Cover image of A New History of Old Texas

A New History of Old Texas

Explore the history of early Texas as you’ve never heard it before, using new research and recently uncovered documents.Season 1 traces the identity of modern-day Texas to the first 160 years or so of San Antonio's history, from its founding in 1718 until the arrival of the railroad in 1877. Season 2 covers the Battle of Medina, the largest, bloodiest battle in Texas history...and the narrowing search for the battlefield itself, which has eluded searchers for more than a century now! And Season 3 tells the remarkable story of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and his journey across the North American continent. -- As seen on the Rivard Report, KSAT12, GreatDaySA, the Austin Chronicle, and the San Antonio Business Journal! --

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Warning: This podcast is a series podcast

This means episodes are recommended to be heard in order from the very start. Here's the 10 best episodes of the series anyway though!

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Founding San Antonio

On June 13, 1691, Spanish explorers gave a name to the spring-fed river whose banks they crossed on that feast day of St. Anthony de Padua - San Antonio. It would take twenty-seven more years of political intrigue, religious zeal, and French incursions before they would be able to plant a permanent settlement there, seeding it with a hardy mix of soldiers, missionaries, and frontiersmen.


2 Jan 2018

Rank #1

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The Battle of the Alamo

The Battle of the Alamo as you've never heard it before.


3 Apr 2018

Rank #2

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The Roads to Revolution

Texas in 1800 was defined by its isolation, which Tejanos felt all the more acutely because of Spain’s restrictive trade laws and general neglect towards its most distant colonies. Tejanos began to see themselves as a people apart and to crave more autonomy and control over their own affairs.Three different battle markers claim to be the site of the Battle of Medina, though none has ever produced archaeological evidence of the battle. What can the markers tell us, however, about where the battle might have occurred? Listen to learn more.


1 Apr 2019

Rank #3

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Missionary San Antonio

Between 1718 and 1731, San Antonio would grow to almost 300 "vecinos," thanks to the establishment of four new missions and the "entrepreneurialism" of the soldiers stationed there, who defied Spanish import restrictions to blaze the first trade routes between Spanish Texas and Eastern North America.


3 Jan 2018

Rank #4

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The Free and Independent State of Texas

On April 6, 1813, Texas declared its independence, having momentarily rid the province of all traces of Spanish control. Eleven days later, the new Texas government promulgated a constitution, drawing from both Spanish civil and Anglo-American natural law traditions. Unfortunately, a horrific series of executions of captured Spanish officers nearly ripped the Republican Army apart at its seams, just as a Royalist army of retribution came sneaking up the Camino Real.The research team starts digging at the suspected site of the Republican camp the night before the battle. What they learn while digging may be even more important than what they find!


24 Jun 2019

Rank #5

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The Past is Present

The past lives in San Antonio.


5 May 2018

Rank #6

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The Comanches

The Apaches just used horses...the Comanches were horseMEN. Had they lived in a different time and place, you might have sworn that they were the inspiration for the legend of the Centaur. And in 1759, San Antonians launched an expedition 400 miles into their territory...


16 Jan 2018

Rank #7

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The March on Goliad

In 7th grade Texas history textbooks, Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara figures only peripherally in the events covered in this series. In reality, he may have been the great unifying figure for the Tejano, Native American, and Americans volunteers marching across Texas in the fall of 1812. Texas Governor Manuel Salcedo certainly took notice of his movements and rode out to ambush the revolutionary commander on the road to San Antonio in October 1812. It would be Gutiérrez de Lara, however, who had a surprise in store for Salcedo.The research team takes to the air to look for the “canyon” chosen by Republicans to later ambush the Royalist Army before the Battle of Medina.


27 May 2019

Rank #8

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The Battle of Rosillo

In February of 1813, Spanish Royalist forces under Texas Governor Manuel Salcedo stormed the Republicans besieged in Goliad – and were resoundingly repulsed. The Republicans broke out of Goliad and pursued the Royalists all the way back to San Antonio, where Salcedo and Gutiérrez de Lara met in one final battle.We finally lay our hands on maps from the early 1800’s that might tell us where contemporaries believed that the Battle of Medina had taken place.


10 Jun 2019

Rank #9

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The Canary Islanders

When sixteen Canary Island families arrived in San Antonio in March of 1731, they quickly made an impression on the small town. Their first fourteen years in San Antonio would be marked by political conflict, as they formed the first civic government and used their political savvy to advance their vision for their new home.


4 Jan 2018

Rank #10

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Building San Antonio

During the fifty year period beginning in 1718 and ending around 1768, Spanish friars and Native American converts moved nearly 1 million metric tons of limestone around the San Antonio River valley and erected the UNESCO World Heritage San Antonio Missions, using only crude hand tools and native ingenuity.


5 Jan 2018

Rank #11

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The Governor Returns

After capturing Father Miguel Hidalgo, Texas Royalist Governor Manuel Salcedo returned to San Antonio in a less-than-magnanimous frame of mind. San Antonio, after all, was the town that had deposed him and the town to which Father Hidalgo had been fleeing. Governor Salcedo took it upon himself to impress upon San Antonians the true cost of disloyalty to the Crown…and to him. The battlefield search team, meanwhile, combines the results of modern technology (LIDAR) and the grunt work of a dedicated UTSA researcher (Bruce Moses) to map out the roads into San Antonio in 1813 and locate General Arredondo’s camp and line of march on the morning of the Battle of Medina.


29 Apr 2019

Rank #12

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San Antonio on the Brink

In 1845, San Antonians voted to join the United States and plunged themselves right back into war with their old foes in the Valley of Mexico. The war, however, brought new prosperity to the frontier outpost and new prosperity brought new immigrants from all over the globe. These new immigrants reveled in the freedoms the isolated town offered them and soon made San Antonio the largest city in Texas.


24 Apr 2018

Rank #13

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José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara

Before Father Miguel Hidalgo was captured by Royalist forces in March of 1811, he commissioned a modest but vocal supporter from the Rio Grande Valley as his emissary to the United States. With a dozen or so loyal followers, that emissary - José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara - escaped Royalist capture and crossed over the Sabine, where he would spend the next two years rallying recruits and resources to the cause of Mexican independence.Multiple contemporary accounts of the Battle of Medina relate the Republican army's route to the battlefield. Unfortunately, they almost all relate it differently or contradict each other in some material point. Despite their contradictions and ambiguities, what details might they have in common?


13 May 2019

Rank #14

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San Antonio Revolts

The first decade of the 19th century brought more tumult to San Antonio than she had experienced in the entire century before. The missions were shuttered, a menacing new neighbor arrived on Texas's Eastern border, and a civil war erupted in town between republican and royalist factions, as San Antonio took on a tragically leading role in Mexico's War of Independence.


6 Feb 2018

Rank #15

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The Siege of Béxar

In late 1835, Centralists and Federalists clashed in San Antonio over the course of a two-month long siege that culminated in five days of brutal house-to-house fighting.


27 Mar 2018

Rank #16

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The Apaches

After thirty years of constant harassment by the Apaches, San Antonians did what few other frontier peoples ever could: beat them and force them to seek peace.


7 Jan 2018

Rank #17

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The Capital of Texas

When San Antonio became the capital of Texas in 1772, it was a recognition in law of something that was already true in fact. The new concentration of resources on the town and the opening of new lands led to a minor boom, particularly in the cattle business, which immediately ran afoul of Spanish royal authorities and their inflexible mercantile system.


23 Jan 2018

Rank #18

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The Casas Revolt

On September 16, 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla unleashed a cry of protest against centuries of Spanish exploitation of New Spain. San Antonians under a retired militia captain named Juan Bautista de las Casas took up the cry and attached themselves to his cause.We start our search for the battlefield of Medina by examining the most primary account of them all: the post-action report of the Spanish Royalist commander, Joaquín de Arredondo., who gives us our first important clues for narrowing the search area. 


15 Apr 2019

Rank #19

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Sons of Libertad

The most fascinating account of Jacksonian America doesn't come from a French aristocrat who spent barely nine months on the continent. It comes from Lorenzo de Zavala, author of the 1824 Mexican Federalist Constitution, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, and first Vice President of the Republic of Texas. It was in Texas - and in particular, in San Antonio - where De Zavala saw the ultimate opportunity for a new “mixed society of the American system and the Spanish customs and traditions,” which would represent the triumph of the New World over the tired ideas and prejudices of the Old. 


6 Mar 2018

Rank #20