I am fascinated by the Spanish missions of the West. A ranger-led tour at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park added to my knowledge of the mission system. These four missions are only a couple miles apart; the Alamo is just slightly further away. This is in contrast to the missions in California which are a one-day walk apart. (See previous posts on Old Mission Santa Barbara and Carmel Mission.) There were two reasons for the closeness of these missions: 1. Defense. The Apache and Comanches raided the local tribes before the missions were built and after. 2. They shared a common ranch where thousand of cattle and sheep were pastured. Each week animals from the ranch were delivered to the missions.
The Spanish were there to make converts to Christianity. The local tribes accepted Christianity and gave up their hunter-gatherer lifestyle to become farmers, ranchers, and tradesmen in the safety of the mission complexes. All four missions remain active congregations with some congregants descendants of the original inhabitants.