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Basques in the Americas 1592-1692

Steve Bass, Historian

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This is one of a series of chronologies on historic contributions of Basques posted in Euskal Kazeta.

RELATED CHRONOLOGIES:
Basques in the Americas 1492-1592
Basques in the Americas 1692-1792
Basques in the Americas 1792-1893

Martín Garcia Óñez de Loyola

1592– Martín Garcia Óñez de Loyola, from Azpeitia, Guipuzkoa, is appointed governor of Paraguay. However, before he can take office, the king reassigns him to govern Chile, as he is considered the officer most qualified to end the War of Arauco.

On Dec. 24, Óñez is ambushed and killed by Indians as were all but two of his men.

1592-Three Basques play important roles in the development of Nuevo Reino de Leon, Mexico. Pedro de Arizmendi Gogorrón and his friend, Juan de Zavala, find huge silver deposits at what is now San Luis Potosí in northern Mexico. They establish the mining town of San Luis. Arizmendi develops mines, builds smelters, stamp mills and refining furnaces. He also owns huge estancias throughout the region.

His peaceful dealing with the hostile Indians revolutionizes relations between the warring tribes of the area and the Spanish.

Bill Douglass’ “Amerikanuak” is the most comprehensive book written about Basque exploration of the New World.

As a result, the economy of the region flourishes. Later, as the mines begin to diminish in their output of valuable minerals, Arizmendi uses his fortune to finance large sheep and cattle ranches for his entire family as he transitions from mining to an agrarian life.
Juan de Zavala goes on to become even wealthier than Arizmendi and becomes one of the richest citizens and one of the largest philanthropists of San Luis Potosí. (His parents are Juan de Tellaeche and María Díaz de Zavala.)

The third Basque, Don Agustín de Zavala, no relation to Juan, is also one of the first discoverers of silver in San Luis Potosí and lives to overshadow both Arizmendi and Juan de Zavala in his wealth and generosity. He is born in Elorrio, Bizkaia to Pedro Garcia de Azcarretazábal and Doña Maria de Zavala. Garcia de Azcarretazábal is from the valley of Leniz and María de Zavala is the last daughter of Don Martín de Zavala, from the church district of San Agustín de Echavarría and María de Leguerica from Elorrio. In 1608, Don Agustín participates in the discovery of the rich mines of the Los Ramos area and he relocates to Zacatecas. In 1613 he is appointed governor of Nuevo Reino de Leon and begins to use his personal fortune to protect and improve the province. Among his many accomplishments are the reconstruction, at his cost, of the church and convent of San Agustín in Zacatecas. He is also a general in the Spanish army. In 1625 Agustín is knighted into the Order of St. James and in 1646, the year Don Agustín dies in Zacatecas, he is captain general’s lieutenant in the kingdom of la Nueva Galicia.

 

Don Martín de Zavala, Agustín de Zavala’s illegitimate son, born in 1597 north of Zacatecas in the mining town of Real de Pánuco, spends 38 years in the governing of Nuevo Reino de León. During that time he gives it autonomy, establishes new settlements, stabilizes the economy and shapes its customs and traditions. Chapters have been written in history books regarding his accomplishments.


Francisco de Urdiñola y Larrumbide

1593 – Drawn to the area by wild grapevines and a freshwater spring, Francisco de Urdiñola y Larrumbide, mentioned previously as one of the founders of the city of Saltillo, builds a winery at Mission Santa María in Parras, in the Province of Coahuila, Mexico. It is the first commercial winery established in the New World. Parras becomes the center for wines and brandy throughout New Spain in the colonial period. Parras’ wines hold a virtual monopoly in Mexico until the end of the eighteenth century.

Urdiñola is an explorer, soldier, miner, agriculturalist, colonizer, governor and a prominent figure in the discovery and settlement of Nueva Vizcaya.

Born in Oiartzun, Gipuzkoa to Juanes de Urdiñola and Isabel de Larrumbide Echenagucia y Urgarte, Urdiñola comes to the New World in 1573. Urdiñola is chosen by the Viceroy of New Spain to settle New Mexico. However, due to false charges of murdering his wife, brought about by a disappointed fellow applicant, Juan Bautista de Lomas y Colmenares, and the customary slowness at which the Spanish legal system works, Urdiñola spends the next six years proving his innocence thus losing the colonization of New Mexico to Juan de Oñate.

However, Urdiñola goes on to accumulate what is considered to be the largest land holdings in the world. His estancias cover millions of acres including most of the state of Coahuila and areas of surrounding provinces. (One hacienda, Patos, covers half of Coahuila.) His household includes fellow Oiartzun immigrants García Irigoyan, Pedro Larrea, León Isasti and Juan de Baracaldo. In addition, he is governor of Nueva Viscaya for ten years and his wealth makes it possible for his great-great-grand daughter’s husband, the Marqués de Aguayo, to colonize Texas.

1593-1594 The first Basque Merchant Consulates are established in Mexico City and Lima, Peru.

1595– Juan de Tolosa y Cortéz Moctezuma, son of Juan de Tolosa, mentioned before, becomes vicar of Zacatecas. His sister, Isabel, marries Juan de Oñate y Salazar, Cristóbal’s son.

1596– By this date, two Panama-based Basques, Francisco & Miguel de Eraso own 184 ships, almost monopolizing trade between Europe and the New World.

1596– Frey Geronimo de Mendieta writes Historia Ecclesiastica Indiana, the history of evangelization of New Spain. It is not published until 1870. Frey Mendieta dies in 1604.

1597– Antonio de Urquiola, from Guetaria, is appointed director of shipbuilding at Lezo in the Basque Country. Lezo is destroyed by the French in 1638 and never rebuilt as a shipbuilding center.

Juan de Oñate left a message on this rock located in El Morro, New Mexico

Juan de Oñate left a message on this rock located in El Morro, New Mexico

Don Juan de Oñate

Don Juan de Oñate, is the son of Cristóbal de Oñate and is married to Isabel de Tolosa Cortéz Moctezuma. She has one of the most amazing family lineages in the New World. She is great-granddaughter of Aztec monarch Moctezuma, granddaughter of Hernán Cortéz, the conqueror of Mexico, and the illegitimate daughter of Basque silver millionaire and land baron Juan de Tolosa.

1598– Juan de Oñate y Salazar is sent by the King of Spain to find if there is a territory north of Mexico that will rival its wealth. In January of 1598 he leads a personally financed expedition to try and find “another Mexico.” This area is known as New Mexico and is thought to extend all the way to Newfoundland.
As is the Basque custom, Oñate surrounds himself with Basque relatives and friends on the expedition. His four brothers; Luís, Fernando, Cristóbal and Alonso (Alonso will also become solicitor-general for the mine owners of New Spain) are made official agents and are to remain behind and use Oñate’s power of attorney to send supplies, raise money and represent him at the viceregal court. Oñate’s nephew, Cristóbal de Zaldívar, is also to stay behind to provision the trek. Cristóbal de Zaldívar’s brothers are selected to accompany Oñate. Juan de Zaldívar is placed second in command with the rank of maese de campo or field marshal. Younger brother Vincente de Zaldívar is made sargento mayor or lieutenant marshal. Also along on the expedition, and listed as a sergeant with “complete armor for himself and horse” is Oñate y Salazar’s nine year old son, Cristóbal de Naharriondo Pérez Oñate y Cortéz Moctezuma. Among the other Basques on the expedition are: Asensio de Archuleta, Sebastían de Gaceta, Pedro Gimenez, Domingo de Lezama, Cristóbal de Lizaga, Leon de Ysasti, Juan Lopez de Yllareta, Jorge de Zumaya, Miguel, Juan and Francisco Olague, Hernando de la Rea, Martín Ruiz de Aguirre, Juan de Velasco y Zuñiga, Martín de Sorchaga, Juanes de Isasti and Marcos de Zamudio.
The exploration party consists of 500 men, 130 of which take their families along with them. They also bring over 7,000 head of livestock and 83 wagons and carts for food and provisions. On this trip Oñate brings the first domesticated sheep and chili peppers into what will become the United States.
They group heads straight across the northern desert of Mexico and withstand horrible shortages of food and water. Finally, they come upon the Rio Grande River and, on April 30, Oñate y Salazar officially takes possession of the entire area drained by the river for Philip II of Spain. Here, Oñate y Salazar gives present day El Paso, Texas, its name; El Paso del Río del Norte.

On this trip Oñate founds the kingdom of New Mexico, becomes its governor and helps found Santa Fe. He builds the first church in New Mexico in September of 1598 at the pueblo of San Juan Bautista. (In that first church, Oñate’s cousin, Fray Cristóbal de Salazar delivers the first sermon in New Mexico on September 8, 1598.)

One of Oñate’s captains is Gaspar Perez de Villagrá. Villagrá relates his travels in New Mexico in an epic poem written in 1610. While not acclaimed for its literary merit, it is an excellent source of historical information.

1598-1599-Vincente de Zaldívar and 70 of Oñate y Salazar’s soldiers retaliate against the Indians of the Acoma Pueblo (the longest continually lived-in village in the United States) in what is now New Mexico. According to one version, the Acomans had killed 13 Spanish soldiers, including Oñate’s nephew Juan de Zaldívar, when they lured the Spaniards onto their mesa top. Oñate sends Zaldivar’s brother, Vincente, to quell the “uprising” and, as a punishment, Oñate supposedly orders the right foot (or toes) cut off of all surviving men of the Pueblo over the age of 25. (There is a great deal of speculation over whether these mutilations actually occurred or not.)
In 1998 when a bronze statue of Oñate was erected near Española, New Mexico, an unknown vandal cut off the statue’s right foot. There is also an 18 ton, 36 feet tall statue of Oñate in El Paso, Texas. It is the largest and heaviest equestrian statue in the world.

One reason Oñate y Salazar’s statue was erected in New Mexico was to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving in the U.S. On April 20, 1598 Oñate led the members of his expedition in a Thanksgiving feast and celebration to give praise for finding the Rio Grande River after many days of extreme duress during which the group had survived weeks of food and water rationing and, finally, no water at all for five days. Also on this day, the first play performed in America was created and presented for this celebration. This predates the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving in New England by 25 years. (Historian Kenneth C. Davis contends that the French settlers of the short-lived settlement at Fort Caroline, Florida held the first U.S. Thanksgiving service in 1564.)

(Cristóbal Oñate brought his sister and her husband, Ruiz Dias de Zaldívar, from the Basque Country to Mexico. Two of their sons, Cristóbal and Juan de Zaldívar marry daughters of Juan de Tolosa, as did Cristóbal Oñate’s son, Juan de Oñate y Salazar. Juan de Zaldívar served with Coronado on his expedition, mentioned earlier. The Zaldívar and Oñate families become so intricately related that Juan de Oñate y Salazar is both uncle and second cousin to the Zaldívar brothers, Juan and Vincente, and later becomes the father-in-law of Vincente when Vincente marries Oñate y Salazar’s daughter. Vincente and Juan de Zaldívar had accompanied Oñate y Salazar into New Mexico and Juan was the brother killed by the Acoma Indians. In addition, making things even more confusing, Juan de Oñate y Salazar’s father, great-grandfather, son, a brother, several cousins and several nephews are all named Cristóbal.)

Don Juan de Oñate y Salazar and other explorers and colonizers for the king of Spain are, basically, kings of their own domains. These wealthy and powerful men of Spain’s northern reaches colonize, preside over and sustain their individual empires at their own expense. Therefore, the king grants them almost total power and feudal independence–while sometimes trying to trick them out of their holdings.
As an example of how these men are respected and addressed, when Oñate is introduced it is as, “Don Juan de Oñate, governor, captain general, and adelantado of the kingdoms and provinces of New Mexico and those adjacent and bordering, their pacifier and colonizer for the king our lord.”
However, not all of these colonizers are qualified to handle such power and authority and they often are at odds with other men of influence who attempt to wrest away their property and status.


1598-One of Oñate y Salazar’s soldiers is Asensio Archuleta, from Eibar in the Basque Country. He and his wife, Anna Pérez Bustillo, become one of the several original colonizing families of New Mexico, remaining there through all types of early adversity.

1598– The first Basque Brotherhood, the Congregation of Lima, is established in Peru. Modeled after those in the Basque Country, the Brotherhood’s legal purposes are for legal protection, mutual aid, spiritual help medical care, confessions in the Basque Language and funeral and burial services. In actuality, they spread news and information, protect businesses, provide political influence, aid in social ascension and help in the various markets.

1599– Luis Eraso signs a contract to supply Puebla’s market with 16,000 sheep. Two of his employees are from his hometown of Oiartzun: Juanes de Arbelaiz and Juan Ybañez. Eraso has business contacts with other Basques in the area: Juanes Eraso, Juanes Arizmendi and Martín Gaztelu. He also does business with Martín De Oyarzun, Cholula’s alguacil, Pedro de Yrala, alcalde of Puebla and Puebla merchant Juan Martínez de Olea. Eraso maintains contact with prominent Basques from his hometown who are now in Mexico City. These include wealthy merchants Thomas Zuaznabar y Aguirre and Juan de Arbide and scribe in the viceroyalty, Juan de Aguirre.

A mention here of the semi-legendary Catalina de Erauso, also know as La Monja Alférez (The Lieutenant Nun.) Born in 1595 in San Sebastián, she comes to the New World and enlists as a soldier under the name of Alonso Díaz Ramírez. She gains a reputation as a courageous soldier, gambler and fighter and kills many men in duels. She also works in commerce, always for Basque businessmen. After killing a man she reveals her gender to escape hanging and returns to Spain. She once again returns to Mexico and works as a mule driver under the name of Antonio de Erauso. She dies in 1650.

1601– Oñate y Salazar explores into what will become Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

1602– Martín de Aróztegui is appointed veedor general of the Atlantic fleet. He is highly respected by his peers. It is said that he is “a model of integrity and efficiency” and he “knows the language and topics of discussion of seamen.” This may mean he knows the jargon of the sailors, which is undoubted true. However, it probably alludes to the fact that most of the mariners are Basque like himself.

1602– Padres Diego de Arcaya and Antonio de Zalduendo are working in Saltillo.

1602– Sebastian Vizcaino leads an exploration party from Acapulco, up the coast of what is now California with three ships, 200 men and three Carmelite Friars. He is searching for safe harbors for galleons returning to Mexico from the Philippines. On Nov. 10 he reaches San Miguel Bay, discovered and named in 1542 by Juan Cabrillo. Because his flagship is named San Diego and because the feast day for San Diego de Alcala is only two days off, Vizcaino renames the harbor San Diego. A tent church is erected and on Nov. 12, 1602, he takes part in the first Mass held in California. He remains at the site for eight more days refitting his ships and burying crewmembers that have died with scurvy.

As Vizcaino continues his expedition up the coastline of California, among the additional sites he names are San Clemente, Catalina, San Pedro, Santa Barbara, Point Conception, Monterey and Carmel.
Antonio de la Ascención, one of the priests with Vizcaíno, draws the first map of the Santa Barbara channel showing several Chumash Indian villages on what Vizcaino called “la costa segura de buena gente” (the safe coast of good people.) In his diary, Vizcaíno describes a Chumash tomel, or canoe, in a rather biblical manner: “…in another canoe, so well-constructed and built that since Noah’s arc a finer and lighter vessel with timbers better made has not been seen.”
Point Conception, named by Vizcaíno, is one of the oldest European place names in the U.S. Other place names in the Santa Barbara area still in evidence today named by Vizcaíno are Cojo Canyon, Espada Canyon, Gaviota and Carpinteria.

As more and more Basque males came to the New World, their emigration was not only having an effect on Nueva España but also on the villages they left behind in the Basque Country. Historian Juan Javier Pescador suggests that some of those who returned to their villages brought back wealth that disrupted the traditional economy and hierarchy of the community. Also, with fewer men in some of the villages, women took on new roles and responsibilities on the farms and in the towns. Even the Church changed, having to adopt some to some New World religious practices and saints popular with the returning adventurers.
In addition, according to historian José Manuel Azcona Pastor, by 1520 two new American plants, beans and corn are added to the crops grown in the Basque Country.
The potato reaches the Basque region of Europe in the late sixteenth century and these three crops, being more dependable than the native millet, increase agricultural land use and production in Euskadi.

1604– Juan de Oñate y Salazar leaves the Rio Grande region of New Mexico on October 7 to explore into what will become Arizona and the lower Colorado River area arriving at the Pacific on the coast of what is now the Sea of Cortez in January 1605.

1605– On April 16, on his way back from the Gulf of California, Oñate carves his name on a rock cliff now called El Morro in northwest New Mexico. His inscription, translated from the Spanish reads:

There passed this way the Adelantodo Don Juan de Oñate, from the discovering of the South Sea, on the 16th of April, 1605.

Oñate is the first of several early Basques to leave their names on this rock face.

1604-1605– Master carpenter and ship builder at Lequeitio, Juan de Uriate and several of the best shipwrights in Bizkaia, including Martín de Zantua and San Juan de Axpe are ordered by King Philip to improve the ship design of all ships headed to the Indies.

1607– The first successful English colony in the New World is founded at Jamestown, 115 years after Columbus’ first voyage, in what will become Virginia.

1608– Juan Oñate y Salazar is called to Mexico City. In 1613 he faces several charges including cruelty during the Acoma rebellion. He is fined, banished from New Mexico permanently and from Mexico City for four years. He spends the rest of his life clearing his name, evidently with some success. He dies in Spain in June of 1626.

1611– Sebastián Vizcaino, who had traveled the coast of California, explores the region of Japan searching for the islands Ricas de Oro y Plata.

1614- Don Agustín de Zavala, mentioned earlier, appoints Captain Cristóbal de Irurreta chief magistrate and captain of war in the city of Zacatecas.

1614– The Basque brotherhood, the Congregation of Potosí is established.

1615- Zavala appoints Irurreta chief magistrate and captain of war for Monterrey.

1616- In Zacatecas, an elaborate church and Jesuit college is built with an endowment of 100,000 pesos from Vincente de Zaldívar and his wife, Doña Ana de Bañuelos.

1618– Ruthless slaver Juan de Eulate becomes Governor of New Mexico. According to historian France V. Scholes, Eulate was, “…a tactless, irreverent soldier whose actions were inspired by open contempt for the Church and its ministers and by an exaggerated conception of his own authority as the representatives of the Crown.” He conducts illegal slave raids on the Apache and Navajo. He leaves New Mexico in 1625 and is tried and convicted of slave trading in 1626.

1618-1625– Alonzo de Idiáquez is superintendent of all shipbuilding for the Indies.

1620– In the 100 years since conquest, the Indian population of Mexico has dropped from 17 million to 1 million due mainly to the European diseases of smallpox, measles, typhus, and influenza. The natives have no naturally acquired resistance to these illnesses.

1620– In this year, Pilgrims from England found the second English colony in the New World at what will become Plymouth, Massachusetts, one hundred twenty eight years after Columbus’ first voyage.

1621– In Nueva Galacia, Domingo Lázaro de Arregui describes how the hearts of agave plants are squeezed to produce a clear but strong liquor—mezcal (early tequila)–in the frontier regions of New Spain.

1622– Three of the five members of the Maritime Sector of the Council of War that controls Spanish shipping to the Indies are Basque. They are: Martín de Aróztegui,
mentioned before, Juan de Pedroso, and Miguel de Ipeñarrieta de Araoz.

Basque Pirates of the Caribbean
1622-1679 are the peak years of privateering (pirating) for Basque corsairs. The Caribbean Sea covers almost two million square miles with more than 1,000 islands, islets and keys, mostly uninhabited, as places to hide.
The Basques involved in the practice are, technically, “privateers” because they sail under the Spanish flag, with the encouragement of the Spanish monarchy. Their presence in the Caribbean adds to the strength of the Spanish navy. However, to the French, English, Dutch and Portuguese ships they attack and capture, they are pirates.
At the time, the main corsair and privateer port of Spain is Donostia in Guipuzkoa. Almost 300 pirate ships call Donostia their homeport while over 70 call Hondarribia home.
When a Basque privateer captures a ship, three-fourths to four-fifths of the cargo or “loot” goes to the Spanish government and the attacking ship keeps one-fourth to one-fifth. Successful privateer captains gain commissions in the Spanish navy and attain higher social and economic status.
The profits involved attract many outfitters, ship owners, captains and crews. Among these are: Alonso de Idiaquez, Agustín de Diústegi, Miguel de Mecoalde, Francisco de Zárraga Beográn, Antonio de Beroiz, Guillermo Franquelin and Lorenzo de Echevarri.
The Basque privateering did not stop in 1679. In 1686 Basque corsair captain Pedro de Alcega requests a Basque chaplain for his ship because most of his crew do not understand or speak Castilian. Even later, in 1730, captain Ignacio de Noblesa of the Basque pirate frigate San Ignacio, is plundering Dutch merchant ships off the Venezuelan coast for flour, spirits, oil, gunpowder, arms, tobacco and cacao.

1625– Francisco de Villarreal is named Head Accountant of the Mexican Treasury.

1626– Martín de Zavala opens the region of Nueva Leon. He founds Monterrey and it becomes an important mining center. He brings many relatives to the area and many miners to support the mines. The first priest of Monterrey is Martín Abad de Uría. The Captain of Monterrey is Hernando de Ugarte y la Concha.

1630– According to historian H.H. Bancroft, fray Martín Azpilcueta gains the trust of the native peoples at Batuco, Sonora. However, a hostile band of Indians from the Sonora Valley wants to frighten all the padres from their area by killing Azpilcueta. He sends them a message to hurry and come after him, as he will be waiting to behead them all. He surrounds himself with firearms and machetes and when they come and threaten him he fires a shot into the air and displays a machete. The Indians flee and do not bother his mission again. In fact, they become converts. Historian Charles Polzer says of Azpilcueta, “To give up without a fight would be to betray the proud Basque traditions of centuries of battle.” Historian John Bannon refers to Azpilcueta as a “…colorful and scrappy Basque…”

1633– Cibrian de Lizaraga is the first Governor of the Caribbean island of St. Martin.

1634– Agustín de Urquiza, Juan Bautista de Adalpe and a young Indian herder attempt to trail 2,000 sheep to Monterrey as food for the pueblo and profit for themselves. Indians attack and kill the three of them and steal their sheep.

1635– Lope Díaz de Armendaríz, from Araba, is viceroy of Mexico.

“Pecos, November 20, 1636, Your Excellency’s Chaplain, Fray Antonio de Ybargaray”

1636– Fray Antonio de Ybargaray is sent to Pecos, New Mexico, to attempt to halt the abuses of governor Francisco Martínez de Baeza. His efforts result in a new governor, Luís de Rosas, who turns out to be no better than Baeza.

1636– Hernando de Mendiola establishes a hacienda and several successful ranches in Nueva Leon.

1636– Juan de Arechuleta (Archuleta) inscribes El Morro cliff in New Mexico. Translated from the Spanish, it reads:
We passed by here, the Captain-Sergeant-Major
Juan de Arechuleta and the Adjutant Diego Martin
Barba and the Lieutenant Agustín de Ynojos,
year of 1636.

Pedro de Echenaque also leaves his name on El Morro but leaves no date.

1637– Domingo Ochoa de Irazagorria is inspector of the Spanish fleets.

1638– Sebastián Pérez de Gamedio Irigoyen is cabildo scribe of San Juan Bautista de Caldereyta, Mexico.

1640– Cristóbal Pérez de Lazarraga is head priest of Cartagena until 1648.

1640- Juan de Archuleta, (mentioned previously) son of Asensio and now the head of this wealthy and prominent New Mexican family, is probably the first European to enter present-day Colorado.

1642– By this time, Basques have been in the New World for over one hundred and fifty years.

1643– Archuleta, the first European to see Colorado, is amongst a group implicated in a plot to assassinate the governor of New Mexico, Alonzo de Pacheco de Herédia. He is found guilty and beheaded in the plaza of Santa Fe.

1644– The senior judge of the Audencia of Mexico is Don Francisco de Rojas y Oñate.

1652– Nicolás de Gueycoichea is the tax collector of Zacatecas.

1657– Martín de Uraga opens a new mining area near Zacatecas named Cerro de Buenavista.

1659– Bernardo López de Mendizábal becomes governor of New Mexico. He has a reputation as being an extortionist, devious and is described as “…a petulant, strutting, ungracious criollo with a sharp tongue and just enough education to be dangerous.”

1659– In New Mexico, governor Mendizábal, because of his discontent with the Church, almost always takes the side of the Indians in their disputes with the priests. In his first year as governor, he initiates his problems with the friars as he prohibits involuntary labor from Indians at the missions.

1659-1684– Two important silver merchants in Mexico City are Dámaso de Zaldívar, and Captain Juan de Urrutia Retes.

1660– Basque fishermen from Lapurdi set up installations at Plaisance and Cap-Breton Isle, in what will become Canada.

1660– Governor Mendizábal of New Mexico, tries to establish a Sonora to New Mexico road. Apache Indians make the route extremely hazardous. Even with the problems with the Indians, he still takes their side, as he remains extremely anti-clergy until he dies in jail during the Mexico City Inquisitions.

1662– As an example of the distances and time involved in travel, Ensign Pedro de Arteaga is assigned to take prisoner Francisco Gómez Robledo from Santo Domingo, New Mexico, to Mexico City to be judged at the Inquisitions being held. The trip takes from October 1662, to April 1663. Arteaga is paid 150 pesos. Robledo is acquitted.
California historian Frank Latta reports that even as late as the middle 1800s, it may take one to two years for a letter to reach Alta California from Mexico.

1675– Bernardo Zumbil y Echarri is Corregidor (mayor) of Zacatecas.

1667– Nicolás de Azcárraga is governor of the province of Nuevo Reino de Leon, Mexico.

1676– Isidro de Atondo y Antillón is appointed governor and captain general of Sinaloa.

1678– Led by Italian friar Eusebio Francisco Kino and Basque Matías Goñi, Jesuits reach agreement with Atondo y Antillón, governor of Sinaloa, to study the possibility of building missions in Baja California.
In the same year Atondo y Antillón sets out on an expedition to establish colonies in California. Because the Spanish have been unable to subdue the Indians with force, he had been commissioned to investigate the possibility of religious intervention by the Jesuits and to look for the opening of new commercial areas. After exploring the coast of Baja California (which he thought was an island) he takes possession of Lower California in the name of the king of Spain on April 1, 1683 near the Bay of La Paz. (Sebastián Vizcaíno had given La Paz its name in 1596.)

1678– Pascual Iriate, a former smuggler but an accomplished sea captain, is sent to the Straights of Magellan by the viceroy of Peru to search for English intruders into South America. He finds no English and has a son die on the excursion.

1678– Francisco de Archuleta and Doña Bernadina Baca become the first couple married in El Paso del Norte.

1678– General Don Andrés de Rezabal begins his involvement in military operations in Sonora.

1678– The missions of San Pablo de Labradores and San Francisco are founded in Nueva Leon. Captain Don Miguel de Ezcorigüela distributes the surrounding land to the settlers.

1680-1682 In Texas, Fray Francisco Ayeta founds missions Socorro, San Antonia de Senecu, Corpus Christi de la Isleta and San Lorenzo. For his exceptional work, he has been called one of New Mexico’s greatest men.

1680– In New Mexico, the Pueblo Indian revolt is disastrous for the Spanish. The combined tribes of the province killed 600 Spanish men, women and children and 21 priests. The Spaniards retreat to El Paso (now Juarez, Chihuahua) as in the uprising, towns, villages and churches are leveled.

1681– The Basque brotherhood, the Congregation of Mexico is established.

1681– There are many excellent Basque governors in the New World. However, two of the worst are in Nueva Leon in this single year. The first, Domingo de Vidagaray, appointed by his personal friend King Carlos II, lasts only three months and nineteen days. He is wasteful and arrogant and dies due to “…banquets…and having eaten too many watermelons and cantaloupes…” He is replaced by Juan de Echeverría who is “…sickly and choleric…unjust and greedy…” Due to many complaints, the viceroy is forced to remove Echeverría from office before a rebellion is started against him.

1683-1685– Matías Goñi and Eusebio Kino explore Baja California searching for possible mission sites.

1683– Don Agustín de Echéverz de Subiza is governor of Nueva Leon, Mexico.

1684-At age 12 Jean L’Archeveque (also known as Juan de Archibeque) joins the expedition of René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de LaSalle, to reach the Mississippi. Born in Bayonne, he is a member of the group that assassinates La Salle. After imprisonment in Spain he settles in Santa Fe in 1694. He marries and attains wealth but continues as a soldier and is a scout for Juan de Ulibarri.

1684– By the time he is 28 years old, Antonio de Gaztañeta has already made 11 round trips between the Americas and Spain with his father Francisco, who is a Basque sailor. De Gaztañeta goes on to be a shipbuilder and the head of the Spanish treasure fleet.

1685- Martín de Echegaray sails from the east coast of Florida around the tip of the peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico. He writes the king suggesting that the area be occupied.

1686– Along the northern frontier of Sonora and the provinces of Casas Grandes and El Paso the Suma, Jocome, Jano, Pima and Sobaipura Indians leave a trail of destruction 250 miles long. They destroy 15 cattle and horse ranches and more than 100,000 head of livestock. Several hundred Spanish are killed and five missions are destroyed. At the time, Sonora had no military defense.

1686– The Rivas-Iriarte expedition makes a complete circuit of the Gulf of Mexico and may have been the first Europeans to see western Louisiana.
On Christmas morning, Martín de Rivas and Pedro de Iriarte set off from Vera Cruz to find the Sieur de La Salle’s lost Texas colony. They do so in two 60-foot open vessels called piraguas, equipped with 20 oars per side and one sail. They carry provisions for three and one half months with 65 soldiers and sailors in each boat and tow canoes for exploring shallow water. The expedition makes the first known exploration of both Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake. Because of their shallow-draft boats, they are able to explore many of the bays and inlets earlier expeditions had to bypass, including Atchafalaya Bay, the Mississippi Passes and Mobile Bay. They return to Vera Cruz via Havana in July of 1687.

1686– Fray Juan de Luzuriaga is commissioner general of the Franciscan order in New Spain. In this year he publishes a book about the Virgin of Aranzazu. It is titled, Paranympho celeste. Historia de la mystica zarza, milagrosa imagen, y prodigioso santuario de Aranzazu.

1690– Juan Antonio de Urrutia y Arana is alderman and head judicial administrator in Mexico.

1691– José de Urrutia, born in Gipuzkoa, accompanies Don Domingo Terán de los Rios into Texas when he is 14. Injured along Texas’ Colorado River, Urrutia is left behind and forced to live among the friendly Kanohatino, Toho, and Xarame Indians for several years. He gains the respect of these tribes and learns their languages. Later, as a Captain in the Spanish Army, he directs the activities of all the nations hostile to the Apache and, under his leadership, conducts several extensive campaigns against the fierce Apache tribes. In addition, Urrutia, through intricate marriage connections, is related to the Oñate and Zaldívar families.

1692– By this time, Basques have been in the New World for over two hundred years.

References

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Press, 1969
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1706. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1916
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In Nueva Viscaya, 1614. Hispanic American Historical Review, Vol. 35.
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Credits for Signatures, Drawings and Rubrics:

Diego Gordoqui:
Personal communication with Donald Garate

Francisco de Urdiñola, Juan de Oñate, Antonio de Ybargaray, Bernardo Mendizábal, Francisco de Ayeta, José de Arranegui and Pedro Mendinueta and Oñate crest:
Kiva, Cross, and Crown: Pecos Indians in New Mexico, 1540-1840 by John Kessell

Juan Antonio de Vizarrón y Equiarreta, Tomas de Garnica, Domingo de Gomendio Urrutia, José de Gorraez, José de Olave, Gavriel de Prudholm Butron y Mujica, Bernardo de Urrea, Juan José de Zarasua, José Diaz del Carpio, Martin de Elizacoecha, Juan Bautista de Anza, Agustine de Vildósola:
Juan Bautista de Anza: Basque Explorer in the New World, 1693-1740 by Donald T. Garate

Gabriel Vildósola and José Vildósola: The Vildósola Family: A Sonoran Political, Military, and Ethnic Legacy, by Donald T. Garate

Juan de Uriberri: El Morro: Inscription Rock New Mexico by John M. Slater

All others:
California Calligraphy: Identified Autographs of Personages Connected With the Conquest and Development of the Californias, Maynard Geiger, editor.

Cover drawing: “Spanish Conquistador” by Frederic Remington
Anza II portrait: Museum of New Mexico—Public Domain

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7 Comments

7 Responses to “Basques in the Americas 1592-1692”

  1. Guillermo Zubiaga on August 19th, 2009 10:59 am

    Eskulan Bikaina! Hala ere data batzuk kanpoan geratu dira.

    (Excellent article! Although a few dates have been left behind.)

    1565-Sinking of the Basque Whaler from Pasajes “San Juan” on Red Bay. Oldest Shipwreck north of Florida to this day.

    1574- The Basque Whaler “Madalena” was driven aground on Saddle Island (Red Bay). (Second oldest know shipwreck north of Florida to date)

    1577-Death and last will of Basque whaler Juan de Larrume in Red Bay.

    1584 – Whaler form Orio, Joanes de Echaniz, died at Carrol Cove in the Strait of Belle and left his testament.

    These last two constitute some of the oldest, if not the two oldest, written documents in North American history.

    Eskerrik asko eta opatzen dot onuragarria izan dezazuen.

    G

    [Reply]

  2. Bassque on August 27th, 2009 9:40 pm

    Guillermo,
    Thank you for the information. It is always good to communicate and pass information along. The chronology is not complete and probably never will be.
    I appreciate your contribution and I will begin searching for additional data regarding the oldest written documents in North American history. There is so much more to be done.
    I am continually amazed by the Basque people.
    Mil esker,
    Steve Bass

    [Reply]

  3. John N Cox on September 25th, 2009 9:44 am

    This may have nothing to do with Basques at all, but from the 1780s to the 1830s, there are lots of gravestones in Presbyterian and Lutheran cemeteries in Piedmont North Carolina, USA, that have the lauburu cross carved into them. What, if any, connection these Ulster Scot and German immigrants to North Carolina had with the Basques, I have no idea.

    Link to Set of Photographs: http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnncox/sets/72157606641223597/

    [Reply]

  4. Michel-Antoine Goitia-Nicolas on October 6th, 2009 11:09 am

    There is indeed a connection! In 1764, many Acadians were deposited (exiled) by the English into the Piedmont and Thomasville, North Carolina area. Many if not most of these Acadians (Guipuzcoans – as the Treaty of Paris states) were indeed Basques! Abadie, Barbe, Basque, Budro, Buruzaharte (Broussard), D’Ubilliot, Eguilore = Guillory D’Eague = Teague and Espurgue = Spurge, and many many others. I have been working on this history nine years now and will shortly publish my findings. At least 60% of Acadian or Cajun family names are Basque!

    [Reply]

  5. vicente garcia on November 25th, 2009 11:25 am

    Señores,
    Me emociona el saber de la cultura vasca, no sé porque. Lo único que sé es que nací en la bella ciudad de Durango, provincia de Vizcaya, México. Nuestra provincia fue fundada por gente vizcaína, y mi familia, con apellidos vascos de abuelos y bisabuelos, establecieron su familia desde mediados del siglo 15 en esta bella región de México.
    Aunque no conozco los lugares que nuestros antepasados vinieron, les mando emocionado mi cariño que proviene de esta sangre que estos antepasados dejaron en mi ser a todo el pueblo vasco. Espero en Dios que algún día me permita visitar y pasar por esa zona Euskadi en España y gozar de su hospitalidad y cultura.

    Sinceramente
    Vicente Garcia

    [Reply]

  6. LEZO IS BEAUTIFUL! on December 17th, 2009 8:07 am

    1597- Antonio de Urquiola, from Guetaria, is appointed director of shipbuilding at Lezo in the Basque Country. Lezo is destroyed by the French in 1638 and never rebuilt as a shipbuilding center.

    :O I´m from Lezo and I didn´t know that! f***ing french. Zoragarria da hain urrun egonda , hainbeste denbora pasata oraindik nondik etorri zinezten eta zuen arbasoak nolakoak ziren kezkatzeaz eta haien kultura berreskuratu nahi izateaz. Segi horrela besarkada handi handi handi bat! Gora Euskal Herria Askatuta!!!

    [Reply]

  7. Alberto Duarte Prieto on July 23rd, 2010 10:00 am

    Thank you for the information on the Basques that explored and settled in North America. Sadly, such historical information and credit to the Basques has been left out of the history books in America.

    Again, thank you.

    Alberto Duarte Prieto
    Santa Maria, California

    [Reply]

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Basques in the Americas 1592-1692