The Mines Of Northern Mexico
Audiencia and diocese of Nueva Galicia.—In 1544 Compostela became the seat of the new diocese of Nueva Galicia. Four years later the new Audiencia of Nueva Galicia was established there. About 1550 Guadalajara became the seat of both jurisdictions, and the judicial and ecclesiastical capital of all the country to the north and northeast, a position which it long occupied. The Audiencia district was subdivided into corregimientos, each under an alcalde, subject to the Audiencia. Within the corregimientos were Indian partidos, each under a native alcalde, subject to the encomenderos or the missionaries.
The Zacatecas mines.—In spite of the check caused by the Mixton War, northward expansion in Mexico was soon stimulated by the discovery of rich mines, and by the ambitions of the new viceroy. Mines developed in southern Nueva Galicia were soon eclipsed by those of Zacatecas, which were opened in 1548 by Juan de Tolosa, Cristóbal de Oñate, Diego de Ibarra, and Baltasar Treviño. These men soon became the richest in America, and Zacatecas the first mining town in New Spain. The fame of the "diggins" spread, and other parts of the country were for a time nearly depopulated by the rush of miners.
Francisco de Ibarra.—Inspired by the "boom" at Zacatecas, the Audiencia of Nueva Galicia planned to subdue the districts of Sinaloa and Durango. Ginés Vázquez de Mercado, sent for this purpose in 1552, wasted his energies in a fruitless search for a fabled mountain of pure silver, and was defeated by the Indians near Sombrerete. Martin Pérez, sent by the Audiencia to the same district in 1558, came into conflict with Francisco de Ibarra, agent of the viceroy. In 1554 Ibarra began a series of explorations by means of which, in the course of eight years, he and his men opened in northern Zacatecas the mines of San Martin, San Lucas, Sombrerete, Chalchuites, Aviño, Fresnillo, and other places. To make these expeditions, he equipped himself at his own or his uncle's expense with soldiers, horses, Negro slaves, Indian servants, and droves of stock for food. He attracted miners and settlers by furnishing them with outfits and by giving them free use of mineral deposits.
Nueva Vizcaya founded.—In 1558 Velasco planned to send Ibarra northward to pacify a region called Copala, but his departure was delayed by the sending of the De Luna expedition to Florida. In 1562 Ibarra was made governor and captain-general of a new province called Nueva Vizcaya, comprising the unconquered districts beyond Nueva Galicia, to which Zacatecas remained attached. In the following year he founded Nombre de Diós and Durango, the latter of which became and long remained the military capital of all the northern country. In the same year Rodrigo del Rio de Losa was sent with soldiers and miners to open the mines of Indé, and of Santa Barbara and San Juan in southern Chihuahua. The shortage of Indian labor in the mines there resulted by 1580 in slave hunting raids down the Conchos River and across the Rio Grande into modern Texas.
Ibarra on the Pacific slope.—Amid extreme hardships in 1564 Ibarra crossed the mountains to the westward, and conquered Topia, which he had hoped would prove to be "another Mexico." Disappointed in this, he spent two or three years in developing Sinaloa. Beyond Culiacán, on the Río Fuerte (then called Río Sinaloa) he founded the Villa of San Juan. From here with new recruits from Mexico and Guadalajara, in June, 1567, he set out northward. Ascending the Yaqui valley, at Zaguaripa he defeated the very Indians who had destroyed Coronado's town of San Gerónimo. Crossing the sierra eastward, he emerged on the plains at the river and ruined pueblo of Paquimé (Casas Grandes) in northern Chihuahua. Turning back along the eastern slope of the Sierras, he recrossed them, with terrible hardship, into the lower Yaqui valley. Returning to Chiametla, he died about 1570, after twenty years of exploring, mining, colonizing, and administration. He was one, of the ablest of the second generation of colonizers in New Spain.
The Advance into Northern Mexico, 1543-1590.
Development of Nueva Vizcaya.—Shortly after Ibarra left Sinaloa the Indians of San Juan revolted, drove out the encomenderos, and murdered the friars; the settlement was therefore moved to the Petatlán (Sinaloa) River, and named San Felipe. In the last decade of the century a presidio and an Aztec-Tlascaltec colony were founded at San Felipe, and Jesuit missions were planted in the vicinity. East of the mountains, in Durango and southern Chihuahua, mining, stock raising, and agriculture developed side by side. In 1586, for example, Diego de Ibarra branded 33,000 head of cattle, and Rodrigo del Rio, then governor, 42,000 head. Several new mining districts were opened before the end of the century. In 1574 Nueva Galicia and Nueva Vizcaya (including Zacatecas and Sinaloa) had a population of 1500 Spanish families, perhaps 10,000 persons living in some thirty settlements, about half of which were mining camps. Guadalajara had a population of one hundred and fifty families and Culiacán about thirty. The Franciscan missionaries had played an important part in the founding of Nueva Vizcaya. They accompanied or went before the explorers and established themselves at the principal mining camps and towns. In 1590 the custodia of San Francisco de Zacatecas embraced ten monasteries east of the Sierras. In 1591 the Jesuits entered the province.
Querétaro, Guanajuato, and Aguas Calientes.—For twenty years after the battle at Querétaro (1531) the Chichimec border was left practically unsettled, under the control of native leaders. But the need of communication with the Zacatecas veins made its complete subjugation necessary, and Viceroy Velasco undertook the task. In or about 1550 the town of Querétaro was founded, and Silao three years later. The marvelous Guanajuato mines were now opened; in 1554 the city of Santa Fé de Guanajuato was founded; and shortly afterward rich veins were opened at Aguas Calientes. These "strikes" caused "rushes," just as those in Zacatecas had done, but they were offset by others in Durango, where Ibarra was operating. To secure further the roads to the mines, new towns and presidios were established along the way, and thus San Miguel el Grande (Allende), San Felipe, Santa Maria de Lagos, Aguas Calientes, Ojuelos, Portezuelos, Jérez, and Celaya came into being. To supplement the presidios, strong houses (casas fuertes) were provided as camping stations for travelers and silver trains, and parties were equipped with fortified wagons or movable strong houses.
San Luis Potosí and Southern Coahuila.—For some time the region of Charcas, now called San Luis Potosí, was a sort of No-man's-land between the westward, eastward, and northward moving columns of frontiersmen. It was the home of the powerful but savage Guachichiles. The definite conquest of the region, already known to explorers and missionaries, was begun about 1550 by Francisco de Urdiñola, who operated under Velasco's orders, and who is said to have reached the vicinity of Saltillo and Monterey. The settlement of the district soon followed. Matehuala was founded in 1550, San Gerónimo in 1552, Charcas in 1564, and the San Pedro mines about 1568. By 1576 San Luis Potosí, the site of rich ores, had become a villa, and before long was the seat of an alcaldía mayor.
Mining developments spread northeastward from Zacatecas to Mazapil and Saltillo. By 1568 Mazapil was the seat of an alcaldía mayor, under the Audiencia of Nueva Galicia. In that year Francisco del Cano, sent by the "very magnificent alcalde mayor," went north and discovered the "Lake of New Mexico," perhaps Laguna de Parras. In 1575 Francisco de Urdiñola, son of the former conqueror, is said to have settled sixty families at Saltillo, within the jurisdiction of Nueva Vizcaya. As early as 1582 a Franciscan monastery was established there, and in 1592 Saltillo was created a villa.
The Tlascaltecan colonies.—Querétaro had been the scene of one interesting experiment in utilizing the natives as agents of control; in San Luis Potosí another was now tried. As a means of reducing the great central region, the plan was devised of planting in it colonies of Tlascaltecan Indians, to defend the settlers and to teach the rude tribes the elements of civilization. The Tlascaltecans had proved their loyalty in the days of Cortés, and this loyalty was insured by their exemption from tribute and by other privileges. The practice of using them as colonists in San Luis Potosí seems to have been begun as early as 1580. In 1591 four hundred families were sent northward, most of them being distributed at various places in modern San Luis Potosí, but eighty families were established at Saltillo in a separate pueblo called San Estéban. Thence in later days little colonies were detached to all parts of Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Texas.
Parras; Urdiñola the Younger.—In 1594 Jesuits from Durango founded the mission of Santa Maria de Parras, and shortly afterward a colony of Spaniards and Tlascaltecans was established there. Of this district Urdiñola the Younger, lieutenant-governor of Nueva Vizcaya, became the magnate. He opened mines, subdued Indians, established immense ranches, and was veritable feudal lord. His principal hacienda was at Patos, but he had others, as at Parras and Bonanza. In 1594 he secured a commission to conquer New Mexico which was subsequently rescinded. A female descendant of his became the wife of the first Marquis of San Miguel de Aguayo, a title created in 1682 and long held by the leading men of the northeastern frontier.
Nuevo León.—A new jurisdiction was now carved out on the Gulf coast. In 1579 Luis de Carabajal, a Portuguese of Jewish extraction, secured a patent naming him governor and captain-general of the Kingdom of Nuevo León, a region extending two hundred leagues north and west from Pánuco, and delimiting Nueva Vizcaya and Nueva Galicia on the north and east. Carabajal's was the first conquistador's patent issued for New Spain based on the general ordinance of 1573 regulating new conquests. He was made governor and alguacil-mayor "for two lives," with a salary of 20,000 pesos and two encomiendas for himself. He had authority to grant encomiendas, and was obligated to make new conquests and settlements. Raising two hundred men in Spain and Mexico, he established headquarters for a time at Pánuco, whence he made exploring, gold hunting, and slave hunting expeditions.
León and Monterey.—Discovering minerals in the Sierra de San Gregorio, near the Rio Grande, in (or by) 1583, Carabajal founded there the city of León (now Cerralvo). Securing other families from Saltillo, in 1584 he founded San Luis, near the later Monterey, and appointed Castaño de Sosa alcalde mayor. Slave hunting expeditions from León proved so profitable that soon two hundred or more adventurers were attracted to the place, for the slaves found ready market at the mines of the interior. When the viceroy checked the abuse, León was gradually abandoned. With another colony from Saltillo, Carabajal founded Nuevo Almadén, near the present Monclova. While thus engaged he was charged with heresy, arrested, and condemned by the Inquisition together with almost his entire family. In 1596 Luis de Montemayor, lieutenant-governor of the province, founded Monterey with families from León and Saltillo. Three years later Montemayor was made governor, directly under the viceroy. In 1603 a Franciscan monastery was founded at Monterey, and became a new missionary center. Conflicts of jurisdiction between Nuevo León and Nueva Vizcaya became chronic and a serious hindrance to prosperity.
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