What most people don’t realize about Texas is that its first European contact was—you guessed it—the Spanish. Spanish conquistadors arrived to North America in what is now Texas in 1519. What people also don’t realize about Texas is that at one point or another in its history, it was occupied by France, Spain, and Mexico; as well as the USA and the confederacy during the US civil war; and of course the original occupation of the various indigenous tribes of North American natives.
Texas is known as the Lone Star State. It gets its name because for ten years after independence from Mexico, it was an independent republic before accepting annexation to the United States (unlike any other US state). Even for years before that, Texas governed itself, though that governance was not recognized by Mexico. (The “six flags over Texas” are France, Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States, and the Confederacy.)
Here is the short outline of Texas history post European contact—
- 1519: Early Spanish explorations
- 1684-1689: French Texas
- 1690-1821: Spanish Texas
- 1821-1836: Mexican Texas
- 1836-1845: Republic of Texas (as the “lone star”)
- 1845-1860: Statehood
- 1861-1865: civil war era
- 1865+: “the rest is history”
Texas is where I grew up, from ages 5 to 15, in Dallas. I recall taking Texas History in school in the 7th grade before taking US History in the 8th grade. I wondered why I’d spend a year looking at the history of just Texas? But now, looking back, there was a lot going on in Texas. Its history as a US state, in my opinion, is one of the richest. (Hopefully not to say one of the bloodiest!)
On my road trip through Texas last week, I made it a mission to see an old Spanish mission. This El Paso landmark was originally established in 1691 as Nuestra Señora de la Limpia Concepción de Los Piros del Socorro. The current structure, operating today as the parish Socorro Mission La Purísima, was renovated following a flood in 1829. “It remains one of the oldest continuously occupied settlements of the Southwest,” reads the monument.