Angelina, an Indian girl of the Hasinai Tribe, was described in the early journals of the first Spanish and French explorers to visit the Piney Woods area of East Texas in 1690.
Befriended by the Spanish Franciscan Fathers, she moved to the Mission San Francisco de los Tejas in Houston County, where she exhibited a remarkable aptitude for learning.
In 1693 Angelina accompanied the Spanish to Mission San Juan Bautista on the Rio Grande River, where she lived and studied for ten years. She became proficient in the Spanish language and customs before returning to East Texas.
Later, when the Franciscan Fathers returned to the Piney Woods area in 1716, they built a second mission at her request. It was known as La Purisima Conception de Acuna. The Mission was active until the French began explorations into East Texas causing the Spanish to retreat to Mexico. Angelina served as interpreter for Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, the French explorer and founder of Natchitoches Louisiana.
Some historians relate that the Frenchman, Francois Simars de Bellisle, who had lost his way in the wilds of East Texas, was taken as a slave-husband by Angelina in 1719. He pleaded with her to set him free, and she supposedly let her two children guide him to the St. Denis Settlement at Natchitoches, Louisiana.
The burial records of the Catholic Church in Natchitoches carry the notation that an Indian girl named Angelina was buried there.
The last written account of Angelina appeared in a journal by the Marguis de Aquayo in 1721. He observed that she had considerable influence in the village and seemed to direct much of the tribal functions.
Her name was given to a river, a village, a National Forest and a County. Of the 254 counties in Texas, only Angelina bears the name of a woman.
From “Land of the Little Angel”
Edited by Bob Bowman