Deeply Rooted in the History of Texas
Leave Lasting Impact on the San Antonio and Texas Communities
Our history in Texas began almost half a century before our ancestors first arrived. Let’s take a closer look at where our journey began:
In 1685, Fort St. Louis was established by Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, near Matagorda Bay, Texas.
Martín de Alarcón’s trip in May 1718 established the Presidio de Béxar and the Misión San Antonio de Valero along the banks of San Pedro creek.
El Marques de San Miguel de Aguayo recommended steps to settle 400 families between San Antonio and East Texas missions, one-half of the settlers to be recruited from Galicia, the Canary Islands, and Havana.
Spain authorized and funded several expeditions into Texas, starting in 1690.
The first Spanish expeditions, or Entradas, taught officials a valuable lesson on the significance of establishing communities in Texas if they wanted to maintain their claim on this territory.
In 1729, Spain’s King Felipe V approved El Marques’ plan and solicited families from the Canary Islands to settle Téjas.
Canary Islanders Depart Santa Cruz on
Expedition to San Antonio
In March of 1730, twenty-five Canary Islands families board the Santísima Trinidad y Nuestra Señora del Rosario and depart the port city of Santa Cruz in Tenerife. They arrive in Havana, Cuba, in May before leaving for Veracruz in July.
In August of 1730, ten Canary Islander families land in Veracruz. Determined, driven, and resilient, these ten families set out on foot, traveling more than 1100 miles over six months to settle in this foreign land. Over the first few months of their journey, the families expand from ten to sixteen, some losing their lives on the trip and others born along the way.
When the Canary Islanders finally land in what is now known as San Antonio, 56 individuals from 16 families would remain. Most of these settlers were from Lanzarote.
You’ll find a list of these 16 families here.
Canary Islanders Meet Families
and Soldiers of Presidio
San Antonio de Béxar
On March 9th, 1731, at 11:30 AM, the 56 Canary Islanders were met by the Presidio San Antonio de Béxar’s families and soldiers.
Canary Islanders’ Adjust to New Surroundings
Although a military establishment had existed for 13 years, the Isleños established the first Spanish chartered civil settlement in Texas. With the king’s support, the Isleños could get the essentials necessary to attain and maintain their new lifestyle in the area surrounding the Presidio and the nearby five missions. The king provided the Isleños with horses, cattle, sheep, utensils, and more. A few months after getting settled into their new surroundings, the Presidio Captain assisted the Isleños in setting up their community according to Spanish law. The church would serve as the central point of their community, with an open plaza and houses forming a square around the church and plaza.READ MORE
Isleños Create First Civil
Government in Texas
In August of 1731, five months after their arrival, the Isleños would create the first civil government in Texas, led by their first alcalde, Juan Leal Goras. The Canary Islands settlers and their descendants would serve in various government positions for more than 100 years following their arrival.
More Than a Decade of Waiting
In 1738, seven years after their arrival, the Isleños and other community members set the first cornerstone for their church. After more than a decade of waiting, members of the Béxar community would finish San Fernando, which is now one of the oldest Catholic cathedrals in the United States. Today, the Canary Islands Descendants Association memorializes the San Fernando Cathedral as a historical site. Many of the Isleños’ descendants would be baptized, married, and buried in and around this very cathedral. A few months after getting settled into their new surroundings, the Presidio Captain assisted the Isleños in setting up their community according to Spanish law. The church would serve as the central point of their community, with an open plaza and houses forming a square around the church and plaza.READ MORE
Want to Learn More
About the Canary Islanders?
The Canary Islands Descendants Association is dedicated to educating Texans on the lasting contributions of Canary Islanders. You can learn more about what we do by visiting our About Us page here.