Earliest Civilian Colonist of San Antonio. This nucleus of pioneers from the Canary
Islands formed the first organized civil government in Texas and founded the Village
of San Fernando de Bexar in 1731.
Following a sea and land voyage of over a year. These weary travelers arrived at
the Presidio (fort) of San Antonio early on March 9, 1731. Totaling 55 persons,
they had emigrated to Texas from the Spanish Canary Islands near Africa, by order
of King Philip V.
On July 2 they began to lay out a villa (village, choosing a site on the west side
of the Plaza de Las Yslas (Present main Plaza) for the church and a site on the east
side of the Casa Real (Government Building). On July 19 the Captain of the Presidio
Juan Antonio De Almazan, read to the Islanders the Decree of the Viceroy naming them
and their descendants “Hijos Dalgo” - persons of nobility.
The heads of the 16 families who settled in San Antonio were: Juan Leal Goraz, Juan
Curbelo, Juan Leal, Antonio Santos, Jose Padron, Manuel de Nis, Vicente Alvarez Travieso,
Salvador Rodriguez, Jose Leal, Juan Delgado, Jose Cabrera, Juan Rodriguez Granadillo,
Francisco Arocha, Antonio Rodriguez, Lorenzo and Martin de Armas, and Felipe and
Jose Antonio Perez.
The Canary Islanders Marker
Marker located on Main Plaza in front of the Bexar County Courthouse.
Marker #702, erected in 1971 by the State Historical Survey Committee
Main Plaza was originally called
Plaza De Las Yslas
Corrections to the Marker:
The heads of the sixteen families are misstated on this marker. Lorenzo and Martin
de Armas and Felipe and Jose Antonio Perez were four single men listed as the sixteenth
family. Omitted from the marker are Maria Rodriguez-Provayna, widow of Juan Rodriguez
Granadillo, head of the fourteenth family and Mariana Meleano, widow of Lucas Delgado,
head of the fifteenth family. Juan Rodriguez Granadillo and Lucas Delgado died in
Vera Cruz, shortly after their arrival in New Spain.
Canary Islands Descendants Association
San Antonio, Texas
Our ancestors were smart, brave and courageous people.
When King Felipe V of Spain summoned 400 families from the Canary Islands to settle
in Texas in order to colonize the province and guard against the incursion of the
French, sixteen of those families, our ancestors, made a yearlong journey arriving
at San Antonio on March 9, 1731.
They were so brave, these families, to strike out without knowing what was ahead
of them, travel by sea, horse, and on foot into an unknown area, in an untamed land,
different from everything they had ever known.
The viceroy had given very specific instructions where the villa was to be located.
He wanted it on the west side of the presidio. Based on the observation of presidio
commander, Captain Almazán, a town site there would be exposed to Indian attack and
difficult to irrigate. The captain and the Isleños chose a different location between
the San Antonio River and the presidio.
By August 1st, 1731 it was time for the task of establishing the first civil government
in Texas. Captain Almazán organized the cabildo, the city council. He appointed
the oldest member of the Isleños, Juan Leal Goraz as the first councilman and Alcalde.
I hope these tidbits of our ancestors' history will make you interested in looking
at your genealogy. Perhaps you might be a descendant of these courageous people.
We should never let our ancestors and their contribution to San Antonio and Texas
history be forgotten.
We always remember our ancestors in early March with mass at San Fernando Cathedral
followed by a celebration luncheon.
All are welcome to the Canary Islands Descendants Association website. If you know
a descendant member talk to them to find out more about the Association.