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Document Number: AJ-017
Author: Domínguez de Mendoza, Juan, born 1631
Title: Itinerary of Juan Domínguez de Mendoza, 1684
Source: Bolton, Herbert Eugene (editor). Spanish Exploration in the Southwest, 1542-1706. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1916). Pages 313-343.
Pages/Illustrations: 33 / 0
Citable URL: www.americanjourneys.org/aj-017/

Author Note

Juan Domínguez de Mendoza (born 1631) arrived in New Mexico as a twelve-year-old boy. In 1654 he was a member of an expedition that traveled to the Jumano nation near San Angelo, Texas. In the mid-seventeenth century, the Spanish established trade relations with the Jumanos Indians who lived on the Nueces River, a branch of the upper Colorado. Communication with the Jumanos was cut off after the uprising of the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico in 1680 (see AJ-009a and AJ-009b). In 1683, a delegation of seven Native Americans, including Jumanos and others, appeared before Governor Cruzate in El Paso seeking aid against the Apaches, a resumption of trade, and the services of missionaries. At the end of the year, the governor appointed Juan Domínguez de Mendoza to lead an expedition to central Texas to carefully examine the Nueces River, bring back samples of pearls and other resources, learn about the Native Americans in the region, and re-establish trade with the Jumanos.

Mendoza-López Expedition of 1683-1684

The expedition set out December 15, 1683, heading southeast from El Paso along the Rio Grande to La Junta. From there, they proceeded north to the Pecos River, which they followed a short distance and crossed near present-day Horsehead Crossing. The expedition then left the river and went east across a plain to the Middle Concho, which they followed to its junction with the Nueces River near San Angelo. Mendoza continued east to a river that he called the San Clemente, probably the Colorado River near its junction with the Concho. They remained there for six weeks before returning to El Paso in May 1684.

This journal describes the route of the expedition, the suitability of land for pasturage and agriculture, the rivers of the region, the availability of fish and freshwater mollusks bearing pearls, and interactions with Native Americans, especially their conversion to Christianity and the regular celebration of Mass in the communities visited. Mendoza describes the Indians’ large livestock holdings and the increased use of beef in the Native American diet. He also describes plants and animals observed on the expedition, including pine, pecan trees, plums, grapes, and mulberries, and the presence of bear, deer, and antelope.

Following their journey, Father López and Mendoza went to Mexico City in 1685 and 1686 to urge the Spaniards to occupy the Jumano country with missionaries and soldiers. Their recommendations were ignored due to several factors, including the invasion of Spanish territory in east Texas by LaSalle (see AJ-114 and AJ-121).

Document Note

This record of the itinerary of Mendoza is housed among the manuscripts in the Archivo General y Público in Mexico. This English translation is from Herbert Eugene Bolton, ed. Spanish Exploration in the Southwest, 1542-1706 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1916).

Other Internet and Reference Sources

"López, Nicolás." "The Handbook of Texas Online." http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/flo20

Standifer, Mary M. "San Clemente Mission." "The Handbook of Texas Online." http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/uqs10

Weddle, Robert S. "Domínguez de Mendoza, Juan." The Handbook of Texas Online. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdo52

Imhoff, Brian, ed. "The Diary of Juan Domínguez de Mendoza's Expedition into Texas (1683-1684): A Critical Edition of the Spanish Text with Facsimile Reproductions" (Dallas, Texas: Southern Methodist University, 2002).

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