Images de page
PDF
ePub

dance, usually as a prayer for rain. Espejo now pushed westward and reached the region of Prescott, where he discovered rich veins, later to be known as mines of fabulous wealth. Then, retracing his steps to the Río Grande, he returned by way of the Pecos River to Santa Bárbara, whither Father Beltrán had preceded him. Espejo's report of the mines, of course, set the frontier on fire. The rumor that Drake, after raiding Spanish ships on the Pacific (1579), had found the Strait of Anian, and had sailed home through it, impelled the Spaniards to extend their power northward to the shores of that Strait. So Philip ordered the Viceroy of Mexico to make a contract with some one for the conquest and settlement of New Mexico. Several applicants came forward, including Espejo, who proposed at his own expense to colonize New Mexico with four hundred soldier-settlers and to build a port where the Strait of Anian entered the North Sea! So great was the excitement in Mexico that some adventurers did not wait for official sanction, but set out on their own authority, knowing that nothing succeeds like success. No result came of these unauthorized ventures, and, what with red tape and jealousies and disputes, it was

[ocr errors]

some years before a contract was concluded with any one. The King had his Armada on his mind and, for the time, was pinning all his hopes upon that. But, in 1588, his Armada was beaten and almost wholly destroyed. His command of the sea was gone. And he turned again to his subjects in Mexico for help to make his power in the New World secure. At last, in 1595, just when Vizcaíno was commissioned to colonize and hold California, the contract for the conquest and settlement of New Mexico was awarded to Juan de Oñate of Zacatecas. The two expeditions, indeed, were regarded as parts of the same enterprise. Oñate was the scion of a family distinguished for generations through service to the Crown in Spain and in Mexico; and he had married Isabel Tolosa Cortés Montezuma, a descendant of both Cortés and Montezuma II. He was granted extensive privileges in New Mexico, much like those conferred upon Menéndez in Florida - thirty years before. His colonists were promised the rank of hidalgo — for themselves and their heirs. The expedition was prepared in feudal style. Men of

means were made captains. They did homage and

swore fealty to Oñate, sounded fife and drum, set up standards, and raised companies at their

/*

own expense. Rich men staked their fortunes on the gamble. | Zacatecas was made the central rendezvous for the colony, which was recruited from far and near. Jealousies and underminings interfered so much in the preliminary stages that it was 1598 before Oñate left Santa Bárbara, the last important outpost on the frontier. In his train went one hundred and thirty soldier-settlers, most of them taking their families, a band of Franciscans under Father Martínez, a large retinue of negro and Indian slaves, seven thousand head of stock, and eighty-three wagons and carts for transporting the women and children and the baggage. The baggage must have been ample indeed if all the officers were as well supplied as Captain Luís de Velasco with wardrobe and appurtenances suitable to a cavalier in the wilderness. Don Luís had one suit of “blue Italian velvet trimmed with wide gold passementerie.gonsisting of doublet, breeches, and green silk stockings with blue garters and points of gold lace,” a suit of rose satin, one of straw-colored satin, another of purple Castilian cloth, another of chestnut colored cloth, a sixth and daintier one, of Chinese flowered silk. He had two doublets of Castilian dressed kid and one of royal lion skin gold-trimmed; two linen shirts, fourteen pairs of Rouen linen breeches, forty pairs of boots, shoes, and gaiters, three hats, one black, trimmed around the crown with a silver cord and black, purple, and white feathers, another gray with yellow and purple feathers, the third of purple taffeta trimmed with blue, purple, and yellow feathers and a band of gold and silver passementerie. He took four saddles “of blue flowered Spanish cloth bound with Cordovan leather,” three suits of armor, and three suits of horse armor, a silver-handled lance with gold and purple tassels, a sword and gilded dagger with belts stitched in purple and yellow silk, a broadsword, two shields, and - as a protection against weather and sneezes - a raincoat and six linen handkerchiefs. A bedstead and two mattresses with coverlet, sheets, pillows, and pillowcases and a canvas mattress-bag bound with leather completed his outfit — not forgetting servants, thirty horses and mules, and a silken banner. Instead of continuing down the Conchos, Oñate opened a new trail direct to the Río Grande. Early in April (1598) he reached the Médanos, the great sand dunes south of El Paso. On the twenty-sixth he camped on the river just below El Paso. Here on the thirtieth he took formal possession “of all the Kingdoms and provinces of New Mexico, on the Río del Norte, in the name of our Lord King Philip.” The day was given up to a celebration beginning with artillery salutes, Mass, and a sermon, and concluding with the presentation of a comedy written by Captain Farfán. On the 4th of May Oñate crossed the Río Grande at El Paso. Then with sixty men he went ahead in person “to pacify the land.” Two months later, at the present Santo Domingo, a pueblo west of Santa Fé, he received the submission of the chiefs of seven provinces. Continuing north a short distance, on July 11, 1598, he established headquarters at the pueblo of Caypa, then renamed and ever since known as San Juan. With the aid of fifteen hundred natives he began the construction of an irrigation ditch. His colonists came up with him early in August; and, on the 8th of September, they celebrated the completion of the first church erected in New Mexico. On the next day chiefs from all the explored territory assembled to do honor to their Spanish super-chief and to receive their rods of office as lieutenants of King Philip. A tone of solemnity was given the scene by holding the ceremony in the kiva, or sacred council chamber, of the pueblo. There, on

« PrécédentContinuer »