Adaesaños Census & Casta

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Some of the Redbone families claimed a Los Adaes birth and did not speak English.

Las Adeas census background

Censuses from the Spanish colonial period are an invaluable source for answering geographical, genealogical, and sociological questions about early multi-ethnic populations in Louisiana. We chose to distribute information based on these censuses here in order to provide greater access to understanding how Natchitoches, one of the oldest towns in Louisiana, was established and grew. The population shifts happening at the time in the region can be tracked especially by the birthplace of the residents who migrated to the area following the closing the Spanish outpost. Additionally, the social and economic distribution of the populace is present in the Nacogdoches censuses under data for caste and occupation.

1731 Southwestern Louisiana Census with Casta designations

Soldier Casta
Lieutenant     Joseph Cayetano de Vergara Español
Alférez            Joseph Gonzalez Español
Sergeant        Manuel Antonio de Losoya Español
Acostta, Joseph de Mestizo
Acostta y Arias, Joseph Antonio de Mulatto
Albarado, Joseph de Indio
Armijo, Juan de Mestizo
Arejo, Joseph de Mulatto
Avila, Agustín de Mestizo
Bermúdez, Phelipe Español
Cerda, Francisco de la Español
Cordova, Nicholás Antonio de Español
Cordoves, Antonio Gregorio Español
Cos., Manuel de Español
Covarrubias, Juan Antonio de Español
Encarnazion, Juan Joseph de la Español
Espino, Andrés de Español
Flores, Miguel Julian Coyote
Gámez, Juan Mulatto
Hernández, Nicholás Español
Hernández, Juan Español
López, Gregorio Mulatto
Luna, Pascual de Coyote
Luna, Antonio de Español
Marquéz, Juan Joseph Mulatto
Montes, Ypolito de Coyote
Morillo, Francisco Lobo
Nápoles, Francisco de Español
Padilla, Juan de Español
Pan y Agua, Antonio de Mulatto
Paulin, Juan Español
Pérez, Pedro Español
Pozos, Manuel salvador de los Coyote
Ramos, Juan Antonio Mestizo
Reyes, Juan de los Mulatto
Reyes, Julian de los Coyote
Reyes, Manuel Luis de Los Coyote
Río, Phelipe del Español
Río, Xptóval del Español
Río, Domingo del Español
Rodríguez, Xptóval Coyote
Rodríguez, Guillermo Mestizo
Rossales, Joseph Mestizo
Sánchez, Andrés Mestizo
San Miguel, Francisco de Español
Santiago, Xptóval de Mulatto
Santiago, Francisco de Mulatto
Sánchez, Joseph Mestizo
Sierra, Phelipe de Español
Talamentes, Francisco Xavier de Español
Torres, Joachín de Español
Torres, Juan de Español
Tovar, Juan Sánches Español
Ventura de Alcala, Joseph Español
Vera, Joseph Antonio de la Mestizo
Villa Franca, Diego de Mestizo
Villa Real, Blas de Mestizo
Villa Real, Juan de Mestizo
Ybañes, Lazaro Mestizo
Ybarvo, Mateo Español

Population shifts in Louisiana

The censuses conducted in Louisiana reflect the drastic population shifts happening in the region. The closing of presidios, Comanche raids, and social tensions between mission settlers and populations from the Canary Islands, motivated the abandonment of some settlements and the rapid expansion of others. No longer feeling threatened by the French, a band of residents moved into Natchitoches, the site of a mission established for the local Caddos in 1716. The town of Natchitoches itself had an established non-missionary population by 1772, the year Spain closed a settlement in Los Adaes, and forced its residents to resettle elsewhere, primarily in San Antonio. The three-month journey from the former Los Adaes settlement to San Antonio was one from which many migrants died attempting. There was an incentive, therefore, to relocate to the westernmost community of Nacogdoches.

Census data and procedures

The first formal censuses conducted for Spain emerged during the reign of Carlos III, who ordered them to be completed throughout the empire starting in 1768 when the first comprehensive report was compiled for mainland Spain. Because of this demand for documentation, administrative officials would sometimes repeat information in records for multiple villages. In the New World censuses were often submitted by the local priest or mayor on a less comprehensive scale, representing a particular town or region of interest. For example, the first census in Louisiana was conducted in 1777 and focused only on the expanding population of San Antonio. Census collection in Nacogdoches was further delayed until 1792 and continued every year thereafter.

The Spanish caste system in Louisiana

Initially, racial distinctions in New Spain were based solely on the recognition of three categories, Spanish, black, and Indian. In response to increasing inter-marriage among colonists, however, Spain expanded these categories into a more complex racial caste system that included numerous socially ranked racial labels. Because of the economic and political privileges allotted to members with a higher ranking status, efforts to illegally change rank occurred throughout New Spain. By the mid 18th century, the races had so intermingled that racial status was increasingly determined by cultural and social considerations, a change that rendered the system a less relevant reflection of race itself.

The main castes represented in No Man’s Land are: Spanish, Mestizo, Mulatto, Coyote, Lobo, Indian, African, and Slave. The Spanish caste was further divided into Criollos, or Spaniards born in the Americas, and Peninsulares, or Spaniards born in Spain. The designation of “Guachipine” was a more general term for European-born citizenry. Most Guachipines who were not Spaniards sought to become legally Spanish when they adopted the local and language and customs and required baptism into the Catholic Church. Criollos received all the same privileges as Guachipines but were not allowed to occupy the highest-ranking positions in the church or government. At one point, Criollo women and their families sought to marry them to Guachipine men, creating a shortage of women for Criollo men. As a result, greater intermarriage was encouraged between Criollo men and women of lower castes. As in other caste systems, the rights of its members were allocated according to rank, further creating a culture of caste defiance both legally and socially. The mixed-blood castes of Mestizo, Mulato, Coyote, Lobo or “wolf”, Castizo, and Salta Atras or “skip back” retained all the same rights of Criollo minors except on the topic of political involvement. They were not allowed access to high-level military, religious, and political positions. Indians and Blacks had the same rights as mixed-bloods but were forced to pay an additional annual tax to the Spanish crown. Those who failed to pay were arrested and often imprisoned.

This disparity in privileges among the castes motivated efforts to change castes and inconsistencies in the system led to its defiance in Louisiana. Caste assignments didn’t always reflect the person’s caste according to the rules and definitions. The local priest was entrusted with the judgment of a person’s caste at the time of baptism. The initial procedures for arriving at this decision were later manipulated to reflect a family’s wealth and cultural affiliations. In many communities where Indians adopted Spanish religion, customs, and language, the parish priests no longer baptized them as Indians. Throughout New Spain, inhabitants also sometimes paid for illegal documents reflecting a different caste assignment. Because of the remote location of Louisiana, this activity was more frequent than in other parts of the empire. For these reasons, statistics on the caste system presented here is not a precise measurement of ethnic origin. On the other hand, the censuses still provide a general idea of the origin and background of the population and offer valuable insight into the social and economic distribution of early No Man’s Land.

For Definitions of Spanish Casta assignments, please visit article here titled

 Colonial Casta Pantings

 List of Soldiers (Privates and Corporals) who served at Los Adaes during the following years: 1731, 1734-1743, 1745-1751, 1753, 1759-1762.

Name of Private or Corporal Year(s) of Service at Los Adaes
Abila, Agustín de 1731
Acosta, Francisco 1734
Acosta, Joseph de 1731, 1735-43, 1745-50
Acosta y Arias, Joseph Antonio de 1731
Albarado, Joseph de 1731, 1734-45
Alcala, Venture de 1734
Aragón, Simón de 1741-2, 1751, 1753
Aránbula, Manuel de 1734-36, 1738-43, 1745-49
Aránbulo, Paulin 1750
Armijo, Juan de 1731, 1734-35
Arejo, Joseph de 1731
Arias, Joseph de 1734-43, 1745-51, 1753
Aro, Ignacio de 1750-51, 1753, 1759-62
Arredondo, Joseph 1748-51, 1753
Avila, Augustin de 1734-35
Barbosa, Ignacio 1759
Barrio, Pedro de 1748-50
Basques, Ambrosio 1759, 1760-62
Bellejo, Joseph 1759-60
Bellejo, Cristóval 1753, 1759, 1760-62
Benítes, Melchor 1759, 1760-62
Benítes, Joseph Joachín 1751, 1753
Benítes, Juan 1741-43
Berlanga, Joseph 1735-38
Bermúdez, Phelipe 1731, 1734-39
Cadena, Antonio 1759-62
Cadena, Joachín 1760-62
Calahora, Xavier 1759-62
Calamentes, Francisco Xavier de 1731
Caldarón, Joseph 1750-51, 1753
Camacho, Sebastián 1738-43, 1745-53, 1759-62
Carranco, Eusevio Manuel 1750-51
Castro, Joseph de 1738-1743, 1745-53, 1759-62
Cerda, Fernando de la 1735-6, 1738-43, 1745-49, 1751, 1753, 1759-62
Cerda, Francisco Luís de la 1734-43, 1745-49, 1751, 1753, 1759-62
Cerda, Joseph Leonardo de la 1745-46
Cerda, Miguel de la 1746-51, 1753, 1760-62
Chirinos, Andrés 1742-43, 1745-47, 1759
Chirinos, Domingo 1735-1743, 1745-51, 1753, 1759
Chirinos, Manuel 1735-43, 1745-51, 1753
Córdova, Xptóval de 1742-43, 1745-48, 1750-51, 1753
Córdova, Miguel 1759
Córdova, Nicolás Antonio de 1731
Cordovés, Antonio Gregorio 1731, 1734-43, 1745-48, 1751, 1753
Cortés, Miguel 1734-43, 1745-46
Cortinas, Francisco Xavier 1736
Cos, Manuel de 1731
Covarrubias, Juan Antonio de 1731, 1753
Cruz, Francisco Javier de la 1750
Encarnazion, Juan Joseph de la 1731, 1734
Escobar y Llamas, Ignacio de 1751
Espino, Andrés de 1731
Estrada, Francisco 1736
Exparsa, Salvador 1734-43, 1745-50
Domíngues, Francisco 1746-47
Domígues, Jospeh Miguel 1736-43, 1745-46
Flores, Juan Gil 1748-49
Flores, Lucas 1735-37, 1739-43, 1745-51, 1753
Flores, Miguel Julián 1731, 1734-43, 1745-48
Flores, Nicolás 1739
Fuente, Thoribio de la 1760-62
Gallardo, Antonio 1753, 1759-62
Gámez, Cayetano 1747-49
Gámez, Joseph Miguel 1759-62
Gámez, Juan 1731, 1734-40
García, Domingo 1760-62
Garza, Ignacio 1747
Garza, Isidro Eugenio de la 1747-51, 1753
Garza, Joseph de la 1749-50, 1753, 1759, 1761
Gil, Antonio 1747
Gil de Ybarbo, Antonio 1748-51, 1753, 1759-62
Gómez, Ignacio 1735-42
Granados, Pedro 1739-43, 1745-50, 1753, 1759-62
Guadalupe, Francisco 1751, 1753
Guerra, Joseph Antonio 1760-62
Guerrero, Matías 1753
Hernández, Ignacio 1738-43, 1745-51, 1753, 1759
Hernández, Jospeh 1735-37, 1740-47
Hernández, Juan 1731, 1734
Hernández, Nicolás 1731
Lara, Juan Isidro de 1742-43, 1745-51, 1753
Laro, Pedro de 1759
Lasso, Faustino 1759
Lazcano, Joseph Antonio 1735, 1739-42
Leal, Bernardo 1740
López, Gregorio 1731
Losoya, Francisco 1751, 1753, 1759
Losoya, Marcos 1745-51, 1753
Losoya, Manuel Antonio de 1731
Losoya, Miguel 1759-62
Losoya, Pedro 1750-51, 1753
Luís, Manuel 1738
Luna, Pascual de 1731, 1734
Luna, Juan Antonio de 1731, 1734-36, 1738-42
Martínez, Marcos 1738-43, 1745-46
Marquéz, Xptóval 1736, 1747-51
Marquéz, Juan Joseph 1731, 1734-35, 1738-43, 1745-46
Mansolo, Facundo 1759-62
Mansolo, Joseph Joachín 1751, 1753, 1759-62
Mansolo, Victor 1759-62
Montes, Ignacio 1759-62
Montes, Ypolito de 1731
Montes de Oca, Mathías 1736-37
Mora, Juan de 1734-36, 1738, 1747
Moraín, Gil 1760-62
Moraín, Melchor 1751, 1753, 1759-62
Morillo, Francisco 1731, 1734-37
Nápoles, Francisco Antonio de 1731, 1734-43, 1745-49
Navarro, Ignacio 1760-62
Ojeda, Juan Thomás de 1748-51, 1753
Pacheco, Juan Joseph 1751, 1753, 1759-62
Padilla, Joseph Patricio de 1745-50, 1753, 1759-62
Padilla, Juan de 1731, 1734-36, 1738-43
Pan y Agua, Antonio de 1731, 1734-35, 1737
Patiño, Joseph 1747-49
Paulino, Juan 1731, 1734
Peña, Joseph Antonio 1743, 1745-51, 1753, 1759-62
Pérez, Pedro 1731, 1734-37,1748-50
Ponzeano de Trexo, Joseph 1751, 1753
Pozos, Lorenzo 1759-62
Pozos, Manuel Salvador de los 1731, 1734-43, 1745-51, 1753, 1759
Pozos, Pedro 1760-62
Ramíres, Bernardo 1749-51, 1753, 1759-62
Ramíres, Francisco 1753, 1760-62
Ramón, Joseph Diego 1734-36, 1738-43, 1745-51, 1753
Ramos, Joseph Miguel 1734-43, 1745-48
Ramos, Juan Antonio 1731
Ramos, Tadeo 1741-43, 1745-51, 1753, 1759-62
Reyes, Antonio de los 1747, 1749-51
Reyes, Felis de los 1760-62
Reyes, Juan Benítes de los 1735-40, 1742, 1745-51, 1753, 1760-62
Reyes, Juan de los 1731, 1734-43, 1745-49
Reyes, Julián de los 1731, 1734-37
Reyes, Manuel de los 1745
Reyes, Manuel Luís de los 1731, 1734-36, 1739-43, 1745-47
Reyes, Nicolás Jesús de los 1740, 1742, 1745-46, 1748-51
Río, Xptóval del 1731, 1734-39, 1741-43, 1745-51
Río, Domingo del 1731, 1734-43, 1745
Río, Joachín del 1753
Río, Miguel del 1738-43, 1745-47, 1750-53, 1759-62
Río, Phelipe del 1731, 1734-35
Ríos, Joseph Viterbo de los 1745-46
Ríos, Joseph Luís de 1760-62
Rodrígues, Augustín 1759-62
Rodrigues, Joseph María 1759-62
Rodrígues, Xtóval 1731, 1734-36, 1738-40
Rodríguez, Guillermo 1731
Rossales, Joseph Antonio 1731, 1734-37
Ruíz, Gaspar 1759-62
Ruíz, Joachín 1759-62
Ruíz, Joseph Felis 1759-62
Ruíz, Marcos 1736-43
Salazar, Joseph de 1759-62
Sánches, Agustín 1735-43, 1745-50
Sánches, Andrés 1731, 1734-43, 1745-48
Sánches, Joseph 1731, 1734-36
Sánches, Mathias 1759-62
Sánches, Pedro 1738
Sánches, Phelipe 1734-37, 1740, 1747
Sánches de Tovar, Juan 1731, 1734-36, 1738, 1740-42
San Miguel, Francisco de 1731, 1734-43, 1745-48
San Miguel, Ignacio de 1736-43, 1745-51, 1753
Santa Cruz, Francisco 1760-62
Santa Cruz, Joseph Antonio de 1753
Santa Cruz, Juan Joseph de 1734, 1736-43, 1745-51, 1753
Santa Teresa, Nicolás de 1741-43
Santiago, Francisco de 1731
Santiago, Xptóval de 1734-43, 1745-51, 1753
Santos, Francisco de los 1748-51, 1753
Santos, Juan de los 1741-43
Santos, Simón de los 1743, 1745-49
Santos Coy, Francisco de los 1750
Santos de la Garza, Simón de los 1750, 1751, 1753, 1759-62
Santos de Ochoa Lizardo, Joseph 1748, 1749, 1751
Santos de Torres, Juan 1739-40, 1742, 1745-51
Sierra, Bartolomé de 1749-51, 1753, 1759-62
Sierra, Pedro de 1734-45
Sierra, Phelipe de 1731, 1734-53, 1759
Talamante, Francisco 1734
Talamante, Juan Manuel 1747-49
Tanguma, Miguel 1739
Torres, Francisco de 1734-43, 1745, 1759-62
Torres, Joachín de 1731, 1734-36
Torres, Juan de 1731, 1734-43, 1745-51, 1753, 1759-62
Trejo, Joseph de 1734-36, 1738-43, 1745-46
Trejo, Joseph Rafael de 1742-43, 1745-46
Trejo, Vincente 1751, 1753
Treviño, Joseph Miguel 1759-62
Valentín, Joseph 1759-62
Vargas, Juan María de 1750-51, 1753
Vaxar, Nicolás 1759
Vega, Santiago 1736-43, 1745-46
Ventura de Alcala, Joseph 1731
Vera, Joseph Antonio de la 1731
Verván, Juan Baptista 1748-51, 1753, 1760
Verván, Manuel 1759, 1761-62
Villa Franca, Diego de 1731, 1734-35, 1737-42, 1747-49
Villa Real, Antonio 1759-62
Villa Real, Blas de 1731
Villa Real, Joseph Francisco de 1738-43, 1745-46, 1750-51
Villa Real, Juan de 1731, 1734, 1738
Ybañes, Lázaro 1731, 1738-43, 1745-46
Ybarvo, Manuel de 1743, 1745
Ybarvo, Mateo Antonio de 1731, 1734-44
Ydalgo, Juan Joseph 1747, 1749-51, 1753
Zepeda, Joseph 1759-62
Ziprian, Augustín 1734-35

Adaesaños – In 1719, Franciscan missionaries came from Mexico to Louisiana in an attempt conversion of Native Americans. As the French moved towards Louisiana, Spanish missions were established to encourage trade between the tribes, the Spaniards, and the French. Fearful of French expansionism, Spanish authorities established a full garrison, a royal presidio, Nuestra Señora del Pilar de los Adaes, to guard the Louisiana Frontier (1721 – 1773). Closed after Louisiana became a Spanish territory, Adaesaño families were ordered back to Louisiana. Gradually they managed to return to their patria chica in northwestern Louisiana. Centered today in east Texas (Nacogdoches, Chireno, Moral) and in Sabine and Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana (Zwolle, Ebarb, and Spanish Lake) communities, their descendants represent one of the oldest Hispanic or Indo-Hispanic populations in North America.


ADAES INDIANS:  The Adaes (Atais, Atayos) were a Caddoan tribe inhabiting the Red River area north of the site of present Natchitoches, Louisiana. In 1699 Pierre le Moyne d’Iberville called them Natao. San Miguel de Linares de los Adaes Mission was established for them in 1716, destroyed in 1719, and restored in 1721. The Adaes were also found at San Francisco de los Tejas Mission. John R. Swanton said the Adaes spoke a divergent dialect and seemed to have had a more primitive culture than the other Caddoan tribes of the area. Los Adaes-Related Indian Peoples

The Caddos survived in their ancestral homelands long after the abandonment of Presidio Los Adaes, but in smaller numbers and more dependent upon European trade than ever before. Spanish officials sought their allegiance through traditional gift-giving which the Spaniards and French competed for previously. By the 1780s, following haphazard and ineffective Spanish-Indian policies, Spanish officials still sought to win influence over the Caddo and Nations of the North through gift-giving, especially weapons, clothing, tobacco, and farm tools that arrived from New Orleans. In 1785, Spanish officials estimated 394 Tejas, 238 Nacogdoches and Nazones, and 309 Bidais Indians had received various amounts of muskets, gunpowder, ammunition, farming hoes, axes, knives, chain links, bells, tobacco, skirts, and other products.

Spanish officials also listed the Adaes, Ais, and Saisitos Indians together, who numbered 213 people and received similar goods as did the Caddo nations. The Adaes Indians did not have a captain whom the Spaniards presented with gifts, but instead received goods through the Ais captain. The Adai Indian Nation still exists today in the area of the abandoned fort and mission. Nearby is the present Ebarb community, with descendants from Los Adaes. The Caddo Nation proper, however, is based in Oklahoma today after their own exodus from ancestral lands in the early nineteenth century followed the same challenges that other Indian nations and Adaeseño descendants encountered on the Louisiana-Texas borderlands.

Caddo and Adai peoples were not the only Indians who were associated with Los Adaes. By the 18th century an active American Indian slave trade had developed in lower Louisiana. The French were enslaving Indian people from tribes that opposed the French and their Indian allies, such as the Caddo. Chitimacha and Natchez slaves were held at Natchitoches in the 1730s, a consequence of their wars with the French and the active French traffic in Indian slaves. Although Spanish authorities forbade Indian slavery, it spread across the northern frontier as their tribal allies traded captives to the French. By the middle 18th century Apache slaves, especially Lipan Apache, were being obtained by the French as part of their trade with the Norteños on Red River, adding those enemies of Spain to the mix of French-enslaved tribal peoples.

During the middle to late 1700s, Lipan Apache slaves and former slaves became part of the greater Los Adaes-Nachitoches community. These people, termed the Connechi or Canchy, were freed as were all the Native Indian slaves when Spain acquired Louisiana. The American agent, Dr. John Sibley, noted in 1803 that they were different and that they had mixed with the Europeans. The dominant tribal intermarriages seem to have been the result of the slave trade, although the Caddo and Yatasi also intermarried with French and Spanish neighbors. Most American Indian slaves seem to have been women and children most of whom were baptized and raised in the European communities. By the time Nacogdoches was founded in 1779, the Connechi were present among the Adaeseños moving about the Louisiana-Texas frontier boarder region.

After the Spanish acquisition of Louisiana, the impact of the deerskin trade on tribal economies to the east of the Mississippi River led many of those groups to move west. The most populous of the Southeastern groups moving west were Choctaw and some Chickasaw Indians who hunted on the Red River and into the Sabine drainage. The Caddo objected to these intrusions and threatened war, but the Choctaw persisted in crossing the Mississippi. Spanish authority did little other than try diplomacy to maintain detente between the tribes. By 1803-1805 these Choctaw had a strong enough presence that the Americans attempted to establish a polity for them, having them come to Natchitoches to elect a chief.

Groups of Choctaw roamed the region well into the early twentieth century and these small bands contributed to the pan-tribal communities that attached themselves to the local trade. These marginal groups tried diligently to maintain their tribal identities, but many gradually melded with the local populations. A group of Choctaw seems to have settled near the Adaeseño settlements and Choctaw -style ceramics have been found at Los Adaes. Choctaw identity has survived among the descendants whose ancestors settled along Choctaw and Beech Creeks in Sabine Parish, Louisiana, where they intermarried with the Los Adaes descendants. Others, notably those descended from the southern Choctaw or Yowani, became closely connected to the Caddo, and as ethnologist, John R. Swanton, noted, moved to Oklahoma with them. At least three groups of Choctaw remained identifiable in central Louisiana as late as 1900.

Surviving Adaeseño Communities and their Archaic Spanish Dialect

The complicated roots of the Adaeseños have left a large descendant population along the routes of El Camino Real de Los Tejas in both Louisianaand Louisiana. Not only are there Hispanic place names, sites and cemeteries but actually living populations that still reflect the dynamics of the 18th century. A series of communities composed of families directly descended from the soldiers and settlers of colonial Los Adaes and its related subsequent settlements at Bucareli and Nacogdoches are strung out along the roads that are now parts of the El Camino Real de Los Tejas National Historic Trail.

The most conservative of these communities are on the Louisiana side of the Sabine River nearer the site of Los Adaes. These include Ebarb-Zwolle and Spanish Lake where direct descendants dominate the population and where there are connections maintained to the Adaes and Apache as well the 19th-century Choctaw who were somehow connected to the presidial populations in the past. The Choctaw-Apache Tribe at Ebarb and the Adais Nation at Spanish Lake are recognized as Indian entities by the state of Louisiana and both have petitioned for federal acknowledgment as well.

The Hispanic family names of these communities go directly back to the censuses of Los Adaes and of early Nacogdoches. Family names in the Ebarb-Zwolle community include Ebarb (most traced back to Alcario Ybarbo or Antonio Gil Ybarbo), Sepulvado, Procell (Procella), Parrie (Parilla), Martinez, Lopez, Remedies (Ramirez), Castie (Castillo), Leone (Leones), and others. Mora, Nieto, Flores, Sanchez, and Corrales are the dominant families in Spanish Lake area.

On both the Louisiana and Louisianaside of the Sabine River many Hispanic family names of some communities go directly back to the censuses of Los Adaes and of early Nacogdoches. The recognition of Indian heritage and ancestral affiliation on the Louisianaside seems to have suffered more from Anglo-American contact. This may be attributable to the very strong anti-Indian attitudes that developed in the Republic of Louisianaand passed into early policies of American Louisiana. The east Louisianacommunities of Chirino, Moral, Luna and a few other areas around Nacogdoches are clearly linked to Los Adaes.The regional dialect of Spanish spoken in northwestern Louisiana and adjacent eastern Louisianahas been noted as one of the most conservative in the New World. Isolated by the rapid influx of Anglo-Americans in the 19th century, these communities have retained Spanish as almost wholly a spoken language, one kept within the families and close communities and seldom heard by outsiders.


Mexicans who came into contact with Adaeseño populations always spoke related dialects but without the archaic words and phrases that best fit the land, vegetation, and broad environments of forested East Louisiana and northwestern Louisiana. The Adaeseño dialect incorporates French and Indian loan words added as a consequence of the long-lasting contraband trade through Los Adaes and Nachitoches, clearly setting the language apart. New words ceased to be added as contact with Mexico and the southwest declined in the early 19th century. The local Adaeseño dialect became moribund and died out except in a few isolated pockets. Where it did survive the dialect approximates what one would have heard in daily use on the 18th century frontier.

Recent linguistic studies have documented the survival of the language but researchers are sometimes pessimistic about its future as fewer and fewer people speak the Adaeseño dialect. Yet the fact remains that the Adaeseño dialect still survives and has preserved much of the cultural tradition of its original speakers. Likewise the folk traditions—stories, music, material culture and foodways—can still be found in the same communities.

Roman Catholicism remains a strong religion in the midst of fierce Protestantism and adds to the Hispanic traditions in many ways. Churches and campo santos (cemeteries) are centrifugal to all the surviving communities, most of which still reflect the old rancheria settlement patterns of the Spanish and their Indian neighbors/relatives on the Louisiana – Louisianafrontier. Clusters of homes around la cude (from the French, La Court) or yard link generations to their familial geography. Scattered into little hamlets of kinfolks, these dot the landscape today as they did in the past. Only in very recent times have the hewn log houses that replaced the early French-style post in ground houses begun to be replaced with more modern houses. Shrines to the Virgin Mary and various saints are not uncommon and crosses mark the sites of violent deaths much as they have done for over two centuries.

At small rural stores people buy tamales and chorizo, as well as strings of dried hot chilies and garlic. Church calendars and pictures of the saints remind one of the Adaes roots of local folks. Old timers sometimes chat in Spanish and tell the stories of Gil Ybarbo and Gil Flores going all the way to Mexico City to get permission to move nearer their patria chica, Los Adaes. Perhaps they also recall having heard La Llorona, the Weeping Mother of the Aztec-Hispanic tradition, wandering in the watery sloughs weeping for her drowned child. One can also hear about La Mujer Vestida de Negra who made even the most macho backwoods men run from her in the forest. The mal de ojo now attacks pickup trucks as it once did the horses of haughty riders, and the stories flow about the old ladies who possess that power. One cannot help but recall the amulets (higas or ficas) scattered in the earth at the site of Los Adaes, protection from the Evil Eye.

So, in a world full of English speakers connected by the computer and dependant on the global economy, the old ways linger and the culture of the Adaeseños survives. Doctors, lawyers, priests, anthropologists, nurses, and school teachers boast of Adaeseño roots, and prosperity is finally replacing the economic hard times of the colonial frontier. The culture has integrated the lumber industry and oil fields with its proud cattle and horse ranching, it equestrian economy rooted squarely in the past. Local tourism has encouraged the Louisiana Tamale Fiesta at Zwolle and the Choctaw-Apache and Adai Nation Pow-wows, adding those events to individual expressions of cultural heritage. Traditional fiddle and guitar music still can be heard in homes and churches or local bars, songs so old they have no names, but melodies that connect to the dancing at Los Adaes in the 18th century.

Common Surnames: Ballero, Barcenas, Barelo, Benero, Benítes, Calderón, Cambero, Carmona, Cerda, Chirino, Cordova, Cruz, Exis, Esparza, Eugenio, Flores, Fuente, Gámez, García, Gil y Barbo, Guerrero, Guerrero, Gutierrez, Herrera, Lisardo, Losoya, Luna, Mansola, Martínez, Mendez, Mora, Morín, Morillo, Moya, Pacheco, Padilla, Ramírez, Ramos, Ricon, Río, Ruíz, Sánches, San Miguel, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Soto, Torres, Tovar, Trexo, Vasquez, Ybarbo, Zepeda, Zervantes. (McDonald, 1994)

Acosta, Alcala, Aragon, Baldes, Barela, Bayja, Benítes, Banuis, Brito, Cadena, Camacho, Carmon,

Cervantes, Chiver, Gómez, Gonzales, Hernándes, Lara, Losolla, Mansolo, Medrano, Montes, Pozos,

Raso, Reyes, Rodríguez, Romero, Salinas, Santos Aragon, Valentin, Villa Real. (McDonald, 1994)

Acosta, Alvarado, Aros, Ballanova, Benites, Bergara, Camacho, Cano, Caro, Cerda, Cordova, Cortinas, Equis, Esparza, Flores, Garcia, Ibarbo, Maldonado, Mansolo, Mora, Morilla, Lara, Padilla, Peña, Pilar Equis, Pilar Procela, Procelo, Río, Rosales, Ruíz, San Miguel, Sánches, Santa Cruz, Trejo, Vasques, Ybarbo. (1809 Nacogdoches Adaesaños Census file)


Flores, Luna, Montes, Pozos, Reyes, Rodríguez. (McDonald, 1994)


Albarado. (McDonald, 1994)     


Morillo. (McDonald, 1994)


Acostta,  Armijo,  Avila, Ramos, Rodríguez, Rossales, Sánches, Sánchez, Vera, Villa Franca, Villa Real, Ybañes. (McDonald, 1994)


Acostta y Arias, Arejo, Gámez, López, Marquéz, Pan y Agua, Reyes, Santiago. (McDonald, 1994)


El Orcoquisac

In the 1720s, French traders began visiting the Galveston Bay area to trade with the Akokisa (Orcoquisa) and Bidai Indians. The French came both by boat from New Orleans and overland from Nacogdoches to exchange European goods for furs, skins, and bear grease. In May 1754, trader Joseph Blancpain and several other Frenchmen set up a permanent trading post near the east bank of the Trinity River, about 8 kilometers upstream from Trinity Bay.

Word of the trading post soon reached Spanish authorities, who became alarmed by the encroachment of the French into the eastern edge of their territory. In September they dispatched a military force of 25 soldiers from Los Adaes under the command of Lieutenant Marcos Ruiz. The expedition was bolstered along the way by Akokisa and Bidai Indians who were promised the spoils from the trading post in return for their assistance in locating it. In October, the expedition reached the trading post and arrested the Frenchmen for trespassing on Spanish territory. The Spanish took the Frenchmen to Mexico City and allowed the Akokisa and Bidai to take their goods. Under interrogation, Blancpain told the Spanish authorities that the trading post was intended to be the first stage in a French settlement.

Spanish Presence Established

Determined to prevent a French settlement of the area, the Spanish established the Presidio of San Augustín de Ahumada in July 1756 in the precise location of Blancpain’s trading post. Lieutenant Domingo del Rio was appointed commander of the presidio. The Spanish then established the accompanying Mission of Nuestra Señora de la Luz del Orcoquisac for the Akokisa. Calling the site El Orcoquisac, they made plans to turn it into a civil settlement of 50 families, creating a permanent Spanish presence in the Galveston Bay area.

The presence of the presidio hampered local trade between the French and local Indians, but the Spanish were not able to form their own trading relationships with these groups. The Spanish mission-presidio complexes were not designed to be entrepreneurial in nature and did not stock the kind of provisions necessary to maintain ongoing trading partnerships. In addition, they often suffered from shortages of basic supplies, leaving little leftover for trade. As a result, the Spanish could only act as middlemen, exchanging goods between the French and Indians.

In 1758, the idea of turning El Orcoquisac into a civil settlement was abandoned, due to lack of funds and interested settlers. The mission was moved 1 kilometer east of the presidio the following year. In 1763, Captain Rafael Martínez Pacheco replaced del Rio as commander of the presidio in response to complaints from the officers of dwindling supplies of food, clothes, and ammunition. By this time, the mission had fallen into a dilapidated state. Pacheco attempted to rebuild it and revive interest in mission life among the Akokisa by supplying a herd of beef cattle and tools for agriculture. Official support for the project was slow in coming, however, and Pacheco was regarded as cruel and arrogant by the soldiers, who deserted the presidio in 1764. Ruiz was sent to relieve Pacheco of his duties, but Pacheco and a handful of supporters refused to surrender the presidio. After a five-day standoff, Ruiz set fire to Pacheco’s quarters in an effort to drive him out. The fire soon spread to the barracks and presidio church, greatly damaging both, while Pacheco escaped through a secret passage in his quarters. Ruiz then took charge of the presidio until he was arrested in 1765 for the crime of having set the presidio on fire. Melchor Afán de Rivera replaced him as commander.

In 1766, a hurricane severely damaged the presidio and completely destroyed the mission. The mission was rebuilt in the same location and the presidio was rebuilt 1 kilometer east, close to the mission. The following year, the Marqués de Rubí made a formal inspection of the presidio and concluded that it was of little strategic importance to Spain. The mission had also proved to be a disappointment, as only 30 Akokisa had been baptized. In 1769, Pacheco was cleared of any responsibility in the burning of the presidio and his position as commander was restored. His tenure was short lived, however, as El Orcoquisac was abandoned in 1771. During the next few years, the Akokisa used the buildings as a meeting place to trade with the Atakapa and Karankawa, before they too abandoned it.

Archeological Investigations

The second location of El Orcoquisac was discovered in 1966 by amateur historian John V. Clay with the aid of Spanish colonial documents and maps. Clay contacted Curtis Tunnell, State Archeologist, and J. Richard Ambler, Director of the Texas Archeological Salvage Project, who performed surface collections and shovel tests at the site and confirmed that it was the post-hurricane location of the presidio and mission.

Soon afterwards, Tunnel, Ambler, Clay, and William L. Fullen embarked on a project to identify other historical sites in the surrounding area. They performed surface collection and test excavation at a large Rangia shell midden reported by archeologist Harry J. Shafer in 1966, and recovered 161 bone fragments, 88 prehistoric ceramic sherds, 10 chert flakes, and 1 blue glass bead. Of the bone fragments that were identifiable, 1 belonged to white-tailed deer, 1 to turtle, and the rest to fish, namely alligator gar, other gar, catfish, and striped mullet. The ceramics were identified as grog-tempered and sandy paste untempered wares. Based on the ceramics and the glass bead, occupation of the site may have begun as early as A.D. 1000 and continued to the time of Spanish contact. Based on the location of the site, it may represent the Akokisa encampment used when the presidio and mission were in operation, though none of the artifacts recovered from the site can confirm this.

By studying Spanish colonial documents and surveying the surrounding area, Tunnel, Ambler, Clay, and Fullen were also able to find the first location of El Orcoquisac, believed to overlie Blancpain’s trading post. In 1970, Fullen directed a project of the Houston Archeological Society to evaluate the archeological potential of the site. Aerial color infrared photographs were taken and topographic mapping, metal locator survey, surface collection, soil coring, and test excavations were carried out.

The trading post, and subsequently the presidio and mission, were built on a prehistoric Rangia shell midden. The project recovered 371 bone fragments, 2 flakes, 78 unidentifiable prehistoric ceramic sherds, 2 sherds of blue-on-white majolica, 4 fragments of a green bottle, and part of a metal buckle. The faunal remains consist almost entirely of fish, namely alligator gar, other gar, sheepshead (a type of drum), and either black drum or spotted weakfish. The rest of the remains belonged to white-tailed deer, cow, and turtle. The prehistoric ceramics were identified as grog-tempered and sandy paste untempered wares.

In 1979, the Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Texas at San Antonio conducted further studies, as part of the larger Wallisville Lake project, that shed light on the role of El Orcoquisac during the Spanish Colonial period. The CAR archeologists led by Anne Fox, Lynn Highley, and William Day, delved deeper into the historical accounts and evidence from the Spanish Colonial sites. They concluded that both the mission and presidio failed for a combination of reasons: poor environmental conditions, poor planning and lack of volunteer settlers, poor leadership, and power struggles to control trading/smuggling operations on the frontier at that time. In the end, as they noted, neither the Indians nor the Spanish could sustain an uneconomical and degenerating settlement. The lack of converts made it impossible for the church to sustain a missionary operation.

The El Orcoquisac Archeological District is a significant cultural resource of the French/Spanish Colonial period in southeast Texas. In the future, area residents hope to create a historic park with interpretive displays focused on the short-lived French trading post and Spanish settlement.