Rancheria Grande

By: Robert S. Weddle

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: April 30, 2019

The name Ranchería Grande was used by several Spanish expeditions to designate any unusually large temporary settlement or encampment of Indians. The Ranchería Grande of the middle Brazos River in the vicinity of what is now Milam County, for example, is not to be confused with the Ranchería Grande on the Nueces River, probably at a site now in Webb County, which was sought by Capt. Diego Ramón on his 1707 campaign from San Juan Bautista. The name Ranchería Grande evidently was used to designate the band of Indians encountered on a Brazos River tributary by Domingo Ramón's mission-founding expedition in 1716. The Spanish caravan camped near the village, which may have had some Tonkawas but also included an Ervipiame chieftain and his following. As the visitors bartered for deer and buffalo hides, men, women, and children appeared in large numbers to take part in the exchange. Ramón placed the number at 2,000; Father Isidro Félix de Espinosa estimated 500 and identified them as Pamayes, Payayes, Cantonas, Mescales, Jarames, and Sijames.

While Governor Martín de Alarcón was at San Antonio in January 1719, fear of French activity among the Indians caused him to send "a person of his confidence" to ascertain the state of affairs among the "twenty-three nations of the Rancheria Grande." The Marqués de Aguayo failed to find the Ranchería Grande in 1721, even though he was traveling with one of its chiefs, Juan Rodríguez, who had come to San Antonio to solicit missions for his people. It was said that all the Indians had gone to council with the French. The next year Aguayo established San Francisco Xavier de Nájera Mission at San Antonio for Juan Rodríguez's followers. The mission soon languished, without permanent buildings ever having been erected. Pressure from the Apaches caused the Indians of Ranchería Grande to move east and perhaps to scatter. Juan Antonio Bustillo y Cevallos, Texas governor from 1732 to 1734, wrote in 1746 that only the name of Ranchería Grande survived in his time. Father Juan Agustín Morfi, nevertheless, relates that the San Xavier missions, begun in 1747, were for the people of Ranchería Grande, as well as the Deados, Mayeyes, Yojuanes, Cocos, and others.

Thomas N. Campbell, The Indians of Southern Texas and Northeastern Mexico: Selected Writings of Thomas Nolan Campbell (Austin: Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, 1988). 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). Juan Agustín Morfi, History of Texas, 1673–1779 (2 vols., Albuquerque: Quivira Society, 1935; rpt., New York: Arno Press, 1967). Domingo Ramón, Captain Don Domingo Ramón's Diary of His Expedition into Texas in 1716, trans. Paul J. Foik (Preliminary Studies of the Texas Catholic Historical Society 2.5 [April 1933]). Robert S. Weddle, San Juan Bautista: Gateway to Spanish Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1968).


  • Peoples
  • Native American

Time Periods:

  • Spanish Texas

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

Robert S. Weddle, “Rancheria Grande,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 19, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/rancheria-grande.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 30, 2019

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