followed these pack trains. They not only endured slipping, falling, bogging down and Indian attacks, but drowning was a constant problem.

On one occasion in 1716, Father Espinosa wrote that as the pack mules were being bathed at the end of a long day, about seventy drowned..................

Also, the handlers themselves were attacked by alligators while swimming streams. One diarist reported losing a servant to alligators while crossing a steam.

This is how it was in the earliest days of the settlement of East Texas. It is humbling to see the price that was paid by these original pioneers, for Texas, as we know her today.

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