La Bahia

La Bahía, literally "the bay," is a term with multiple meanings in Texas history. Various sites on the Gulf Coast were so designated. The Spanish came to use the name as a short form of La Bahía del Espíritu Santo, or Bay of the Holy Spirit, now called Matagorda Bay and Lavaca Bay, bounded by present Calhoun, Victoria, Jackson, and Matagorda counties. (In 1519 Alonso Álvarez de Pineda called the Mississippi River the Río del Espíritu Santo, and others extended the name to the bay.) The official application of the name to Matagorda and Lavaca bays occurred during the Spanish search for the French colony planted by René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle.

The name La Bahía subsequently referred both to the bay and to entities associated with it. During the Aguayo expedition, which the viceroy of New Spain authorized to reestablish Spanish dominion in Texas after the French threatened Spanish hegemony, a detachment under Domingo Ramón occupied La Bahía del Espíritu Santo and in April 1721 founded a presidio upon the ruins of La Salle's Fort St. Louis, generally considered to have been on Garcitas Creek, which empties into the bay. The presidio was named Nuestra Señora Santa María de Loreto de la Bahía del Espíritu Santo, though the name was commonly shortened to Nuestra Señora de Loreto Presidio; the place was popularly called Presidio La Bahía. In 1722 the Marqués de Aguayo authorized Father Agustín Patrón y Guzmán to establish a mission across the creek from this presidio. It was named Nuestra Señora de la Bahía del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga Mission and popularly called Mission La Bahía (see NUESTRA SEÑORA DEL ESPÍRITU SANTO DE ZÚÑIGA MISSION). Thus the bay, as well as the presidio and the mission because of their location on the bay, were all commonly called La Bahía.

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Craig H. Roell | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

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La Bahia is part of or belongs to the following places:

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Place type

La Bahia is classified as a Town

Associated Names

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