What is now San Antonio was originally a Coahuiltecan Indian village. But in 1718, the Franciscans constructed a mission, San Antonio de Valero, to convert, educate, and serve as the economic core for the settlement. In 1731, Spain sent settlers from the Canary Islands to further establish their colonial presence and over the next few years, built four more missions along the river. That all began to change in 1821 when Stephen Austin brought 300 families to Texas; by 1835, Texas claimed its independence from Mexico, fought a short but bitter war, and finally joined the U.S. as the 28th state in 1845. Today it's a bustling city of 1.5 million occupying 368.6 square miles.