Cuartocentennial of the Colonization of New Mexico
1536 Cabeza de Vaca talked to Mendoza and reported on the area Oñate eventually explored telling of civilized people thus sparking the Spanish desire to go forth, conquer, and explore the area.
22 February 1540 Coronado left for his expedition. Cristobal Oñate invested 50,000 pesos in the venture and loaned Coronado a valuable horse. The area to which Oñate sent his horse was colonized sixty years later by his son.
1552 Juan de Oñate (and possibly a twin brother) born near Zacatecas, New Spain. There is a debate about Oñate's birth date. Some historians fix his birth date shortly after his parents' marriage in 1550. His father, Cristobal Oñate, was the Lieutenant-Governor of Nueva Galicia. He made his fortune as a developer of the silver mines near Zacatecas.
1573 Colonization Laws of Spain enacted by the king which effected plans, dates, and outcome of Oñate's expedition.
1580 Juan de Oñate was married. (We have found two different accounts of whom he married. He either married the daughter of Hernan Cortez and Montezuma's daughter or he married a wealthy woman, Dona Isabel del Tolosa, the daughter of one of his father's rich partners.
1580-1590s Several men petitioned to receive the position of leader of the expedition into New Mexico. They were all denied for various reasons. Viceroy Valasco recommended Oñate.
1583 Philip II issued a decree telling Viceroy of New Spain to find a wealthy and able colonist willing to try to settle New Mexico.
21 September 1595 Oñate signed the formal contract to be leader of the expedition. Later that month Don Gaspar de Zuñiga y Acevedo, the Count of Monteray, landed in New Spain with papers making him the new Viceroy and transferring Valasco to Peru (much to the surprise of Oñate and Valasco). Unlike Valasco Acevedo was not Oñate's personal friend and had no reservations about clipping his wings.
December 1595 Contract is modified and Oñate receives permission to proceed.
1595-1598 As yet unexplained delays. One source claims that the new Viceroy was inundated with people who wanted to replace Oñate. This same source claims that one man who put his name in for consideration was Don Pedro Ponce de Leon.
26 January 1598 Don Juan de Oñate and his caravan left from San Gerómino. The expedition consisted of 170 families and 230 single men.
30 January 1598 The expedition reached the Conchos River. The river was swelled and the caravan had to cross dangerous water to reach the other side.
31 January 1598 Inspector Salazar was supposed to deliver the final paper of certification in a grand and traditional ceremony. However, instead he only verbally said that the expedition could proceed. The expedition then traveled 30 miles to the San Pedro River to meet up with two Franciscan missionaries. The expedition remained there for three weeks. Oñate sent a scouting group of 16 men to find a suitable trail.
9 February 1598 Some sources claim that the expedition reached the San Pedro River on 9 February not 31 January. However, one commonality was that the party was delayed one month.
3 March 1598 Scouting party reached Rio Grande and began return trip to the main group.
10 March 1598 Scouting group rejoined the main group. Alternate sources state that the expedition reached a river they named the Nombre de Dios (now thought to be the Rio Chuviscar).
18 March 1598 They reached what is presently called the Sierra de Sacremento.
19 March 1598 The camped on the Rio Sacremento.
20 March 1598 Thursday, the Feast of the Blessed Sacremento Some sources claim the expedition reached the stream on 20 March not 19 March. Oñate's friars named the river the Rio Sacremento after Holy Thursday- the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament. [I need to find out what day of the week this is because at least one source claims that Holy Thursday occurred on 19 March and that 20 March was Good Friday]. Oñate sent a second reconnaissance team to explore the terrain ahead. His nephew Zaldivar headed the mission.
21 March 1598 The main expedition followed the reconnaissance team.
22 March 1598 Easter Sunday The expedition rested in a grove of oak trees which they christened the "Encinar de la Resurrection."
25 March 1598 Caravan reached a large lagoon that had the "same taste and smell as the lake at Mexico City." They called it "Laguna de San Benito." Some think that this is the present day Laguna de Encinillas.
28 March 1598 They reached the Bocas del Peñol de Velez. They rested two days.
31 March 1598 They reached Fuente de San Francisco de Paula.
1 April 1598 The expedition experienced hard times and scarce water. Rain came and revitalized them.
4 April 1598 At least one source says the expedition reached a dry river they called Rio de la Mentira.
7 April 1598 Oñate's caravan rested two days then moved on. On 7 April they reached a Sierra and a marsh with very good water they called it the Alchichubite de San Vicente. The reference is probably to Cerro de Noria.
8 April 1598 Expedition reached the edge of an expanse of sand dunes- the Los Médanos. Today a main highway from El Paso to Ciudad Juarez cuts through the middle of this area.
12 April 1598 Some sources claim the expedition reached Bocas de los Medanos on 12 April not 8 April.
19 April 1598 The expedition came to a problem sand dune and the party split in two. It took a full day to get all the colonists to the Rio Grande to a spot 25 miles below present El Paso. The expedition rested one week. Some sources claim that the expedition reached the Rio Grande on 20 April 1598.
20 April 1598 The expedition reached the Rio del Norte (Rio Grande). Probably near present day city of San Ignacio.
27 April 1598 Expedition began its way up the Rio Grande.
30 April 1598 The Feast of the Ascension Oñate took possession of all the kingdoms and provinces of New Mexico in the name of King Philip II of Spain.
1 May 1598 The expedition moved up the valley. They began to meet peaceful Indians whom they called the Manso Indians.
4 May 1598 The expedition forded the river. The Manso showed them the best place to cross. They camped at what they called the "pass of the river and the ford." This is just north of present day El Paso.
12 May 1598 Between 4 May and 12 May the expedition proceeded up through the Mesilla Valley and up to the Organ Mountains
20 May 1598 The caravan reached a spot 11 miles above Paraje de Doña Ana. They stopped and rested one day.
21 May 1598 Pedro Robledo died and was buried. They named the area Paraje de Robledo (the Robledo Campsite) and the mountain which faces the campsite is still called Robledo Mountain.
22 May 1598 They set off across the Joranada.
23 May 1598 The expedition found a rare water hole on the Joranada. They discovered the water because they found a dog with muddy paws.
27 May 1598 The expedition arrived at the Piro Indian settlement of Qualacu. Other sources state that the expedition camped at the foot of a marsh at the foot of a black cliff which they called the Mesilla de Guinea; probably across the river from what became San Marcial.
28 May 1598 The expedition passed the Piro village of Trenequel.
12 June 1598 Some sources claim that the expedition really reached the Prio village of Qualacu on 12 June not 27 May.
14 June 1598 Oñate resumed his march and passed 3 campsites which would be popular in later years: Paraje de Valverde, Bosque del Apache, and Paraje de Luis Lopez. T hey camped near the Prio town of Teypana.
15 June 1598 The expedition stopped at Acomilla.
16 June 1598 The expedition stopped at a Prio town the called Nueva Sevilla. They stayed there until 21 June.
21 June 1598 They left the Prio town and rested four days at a place they called San Juan Bautista.
25-26 June 1598 The expedition passed many pueblos and planted fields on both sides of the Rio Grande. They camped just north of present day Albuquerque.
27 June 1598 They left camp and made it to the Tiwa Pueblo of Puaray near present day Bernallio.
30 June 1598 They rested at the Tiwa Pueblo of Santo Domingo.
11 July 1598 Oñate reached the San Juan Pueblo. -July Oñate conducted several exploratory missions.
19-20 August 1598 Oñate faced a mutiny by 45 officers (more than 1/3 of the expedition). -21 August 1598 The mutiny was resolved publicly.
8 September 1598 Dedication of the new church of San Juan Bautist. -November Oñate engaged in more exploration.
1 December 1598 Oñate reached the Acoma Pueblo
13 December 1598 Oñate heard of the Acoma rebellion and the death of his nephew Juan de Zaldivar and 10 others.
20 December 1598 Oñate arrived in San Juan
28 December 1598 Oñate held judicial proceedings for two weeks to decide the fate of the Acoma.
12 January 1599 Oñate arrived near Acoma. A fight ensued. Eventually the Spanish won.
9 February 1599 Vincente and his men returned from the fight to great joy. Trials began for Acoma who survived.
12 February 1599 The trials ended. Acoma received drastic sentences but not put to death. Sentences were carried out in Santo Domingo for most publicity.
2 March 1599 Oñate wrote to the Viceroy for more men to help keep order.
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