Antonio de San Buenaventura y Olivares or simply Fray Antonio de Olivares (1630 - 1722) was a Spanish Franciscan who officiated at the first Catholic mass celebrated in Texas, and he was known for contributing to the founding of San Antonio and to the prior exploration of the area.
He founded, among other missions, the famous Alamo Mission in San Antonio, the Presidio San Antonio de Bexar, and the Acequia Madre de Valero.
Antonio de San Buenaventura y Olivares was born in Moguer, Andalusia, Spain in 1630 and studied at the Franciscan convent of San Francisco de Moguer.
In 1665, at the age of thirty-five years old, involved a passenger on a religious expedition to the Americas, along with 19 other religious. Once in Americas, in the Convent of Querétaro, he received the training he needed to engage with the natives, in their work of evangelization. It was from this monastery from which they departed the various expeditions that take place in Texas, since this was a strategically important place for the crown. With that goal in 1675, an expedition made by Fray Antonio de Olivares, Fray Francisco Hidalgo, Fray Juan Larios and Fernando del Bosque, were sent to explore and recognize the country beyond the borders of Rio Grande, to test the possibilities of new settlements in the area.
On the 1st of January, 1699, Olivares was chosen to go along with Marcos de Guereña at the College of Santa Cruz de Querétaro to work in northern Coahuila, in present Mexico. There, in San Juan Bautista, located in those times on the Río de Sabinas, the priests joined Father Francisco Hidalgo and since on January 1, 1700 Olivares participated at the founding of the second Mission San Juan Bautista, located in the present Guerrero, Coahuila.
On March 1, 1700 Fray Antonio de Olivares founded in the valley of the Circumcision the missions of San Bernardo and Mission San Francisco Solano to 5 miles (8.0 km) from the Rio Grande in Coahuila, Mexico. Today's municipality of Guerrero is the approximate location of the mission. In 1706 he was appointed guardian of the College of Santa Cruz de Querétaro, where he remained three years.
In 1709, he participated in the expedition headed by Pedro de Aguirre. Together, with Fray Isidro de Espinosa, they explored the territory from the modern-day city of San Antonio to the Colorado River. The same year he traveled to Spain to convince the authorities of the importance of maintaining and establishing new missions to the bank of the San Antonio River in the present San Antonio. In remained in Spain six years.
In 1716, Fray Antonio de Olivares wrote to the Viceroy of New Spain, Baltasar de Zúñiga y Guzmán, telling him their hopes and plans for the future mission, and urged him to send families of settlers to found a town. In the same letter he stressed that it was necessary for some of these families were skilled in the useful arts and industries, "to teach the Indians all that should be required to be useful and capable citizens" .
Finally, the perseverance of Fray Antonio was answered, and the Viceroyalty gave formal approval for the mission in late 1716. He also assigned responsibility for their establishment to Martín de Alarcón, the governor of Coahuila y Tejas. In this same letter, he stressed that it was necessary for some of these families were skilled in the useful arts and industries, "to teach the Indians all that should be required to be useful and capable citizens."
Fray Antonio de Olivares was organizing the founding of the new mission, from the next Mission San Francisco Solano, turning often met with the Indians of the area (Payaya Indians), gradually earning their love and respect. It remained only at the site of the mission for some time organizing everything with the Indians, the group finally stood straw structure, branches and mud near the head of San Antonio River. This mission was called San Antonio de Valero, a name derived from "San Antonio de Padua" and Viceroy New Spain, Marquess of Valero. The mission was located near a community of Coahuiltecan and was originally inhabited by indigenous three to five converted from Mission San Francisco Solano.
Unfortunately, his work was suspended for some time after suffering an accident while crossing a bridge. In which, the foot of the animal he was riding slipped into a hole, causing him to fall violently to the ground and break his leg. When he could walk again, mission had changed its location to the west bank of the river, where floods were less likely. On orders of his religious order, Fray Antonio de Olivares transferred the Mission San Francisco Solano to the new mission of San Antonio de Valero.
He also built the Presidio San Antonio de Bexar, on the west side of the San Antonio River, approximately 1 mile from the mission. It was designed to protect the system of missions and civilian settlements in central Texas and to ensure the representation of Spain in the region of the aggression of French, British and Americans. The prison consisted of an adobe building, thatched with grass, with soldiers quartered in brush huts. As settlers concentrated around the prison complex and mission, began to form the town of Bejar or Bexar, convert it in the cornerstone of Spanish Texas. Being located in the center of several operating systems mission Bejar suffered not the needs and anxieties of other prisons. Despite occasional Indian attacks, the defense of the prison walls were never completed or was deemed necessary, as the mission was complemented later converted into the main unit of walled defense.
The operating complex was completed with the construction of the first ditch of Texas (Acequia Madre de Valero), 6 miles long, built to irrigate 400 hectares and supply of the inhabitants of the new facilities built. It was vital to the missions to be able to divert and control water from the San Antonio River, in order to grow crops and to supply water to the people in the area. This particular acequia was the beginning of a much wider acequia system. Acequia Madre de Valero ran from the area currently known as Brackenridge Park and southward to what is now Hemisfair Plaza and South Alamo Street. Part of it that is not viewable by the public runs beneath the Menger Hotel. The acequia was restored in 1968 and that year was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark.
Fray Antonio de Olivares was aided by Payaya Indians to build the bridge that connected the Misión de San Antonio de Valero and Presidio San Antonio de Bexar, and the Acequia Madre de Valero.
On May 1, 1718, according to a statement certified to be preserved, Don Martin de Alarcon gave possession to Fray Antonio de Olivares of the Misión de San Antonio de Valero, later known as "The Alamo", based officially the mission.
On May 5, was founded the Presidio San Antonio de Bexar, on the west side of the San Antonio River, the source of the present city of San Antonio Texas. The event was chaired by Martin de Alarcón, settling around 30 families in the surrounding area.
On July 8, 1718 held at the new Mission San Antonio de Valero the first baptism, as reflected in the baptismal register of the mission.
In 1719, Margil obtained permission from the Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo to found a second mission at San Antonio. However, Father Olivares he opposed it. Despite of it, the Zacatecan Franciscans founded Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo, next to the San Antonio River, on February 23, 1720.
On September 8, 1720, after suffering a broken leg and worse health, Olivares retired from Mission Valero. He returned to the convent of Querétaro where he died in 1722.