Teepee Home
San Juan Burials, continued
11/20/1823 Fas, Jose Antonio ( "murio de un machacon de el vientre" a los sesenta y nueve anos de edad.) (died when his body was crushed at the age of seventy-nine years of age.)
02/20/1824 Maria Encarnacion (Yndia de la Mision de San Juan Capistrano, 50 anos de edad, viuda de Luis, de la nacion Borrados, en el cementerio de esta yglesia.) (Indian from San Juan Mission, fifty years old, wife of Luis, of the Borrado Nation, in the cemetery of this mission.)
04/24/1828 De Leon, Dorotea (buried "en la mission de San Juan") 18 years old, spouse of Nepomuceno Escalera.
11/26/1854 Boteo, Policarpia (40 years old, widow of Antonio Maldonado)
03/26/1856 Gonzales, Alcaria

"26 de Marzo 1856 en la yglesia de San Juan Capistrano entere el cuerpo de Alcaria Gonzales que murio ayer a la edad de 27 anos hija de Justo Gonzales y de Francisca Garza.” (s) Bouchu

(on March 26, 1856, in the church of San Juan Capistrano I enterred the body of Alcaria Gonzales that died yesterday at the age of twenty-seven years, daughter of Justo Gonzales and Francisca Garza.)


Additional observations and the question of the incomplete repatriation of Native Americans

Interestingly, three of the above burials were of Dias infants: one in 1816, one in 1818, and another in 1819. Their parents were Santiago Dias and Josefa Gutierrez. The burial of the father of Josefa Gutierrez, Felix Gutierrez, is also listed.
In 1850, a visitor to the present church of San Juan, John R. Bartlett, remarked that
”the earthen floor of the chapel was broken up in several places, where graves had recently been dug.” This evidence indicates that burials through this period were placed in the present church as well as the old church on the East side of the plaza.

In the late 1960’s, the Catholic Archdiocese, the Witte Museum, the Texas State Archaeologist, and Dr. Mardith Scheutz, conducted a series of archaeological digs at San Juan Mission. It should be noted that, before the excavations were conducted, it was well-known by the principals involved, that bodies were enterred in and around the mission churches. The bodies were disturbed, but it was not the first time. In 1968, Manuel Sanchez, a native resident of the San Juan area, told me that as a barefoot little boy, he observed bones being removed from the floor of the present church of San Juan. Presumably, this occurred during the restoration of the mission buildings around 1907.

In the 1960’s and after, there were many discoveries of funerary plots and the bones and articles associated with them were subsequently removed. Exhumations of bodies were made from beneath the old church, from beneath the floor of the present church and other areas. Approximately 200 bodies were removed and sent to various institutions for analysis, study and curation.

In 1999, after 30 years, the responsible institutions together with The American Indians in Texas repatriated what was then identified by the curating institutions, as all of the human skeletal remains to the old church of San Juan. Accounting for the skeletal remains was incomplete. In addition, the funerary objects have not yet been returned, although at the time of reburial in 1999, the principals promised to return them. As was mentioned earlier, several questions remain regarding the repatriation.


......Espada Mission 1870's by Latourette ................. Grave at San Jose about 1890
...... Cemetery at left of Church

........ .......... GravesIII

........................Photos showing gravesite at front corner, about 1895

Cemetery at San Jose with granary in background, about 1890.

Representatives of descendants, Church and State officials at the repatriation area at
San Juan in 1999.

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