A number of times throughout this adventure, we have indicated that history is important to us and we make a strong effort to visit as many historic sites as possible. During our earlier trip to the Alamo (officially known as Mission San Antonio de Valero), we learned that it was part of a Spanish colonial complex of five missions. These "waypoint missions" were designed to support those further out on the eastern Texas border that separated the Spanish colonies from those of the French in Louisiana. During the period of 1718 to 1731, with tensions growing between France and Spain over colonization of the whole area, the missions served as forts, as well as centers for spreading the Catholic faith. Just a few miles south of the Alamo ( a 15 minute bus ride on the #42) is Mission Concepcion. At 250 years of age, this is one of the country's oldest original stone churches.
Imagine the daily life of the Coahuiltecan native Americans. Every minute of every day, from sun-up to sun-down, was spent in search of food. Teaching them skills like agriculture, animal husbandry, masonry, carpentry, and black-smithing, the missions provided the natives an easier way of life. But it came at a cost - conversion to Catholicism and a loss of their native identity (e.g. their religion, language, culture - even the way they dressed was in question, etc.). Because many felt that this trade-off was too high, over time, as much as 70% of the population returned to their native ways.
Today, Mission San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo) is owned by the state of Texas, while Mission Concepcion and the other missions are under the auspices of the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park.