Diaz De Leon, Jose Antonio
DÍAZ DE LEÓN, JOSÉ ANTONIO (1786/87–1834). José Antonio Díaz de León, the last Franciscan missionary in prerepublic Texas, was born in Mexico either in late 1786 or early 1787. He became a friar in 1811 and was admitted as a cleric in 1812 to the College of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Zacatecas, which at the time administered all Franciscan missions in Texas. In 1815, after being ordained to the priesthood, Díaz de León began his missionary career in Nuevo Santander (present Tamaulipas). After being assigned to Texas in 1816 he took charge of Nuestra Señora del Refugio Mission in 1817. In 1818 he conducted a census at Refugio that showed 164 persons, not distinguished in the report by ethnic origin, living at the mission pueblo. This population was, however, soon decimated. In 1820 Díaz de León became resident minister of San José y San Miguel de Aguayo Mission in the outskirts of Bexar (San Antonio) and was appointed ad interim president of all the Texas missions. During his tenure at San José he took charge of the spiritual care of Indian and Spanish settlers at four partially secularized missions in the neighborhood of San Antonio. He also served briefly as chaplain of the presidio at Goliad and acted as assistant pastor of the church of San Fernando (later San Fernando de Béxar Cathedral) during the long absence of its parish priest, José Refugio de la Garza, who represented the province as a delegate in Mexico City.