The city's site had been visited by the Spanish long before the expedition under Martín de Alarcón founded a mission (San Antonio de Valero) and a presidio (San Antonio de Béjar or Béxar) there in 1718. Other missions were opened along the river—San José (1719), Concepción (1731), San Francisco de la Espada (1731), and San Juan Capistrano (1731)—and the neighboring town of San Fernando (now the heart of San Antonio) was founded in 1731. San Antonio was the most important Texas settlement in Spanish and Mexican days. During the Texas Revolution it was captured by the Texans (Dec., 1835) and was the scene of the Mexican attack on the Alamo in Mar., 1836. Later a group of Comanche were killed (1840) in the "council house fight," and in 1842, San Antonio was taken and held briefly by Mexicans. After the Civil War and especially after the coming of the first railroad in 1877, San Antonio prospered as a roaring cow town with a Spanish flavor, which it still retains.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.