Álamos 1500 – 1599

pond on sierra de alamos during the summer. alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson

This was then and this is now on Sierra de Álamos.

♦ Before the Europeans

Calimaya, as it was known by the Yaquis and Mayos, was the region
surrounding Álamos. The Yaquis, proud and warlike, and the Mayos,
friendly and peaceful, both spoke Taracahitan language dialects. The
Álamos basin was the land of the Mayo, Warihio and Basiroa. The
Basiroa Indians may have had camps in La Aduana and Agua Escondida
arroyos. There were as many as 115,000 indigenous people in Sonora and
Sinola before the Spanish slave traders arrived. These Indigenous
people, speaking one of 18 Cahita dialects, were the largest Indian
group in Northern Mexico, and lived along the lower reaches of the
Sinaloa, Fuerte, Mayo and Yaqui rivers. The Spanish called these
agriculturalist Indians, spread out across the region in small groups,
“rancheria people”.

♦ The Spanish are Coming, The Spanish are Coming

Diego de Velázquez, governor of Cuba, sends two ships owned by Bizkaian
Lope Ochoa de Salcedo and led by 
Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, the
first European to visit Mexico, to explore the Yucatán peninsula. They
sail along the Yucatán and Gulf of Mexico for six months collecting
gold worth over $20,000 pesos and encounter a wide variety of cultures
and lands proving it is a major land mass and not another island.
Local Indians killed fifty and captured several more Spanish
explorers. Córdoba’s report, on his return to Cuba, makes Governor
Diego de Velásquez decide to have Hernán Cortés command a larger,
stronger force back to Mexico. Cortés, like all early explores, hopes
to discover a route to Asia and its immense riches in spices
and other resources.


February, Cortés sails from Cuba on 11 ships loaded with over 450
soldiers, 16 horses and a large number of supplies. Cortés arrives
in Yucatán and takes control of the town of Tabasco. Here the Spanish
learn of the Aztec empire ruled by Moctezuma II. Dismissing Velasqué
orders, Cortés goes on and founds the city of Veracruz, on the Gulf of
Mexico directly east of Mexico City. Cortés begins his famous march
inward into Mexico, using the strength of his forces to form an
important alliance with the Tlascalans, enemies of the Aztecs.
Cortés’s also traveled with an entourage of 400, including
capture Indians and a woman translator Malinche, who
becomes Cortés’s mistress.

November – Cortés and his men arrive at Tenochtitlán where they are
welcomed as honored guests by Moctezuma and his people due to the
Spaniard’s resemblance to Quetzalcoatl, a legendary light-skinned god-
king whose return was prophesied in Aztec legend. Cortés takes
Moctezuma hostage and controls Tenochtitlán.


August 13: After a bloody series of conflicts–involving the Aztecs, the
Tlascalans and other native allies of the Spaniards, and a Spanish
force sent by Velásquez to contain Cortés – Cortés finally defeats the
forces of Montezuma’s nephew, Cuauhtémoc (who became emperor after his
uncle was killed in 1520) to complete his conquest of Tenochtitlán.
His victory marks the fall of the once-mighty Aztec empire. Cortés
razes the Aztec capital and builds Mexico City on its ruins; it
quickly becomes the premier European center in the New World.

The above entries. 1519 to 1521,  are from A History Timeline of Mexico

Mexico’s Indian population was estimated to be as high as 25 million in
1519 and as low as 4.5 million, most living in the great valley of
Mexico. For more info visit Cambridge Mexico population study,
and in particular Population estimate table

1520 to 1580
Fully 80 percent of the ships making voyages between Europe and
the Americas are either Basque-manned and/or owned by Basque
commercial interests.

The Indian population in Mexico may have been reduced to 16.8 million

December of 1529, Nuno Beltran de Guzman, once a lawyer, led an army of
500 Spanish and 10,000 Tlaxcalans, Aztecs and Tarascans into Sinola.

March of 1531, Guzman defeated 30,000 Indians and founded what is
present day Culíacan. Many that survived were captured and enslaved.
Later, Guzman’s Amerindian army was wiped out by epidemics and hunger.
His was a reign of terror. Spanish colonialization
was approaching Alamos.

Diego de Guzman, nephew of Nuño de Guzman, walks through on well-trod
Indian trails. He was looking for Indian slaves. He may have been the
first European to walk through present day Álamos, Sonora, Mexico. He
went as far north as the Yaqui River before being stopped by hostile
Yaquis. Some accounts mention the Spanish being turned back by an
elderly man in black robes who drew a line in the sand. Others talk
about the vastly outnumbered Spanish turning around to avoid combat
with the hostile Yaquis warriors.

The Viceroy of New Spain, Antonio de Mendoza, begins hearing of
Guzmán’s atrocities in 1931 involving the Indians and, urged on by
Franciscan Father Bartolomé de las Casas and Bishop Zumárraga, he has
Guzmán arrested in 1535. Mendoza returns Guzmán to Spain in 1536
where he dies in obscurity in 1544.

Alavar Nuñez Cabeza de Vasa may have neen the first european to reach
present day Arizona. He too probably walked through Álamos along
Indian trails headed towards Culíacan

Cabeza de Vaca arrives in Mexico City with news of the even Cities
of Cibola and its plentiful gold and silver. Viceroy Don Antonio
de Mendosa listened with great interest and decides to fund
an expedition north.

Franciscan priest Marcos de Niza was appointed leader of Mendoza’s
expedition. Estéban the Moor, who had traveled with Cabeza de Vaca,
was the guide. They left Culíacan March 7, 1539. The expedition was
forced back to Culíacan with little but talk of cities of gold and
silver. Estéban had been killed by Indians

Vásquez de Coronado with a large military expedition left Compstela,
Navarit and traveled through Sinola and Sonora. de Coronado is thought
to have camped on Guadalupe Hill in Alamos. The camp site was called
Real de los Frailes, Real de la Limpia Concepcion de los Alamos and
Real de Guadalupe

Cristóbal de Oñate makes the first mining strikes in Nueva Galacia:
Silver at Espíritu Santo, Guachinango, Xocotlán and Etzatlán – and
gold at Xaltepec. The strikes are small, but they encourage new
settlement in the area

There are some who think members of Guzman’s expedition, slave traders
or Indians, had mined silver near Álamos as early as 1543.

The first book published in the New World is written by Bishop
Zumárraga. Titled Doctrina Breve, it instructs the Aztecs,
in their own language, about Catholicism

The Mexican Indian population may have been reduced to
6.3 million by 1548.

In my notes I had a reference to Francisco Ibarra and 1564.
I do not know why. As I go through my notes it may become clearer. I
did research on Franciso Ibarra and found these entries in a timeline
of Basques in New Spain:

1549 — At the age of 10, Francisco de Ibarra comes to
the New World to join his uncle Diego de Ibarra.
1554 — Francisco de Ibarra leads his first expedition
at the age
of 16. At age 17, he leads the first authorized exploration north and
west of Zacatecas. Between 1554 and 1574, he and Juan de Tolosa
conquer the area of northern Mexico.Northern Mexico is now comprised
of the present states of Durango, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Sinaloa,
Sonora, and some parts of Zacatecas, San Luis de Potosí and León. In
the 1560’s Ibarra carries out extensive exploration, conquest and
settlement of the unknown lands north of San Martín and names the area
Nueva Viscaya after his homeland in the Basque Country.

Jesuits arrive in New Spain.

The Indian population continued to decline in 1580 with
an estimated 1.9 million survivors

1583 – 1584
First settlements north of Culíacan in an attempt to
bolster Spanish control of northern Sinola.

1590 -1591
Jesuit priests Gonzalo Tapia and Martin Perez establish
a mission in Culíacan.

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♦ Other Álamos, Sonora Mexico timelines:

1600 – 1699 timeline

1700 – 1799 timeline

1800 – 1849 timeline

1850 – 1899 timeline

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This is a work in progress.
If you have additional dates and events send a comment

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©2014 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.