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Treviño, Antonio Diego (1731–1779)

Tim Seiter Biography Entry

Antonio Treviño is best-known for being abducted and adopted by Taovaya Indians and thereafter becoming an invaluable diplomat between the Spaniards and Wichitas. Treviño was born sometime in 1731 at Valle del Carrizal, Nuevo León, a small villa fifteen miles north of Monterrey. Both of his parents passed away from unknown causes and left him and his two brothers, Gaspar and Joseph Miguel, as orphans. Their uncle, Matias Treviño, took the trio in and raised them in San Antonio.

At thirteen, Antonio Treviño and his older brothers signed away their father’s land holdings to their uncle as payment for treating them well. In 1749, at eighteen, Treviño enlisted as a private at La Bahía just as the fort was relocated to its final location on the San Antonio River near present-day Goliad. Ten years later, Governor Ángel de Martos y Navarrete transferred Antonio Treviño to Los Adaes.

In 1765 Lt. Pedro de Sierra tasked Treviño and another soldier with escorting Santiago Garcia, a prisoner, to the nearby San Sabá fort. Garcias’s wife and an unnamed Texas citizen accompanied them on this trip. During the assignment, forty-seven Taovayas attacked the party. The Indians seem to have first shot Garcia’s wife, and one of the party members killed her with his musket to stave off her kidnapping. The Taovayas then killed Garcia and the unnamed citizen. With four bullet wounds and two lance wounds, Treviño was gravely wounded amid the attack. His presidial companion fled and reported that everyone had died in the attack.

Impressed with Treviño’s bravery, Indian leader Eyasiquiche spared the Spaniard’s life. The chief intended to use Treviño as a warrior in an upcoming campaign against the Guasas (Osages). When Treviño recovered from his wounds, Eyasiquiche learned that he belonged to Los Adaes, and his plans for Treviño changed. Native Peoples regularly identified different Spanish outposts as partially unique entities. Eyasiquiche had good relations with the Spaniards at Los Adaes—but attacked those he encountered in the San Sabá area because of their affiliation with the Lipan Apaches. Eyasiquiche decided to return Treviño to the Spaniards near Los Adaes to secure a stronger relationship and likely to acquire additional arms and goods for the attack on the Guasas.

Before being taken to the Los Adaes area, Antonio Treviño recovered and lived among the Taovayas for roughly six months. He saw and described the large fort the Taovayas built to ward off Diego Ortiz Parilla’s expedition which sought retribution for the destruction of Mission San Sabá. He related that the Norteño Indians had access to numerous trade goods from French traders. And Treviño described that the Osages had forced the Taovayas south to settle on the Red River.

When Eyasiquiche and Treviño arrived at Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de los Nacogdoches Mission in July 1765, they met with Padre José Francisco Calahorra y Saenz who wrote a letter to Governor Navarrete detailing Treviño’s feats. Navarrete, who wished to strengthen his ties to the powerful Taovayas, responded to this news by providing Eyasiquiche with an array of gifts ranging from canes and coats to mirrors and muskets. Eyasiquiche then offered to bring the Spaniards five of their enslaved women and the two cannons that Parilla had abandoned during his previous campaign.

Due to Treviño’s ties to the Taovayas’ community, he thereafter became a diplomat for the various Wichita groups in the region. During Marqués de Rubí’s tour of Texas in 1767, Treviño acted as a valuable informant on the Norteños and helped convince Rubí that the Spanish should ally with the Wichitas and the Comanches, and that they jointly wage war against the Apaches.

In January 1778 the new commandant-general, Teodoro de Croix, read of Treviño’s exploits and promoted him to lieutenant. In that same year, Treviño accompanied the French merchant turned Spanish bureaucrat, Athanase de Mézières, on his tour through North and East Texas. De Mézières repeatedly commended Treviño to Croix as being “a person accomplished, prudent, and capable who may be trusted with more important charges.” The new governor of Texas, Domingo Cabello, followed suit and complimented Treviño as a soldier, especially after he ransomed a young child named Diego Antonio de Jesus Bustos from the Taovayas. Croix, then, on September 16, 1779, asked if Cabello would feel comfortable promoting Treviño to the position of first alférez. Croix additionally offered to pay Treviño for his time living among the Taovayas in an effort to retain his services as an Indian intermediary. This generous offer, while undoubtedly spurred by repeated commendation, also shows how direly Spanish Texas required diplomats for Native nations—especially the Norteños. Unfortunately for all parties involved, Treviño died from unknown causes a month later on September 24, 1779, in San Antonio.

Béxar Archives, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. 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). Robert Weddle, After the Massacre: The Violent Legacy of the San Sabá Mission, translated by Carol Lipscomb (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2007).

Categories:

  • Exploration
  • Guides, Scouts, and Interpreters
  • Military

Time Periods:

  • Spanish Texas

Places:

  • Central Texas
  • San Antonio
  • Southeast Texas

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

Tim Seiter, “Treviño, Antonio Diego,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed March 06, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/trevino-antonio-diego.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects:

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