The history of San Antonio began with a simple ceremony when, in 1718, Franciscans and Spanish representatives established the first mission. Within 13 years, five were located along the San Antonio River. The missions purpose was to acculturate and Christianize the native population and make them Spanish citizens. The four Spanish frontier missions, part of a colonization system that stretched across the Spanish Southwest in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, are Missions San José, San Juan, Espada, and Concepción.