As the Espana moved slowly out to sea, the passengers gathered at vantage points on the deck and focused their eyes on Santa Cruz until the town slowly melted into the horizon. While the older colonists had been eager to begin the voyage to America, they made no effort to conceal their homesickness that lasted until all sight of land disappeared. Their children, unaware of the meaning of it all, resumed the games and pastimes that had entertained them while the Espana lay in port at Santa Cruz.
Scarcely had the colonists settled themselves for the long weeks of sea travel that lay ahead when an exciting incident occurred.
Luis Gutierrez, one of the emigrants from Lanzarote, never shared the enthusiasm of his wife and friends in the prospect of finding wealth and happiness in the distant province of Texas. He had never been outside the island before and would have been content to spend the rest of his life there, but he yielded to the arguments of Juan Leal Goraz and the entreaties of his own family and enlisted only a few days before the Espana was due to sail. As he went aboard the Espana on arrival at Santa Cruz, the thought of starting life anew disturbed him. Then the attitude of Don Franquis towards the colonists and the uncertainty of the sailing date served further to unsettle his mind.
When Don Bartolome arrived at Santa Cruz, Gutierrez told him that he had changed his mind and begged the intendant to allow himself and his family to return to Lanzarote. Don Bartolome refused and appealed to his manhood and his loyalty to the King, while Father Ruiz urged him earnestly to go along with his associates. The soothing effect of these requests was only temporary, for when the Espana had gotten beyond the sight of land, Gutierrez became hysterical and fell to the deck in a faint. Father Ruiz gave him a sedative, which with a day in bed seemed to ease his mind. However, two days later, a spell of seasickness so upset him that he tried to leap overboard, but the other colonists restrained him. The captain then took him in hand and chained him to one of the millstones in the hold of the ship where he remained until the Espana reached Havana.
The voyage to the Madeiras at times was rough, but when the Espana headed southwest from Funchal before a fair breeze. she made good progress except for occasional periods of calm, lasting from one to three days. Often these were followed by swells that caused seasickness to many of the passengers. A constant sufferer from this malady was Luisa, wife of Juan Leal Goraz, who was not well when she left Lanzarote. Although she and her family knew she had long suffered from lung trouble and was hardly able to endure the voyage, all hoped that changed conditions would benefit her health. As the voyage progressed, however, she grew worse and on several occasions before the Espana reached, it seemed that she could not survive.
From their conversation and deportment, Father Ruiz, soon discovered in the Canary Island colonists a simple, childish mentality that was wholly inadequate to cope with the problems certain to arise in developing a frontier country inhabited by wild animals and savage Indians and infested with dangerous reptiles and poisonous insects. He cared little whether these people settled at the Bay of Espiritu Santo on the gulf coast. Los Adaes on the eastern edge of the province, or San Antonio de Bexar. Wherever they located in Texas, he knew they would have to defend themselves against native enemies and combat epidemics of smallpox and other diseases usually found in temperate regions, while at the same time they cleared their lands, built their homes, and set up a permanent civil settlement. If they should succeed in these initial efforts, they would have to continue to work hard under trying conditions to support themselves and their families, since the Spanish government had made it clear that it would withdraw all financial aid after the settlers had harvested their first crop, or at the end of the first year in the settlement, whichever occurred last.
Father Ruiz was certain that wherever these colonists settled, they would form the nucleus of an organized civil government to be set up under the code of the Council of the Indies at Seville.
This body, with the advice and counsel of the Spanish King, made uniform laws governing all civil settlements in New Spain, and required the viceroy at Mexico City to see that they were observed. As these laws would be strictly enforced, Father Ruiz was concerned about the sort of local government the King might expect from a people who could not read or write and whose experience in politics had been limited to the small, unimportant village of Arrecife in the island of Lanzarote. He assumed that the King and his counsellors had considered these aspects and were prepared to accept the results; nevertheless, he was not willing for the long voyage to end without making serious effort to inform the colonists of their duties and responsibilities as citizens of a new country. It was proper also that he call their attention to the hardships that lay ahead and suggest practical means of meeting them. Accordingly, he spent several days carefully preparing short discourses on timely subjects, and when he completed the series, he invited the adult passengers to a half-hour lecture in the ship's chapel one hour before noon on each week day.
At first the novelty of the voyage so attracted the colonists they showed little interest in Father Ruiz efforts to enlighten them. Often during an important discussion, members of his audience would leave the chapel and go to the deck, hoping to glimpse a passing ship or a spouting whale, or to see the antics of a school of porpoises or flocks of seagulls that followed the ship. Despite these distractions, the priest continued his daily talks, and within a week he was pleased to observe that some of the more serious-minded colonists were absorbing the main points of his discourses.
It was no surprise to those colonists who knew him well that
Juan Leal Goraz lost little time in impressing his importance upon the passengers and the ship's crew. The Espana had been at sea only a day when he began to assert his authority as self appointed leader of all the Canary Islanders aboard by attempting to regulate their daily routine and to discipline the children when they quarreled. The colonists from Lanzarote ignored Goraz for they were aware of his overbearing disposition and considered him in the light of a barking dog that seldom bites. However, an altercation occurred one day when Goraz chided Antonio Rodriguez, of Grand Canary, for failing to address him as "Don," a title reserved for "Hidalgos," to which Goraz had no valid claim. Goraz attempted to strike Antonio, when Manuel de Niz, also of Grand Canary, interfered and threatened to claw out Goraz' remaining eye and remove his beard, strand by strand, if he again spoke harshly to any of the tour passengers from Grand Canary. Thereafter, Goraz was more civil in his relations with all the colonists.
Occasionally Goraz criticized Captain Gonzales for the manner in which he navigated the Espana and blamed him for the slow progress of the ship. The captain paid little attention to these comments, coming from one so ignorant of the ways of the sea. Once while the Espana lay in a calm for several days in the eastern waters of the West Indies, Goraz went out of his way to bemean Captain Gonzales and charged him with deliberately steering the ship into calm waters for the sole purpose of prolonging the voyage and causing discomfort to the passengers. This was too much for the captain, who ordered Goraz placed incommunicado in the ship's hold for five days, chained to one of the millstones. After two days, out of consideration for the grave condition of Goraz' wife, the captain released him on the promise that he would hold his tongue thereafter and leave the navigation of the Espana to the captain and his crew.
Long weeks of confinement on the Espana drew the young men and women into close association, and as a result of these contacts, encouraged by Father Ruiz, several romances budded. In one of his discourses, the priest told the colonists that under laws governing New Spain, certain rights and privileges, including ownership of land and fitness for holding public office, were reserved for heads of families. The King had already promised the Canary Island settlers in Texas that their married men would receive free certain live stock, supplies, and farming equipment not available to single men. Stimulated by this information, two couples made plans for early weddings, but upon the advice of Father Ruiz and the parents of the lovers, they postponed their marriages until the colonists were officially informed as to the exact location of the new settlement.
On May 10, 1730, the Espana entered the harbor at Havana, and on the eleventh, the passengers went ashore for rest and relaxation while the ship underwent some minor repairs before sailing for Vera Cruz. The governor in Havana had expected the arrival of the Espana for several weeks and had provided quarters for the colonists at La Fuerza the fort built by Hernando de Soto two centuries previously. This old bastion, which once held gold and silver taken from Peru and the Incas and Aztecs, was the object of siege by pirates who sailed the Spanish Main and by French, Dutch, English, and Spanish corsairs who pillaged it in the sixteenth and seventh centuries. Now renovated and habitable, it was to serve the peaceful purpose of housing the Canary Island colonists during their stay in Havana.
The governor's military guards met the colonists at the dock and escorted them to the fort, while his aides brought necessary food, clothing, and medical supplies. They also arranged for Luisa, the wife of Juan Leal Goraz, whose condition had not improved, and other persons less seriously ill, to have prompt medical attention. After forty-four days of physical inactivity aboard ship, the colonists were not long in recovering their "land legs" and proceeded to use them extensively. They visited all sections of the city, often without escort, a privilege that proved a high price for their freedom when six of their number became stricken with smallpox and had to be isolated from the rest of their associates for several days.
Father Ruiz kept a watchful eye over the spiritual welfare of his charges and saw to it that they attended services regularly. The high spot of their religious experience occurred when, in a body, the colonists attended a special mass at Catedral Santisima Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepcion, under the auspices of the Archbishop. This cathedral, which was completed in 1724, only six years before, after being under construction for sixty-eight years, is known today as "Catedral de Colon." Father Ruiz was present at the baptism of the infant son of Juan Leal, Jr., and wife, who was born two days after the colonists arrived at Havana.
Two days before the colonists sailed from Havana to Vera Cruz, two young men visited the fort and asked to see the jefe, or chief, of the Canary Islanders. They were barefooted and their clothing was in tatters. Juan Leal Goraz met them and assuming they were professional beggars, of which there were many in Havana at that time, and having neither food nor clothing to spare, ordered them off the premises. As they were leaving, one of the young men shouted that they were natives of the Canaries and friends of Francisco Arocha and Vicente Travieso. When Goraz heard that remark, he called the young men back and listened to their story.
The strangers gave their names as Ignacio and Martin de Armas, brothers, natives of San Sebastian in Gomera, and at length related the facts about their voyage to Havana on the dos Amigos a year previously. They said they had been unable to find steady employment either at Havana or in the canefields in the country. They had tramped from Havana to Santiago and returned without earning enough money to buy food, and to prevent starvation, they had been forced to beg. Both had been ill of fever and but for the kindness of a parish priest in the village where they were stricken, they might have died. They asked, to join the Canary Islanders as colonists to the province of Texas, and if accepted, they promised to meet all requirements. The sincerity of the men impressed Goraz, and after the older colonists had talked with them, he urged the governor at Havana to allow them to become members of the group. The request was granted and soon the De Armas brothers received fresh clothing, after which they sat down with their new associates to their first full meal in several weeks. They adjusted themselves at once to the ways of their fellow countrymen and sailed with them to Vera Cruz.
The departure of the Espana for Vera Cruz was delayed a few days because of smallpox among some of the colonists. Fortunately, the cases were mild, and the patients were well enough to sail on June 1).
From all appearances, Luis Gutierrez had fully recovered from his mental trouble during the visit to Havana, and with his family he was at the dock, ready to go aboard the Espana. As he approached the gangplank, however, he lost himself in the crowd in a deliberate attempt to escape. Later a soldier found him crouching in an obscure street four blocks away and arrested him. Forcibly put aboard the Espana, Captain Gonzales again chained him to one of the millstones and kept him there throughout the voyage to Vera Cruz Cruz.
The voyage from Havana to Vera Cruz was uneventful except for the brief excitement caused by the Gutierrez incident. Frequent squalls tossed the Espana about on the rough waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the discomfort of a few of the passengers, but these were of short duration. Then followed periods of calm that so impeded the progress of the ship that it did not reach Vera Cruz until July 19 , ten days after leaving Havana and eighty-four days after sailing from Santa Cruz in Teneriffe.
The Espana approached Vera Cruz from the south to avoid the dangerous reefs east and north of the town. She carefully made her way through a narrow channel that lay between Sacrificios and Verde islands and dropped anchor at the island of San Juan de Uloa, a fourth of a league from Vera Cruz, where a fleet of rowboats and small wind driven scows were on hand to ferry the passengers, their belongings, and the two millstones to the mole at Vera Cruz.
Before the Canary Islanders left the Espana, they assembled on deck where Father Ruiz, on their behalf, gratefully thanked Captain Gonzales and his crew for bringing them safely across the Atlantic. The priest then offered a fervent prayer of thanksgiving for their deliverance and asked God's richest blessings upon Captain Gonzales, his crew, and the colonists in all their undertakings.
The Espana sailed two days later for Campeche, and the Canary Island colonists never saw her again.
When the Canary Island emigrants entered Vera Cruz, they realized that they were in another world. From the cool, soothing breezes of the gulf, they found themselves within an hour in the tierra caliente, or warm country, a term Cortes gave the locality two centuries before to describe the torrid heat that pervaded the coastal area.
The natives spoke the Spanish language, but their dark skin and black hair and eyes clearly marked them as descendants of another race. To the Canary Islanders, the costumes of these strange people were colorful and intriguing. The men of the upper class wore broad brimmed hats decorated with silver ornaments, while the sleeves of their short, buckskin waistcoats were open at the elbow and adorned with bright silver buttons. Their close-fitting pantaloons were made of dressed skin or blue velvet, bordered with bands of black material, and to complete the costume, a wide-fringed belt of red silk or velvet encircled the waist. The dressier half-breeds wore shoes made of sheepskins, but the Indians wore sandals or went barefooted. To protect their heads from the blazing sun, the Indians used hand-made, wide-brimmed hats woven from the fiber of the ixtle plant, a kind of hemp that grows in the tropical areas. At home, women wore loose dresses with low bodices, but in public they displayed costumes of thin material, with petticoats underneath, and covered their heads and shoulders with long black shawls that hung in graceful folds to their waists.
Glancing along the shore, as far as the eye could see, one found that the land was flat, but many miles to the west stood snow-covered mountains, clearly visible from Vera Cruz.
Francisco Hernandez, second alcalde, or acting mayor, of Vera Cruz, met the colonists as they came ashore and, as special representative of the viceroy, cordially welcomed them to New Spain. He assured them that he would do everything possible for their comfort and happiness so long as they remained in Vera Cruz and then escorted them to their quarters. The houses selected for the visitors were constructed of adobe bricks and were units of the military post that stood on the outskirts of Vera Cruz just inside the high wall that partly surrounded the town. The buildings, once used as barracks, had thatched roofs which protected their occupants in dry weather, but during the rainy season, which was then at its height, they were of little value. The town wall obscured the view to the north, interfered with the breezes, and added to the discomfort of the occupants in warm weather.
After Francisco Hernandez transferred the travelers and their belongings to their temporary homes, he went to his headquarters and returned with a supply of food and clothing which he turned over to Juan Leal Goraz for distribution to the colonists as needed. Before the acting mayor left his guests, a heavy rain poured through the thatched roofs, soaking the inmates to the skin and otherwise dampening their spirits, which by this time were quite low. However, within an hour, the sun shone brightly and soon dried their clothing and improved their dispositions.
The acting mayor handed a note to Father Ruiz from the church authorities in Mexico, ordering him to remain at Vera Cruz as spiritual adviser to the colonists until they left for Texas. As the message made no mention of the time of their departure or the site of their destination. Father Ruiz assumed that their stay at Vera Cruz would be short. He arranged for the colonists to attend services at the parish church except during rainy weather, when they would go to the chapel at the military post nearby.
The Canary Islanders had been at Vera Cruz only a few days when they became alarmed on learning that an epidemic of vomito, or tropical fever, had been raging in the town for several weeks and that a number of people had died of it. Their anxiety increased when on June 30 their associate Juan Rodriguez, husband of Maria and father of five children, was stricken with the disease and died five days later. On July 5, another colonist, Luis Delgado, husband of Mariana and father of three children, died from the same cause. In both cases Father Ruiz administered extreme unction and committed their bodies to graves in the parish cemetery at Vera Cruz.
The untimely deaths of Rodriguez, a potter, and Delgado, a tanner, cast a deep shadow over the little band of emigrants. Both men had been agreeable companions, and their sunny dispositions had bolstered the morale of the travelers in seasons of danger and distress. The colonists comforted the bereaved widows and their orphaned children and in the months that followed aided them in many ways.
Despite their discomforts, sorrows, and anxieties, the Canary Islanders, with the exception of Luis Gutierrez and his family, accepted their situations calmly, believing that they would remain at Vera Cruz only until the next register ship sailed for the Texas coast. They were fully justified in this belief since the King's dispatch of February 14, 1729, clearly stated that the settlers would go "by sea" from Vera Cruz to their final destination. To them, this could only mean some point on or near the Texas coast. As has been related, Luis Gutierrez had often shown concern over the Texas colonization plan, although when he went ashore at Vera Cruz he seemed calm and reconciled. Two days after the death of Luis Delgado, Goraz reported to the acting mayor of
Vera Cruz that Gutierrez and his family had disappeared during the previous night, a fact that was not altogether surprising in view of Gutierrez strange conduct aboard the Espana on leaving Santa Cruz and Havana. A careful search of the town failed to disclose any trace of the Gutierrez family, but when the authorities learned that a ketch had left Vera Cruz for Campeche early on the morning after their disappearance, they assumed that Gutierrez had bribed the skipper of the ketch to take him and his family aboard, and made no further effort to find them. When the viceroy heard of the incident, he was indignant and ordered the acting mayor to take necessary steps to prevent further withdrawals from the group.
As late as the arrival of the Canary Island settlers at Vera Cruz, the viceroy had not selected the site they were to colonize or the method of travel they were to use to reach it. It was learned later that the King's plan was to establish the first civil settlement in the province of Texas at Bay of Espiritu Santo, but the mission and military post at that point only recently had been abandoned, and the viceroy considered it useless, in the circumstances, to send them there.
The day after the colonists arrived at Vera Cruz, the acting mayor sent a detailed list of the personnel to Marques de Casafuerte, viceroy at Mexico, so that he and his counsellors might have it before them while discussing future plans for (lie colonists. The subject was so acute that an argument arose between Casafuerte and his most trusted Counsellor, General Pedro de Rivera, over the final disposition of the settlers. Rivera had been a military man for many years and was a strong figure in administrative affairs in New Spain. From November, 1724, to the spring of 1727, he traveled on horseback over rough trails, exposed to Indian attacks, poor food, and uncomfortable lodging, while inspecting and reporting upon conditions at every military post in the northern provinces of New Spain, including Texas. His object was to correct certain abuses that were the outgrowth of a custom which permitted captains of military posts to buy supplies and sell them to the soldiers at their garrisons at exorbitant prices—a system by which the captains made outrageous profits — with a demoralizing effect upon the army. The experience Rivera held gained on this mission qualified him as a capable adviser with respect to the future welfare of the Canary Islanders.
The viceroy thought well of the idea of moving the colonists by water to the Texas coast, regardless of the place selected as their destination. Rivera opposed the suggestion and argued that to send the families by sea would be hazardous, as there were no suitable port facilities along the coast; that the French, whose headquarters were at New Orleans, would attack any Spanish ship sailing along the gulf coast; and finally, even if the colonists should land safely at the Bay of Espiritu Santo, hostile Indians would resent the presence of Spaniards in their territory and would quickly massacre them. Rivera thought it would be far better to select San Antonio de Bexar as a place for settlement and send the colonists there by land under adequate guard and in care of an able guide. Under this plan the families could make the trip in easy stages without serious trouble. They had only a few household and farming articles when they went aboard the Espana at Santa Cruz in Teneriffe, and it would be necessary to supplement these along the route to San Antonio de Bexar. They would need horses, mules, tools, clothing, tents, food, and medicines, and while the most essential items were available at Vera Cruz, agricultural implements, oxen, and other equipment necessary to successful farming could be bought at Saltillo. After considering the matter for several weeks, the viceroy adopted Rivera's suggestion and selected Francisco Duval as official guide to conduct the Canary Islanders overland from Vera Cruz to San Antonio dc Bexar.
The choice of Duval as guide was a happy one. He was thirty-eight years old and unmarried, the son of a Spaniard, who had served for many years as clerk in the viceregal offices at Mexico. His mother was a mixture of Spanish and Aztec ancestry, and he inherited some traits of his Indian forebears. While he was attending a parochial school in Mexico, Duval's parents induced him to study for the priesthood. After two years in close association with Franciscan friars, he had gained little knowledge of the rites and ceremonies of the Holy Church, as his interest lay more in history and politics than in saving souls. He left the monastery and went to the viceroy's headquarters, where he obtained a good education in government regulations and became familiar with social and civil customs.
He had keen admiration for the great conqueror, Hernando Cortes, and could recite details of his campaigns and battles by the hour. Duval had served for several years as special messenger between the viceroy and various provincial governors of New Spain and had covered much of the territory traversed by Cortes two centuries before.
Duval was tactful in his relations with men and agreeable with women and children. He was considerate of the welfare of others, and while traveling, no important detail escaped his attention. He was thoroughly familiar with every league of the long route from Vera Cruz to San Antonio de Bexar and knew the hazards of the mountain passes and the dangers of the arid plains. Of utmost importance was the fact that he was aware of the ever-present menace of roving Indian bands along the way and was well qualified by heritage and experience to cope with it.
On July 30, after weeks of discomfort, bereavement, and uncertainty, Francisco Hernandez, the acting mayor, told the colonists that the viceroy had selected San Antonio de Bexar as the site for their new settlement and that they would start overland for that place within two days. All seemed happy over the choice of San Antonio, but Juan Leal Goraz reflected the disappointment of his associates when he complained to Hernandez that the authorities at Mexico City were not complying with the King's promise to send them to Texas by ship. Hernandez said he had no knowledge of such plan but suggested that so far as he knew, no vessels would be available for many months. He added that since the viceroy's decisions were always made in the best interests of the King's subjects, the Canary Island settlers could safely assume that if the viceroy approved the plan to travel overland, it would be the best for them in the end. He explained that there had been unavoidable delay in obtaining the required number of horses and pack mules for the journey, but the government had at last bought these from ranches near Jalapa, and they were then pastured on the outskirts of Vera Cruz. Hernandez told Goraz that an able guide would arrive that day to conduct the colonists to Texas and requested that they be ready to depart early on the morning of the second day thereafter, or August 1, 1730.
Their sad experiences at Vera Cruz and the knowledge that they would have to make the trip to Texas by land greatly discouraged the colonists. Had they known before they left Vera Cruz that nearly five hundred leagues of rough mountains and cactus-covered plains lay ahead that would require many months to cover, while a ship could have landed them within a few days at a port only sixty leagues from San Antonio de Bexar, it is doubtful that they would have proceeded except under compulsion.
After he had received his orders in Mexico City, Francisco Duval went to Jalapa to purchase necessary saddle horses and pack mules to transport the Canary Islanders on the long journey from Vera Cruz to San Antonio de Bexar. The viceroy instructed Duval to use close economy in purchasing the animals for cash and to prepare a detailed statement showing age, condition, and price paid for each. The animals were then to be driven to Vera Cruz and allowed to rest a few days before setting out for Texas.
At Jalapa, the purpose of Duval's visit was soon known, and several ranchmen, eager to dispose of their live stock at bargain prices for cash, solicited him to buy their animals. Duval spent two weeks examining various offers and finally concluded that Francisco Terreros had the best animals for the least money and closed a trade with him.
While at the ranch of Francisco Terreros, Duval met the caballero's grand nephews, Felipe and Jose Perez, who had arrived at Jalapa from Laguna in Teneriffe in the fall of the preceding year, having earned passage on the dos Amigos from Santa Cruz in Teneriffe to Vera Cruz. When they learned that Duval was buying animals to move a group of colonists from the Canary Islands to Texas, these young men sought his aid in becoming members of the party. Duval said he had no authority in the matter but promised to lay their cases before the viceroy's agent it they would agree to assist in driving the animals to Vera Cruz.
After arranging for pasturage outside the ramparts of Vera Cruz, Duval accompanied the Perez brothers to the town council and introduced them to the acting mayor, who heard their petition to join the colonists. The young men made a favorable impression on the acting mayor, who escorted them to the quarters of the Canary Islanders and presented them to Juan Leal Goraz. Goraz and his associates welcomed them as new members of the group and soon they renewed their friendship with their former shipmates on the dos Amigos, Ignacio and Martin de Armas, who had joined the colonists at Havana.
Early on the morning of August 1, 1730, ten soldiers appeared at the headquarters of the Canary Islanders, at Vera Cruz with eighty-five horses and sixty-two pack mules to transport the colonists and their personal effects and the supplies of the military escort to the village of Quautitlan, a northwestern suburb of Mexico City, which point the viceroy had selected as the end of the first leg of the long journey. Before the soldiers began loading the pack mules, Francisco Duval, accompanied by the acting mayor, appeared and introduced himself to Goraz and his fellow colonists. After checking all articles to be transported, Duval proceeded to assist the women and children in mounting their horses, an awkward task for some of the women, whose riding experience was limited to short jaunts on small mules in the Canaries. Children too small to ride alone sat astride behind their Parents while mothers carried their babies in their arms.
The caravan was ready to begin its long journey when a heated argument took place between the acting mayor and Francisco Duval over the movement of the millstones that had been left on the dock at Vera Cruz since the arrival of the Espana. The town official insisted that the colonists should take the millstones overland with them, and for that purpose he told Duval that he had provided an oxcart and two strong oxen to draw it. Duval protested on the ground that such a plan was wholly impractical. He said the road over which they would travel narrowed to a single path two days out of Vera Cruz, allowing only one track for the cart. Also, the elevation would be too steep and the load too heavy for the oxen to pull, even if the road were wide. Finally, Duval argued that the oxen would move slower than the rest of the company and would prevent the colonists from keeping the schedule laid out by the viceroy. However, the decision of the acting mayor prevailed, and soon the oxen, drawing a cart carrying the millstones, joined the procession.
In forming the line of travel, two soldiers rode a hundred paces ahead of the caravan, followed by two soldiers leading half the column. In the middle of the procession rode Francisco Duval, the guide, and Father Ruiz, flanked by a soldier on each side of the line. Then followed the second half of the cavalcade with the oxcart trailing, protected at its rear by four soldiers.
Before the colonists left Vera Cruz, the viceroy sent a list of their names to the alcalde at Quautitlan, with instructions to provide the necessary dwelling houses in advance of arrival for their occupancy while in that village. He also ordered the alcalde to obtain supplies, medicines, and medical assistance for the travelers, arrange for the care of their live stock, and pay the daily expense allowance of three reales to each colonist. Finally the alcalde was ordered to do everything possible for the comfort and happiness of his guests as long, as they remained within his jurisdiction.
Duval began the journey slowly and with caution. He realized the women, children, and several men in the group were not accustomed to riding on horseback, and that two adults, Juan Cabrera and Luisa, wife of Juan Leal Goraz, were weak from illness. For the protection of the company at night, Duval made the camp in the shape of a hollow square, forming its sides with rows of staked horses and mules, while in the middle of the enclosure he placed the tents and the belongings of the travelers. Five soldiers guarded the camp until an hour past midnight and another five during the rest of the night.
Before retiring at night, Duval look delight in describing in detail the points of interest they expected to see along the way on the following day. When the caravan reached a village or town, he halted the company long enough to tell some interesting story about the place. In this way he maintained good morale among the colonists, even under trying conditions.
For the first two days, the route led through the tierra caliente, an area that abounded in luxuriant growths of vanilla, cactus, cacao, and tropical fruits and flowers. Myriads of brightly colored birds, with their medley of songs, served to ease discomforts and hardships, while half a hundred inexperienced travelers moved slowly over a road made almost impassable by mud from continued rains. The country was level and despite the poor condition of the trail, the oxen drawing the millstones were able to keep pace with the rest of the company.
On the third morning, as the caravan began the long ascent of the eastern declivities of the Cordilleras, it became apparent when the oxen stalled that the burden of millstones which they were drawing was too great. After an hour of hard work, the men in the party dislodged the cart and again started the oxen on their way, but they had proceeded only a few paces when one of the animals collapsed. Duval then ordered the driver to return to Vera Cruz with the millstones after the oxen had rested, and to dispose of the stones as the acting mayor might direct. The withdrawal of the oxen from the procession enabled the company to make better progress.
The Canary Islanders rested the fourth day before proceeding up the steep ascent towards Orizaba with its snow-capped peak. Behind them lay the verdant tierra caliente, with its faint borderline that marked the western limits of the Gulf of Mexico. To the right stood the Sierra Madre, stretching away in the distance.
As the travelers journeyed upward, they passed through several villages and in due course reached the town known today as Cordoba, where (lie altitude is twenty-seven hundred feet above the sea. Here they encountered cold rain and wind, and for protection it was necessary to unpack their baggage and find heavy mantas and shawls. As they climbed higher, the additional clothing was scarcely sufficient to protect their bodies against frequent surges of sleet and hail.
From Cordoba, the road led along the upper spur of Orizaba, one of the highest peaks in Mexico, and within a distance of ten leagues, the Canary Islanders ascended to within five thousand feet at the top.
As the caravan passed through an Indian village in this high area, Juan Cabrera, one of the colonists from Lanzarote, who was not well when the group left Vera Cruz, could not stand the effect of the altitude and died. His bereaved widow, Maria, and her three children stood with the other travelers while Father Ruiz committed the remains to a shallow grave near the treacherous road that was soon to lead them across Orizaba. After the funeral of Juan Cabrera, the colonists sorrowfully moved forward, only to halt the following day because Luisa, wife of Juan Leal Goraz, suffered a relapse. The ride on horseback, high altitude and cold weather were almost more than her frail body could endure, but after a day's rest, she improved and the column proceeded slowly on its way. Francisco Duval's kindness and sympathetic aid in these periods of sorrow and anxiety deeply impressed Father Ruiz and further endeared him to all the colonists.
As the homesick group moved cautiously along the ledge of the precipice for several days, a number of them showed signs of discouragement and defeat. Four male heads of families begged Duval to end the journey, as they had neither the heart nor physical strength to go any farther. Duval assured them that they had passed over the worst of the mountain trail, and he promised relief before the end of the day. Within two hours he led them into the town of Pueblo de Los Angeles, whose altitude is seventy two hundred feet, and here they paused to rest. A brief period of relaxation restored their physical energy, and the magnificent scenery, visible from their campsite, revived their waning spirits. They looked longingly at the beautiful waters of the Atoyac, called by the Aztecs the Zahuapan River, and to the west they saw the majestic outlines of Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl.
When the Canary Islanders arrived at Cholula, their next resting point, they had reached the area of that celebrated plateau known for centuries as the "Valley of Mexico," in which lies the ancient city of Mexico. Here Francisco Duval led the adults of the group to the top of the ancient Aztec pyramid whose height is one hundred and seventy-seven feet. To the amazed colonists he pointed out the spot near the top where, prior to the conquest of Cortes, Aztec priests slew thousands of captive slaves taken from their enemies in battle, and after tearing open their chests and removing their vital organs, threw their bodies over the ramparts of the pyramid as sacrifices to their gods. Duval also told the colonists that at Cholula, in 1519, Cortes treacherously murdered thousands of the town's citizens and pillaged and burned their homes.
Although Mexico City lies between Cholula and Quautitlan, Duval selected a route to the right of the city to the latter village that the viceroy had designated as the terminus of the first leg of the journey to San Antonio de Bexar. Duval conducted the Canary Islanders towards Texcoco, one of the ancient capitals of the province of Anahuac, and in so doing, avoided Mexico City. In explanation of the detour, Duval claimed that unavoidable circumstances had delayed their schedule, and the route through Texcoco, although somewhat longer, would save time as the road was easy to travel and free of towns and villages. The fact is that the King was paying all expenses of the colonists, and the daily allowance of three reales for each person was insufficient to cover the cost of maintenance for one day in the city; furthermore, Duval wanted to show them the ancient system of lakes around the city and to relate the exciting details of some of Cortes’ military campaigns in that area.
As the route approached Texcoco, it traversed bare country covered with encrustations of salts caused by the draining of the waters of the former extensive lake of the same name. Proceeding northwestward from Texcoco for a few leagues, the Canary Islanders reached the village of Quautitlan late in the afternoon of August 27, 1730, after traveling one hundred and ten leagues in twenty-seven days, which included seven days for resting and feast days and the funeral of Juan Cabrera.
Quautitlan was an ancient Aztec village when Cortes entered Mexico in 1519 and for centuries was headquarters for a band of artisans who made mats and chairs that found ready sale at the central market in Mexico City. In the two centuries between the fall of Montezuma and the arrival of the Canary Islanders, through a sort of guild, the villagers had faithfully pursued the vocations of their ancestors, from which they derived a moderate livelihood. In 1730, the population of the village was about one thousand. The village was made up of the usual dwelling and mercantile houses, but the main points of interest were the parish church, town hall, and plaza.
Following the viceroy's instructions, the alcalde of Quautitlan rented three large buildings and had them ready for use when the Canary Islanders arrived. He met the colonists as they entered the village and with great courtesy escorted them to their quarters.
Scarcely had the colonists dismounted and removed their baggage from the pack mules when a notary public appeared and proceeded to make a complete inventory of supplies and animals remaining at the end of the journey. He also listed each family, recording a brief description of every man, woman, and child in the company, and this he compared with the list in Duval's possession, which the acting mayor of Vera Cruz had taken before the colonists left that town. The lists of personnel agreed except as to Juan Cabrera, who, as related, had died en route. Francisco Duval made a written report of the circumstances that prompted him to order the millstones returned to Vera Cruz. The alcalde's report went to the authorities in Mexico City and was one of several required along the way to assure the King that the expenses of the colonists were being honestly incurred.
On the morning after the Canary Islanders arrived at Quautitlan Father Ruiz escorted them to the local church, where Father Gomez, the parish priest, conducted a special thanksgiving service for their safe arrival from Vera Cruz. He welcomed the colonists and expressed the hope that they would attend services regularly. He announced that he would be their priest so long as they remained in Quautitlan, and as such he stood ready at all times to respond promptly to their spiritual needs. Events during the weeks that followed brought many calls for Father Gomez’ services.
Before leaving the church. Father Ruiz delivered a tender farewell message to the Canary Islanders, in which he praised them for faithful observance of their religious obligations throughout the long journey from the Canaries, and urged them to continue to fulfill their duties to the church and to the King, whatever their station in life. Again he offered sympathy to the families of the three men who had died along the way and commended their widows and orphans to the care of the more fortunate members of the group. He told the colonists they ought to face the rest of the long journey to Sail Antonio de Bexar with hope and confidence, and when permanently established, they should endeavor to make useful citizens of themselves. Leaving the church, the young priest mounted a waiting horse, and accompanied by a special guide, left for Mexico City, three hours' ride away.
Several cases of illness developed among the colonists soon after they arrived at Quautitlan, and it became necessary to provide them with medical aid. The viceroy sent a capable physician and surgeon from Mexico City with orders to look after their health so long as they remained in the village.
Duval reported that about fifty horses and mules used in the expedition were in bad condition and unfit for further use. He set about to replace them with fresh animals, the total number required to proceed being one hundred and forty-six. Following the viceroy's orders, the alcalde of Quautitlan employed two villagers to care for the horses, thus relieving the colonists of that duty.
Notwithstanding Juan Leal Goraz' unpopularity and his overbearing disposition, often he demonstrated that he had the best interests of the Canary Islanders at heart. For example, from the time the colonists left Vera Cruz Goraz complained that the royal allowance of three reales a day to each person in the group was inadequate. While there had been no suffering among the colonists from lack of food or shortage of clothing, Francisco Duval, who had the responsibility of spending the daily allowance for the benefit of the travelers, had to exercise closest economy in order to purchase actual necessities within the limit of the funds at his disposal. Realizing that only the viceroy could authorize any change in the amount of the daily allowance, the next day after arriving at Quautitlan, Juan Leal Goraz requested an audience with that high official at his headquarters in Mexico City. The viceroy granted the request, whereupon Goraz visited him and succeeded in obtaining an increase in the daily allowance to four reales, effective September 6.
On the day the Canary Islanders arrived at Quautitlan, the alcalde delivered a sealed message to Francisco Duval from the viceroy. Marques de Casafuerte, containing minute directions covering the next stage of the journey from Quautitlan to Saltillo. The instructions provided that Duval would continue as guide and would follow a well-planned schedule which, under normal conditions, would allow twenty-nine days, including four days for rest, to cover one hundred and fifty-five leagues. Duval would pay the residue, if any, of the daily allowance provided by royal grant to each member of the group after deductions for actual expenses. These funds would be placed in Duval's hands by the viceroy or his representatives. To assure an ample supply of provisions throughout the journey, the viceroy instructed Duval to present to the alcaldes of the several districts through which they would pass an accurate list of persons, beasts of burden, and baggage, and these lists were to serve as bases for supplying the needs of the colonists. Later on, when the colonists reached Saltillo, Duval would deliver to Captain Mathias de Aguirre, commandant of that district, a copy of each such list. The viceroy advised that before the Canary Islanders were due to reach points on the route to Saltillo, he would instruct all alcaldes along the way to render any aid necessary, and when they had complied, they also would send to Captain Aguirre detailed lists of provisions each had furnished. If, for any cause, the time of the march should extend beyond twenty-nine days, Duval -had authority to request any further assistance required. In the meantime the colonists were to rest at Quautitlan and await further instructions.
On September 3, a week after the Canary Islanders arrived at Quautitlan, two strange young men appeared before the alcalde and requested permission to see one of the colonists, Juan Curbelo. They gave tlieir names as Francisco Arocha and Vicente Travieso, natives of the Canaries, and informed the mayor that they desired to join their countrymen as settlers at San Antonio de Bexar.
The alcalde accompanied the young men to Curbelo's residence, where they received a cordial welcome. Curbelo's daughters, Maria Ana and Juana, were delighted that their former friends, from whom they had had no word in over a year, had come to New Spain and had taken the trouble to find them. They were overjoyed when Arocha and Travieso told them that they had come to join the group at Quautitlan as prospective settlers at San Antonio de Bexar, provided, of course, the authorities would allow them to do so. Word that the heroes of the wreck of La Aguila were at Quautitlan spread rapidly among the colonists, and soon a fiesta was arranged to celebrate their arrival.
Arocha and Travieso remembered many of the colonists as having attended the fiesta in Lanzarote in the spring of 1729, when Juan Leal Goraz conducted the affair in commemoration of his "patron saint," Nuestra Senora Santisima Clara de la Casa Blanca. They were elated to leam from their shipmates on the dos Amigos, Ignacio and Martin de Armas and Felipe and ]ose Perez, that they, too, had joined the Canary Island settlers. During the rest of the day, Arocha and Travieso entertained the group with many interesting stories of their travels that began soon after their ketch, La Agnila, foundered on the shoals off the coast of Lanzarote in the spring of the previous year.
Arocha said that two days after they arrived at Santa Cruz from Arrecife, following the wreck of their ketch, they learned about the King's dispatch, and seeking adventure, they enlisted for passage on the first ship sailing for New Spain. They did not have to wait long, for within a few weeks they boarded the galleon, Dos Amigos, bound for Vera Cruz, where they arrived in the late summer. Although they heartily disliked the tierra caliente, they remained at Vera Cruz for a month, hoping each day that the first shipload of Canary Islanders bound for the province of Texas might arrive at that port. In this prospect they were disappointed and as they were unwilling to remain longer in the disagreeable climate at Vera Cruz, Arocha and Travieso set out on foot for Mexico City, in company with some arrieros, or mule-drivers, who were conducting a pack train of merchandise to villages along the route as far as the town of Cholula.
At Cholula, Arocha and Travieso stopped to rest a few days, hoping that they might soon have an opportunity to join other travelers to Mexico, as they did not know the way and were unwilling to make the journey alone. They liked Cholula so well they concluded to stay longer and found employment on a stock ranch a league from the town. As Cholula was situated on the main route from Vera Cruz to Mexico City, they assumed that in case the Canary Island settlers should make the journey from Vera Cruz to the province of Texas by land, they would pass through the town and probably would rest there a few days. In that case, the young adventurers planned to ask permission to join them.
Each Sunday for many weeks, when Arocha and Travieso attended services at the parish church at Cholula, they inquired whether any Canary Islanders had passed through the town during the previous week on their way to Texas, and invariably they received a negative answer. Several months passed and when no word came regarding the Canary Islanders, the young men became discouraged. On the Sunday following the visit of the colonists to Cholula, Arocha and Travieso learned from the parish priest that several families had rested in the town during the week and had left for Mexico City only three days previously.
Arocha and Travieso returned to the ranch, gathered up their meagre belongings, bade farewell to their employer, and started on foot to Mexico City, hoping to overtake their countrymen before they reached the city. They traveled briskly for two days, and when they arrived at a fork in the road, they followed the left branch, not knowing the Canary Islanders had taken the right, which avoided Mexico City. When they arrived at Mexico City, Arocha and Travieso lost no time in trying to locate the colonists, and during the first day in the city they made many inquiries without success. On the second morning they met a young subaltern, a member of General Rivera's staff, who happened to be acquainted with the viceroy's plans for the Canary Islanders. With the general's permission, the subaltern told the anxious travelers that their destination was San Antonio de Bexar in the province of Texas and that they would find the colonists at the village of Quautitlan on the northwestern suburbs of Mexico City. On inquiry, the young officer told Arocha and Travieso that the list of colonists included Juan Curbelo and family, and when they learned this, Arocha and Travieso started at once for Quautitlan.
Maria Ana Curbelo and Vicente Travieso at once admitted their love for each other, and Francisco Arocha declared his feeling for Maria Ana's sister, Juana, who, though only fourteen years old, was a robust and physically mature woman. The alcalde of Quautitlan attended the fiesta, and as if purposely to encourage the courtships of these and other young lovers in the group, told the colonists that under the Law of the Indies, only heads of families could own land and hold public office in the province of Texas.
On the following day, Arocha and Travieso asked Juan Curbelo and his wife for permission to marry their daughters. The parents consented, with the understanding that the young men would obtain the viceroy's approval of their becoming members of the Canary Island colonists, with all the privileges enjoyed by the original group, and also of their marriages to the Curbelo daughters. The alcalde placed both petitions before the viceroy, who promptly granted them and ruled, further, that it would not be necessary for the couples to appear before him. The four young people discussed tlicir plans with Fattier Gomez, who preformed the marriage ceremony in the parish church at Quautitlan.
Antonio Rodriguez and Josefa de Niz became engaged before they left Las Palmas in Grand Canary, and the proposed union had the blessing of her parents. When the couple learned from Father Ruiz aboard the Espana that certain privileges were reserved only for heads of families volunteering as settlers in New Spain, Antonio thought that he might forfeit his right to acquire that status unless and he and Josefa married without delay. However, Father Ruiz advised the couple to postpone their wedding.
Throughout the voyage, Antonio and Josefa were together daily and rode side by side on the long overland journey from Vera Cruz to Quautitlan. At the fiesta liastily arranged to celebrate the arrival of Arocha and Travieso, Antonio heard the alcalde mention the privileges granted only to heads of families and concluded that he and Josefa had delayed their marriage long enough. With the assistance of the alcalde, they also obtained the viceroy's permission to marry, and two days after the weddings of Arocha and Travieso, Fatlier Gomez performed the ceremony uniting Antonio and Josefa. The colonists celebrated the three marriages with one grand fiesta, which the population of the village of Quautitlan attended.
Marriages did not provide the only causes for celebration among the Canary Islanders while they rested at Quautitlan. On September 15 Maria Rodriguez whose husband died in Vera Cruz only a few weeks previously, gave birth to a healthy son whom she named Juan de Acuna Rodriguez. After the infant was baptized, the colonists held another fiesta in honor of the event. Realizing that Maria's responsibilities as head of a family were now greater than she could carry alone, the colonists were most kind and helpful to the family throughout the rest of the journey.
The viceroy expected that the Canary Islanders would do little but rest and relax while at Quautitlan so that they might be fresh to begin the second lap of their long trek to Saltillo. Although he had provided every means for that purpose, the colonists became restless from constant inactivity. Some grew resentful when the viceroy refused them permission to visit Mexico City, only a short distance away. Soon they fell into their native habit of quarreling with each other over trivial matters and when, as a result of these brawls, physical violence seemed certain, the alcalde of the village or the parish priest would restore order. At the height of one of these disturbances, the temper of the colonists changed instantly when Father Gomez announced that he would conduct two more marriage ceremonies at the parish church.
Youthful marriages were common among the Canary Islanders in the eighteenth century. After a young man reached eighteen and a young woman thirteen, as a rule their parents did not object to their marriage, if they were in good health. The fact that the groom might be without a gainful occupation made no difference. It was assumed that the couple would get along on their own resources, but if not, the parents of the groom would have to support them. In these circumstances, it is not surprising that during the long trip from the Canaries several teen-age romances budded into full blossom of marriage after the colonists reached Quautitlan.
Soon after the weddings of Arocha and Travieso and the Curbelo daughters, and of Antonio and Josefa, a son and daughter of Juan Leal Goraz announced their intentions to marry, respectively, Ana Santos and Juan Delgado and assume the status of independent families. Although the mother of the Goraz children was hopelessly ill and her passing was daily expected, she and her husband readily gave their consent to both unions. The viceroy granted permission for Jose Leal, twenty-two, to marry Ana, fifteen, daughter of Antonio Santos, and Juan Delgado, nineteen, whose father, Luis, had died at Vera Cruz, to wed Catarina Leal, sixteen. On September 21 the first wedding occurred at the parish church, and two days later Father Gomez joined the second couple in matrimony. Another grand fiesta to celebrate these events was attended by all the colonists except Luisa Goraz, whose illness prevented.
Frail in body from an incurable disease, Luisa was unable to withstand the effects of the strenuous horseback ride from Vera Cruz, and although she had the best medical attention the viceroy could provide, she passed away on October 15. The viceroy expressed his sympathy to the Goraz family and showed further interest by furnishing an expensive shroud for her burial. Father Gomez conducted a fitting funeral ceremony before her family and friends buried her remains in the parish cemetery at Quautitlan.
Maria Rodriguez, widow of Juan, who died at Vera Cruz, suffered another bereavement when her little five-year-old daughter, Maria, died November 2, after a brief illness. The alcalde of Quautitlan supplied a shroud for the body, which Father Gomez consigned to the grave near that of Luisa. Three days later Luisa's grandchild, the infant son of Juan Leal, Jr., born at Havana, also died at Quautitlan, and his remains were buried beside her.
The occurrence of these deaths among the Canary Islanders in rapid succession saddened the entire company, and while relatives of the deceased were reluctant to leave Quautitlan, two and a half months of idleness and inactivity made the other colonists impatient to resume their journey. This was especially true of several newly married couples who were eager to reach their final destination so they might acquire homes and begin family life. They did not have long to wait, for on November 14 the alcalde announced that the travelers would resume their journey on the following day and ordered all to be in readiness to leave.