Archaeologists reveal probable sites of two missions that predate the Alamo
SAN ANTONIO - Archaeologists are revealing the location of the site where they believe San Antonio's first mission once stood, saying the Alamo had two predecessors.
"There were three locations of Mission San Antonio de Valero," said Kay Hindes, city archaeologist.
She says the first site is likely somewhere near the Christopher Columbus Italian Society near I-10 and I-35. It was founded in 1718.
"They were only here about a year, so it was a very short-lived site," she said.
It's unclear why the mission was moved, possibly to the La Villita area. A hurricane hit in 1724, and then came the Alamo.
"Most people don't realize there are three locations," Hindes said. "Mission San Jose also had three locations."
Hindes recovered artifacts, including pottery, beads and nails, not far from the Italian Society. Some of the items were buried, but she saw others that were on the ground, eroding but visible 300 years later.
"I looked down and started seeing the metal and I literally, really, I just had to sit down on the ground," she said, "because I was like 'This is too incredible.'"
Councilman Roberto Treviño was working on an architectural project in the area when he got involved with the effort to unearth the history.
"This is historic for the Italian buildings that are here," he said, "but underneath that is the original San Antonio de Valero. That's an extra layer of history."
Treviño added historians have been searching for the site for a hundred years.
"People traveled thousands of miles from central Mexico up here, by foot, by the way, to find the site, to establish the site," he said.
Hindes said the artifacts date to the correct time period, and written records as well as topography point to the Italian Society as being the location of the Alamo's predecessor.
"We don't know for sure, but we hypothesize that probably they would have put the mission at the highest point," Hindes said.
Treviño said a plaque at the Alamo states the mission was founded in 1718, rather than 1724. "It's actually incorrect, but we're setting the record straight."