The Spanish

The Spanish were the first non-Native Americans to lay claim to the land of "Paradise Valley", but there is no evidence that they ever lived on the land in and around Smithville. It seems from all accounts that they just passed through Bastrop county in their search for a direct route from present-day Mexico to the East Texas missions. Their journey (Don Domingo Teran de los Rios and Father Manzanet) led them to Bastrop County, the center of which lay along the direct path they sought. They reached the western banks of the Colorado River on June 26, 1691, somewhere between Austin and Bastrop, crossed the river, and moved downstream for about three miles before crossing back to the downstream for about three miles before crossing back to the west side and camping for the night. (Kesselus, 1986, p. 4). It is said that they sighted a lagoon and placed it on their survey as "Nenocadadda." The lagoon, known today as Shipp's Lake, is on the eastern edge of present day Smithville.

By 1795 the Old San Antonio Road had been constructed to connect San Antonio with Nacogdoches. It was the route that modern Texans call "El Camino Real" or "The King's Highway", since it belonged to the King of Spain. The road was an important artery through the area in the early days of settlement of the area in Bastrop County, but the town of Smithville was yet to be. In fact during the time between 1805 and 1829, "there was but a small remnant of Spanish colonial activity, with the only two towns in all of Texas, San Antonio and La Bahia (Goliad) (Kesselus, 1986, p. 31).

In the Handbook of Texas, by Walter Prescott Webb, we find that in 1805 the first settlement at the crossing of the Colorado River at what is now known as Bastrop, Texas was established. A fort called Puesta del Colorado (Post on the Colorado) was established there to protect commerce on El Camino Real. How many troops were stationed there has never been established but the number was probably small.

Moore, Bill (1977).Bastrop County 1691-1900. Witcha Falls, TX: Nortex Press.

Kesselus, Kenneth (1986). History of Bastrop County, Texas before statehood. Austin, TX: Jenkins Publishing Co.

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