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Ill-fated Spanish mission established


On this day in 1762, the mission of San Lorenzo de la Santa Cruz was established at El Cañón, about halfway between San Sabá and San Juan Bautista. After the destruction of Santa Cruz de San Sabá in 1758, the only Spanish settlement in the area was the military outpost of San Luis de las Amarillas. In 1760, Felipe de Rábago y Terán took over as commander there with instructions from Viceroy Marqués de Cruillas to explore lands between the San Saba River and New Mexico with the objective of establishing Spanish presence in a region that was threatened by the French. Rábago elected instead to found a settlement on the upper Nueces River at El Cañón, but the viceroy withheld financial support. Although the mission attracted 400 Indians within a week, the priests, including Diego Jiménez, soon realized that the Apaches had no real interest in conversion, but viewed the site as a haven from their enemies. In 1767, the Marqués de Rubí recommended that San Lorenzo de la Santa Cruz and the nearby mission Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria del Cañón be abandoned. Jacobo de Ugarte y Loyola, governor of Coahuila, concurred, and the El Cañón missions officially closed in 1771.

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