Historical Markers
in Runnels County, Texas
San Clemente Mission
Ballinger - US 83, about 6.5 mi. S of Ballinger
The first mission known to have been established in Texas east of the Pecos River, San Clemente was a hastily built, two-room structure located on a hill about 17 miles south of present Ballinger. (Some historians place the site farther south, near Junction.) Although earlier than the great Spanish mission movement, this was one of the first (1684) in Texas and was founded by Juan Dominguez de Mendoza and Fray Nicolas Lopez. Named for the San Clemente River (actually the Colorado), the mission was founded at the request of the Jumano Indians, who desired Christianity and the friendship of the Spanish. The buildings was probably constructed of logs, its lower story serving as a chapel and its upper story as a lookout post. Though they stayed only from March 15 to May 1, awaiting envoys from 48 tribes (bands), the Spaniards baptized many of their several thousand Indian allies. Finally, being attacked by hostile Apaches, Mendoza returned with his men to El Paso six months after he had left. Although Mendoza did not know it, French explorer La Salle had landed on the Gulf Coast, 1684. This fact, plus Mendoza's report of seeing a French flag among the Indians quickly led to other Spanish expeditions being sent to chart the Texas wilderness.
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