HIDALGO, FRANCISCO (1659–1726). Francisco Hidalgo, the most patient and persistent advocate of missions among the Indians of East Texas, was born in Spain in 1659. Circumstantial evidence suggests that he was orphaned early. At the age of fifteen he received the religious habit of the Franciscans. After ordination he joined twenty-three of his brethren, who crossed the Atlantic in 1683 to help found the missionary College of Santa Cruz de Querétaro. At that time, Hidalgo was a twenty-four-year-old priest.
By 1684 he and other priests of the College of Santa Cruz had begun preaching in the villages that surrounded Querétaro. In 1688 he and two companions left for missionary work in the environs of Saltillo, Villa de la Monclova, and a mining camp known as Boca de Leones. At that time the Spanish had undertaken searches by land and sea for an elusive French colony planted somewhere on the northern Gulf Coast. Fort St. Louis was discovered in 1689, and missions were founded among the Tejas Indians the following year, but Hidalgo did not enter Texas on that occasion.