Angelina (unknown–unknown)

By: Lu Diane Hughes

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: March 16, 2021

Angelina is a name supposedly given by Spanish founders of missions in eastern Texas in 1690 to an American Indian woman who served as guide and interpreter. In 1712 André Pénicaut, who was accompanying Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, mentioned a "woman named Angélique, who has been baptized by Spanish priests . . . . She spoke Spanish, and as M. de St. Denis too spoke that language fairly well, he made use of her to tell the Assinais chiefs to let us have some guides for hire." Angelina is believed to be the same woman who rescued French officer François Simars de Bellisle from the Hasinais and sent him back to the French. She is mentioned by Father Isidro Félix de Espinosa as interpreter for the Domingo Ramón expedition of 1716, by Francisco de Céliz during the Martín de Alarcón expedition of 1718–19, and by Juan Antonio de la Peña during the Aguayo expedition of 1721, being described variously as "learned" and "sagacious." Her name was given to the Angelina River as early as 1768, in Gaspar José de Solís's diary. Espinosa, Peña, and, much later, Juan Agustín Morfi (1774–75) state that she had learned Spanish in the missions along the Rio Grande, perhaps at San Juan Bautista.

Ethnographers indicate a high degree of mobility among Indians generally in Texas. Angelina might have accompanied her family to Coahuila, been traded from the area as a slave, and returned; or she may come from elsewhere, and her appearance in East Texas might be due to chance. Espinosa says of her that "she had been reared in Coahuila, since her parents had been there a long time when the Spaniards left Texas in 1693." She has been the object of much romanticizing, including a painting by Texas artist Ancel Nunn.

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Eleanor Claire Buckley, "The Aguayo Expedition in Texas and Louisiana, 1719–1722," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 15 (July 1911). Fray Francisco Céliz, Diary of the Alarcón Expedition into Texas, 1718–1719, trans. F. L. Hoffman (Los Angeles: Quivira Society, 1935; rpt., New York: Arno Press, 1967). Henri Folmer, "De Bellisle on the Texas Coast," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 44 (October 1940). Juan Agustín Morfi, History of Texas, 1673–1779 (2 vols., Albuquerque: Quivira Society, 1935; rpt., New York: Arno, 1967). Gabriel Tous, trans., Ramón Expedition: Espinosa's Diary of 1716, Preliminary Studies of the Texas Catholic Historical Society 1.4 (April 1930).

  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Exploration
  • Guides, Scouts, and Interpreters
  • Women
Time Periods:
  • Spanish Texas

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

Lu Diane Hughes, “Angelina,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022,

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March 16, 2021

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