Life on the Frontier
The Presidio
The Governor's House
A Military Outpost
Farming and Ranching
Religious Life
Domestic Life
Games and Entertainment
The King's Highway
Trade with the French
Trade with the Caddo
Games and Entertainment
It wasn’t “all work and no play” at Los Adaes, but artifacts related to games and entertainment are not abundant in the archaeological collections. The few artifacts and the occasional mention in the documents of games and entertainment provide a glimpse of leisure activities at the presidio. Disks shaped from Spanish, French, British, and Caddo pottery found at Los Adaes may have been gaming pieces. Two miniature toy pots—one porcelain, and the other made of clay—have been found at Los Adaes. The hindquarter of a miniature pottery dog associated with the Wichita Indians has also been recovered at Los Adaes. Archaeologists have excavated mouth harps, and documents mention a musical couple—he played guitar, she played violin.
Pipestem fragmentsMouth harpGaming pieces made from broken potteryToy bowl
Glass beadsFragment of a toy dog
Learn More
Eyewitness Accounts
Formal entertainment at Los Adaes consisted largely of the celebration of the feast days of the saints. The diarist of the Aguayo expedition recounts the first celebration of the feast day of Saint Michael on September 29, 1721, and also the first celebration of the feast day of Our Lady of the Pillar (Nuestra Señora del Pilar) on October 12, 1721. “The reestablishment of the mission, which is to be located about a quarter-league from the presidio, was celebrated in the presidial chapel on the feast of the Archangel Michael. On October 12, the feast of the Apparition of Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza, the dedication of the mission church and the presidio was celebrated; his lordship named her as patroness and bastion of defense on that frontier. The two ceremonies were performed with the greatest solemnity and such signs of rejoicing as could be made with repeated rounds of artillery and with all the companies standing in formation in the military plaza during the Mass, which was sung by Doctor Joseph Codallos y Rabal. The chapel and the fortress had been blessed earlier with the image of Nuestra Señora de Pilar carried in procession; the very reverend Fray Antonio Margíl extolled her veneration in a very devout and eloquent sermon. The ceremonies were concluded with a splendid banquet given by his lordship for the fathers and the captains, and brandy for the soldiers, who showed their merriment through various entertainments of dances, comedies, and pranks” (Hadley, Diana; Thomas H. Naylor, and Mardith K. Schuetz-Miller, editors, 1997 The Presidio and Militia on the Northern Frontier of New Spain. A Documentary History. Volume Two, Part Two, The Central Corridor and the Texas Corridor, 1700–1765. The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, page 429). Apparently the “comedies” are the first recorded dramatic performance given by Europeans in Texas. There is also an eyewitness account of informal entertainment at Los Adaes. The French traveler Pierre Marie François de Pagès wrote of the soldiers at Los Adaes, “The inhabitants of Adaes, consisting of a species of cavalry, live by appointment of nearly a piastre a day; but whether it be owing to the extraordinary expense they incur by sending for their clothing from Mexico, or rather, their idle and sluggish dispositions, which oblige them to import even their daily bread from a distance, the pay of Spain is scarce equal to a bare subsistence. The intervals of public service are employed in play, of which they are particularly fond; in relating their exploits in battle, the perils and hardships they have encountered in wild and inhospitable regions; and on horseback, in visiting, and taming their cattle.” (Pagès, Pierre Marie François de, 1793, Travels Round the World, in the Years 1767, 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771. volumes 1–3. the second edition, cor. and enl. J. Murray, London, page 52).
Suggested Reading
Paredes, Américo 1995 A Texas-Mexican Cancionero. Folksongs of the Lower Border. University of Texas Press, Austin.