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This was the first of the five San Antonio missions that we visited. You can easily visit all 5 during one day, however a car is necessary. The missions are only a couple of miles apart. The mission trail going from Espada to the Alamo, including all 5 missions is 11 miles.
Founded in 1690 as San Francisco de los Tejas near present-day Weches, Texas, this was the first mission in Texas. In 1731, the mission transferred to the San Antonio River area and renamed Mission San Francisco de la Espada. A friary was built in 1745, and the church was completed in 1756.
Following government policy, Franciscan missionaries sought to make life within mission communities closely resemble that of Spanish villages and Spanish culture. In order to become Spanish citizens and productive inhabitants, Native Americans learned vocational skills. As plows, farm implements, and gear for horses, oxen, and mules fell into disrepair, blacksmithing skills soon became indispensable. Weaving skills were needed to help clothe the inhabitants. As buildings became more elaborate, mission occupants learned masonry and carpentry skills under the direction of craftsmen contracted by the missionaries.
After secularization, these vocational skills proved beneficial to post-colonial growth of San Antonio. The legacy of these Native American artisans is still evident throughout the city of San Antonio today.

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Additional Photos by Asa Jernigan (asajernigan) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3592 W: 88 N: 5553] (21427)
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