The Settlement Of Chihuahua
New Mexico isolated.—In the central plateau the infant colony of New Mexico, as at first established, had been a detached group of settlements, separated from Nueva Vizcaya by an uninhabited, area of five or six hundred miles in breadth. But while the New Mexicans were gradually making their way into the plains of western Texas, missionaries, miners, and settlers were slowly advancing up the plateau into Chihuahua, by way of the Conchos River and by the eastern slope of the Sierra Madre.
Advance of settlement.—The Franciscans, in general, followed the eastern half of the plateau, working among the Conchos tribes; the Jesuits mainly followed the mountain slopes, among the Tarahumares. Advance of settlement was marked by the founding of the town and garrison of Parral, established in 1631-1632. By 1648 missions had been established at San Pablo, Parral, San Gerónimo, San Francisco Borja, Satevó, San Francisco de Conchos, San Pedro, Atotonilco, Mescomaha, and Mapimî. Advance was interrupted by two savage Indian wars, in the decade following 1644, in the course of which most of the missions in Chihuahua were destroyed. As soon as peace was restored, however, both orders reoccupied their abandoned establishments and founded new ones. By 1680 missionaries, miners, and settlers had reached Cusihuiriáchic, Janos, and Casas Grandes, and the last named place had for some time been the seat of an alcaldía mayor.
The Diocese of Guadiana.—As the frontier advanced new administrative subdivisions were carved out. The official capital of Nueva Vizcaya was still at Durango, but during the later seventeenth century the governor resided much of the time at Parral, a point near the military frontier. In 1620 the diocese of Guadiana, including Durango, Chihuahua, and New Mexico was formed out of the northern portion of that of Guadalajara.
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