Pueblo de Valero

In 1793, the Spanish Crown issued an order for the missions in Texas to be secularized. The missions were to distribute their lands and assets to the remaining mission residents. Soon after receiving the orders, Mission Valero divided its property among the families and individuals that had inhabited the mission and closed instruction of the Catholic faith at this location. The inhabitants were to attend services at San Fernando, the closest parish to Valero. These men and women continued to farm the fields and build up the growing community of San Antonio. These residents were witness to the coming years of unrest.

Tensions Rise on the Spanish Border

Painting depicting negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
Credit: U.S. Capitol
Fresco by Constantino Brumidi (1875) depicting the Marquis Barbé-Marbois, the representative of the French government, showing a map to Robert Livingston, who coordinated negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and James Monroe, the minister to France.

Increasing threats from French and American explorers and colonists from nearby Louisiana caused Spain to send its soldiers into the region to guard and defend the Viceroyalty’s territorial claims. Spain worried that the encroaching influences could loosen their hold in Texas. Since the old mission of San Antonio de Valero was secularized, the Spanish military occupied the site and converted it into a frontier outpost and military garrison.

Fortress Alamo

Plan for the military barracks of San Antonio de Bexar, 1805.
Credit: Phil Collins Texana Collection
This manuscript copy of an 1805 plat, shows how the Spanish planned to convert the old mission convent into a military barracks.

In 1803, the first soldiers to arrive at the old mission were a Spanish cavalry unit called La Segunda Compañía Volante de San Carlos de Parras or the Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras. They were also known as the Alamo Company because of their hometown of Alamo de Parras. They converted the mission’s old convento into barracks and established the first hospital in Texas on the second floor of the building. The Alamo Company continued to occupy the site, even through the long fight for Mexico’s independence from Spain.

Texas Becomes a Mexican State

Photograph of the original 1821 Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire, the founding document of the Mexican nation.
Credit: Archivo Gen de la Nación, Mexico
Mexico declared independence from Spain in 1821. This is a photograph of the original 1821 Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire, the founding document of the Mexican nation.

The Alamo Company remained at the site for 32 years (1803-1835) in which time Mexico won it’s independence in 1821. Tejas (Texas) would soon begin its fight for its own independence. During the drive for Mexico’s independence, a young officer named Antonio López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón, later know by the Texans as Santa Anna, distinguished himself as a brave soldier. The residents of San Antonio were acutely aware of the unrest that brewed, with accounts of the Casas Revolt and the Battle of Medina making their way to the town. San Antonio de Bexár, and the Alamo, was on the cusp of the culmination of tensions between the residents of Tejas and Mexico.