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RAMIREZ DE ARELLANO, PEDRO DE

RAMÍREZ DE ARELLANO, PEDRO DE (?–1781). Fray Pedro Ramírez de Arellano, a vital influence in Spanish Texas for thirty years, began his service at San Miguel de los Adaes Mission in 1751. Shortly after his arrival there, a Caddoan chief, Sánchez Teja, threatened to kill him. The caveat was delivered under influence of the French at Natchitoches, who resented the Spanish embargo on their traffic in firearms among the natives. Padre Ramírez, nevertheless, remained at San Miguel until 1758, when he was summoned to San José y San Miguel de Aguayo Mission at San Antonio. Presumably at that time, he was made president of the Zacatecan missionaries in Texas, a position he held until his death twenty-three years later. He remained at San José except from 1762 to 1764, when he resided at Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga Mission, and 1770–71, when he made trips to Mexico and eastern Texas. In 1759 he supplied ten Indian soldiers from Mission San José for the Ortiz Parrilla Red River campaign against the northern tribes responsible for the destruction of Santa Cruz de San Sabá Mission. In 1763, when at Espíritu Santo, he reported trouble with Apaches who entered the mission unbidden, flouted the friars' authority, and stole from the neophytes. At San José, he added, Apache thievery had reduced the mission livestock herds from 4,000 to 1,500. Having returned to San José in 1764, Ramírez was there when Fray Gaspar José de Solís visited on his tour of Texas missions. That same year Ramírez began the building of San José's stone church, which was restored in the 1930s and stands today in San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.

Returning from Mexico in 1771, Ramírez carried a special commission from the viceroy to seek a solution to problems confronting the East Texas missions. Accompanied by a lay brother, Francisco Zedano, he reached Los Adaes in July 1771 carrying a letter from the Texas governor, Juan María Vicencio de Ripperdáqv to Athanase de Mézières. At this time the Spanish settlements in eastern Texas were on the verge of being abandoned as the result of recommendations by the Marqués de Rubí. The Tejas missions were failing, and the northern tribes-despite their involvement in destruction of San Sabá Mission-were more inclined toward friendship. Ramírez and Zedano, working with Mézières, were instrumental in bringing the northern tribes to the peace table. When they returned to San Antonio, they were accompanied by forty Indians led by Chief Sauto, or Bigotes, of the Hasinais, who held sway over various Caddoan and Wichitan tribes. At San Antonio, the treaty was to be ratified by Governor Ripperdá. Having mediated the treaty, Ramírez supported Mézières's proposal to remove the missions of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de los Nacogdoches and Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de los Ais and their missionaries to the Brazos River to work among the Wichita tribes. He also supported a plan to establish a presidio near the new mission, with Luis de St. Denis-son of the vaunted French soldier, entrepreneur, and diplomat Louis Juchereau de St. Denisqv-to command it. Governor Ripperdá urged the plan to Viceroy Antonio María Bucareli y Ursúaqv in a letter dated July 5, 1772, but it was never carried out.

The following year, all the East Texas missions were suppressed. Upon withdrawal of the missionaries of the College of Santa Cruz de Querétaro, Ramírez became president of all the missions of Texas. In 1777 the veteran missionary sought permission to retire to Zacatecas but was requested to stay in Texas a while longer. When the new commandant general of Provincias Internas, Teodoro de Croix, arrived at San José on January 1, 1778, Ramírez accorded him a grand reception. The Indian militia of thirty men armed with guns and bows formed an honor guard, the mission Indians performed a dance, and the commandant general was taken inside the church to hear the native choir sing Te Deum Laudamus. Even with the church unfinished, the expedition chaplain (Fray Juan Agustín Morfiqv) was so moved that he proclaimed Ramírez's San José "the first mission in America...in point of beauty, plan, and strength." Ramírez died at Mission San José on September 30, 1781. With the new mission church still not quite complete, he was buried in the sacristy. In January 1784 his remains were transferred to Zacatecas for reinterment in the cemetery of the college.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Herbert Eugene Bolton, ed. and trans., Athanase de Mézières and the Louisiana-Texas Frontier, 1768–1780 (2 vols., Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark, 1914). Elizabeth A. H. John, Storms Brewed in Other Men's Worlds: The Confrontation of Indians, Spanish, and French in the Southwest, 1540–1795 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1975). Benedict Leutenegger and Marion A. Habig, The Zacatecan Missionaries in Texas, 1716–1834 (Austin: Texas Historical Survey Committee, 1973).

Robert S. Weddle

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Robert S. Weddle, "RAMIREZ DE ARELLANO, PEDRO DE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fra82), accessed July 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.