History, Travel

Los Adaes, 6.2.18

Disclaimer: Any errors are completely unintentional, but I do not have time to edit blog posts. I’ll try to keep it tight.

Maybe if I have time in a gabillion years I’ll be able to keep up a travel blog, which was kind of what I wanted to do for this site, in addition to telling everyone about upcoming books. 

I just don’t have time, and I really don’t travel all that much.

Between trying to figure out aggregate book distributors, getting through edits, and picking out my cover… I’ve been a little busy. But I’d like to keep this going, and not let it go by the way of MySpace.

Ahem –

Los Adaes

If you are like me, you’re probably figuring out how to pronounce that, so let’s get that out of the way. Another quick disclaimer… I failed miserably in Spanish both in high school and in college. I’m not sure if I have actual hearing problems related to MRKH, or just memory retention, but I didn’t get much out of either of those classes. To be fair, it isn’t just Spanish. I can’t understand most accents, and that includes those of the English-speaking variety (and definitely includes some of the American-English accents…hello NOLA speakers?).

Please forgive any errors. I took notes on my phone throughout the tour, but I know I probably goofed something up.

It’s pronounced “A Die”.

Los Adaes was built in 1721 in response to France encroaching on New Spain’s previously claimed territory.

There was a Chicken War, which I missed the story of because a wasp was crawling on the tour guide’s back and I am terrified of them. I kept picturing him getting stung (he didn’t).

Prior to the fort, there was a Spanish mission on a hill overlooking the future site: Mission St. Michael of Cuellar of the Adaes, built in 1717.

In 1719 Lt. Phillipe Blondel, the French commander at Fort St. Jean Baptiste in Natchitoches led an invasion, taking 7 men to overrun the mission that had been built.

Blondel was injured (allegedly) when his horse reared, throwing him to the ground because he thought it would be a good idea to tie Spanish chickens to his pommel. Maybe he was going to get hungry later? Not really sure if that was intended as an insult, or if he was just a dorkfish. Probably the dorkfish.

The colonists fled for San Antonio, so Spain sent 500 soldiers to build the presidio at Los Adaes.

Other than that, there was no military action at Los Adaes.

It was a brutal life, made more so by Spain’s requirement that all goods had to be shipped to Vera Cruz, then transferred to Mexico and up the El Camino Real into Tejas. They would not permit them to manufacture their own goods, or trade with the French. Since they had nothing to offer the native tribes by way of trade, the Adai and Caddo were more loyal to the settlers at Natchitoches.

They could trade the basics, but certain things were prohibited like alcohol, horses, and guns. Of course they got around that by doing illegal trading, and there is even a suspected home site of an illegal French trader just outside the fort palisades. Suspected because of all the broken French wine bottles littering his house.

Ironically, Los Adaes had to rely on Natchitoches, their enemy, for all of their basic needs.

Interesting facts:

In 1740 a tornado wiped out the northern portion of the fort.

There were 6 cannons at Los Adaes, situated in the bastions. They did fire them occasionally, as cannon balls have been found in nearby fields.

They didn’t know how to store gunpowder, apparently. They kept it under a tarp in the middle of the fort. It rains in Louisiana. Like, a lot.

The wooden palisades were not well maintained. At one point during occupation of the garrison, they were bad enough that two mules could walk through abreast.

There were 7 wells inside the garrison, with more on the outside. Most of these collapsed or were filled in with trash.

They relied primarily on beef, because the red clay soil in the area was not suitable for most agriculture. They know this because of all the beef bones they have found.

The commander was lazy (I guess), and decided that he didn’t want to walk up the hill to the Mission, so he had a church built inside the garrison. The Mission site is still consecrated ground, so has never been excavated. I believe the tour guide said the priest was one miracle away from being considered for sainthood.

Archaeologists have not located a cemetery at this time.

In 1762, France ceded Louisiana West of the Mississippi River to Spain, who decided to abandon Los Adaes and move the capital of New Spain to San Antonio, which was made official in 1772. In 1773, the settlers of Los Adaes were given five days to pack up their things and were forced to move to San Antonio. It was a difficult journey, and many of the 700 forced to leave did not survive. They were not welcome when they arrived, either.

A year later they were allowed to leave San Antonio after petitioning the governor, and eventually resettled at Nacodoches.

Post New Spain:

There is not much known about the site, other than from archeological records. The people who lived there were poor. They didn’t know how to write, and if they did, they probably were not very good at it.

In the 1930s a worker’s party was building a road and found bits of pottery at the site. They built a road right through the middle of the fort, which was later abandoned. In the 1950s the parish bought the site.

Today it is a State Historic Site and National Historic Landmark. It is managed by the Cane River National Heritage Area.

 So there you have it. If you like history, you’d probably love a visit to Los Adaes State Historic Site. If you want to see actual buildings and artifacts… it may not be for you. I enjoyed it, but I’m weird.

For more info, you can visit the National Park Service website: