Trees on 1760s Spanish Inventory List from Mission de Valero
Olive trees have been a staple for millennia in European countries that settled the Americas. The tree possess an almost titanic resistance, a vital force which renders it nearly immortal. Despite harsh winters and burning summers, they continue to grow, proud and strong reaching towards the sky, bearing fruit which produces oil that nourishes and heals the body. This made the olive ideal for new colonies in the northern frontiers of Spanish Texas.
According to Spanish Archives, olive trees appeared on Inventory Lists from the 1760s of the San Antonio Franciscan Missions. This included the first one transferred and built in this region; Mission de Valero, later known as The Alamo. In fact, the type of olive that became so prevalent at Spanish Missions from Texas to California, is now referred to as the “Mission Olive”, hence its name. But after Valero was secularized in 1793, the olive trees vanished.
Then in 1914, fruit bearing olive trees were again brought to South Texas by land developer Asher Richardson, who planted them at his Bel-Asher mansion in Asherton, deep in the Wintergarden. Amazingly those trees survive to this day, and were in part the inspiration for Texas olive pioneers Sandy Winokur, Jim Henry and others to plant olives on their farms south of San Antonio. Olives can grow in Texas, and produce some of the best extra-virgin olive oil on the planet.
To recognize Mission de Valero’s (The Alamo) inclusion with the four other San Antonio Franciscan Missions into nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sandy Winokur (Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard) has donated three Spanish and Mission olive trees to be planted at The Alamo on April 18 at 1:00pm. Blessed and consecrated in a traditional manner by a Franciscan Priest, the planting ceremony will mark a historic return of Olive Trees to this old Spanish Mission.
“Olive trees were an integral part of everyday life in the Spanish Texas Missions”, said Karen Thompson, President General of The Daughters of The Republic of Texas (“DRT”). “The oil was used for cooking and religious ceremonies, just as it is today in Mexico. We are delighted to have the trees return to The Alamo.”