Los Adaes

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Los Adaes
Los Adaes flag.
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Location Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, USA
Nearest city Robeline, Louisiana
NRHP reference # 78001427  (original)
93001622  (increase)
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJune 7, 1978 [1]
Boundary increaseNovember 4, 1993
Designated NHLJune 23, 1986 [2]
The first map to depict an Adais (Adaie) settlement, shown to the west of a cluster of Natchitoches villages. Drawn in 1718 by Guillaume Delisle Adaie.jpg
The first map to depict an Adais (Adaie) settlement, shown to the west of a cluster of Natchitoches villages. Drawn in 1718 by Guillaume Delisle

Los Adaes was the capital of Tejas on the northeastern frontier of New Spain from 1729 to 1770. It included a mission, San Miguel de Cuellar de los Adaes [3] , and a presidio, Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Los Adaes (Our Lady of the Pillar of the Adaes). The name Adaes represents the indigenous Adai people, who were to be served by the mission.

Spanish Texas

Spanish Texas was one of the interior provinces of the Spanish colonial Viceroyalty of New Spain from 1690 until 1821.

New Spain kingdom of the Spanish Empire (1535-1821)

The Viceroyalty of New Spain was an integral territorial entity of the Spanish Empire, established by Habsburg Spain during the Spanish colonization of the Americas. It covered a huge area that included territories in North America, South America, Asia and Oceania. It originated in 1521 after the fall of Tenochtitlan, the main event of the Spanish conquest, which did not properly end until much later, as its territory continued to grow to the north. It was officially created on 8 March 1535 as a Kingdom, the first of four viceroyalties Spain created in the Americas. Its first viceroy was Antonio de Mendoza y Pacheco, and the capital of the kingdom was Mexico City, established on the ancient Tenochtitlan.

Mission (station) location for missionary work

A religious mission or mission station is a location for missionary work.


The site, now preserved in the state-run Los Adaes State Historic Site, is located on Louisiana Highway 485 in present-day Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana Parish in Louisiana

Natchitoches Parish is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. As of the 2010 census, the population was 39,566. The parish seat is Natchitoches. The parish was formed in 1805.

Louisiana U.S. state in the United States

Louisiana is a state in the Deep South region of the South Central United States. It is the 31st most extensive and the 25th most populous of the 50 United States. Louisiana is bordered by the state of Texas to the west, Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. A large part of its eastern boundary is demarcated by the Mississippi River. Louisiana is the only U.S. state with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are equivalent to counties. The state's capital is Baton Rouge, and its largest city is New Orleans.

National Historic Landmark formal designation assigned by the United States federal government to historic buildings and sites in the United States

A National Historic Landmark (NHL) is a building, district, object, site, or structure that is officially recognized by the United States government for its outstanding historical significance. Only some 2,500 (~3%) of over 90,000 places listed on the country's National Register of Historic Places are recognized as National Historic Landmarks.


Although Spain claimed much of the Gulf Coast of North America as part of its colonial territory, it largely ignored the region to the east of the Rio Grande throughout the 17th century. [4] In 1699, French forts were established at Biloxi Bay and on the Mississippi River, ending Spain's exclusive control of the Gulf Coast. [5] The Spanish recognized that French encroachment could threaten other Spanish areas, and they ordered the reoccupation of Texas as a buffer between New Spain and French settlements in Louisiana. [6]

Rio Grande River forming part of the US-Mexico border

The Rio Grande is one of the principal rivers in the southwest United States and northern Mexico. The Rio Grande begins in south-central Colorado in the United States and flows to the Gulf of Mexico. After passing through the length of New Mexico along the way, it forms part of the Mexico–United States border. According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, its total length was 1,896 miles (3,051 km) in the late 1980s, though course shifts occasionally result in length changes. Depending on how it is measured, the Rio Grande is either the fourth- or fifth-longest river system in North America.

New France Area colonized by France in North America

New France was the area colonized by France in North America during a period beginning with the exploration of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and ending with the cession of New France to Great Britain and Spain in 1763 under the Treaty of Paris (1763).

Mississippi River largest river system in North America

The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river of the second-largest drainage system on the North American continent, second only to the Hudson Bay drainage system. Its source is Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota and it flows generally south for 2,320 miles (3,730 km) to the Mississippi River Delta in the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains all or parts of 32 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces between the Rocky and Appalachian mountains. The main stem is entirely within the United States; the total drainage basin is 1,151,000 sq mi (2,980,000 km2), of which only about one percent is in Canada. The Mississippi ranks as the fourth-longest and fifteenth-largest river by discharge in the world. The river either borders or passes through the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

On April 12, 1716, an expedition led by Domingo Ramón left San Juan Bautista for Tejas, intending to establish four  missions and a presidio. [7] [8] At the same time, the French were building a fort in Natchitoches, having founded the town in 1714. The Spanish countered by founding two more missions just west of Natchitoches, including San Miguel de los Adaes (for a total of six missions in the region). [9] The latter two missions were located in a disputed area; France claimed the Sabine River to be the western boundary of colonial Louisiana, while Spain claimed the Red River was the eastern boundary of colonial Texas, leaving an overlap of 45 miles (72 km). [10]

Presidio Fort type

A presidio is a fortified base established by the Spanish in areas under their control or influence. The term is derived from the Latin word praesidium meaning protection or defense.

Natchitoches, Louisiana City in Louisiana, United States

Natchitoches is a small city and the parish seat of Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, United States. Established in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis as part of French Louisiana, the community was named after the indigenous Natchitoches people.

Sabine River (Texas–Louisiana) river in the United States of America

The Sabine River is a river, 510 miles (820 km) long, in the Southern U.S. states of Texas and Louisiana. In its lower course, it forms part of the boundary between the two states and empties into Sabine Lake, an estuary of the Gulf of Mexico. Over the first half of the 19th century, the river formed part of the Spanish–American, Mexican–American, and Texan–American international boundaries. The upper reaches of the river flow through the prairie country of northeast Texas. Along much of its lower reaches, it flows through the pine forests along the Texas–Louisiana border, and the bayou country near the Gulf Coast.

In 1719, European powers embarked on the War of the Quadruple Alliance. In June 1719, 7 Frenchmen from Natchitoches took control of the mission of San Miguel de los Adaes from its sole defender, who did not know that the nations were at war. The French soldiers explained that 100 additional soldiers were coming; the Spanish colonists, missionaries, and remaining soldiers abandoned the area and fled to San Antonio. [11]

War of the Quadruple Alliance war (1717–1720) between Spain and the Quadruple Alliance (Britain, France, Austria, the Dutch Republic), resulting in Quadruple Alliance victory and the Treaty of The Hague

The War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718-1720) was caused by Spanish attempts to recover territorial losses agreed by the 1713 Peace of Utrecht. Primarily conducted in Italy, it included minor engagements in the Americas and Northern Europe, as well as the Spanish-backed 1719 Jacobite Rising.

The Marquis de San Miguel de Aguayo volunteered to reconquer Spanish Texas and raised an army of 500 soldiers. [12] By July 1721 Aguayo reached the Neches River. His expedition encountered a French force en route to attack San Antonio de Bexar. The outnumbered Frenchmen agreed to retreat to Louisiana. Aguayo then ordered the building of a new presidio Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Los Adaes, located near present-day Robeline, Louisiana, only 12 miles (19 km) from Natchitoches. [13] The new fort became the first capital of Texas, and it was guarded by 6 cannon and a garrison of 100 soldiers. [12] All six of the eastern Tejas missions were reopened, under the protection of the new presidio. [14]

Neches River river in the United States of America

The Neches River begins in Van Zandt County west of Rhine Lake and flows for 416 miles (669 km) through east Texas to its mouth on Sabine Lake near the Rainbow Bridge. Two major reservoirs, Lake Palestine and B. A. Steinhagen Reservoir are located on the Neches. Several cities are located along the Neches River Basin, including Tyler, Lufkin, Silsbee, Evadale, Beaumont, Vidor, Port Neches, Nederland, Groves, and Port Arthur.

San Antonio City in Texas, United States

San Antonio, officially the City of San Antonio, is the seventh-most populous city in the United States, and the second-most populous city in both Texas and the Southern United States, with more than 1.5 million residents. Founded as a Spanish mission and colonial outpost in 1718, the city became the first chartered civil settlement in present-day Texas in 1731. The area was still part of the Spanish Empire, and later of the Mexican Republic. It is the state's oldest municipality, having celebrated its 300th anniversary on May 1, 2018.

Louisiana (New France) Administrative district of New France

Louisiana or French Louisiana was an administrative district of New France. Under French control 1682 to 1762 and 1801 (nominally) to 1803, the area was named in honor of King Louis XIV, by French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle. It originally covered an expansive territory that included most of the drainage basin of the Mississippi River and stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Rocky Mountains.

Spain discouraged manufacturing in its colonies and limited trade to Spanish goods handled by Spanish merchants and carried on Spanish vessels. Most of the ports, including all of those in Texas, were closed to commercial vessels in the hopes of dissuading smugglers. By law, all goods bound for Texas had to be shipped to Vera Cruz and then transported over the mountains to Mexico City before being sent to Texas. This caused the goods to be very expensive in the Texas settlements. [15] Because of the great distance between Los Adaes and the rest of the populated portions of Texas, the settlers in the area turned most often to the French colonists in neighboring Natchitoches, Louisiana, for trade. Without many goods to trade, however, the Spanish missionaries and colonists had little to offer the Indians, who remained loyal to the French traders. [16]

Although the Spanish settlers in the area did not encounter hostile Native Americans, since the local Caddoan-speaking peoples were friendly, the Franciscan missionaries were unsuccessful in converting the local people to Catholicism. After many years of frustration in this regard, in 1768 the College of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Zacatecas, which was the sponsor of the missionaries at Los Adaes, recalled their missionaries, and the mission was closed. [17]

On November 3, 1762, as part of the Treaty of Fontainebleau, France ceded the portion of Louisiana west of the Mississippi River to Spain. [18] With France no longer a threat to Spain's North American interests, the Spanish monarchy commissioned the Marquis de Rubi to inspect all of the presidios on the northern frontier of New Spain and make recommendations for the future. [19] Rubi recommended that eastern Texas be totally abandoned, with all the population moving to San Antonio. [20] With Louisiana in Spanish control, there was no need for Los Adaes to reside so closely to Natchitoches, especially after the missions had relocated to San Antonio. In August 1768, the acting governor, Juan María Vicencio, Baron de Ripperdá, moved his headquarters and the garrison to San Antonio, and in 1772 San Antonio became the new capital of Tejas. [21]

The settlers who had lived near Los Adaes were forced to resettle in San Antonio, in 1773. [22] In the six years between the inspection and the removal of the settlers, the population of eastern Tejas had increased from 200 settlers of European descent to 500 people, a mixture of Spanish, French, Indians, and a few blacks. The settlers were given only five days to prepare for the move to San Antonio. Many of them perished during the three-month trek and others died soon after arriving. [23]

After vociferously protesting, the former residents of eastern Tejas were allowed to leave San Antonio the following year (1774); but they were not allowed to locate beyond the Trinity River, 175 miles (282 km) from Natchitoches. [22] In 1779, the Comanches began raiding the new settlement. The former Los Adaes settlers chose to move farther east to the old mission of Nacogdoches, where they founded the town of the same name. The new town quickly became a waystation for contraband. [22]

The site of Los Adaes was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986. [2] [24]

Present day

Reenactors performing a gun salute at the present day historic site Gun Salute at Los Adaes State Historic Site.jpg
Reenactors performing a gun salute at the present day historic site

Today the site of Los Adaes is the Los Adaes State Historic Site near the town of Robeline, Louisiana. The Los Adaes site has proven to be one of the most important archaeological sites in the US for the study of colonial Spanish culture.

Dr. Hiram F. "Pete" Gregory Jr., an archaeologist at nearby Northwestern State University, conducted landmark excavations at the historic presidio from the 1960s through the 1980s. In the 1990s, the state appointed Dr. George Avery to the newly created position of station archaeologist of the Los Adaes State Commemorative Area (as it was called at the time). In this capacity, Avery contributed a great deal in his own right. Los Adaes has since lost its station archaeologist position. However, Avery, Gregory, and other archaeologists specializing in the Spanish colonial borderlands continue to advance the knowledge of this frontier outpost. Gregory, in particular, has championed the need for more academic interest in Los Adaes and the colonial history of northern and central Louisiana in general.[ citation needed ]

See also


  1. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  2. 1 2 "Los Adaes". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2008-02-01.
  3. "Los Adaes". Texas Beyond History.
  4. Chipman (1992), p. 26.
  5. Weber (1992), p. 158.
  6. Weber (1992), p. 60.
  7. Chipman (1992), p. 111.
  8. Chipman (1992), p. 112.
  9. Weber (1992), p. 162.
  10. Edmondson (2000), p. 10.
  11. Weber (1992), p. 1667.
  12. 1 2 Weber (1992), p. 167.
  13. Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. "Los Adeas Historical Marker".
  14. Chipman (1992), p. 123.
  15. Weber (1992), p. 175.
  16. Weber (1992), p. 173.
  17. "Los Adaes". The Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association. 2008-01-18. Retrieved 2008-04-14.
  18. Weber (1992), p. 198.
  19. Chipman (1992), p. 173.
  20. Chipman (1992), p. 181.
  21. Weber (1992), p. 211.
  22. 1 2 3 Weber (1992), p. 222.
  23. Chipman (1992), p. 186.
  24. Mark R. Barnes (September 24, 1992). "National Historic Landmark Nomination: LOS ADAES / Nuestra Senora del Pilar Presidio (16NA8); San Miguel de Los Adaes Mission (16NA16)". National Park Service.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

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Coordinates: 31°42′31″N93°17′36″W / 31.70861°N 93.29333°W / 31.70861; -93.29333