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Title Letters [manuscript]: 1775 Aug. 18-1776 July 29
Author Vélez de Escalante, Silvestre (d.1792)
Document Type Correspondence
Description From the Newberry Library Catalogue: Contemporary ms. copies of two letters, from 1775-1776, by Vélez de Escalante, head of the Franciscan mission Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Zuni, New Mexico, principally dealing with plans for an expedition to establish an overland route from Santa Fe to Monterey. In his first letter, addressed to Father Fernando Antonio Gomez, secretary to the provincial, and dated August 18, 1775 from Zuni, Escalante requests a replacement for his assistant at the mission, Father Damian, who has left because of illness. He goes on to describe his visit to the Moquí (Hopi) Indians, who prove difficult to convert, and the information he receives from Indians in the pueblo of Oraibe concerning a possible route from New Mexico to Monterey by way of the great Colorado River; and suggests that the viceroy should fund an expedition to establish such an overland route. Escalante concludes by noting how difficult it has been to settle New Mexico because of hostile Indians and lack of supplies, and wishes he had more information on Monterey and its surroundings, and the Indians to the south and east. The second letter, signed and dated July 29, 1776, is addressed to the Provincial, Father Isidro Murillo, from Santa Fe, where the expedition suggested a year ago by Escalante is about to begin the search for a route to Monterey. Supported by the viceroy and governor, Escalante has been in Santa Fe helping to plan the exploring party which will be led by himself, Fray Francisco Domínguez (not mentioned in the letter), engineer Bernardo de Miera who will go along to map the route, and 20 other men. Escalante foresees difficulties due to lack of credible information about the region and to hostile Indians.
Names Gomez, Fernando Antonio; Damian, Father; Murillo, Isidro; Domínguez, Fray Francisco; Miera, Bernardo de
Places Colorado River, Santa Fe, Monterey, Zuni, Oraibe, New Mexico, United States; Spain
Keywords Franciscan, missionary, expedition, travel, overland trail, health, observation, hostility, supplies, map, Spain, New Spain, pueblo
Theme Observation, Representation and Cultural Encounters; American Indians and the European Powers
Tribe / Nation
Culture Area Southwest
Language Spanish
Additional Information Escalante was a Spanish Franciscan missionary priest who came to New Spain in 1769. He served in various missions, and was head of the Zuni mission. In 1776-77, he and Father Francisco Domínguez led an expedition to open an overland trail from Santa Fe to Monterey. Although they never reached Monterey, they explored the Utah Basin and succeeded in crossing the Colorado River near Glen Canyon, which today lies beneath Lake Powell.
Library The Newberry Library
Copyright The Newberry Library
Collection The Edward E. Ayer Collection
Reference VAULT box Ayer MS 1081
Catalogue Link The Newberry Library Catalogue