Last Franciscan in early Texas relinquishes missions

February 8th, 1830

On this day in 1830, José Antonio Díaz de León, the last Franciscan missionary in prerepublic Texas, reluctantly complied with the Mexican state government decree that missions be secularized--that is, turned over to diocesan authorities. Díaz de León had been appointed ad interim president of all the Texas missions in 1820, three years before the Mexican government ordered their final secularization. Díaz de León declined to comply without instructions from his superiors in Zacatecas, the first in a series of delays that lasted seven years. Díaz de León surrendered the San Antonio missions to the Diocese of Monterrey in 1824. In 1826 he was officially named president of the Texas missions. But Anglo settlers wanted the mission properties, and in 1829 the town of Goliad (formerly La Bahía) obtained a new decree to enforce secularization. Díaz de León continued to resist, but on February 8, 1830, he finally surrendered the last remaining missions. The mission lands, as he had expected, were soon made available to colonists. The bishop of Monterrey assigned him a parish post in Nacogdoches. Díaz de León was murdered on November 4, 1834. He was the thirty-first, and last, Zacatecan missionary to die in Texas. In 1926 the German author Robert Streit published a historical novel about Díaz de León; the work remains untranslated.

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Last Franciscan in early Texas relinquishes missions

February 8th, 1830

On this day in 1830, José Antonio Díaz de León, the last Franciscan missionary in prerepublic Texas, reluctantly complied with the Mexican state government decree that missions be secularized--that is, turned over to diocesan authorities. Díaz de León had been appointed ad interim president of all the Texas missions in 1820, three years before the Mexican government ordered their final secularization. Díaz de León declined to comply without instructions from his superiors in Zacatecas, the first in a series of delays that lasted seven years. Díaz de León surrendered the San Antonio missions to the Diocese of Monterrey in 1824. In 1826 he was officially named president of the Texas missions. But Anglo settlers wanted the mission properties, and in 1829 the town of Goliad (formerly La Bahía) obtained a new decree to enforce secularization. Díaz de León continued to resist, but on February 8, 1830, he finally surrendered the last remaining missions. The mission lands, as he had expected, were soon made available to colonists. The bishop of Monterrey assigned him a parish post in Nacogdoches. Díaz de León was murdered on November 4, 1834. He was the thirty-first, and last, Zacatecan missionary to die in Texas. In 1926 the German author Robert Streit published a historical novel about Díaz de León; the work remains untranslated.

«   Previous Next   »

Related Handbook of Texas Articles

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With more than 27,000 articles about Texas history, the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas is the largest online encyclopedia about all things Texas. Now you can celebrate the history of Texas every day by activating your free subscription to Texas Day by Day. Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles. It's one of the best ways to learn more about Texas history — in only 15 minutes a day!

Activate your free subscription to Texas Day by Day and you can:

  • Explore Texas history each day in bite-sized pieces conveniently delivered to your inbox each morning
  • Astound your friends with your Texas history prowess
  • Get in-depth looks at some of the overlooked events and landmarks in Texas history
  • Discover new places to explore in the Lone Star State
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