Mission San José was established in 1720. Its full name is Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo. It was founded by friar Antonio de Jesús, and under his leadership, the mission, famed for its beauty, became a major social center for the religious order. The mission was built with a specific purpose: many of the missions in East Texas had closed, and the Coahuiltecan Indians who lived in them fled to Mission San Antonio de Valero, which could not hold the number of refugees who knocked on their doors.
Mission San Juan
Mission San Juan, which dates to 1731, was the center for the agricultural work of the missions. Its rich earth, large orchards, and vast pastures provided the San Antonio missions with produce and animal products. Peaches, peppers, corn, grapes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, beans, and squash were all grown at the mission. A count made of livestock in 1762 enumerated the mission’s herds at 3,500 sheep and 3,000 cows. Franciscan Fathers and the soldiers who guarded the mission lived in the stone mission buildings, while the two hundred resident Native peoples lived in adobe structures along the mission’s walls. Despite the presence of soldiers, Mission San Juan frequently fell victim to raids by the Apache.
Mission Concepción’s full name is Mission of Nuestra Señora de la Purisma Concepción. It was the center of religious activity of the San Antonio missions and was founded in 1716. The current church building was completed in 1755. The church is the oldest unrestored stone church in the United States, and is built in the shape of a cross with walls 45 inches thick. Abandoned in 1794, the church was used as a cattle barn until 1855, when it was given to the Brothers of Mary, who cleaned it up and began church services there once again. Photo: kbose/Fotolia
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