Full text of "French intrusions into New Mexico, 1749-1752"








Copyright, 1917, By THE MACMILLAN COMPANY. 


EARLY in the eighteenth century French voyageurs, chasseurs, 
and traders of Louisiana and Canada looked with covetous eyes 
toward New Mexico. To the adventurer it was a land promising 
gold and silver and a path to the South Sea ; to the merchant it 
offered rich profits in trade. The three natural avenues of ap- 
proach to this Promised Land were the Missouri, Arkansas, and 
Red rivers. But there were two obstacles to expeditions bound 
for New Mexico. One was the jealous and exclusive policy of 
Spain which made the reception of such Frenchmen as might 
reach Santa Fe a matter of uncertainty ; the other was the Indian 
tribes which stood in the way. The Red River highway was 
effectually blocked by the Apache, mortal enemies of all the 
tribes along the lower valley; the Arkansas and Missouri River 
avenues were impeded by the Comanche for analogous reasons. 
It was not so much that the Apache and Comanche were averse 
to the entrance of French traders, as that the jealous enemies of 
these tribes opposed the passage of the traders to their foes with 
supplies of weapons. It is a matter of interest that in the nine- 
teenth century the American pioneers found almost identical con*- 
ditions in the same region. 

As the fur traders and official explorers pushed rapidly west, 
one of their constant aims was to open the way to New Mexico 
by effecting peace between the Comanche and the tribes further 
east. In 1718-1719 La Harpe ascended the Red River and es- 
tablished the Cadodacho post ; Du Rivage went seventy leagues 
further up the Red River; and La Harpe crossed over to the 
Touacara villages on the lower Canadian. At the same time 
DuTisne reached the Panipiquet, or Jumano, villages on the 
Arkansas, north of the Oklahoma line. Finding further advance 
2D 389 


cut off by the hostility of the Jumano for the Comanche, he tried, 
but without avail, to effect a treaty between the tribes. 1 Two 
years later La Harpe reestablished the Arkansas post, ascended 
the river half way to the Canadian, and urged a post among the 
Touacara, as a base for advance to New Mexico. 2 In 1723 Bourg- 
mont erected a post among the Missouri tribe to protect the fur 
traders there, to check an advance by the Spaniards such as had 
been threatened by the Villazur expedition in 1720, and as a base 
for commerce with New Mexico. To open the way thither he 
led Missouri, Kansas, Oto, and Iowa chiefs to the Padoucah 
(Comanche), near the Colorado border of Kansas, effected a 
treaty between them, and secured permission for Frenchmen to 
pass through the Comanche country to the Spaniards. 3 

Shortly afterward the Missouri post was destroyed by Indians, 
the Missouri valley was made unsafe for a number of years by the 
Fox wars, and French advance westward was checked. Although 
there are indications that in the interim traders kept pushing up 
the Missouri, the next well known attempt to reach New Mexico 
was made in 1739. In that year the Mallet party of eight or nine 
men left the Missouri River at the Arikara villages, went south 
to the Platte River, ascended that stream, and made their way 
through the Comanche country to Taos and to Santa Fe. After 
being detained several months in friendly captivity, six or seven 
of the party returned, unharmed by the Spanish authorities, and 
bearing evidence that the residents of New Mexico would welcome 
trade. Four of the party descended the Canadian and Arkan- 
sas rivers, the others going northeast to the Illinois. 

The Mallet party had succeeded in getting through the Co- 
manche country to New Mexico and had returned in safety and 
with good prospects for trade two important achievements. 
Immediately there was renewed interest in the Spanish border, 
on the part of both government officials and of private adven- 

1 Miss Anne Wendels, a graduate student at the University of California, has 
clearly shown that the Panis visited by DuTisnS were on the Arkansas River south- 
west of the Osage, and that DuTisne did not, as is sometimes stated, pass beyond 
to the Padoucah. French Interest in and Activities on the Spanish Border of Louis- 
ana, 1717-1753, Ms. thesis. 

* Miss Wendels, in the paper cited above, has made a most careful study of the 
routes of La Harpe on this and his former expedition, with convincing results. 

For Bourgmont's route I follow Miss Wendels, who differs somewhat from 
Parkman, Heinrich, and others. 


turers. At once, in 1741, Governor Bienville sent Fabry dela 
Bruyere, bearing a letter to the governor of New Mexico ana 
guided by four members of the Mallet party, with instructions 
to retrace the steps of the latter, open up a commercial route, 
and explore the Far West. 1 Shortly afterward a new military post, 
called Fort Cavagnolle, was established on the Missouri at the 
Kansas village, and the Arkansas route was made safe by effecting 
in 1746 or 1747 a treaty between the Comanche and the Jumano. 

The effect of the treaty was immediate, and at once there were 
new expeditions to New Mexico by deserters, private traders, and 
official agents. The fact that they occurred has only recently 
come to light. The incidents are so unknown to history, and 
reveal so many important facts concerning the New Mexico- 
Louisiana frontier, that they deserve narration, and have therefore 
occasioned this paper. Their records are contained in two expedi- 
entes in the archives of Mexico, discovered by the present writer. 2 

Before proceeding to the narration of these intrusions, a word 
further must be said regarding the position of the Comanche on 
the Spanish border. At that time the tribe roamed over the 
plains between the upper waters of the Red River and the Platte, 
the two divisions most frequently mentioned being the Padoucah 
and the Laitane, or Naitane. They followed the buffalo for a 
living and had large droves of horses, mules, and even burros, 

1 Lettre de MM. Bienville et Salmon, April 30, 1741, in Margry, Decouvertes, vol. 4, 
pp. 466-467; Instructions donnees & Fabry de la Bruyere, ibid., pp. 468-470; Ex- 
trait des lettres du sieur Fabry, a r occasion du voyage projetes a Santa Fe, ibid., 
pp. 472-492; Wendels, French Interests and Activities on the Spanish Border of 
Louisiana, 1717-1753. After proceeding a short distance up the Canadian, Fabry 
was forced through lack of water for canoes to go back to the Arkansas post for 
horses. Returning, by way of the Cadodacho, he found that the Mallet brothers 
had continued toward Santa Fe, on foot. Giving up the project, Fabry crossed 
over from the Canadian to the Red River, where he visited the Tavakanas and 
Kitsaiches (Towakoni and Kichai), two of the tribes which La Harpe had found on 
the Canadian in 1719. The further adventures of the Mallets have not come to 
light, but it is known that in 1744 a Frenchman called Santiago Velo reached New 
Mexico. He was secretly despatched to Mexico by Governor Codallos y Rabal. 
Twitchell, R. E., The Spanish Archives of New Mexico, vol. 1, p. 149. 

2 They are : (1) Autos fhos sre averiguar qu& rumbo han ttraido ttres franzeses 
que llegaron al Pueblo de taos con la Naz* Cumanche q benian a hazer sus aconstum- 
brados resgattes. Juez, El S' Z> Thomas Velez, Govr de esta Provincia. Archivo 
General y Publico, Mexico, cited hereafter as Autos fhos sre averiguar. (2) Testi- 
monio de los Autos fhos a Consulta del Govm del nuebo Mexfio sobre haver llegado dos 
franzeses cargados de efectos que conduzian de la Nueba Orleans. Archivo General 
y Publico, Mexico, Provincias Internas, tomo 34. These expedientes consist of 
the declarations of the intruders, correspondence concerning them, documents 
confiscated from them, and records of proceedings in Mexico regarding them. Ad- 
ditional light is shed by some documents published in Twitchell's Spanish Archives 
of New Mexico, vol. 1, pp. 148-151. 


which they bought or stole from the Spaniards. In order the 
better to exploit the buffalo and find pasturage, they lived scat- 
tered in small bands. They were bitter enemies of the Apache 
tribes living to the south, 1 and until shortly before had been hostile 
to the Jumano, Pawnee, and most of the other tribes to the east- 
ward. Hemmed in by this wall of enemies, they had had little 
contact with the French, and had depended mainly upon the 
Spaniards of New Mexico for supplies. Their principal trading 
mart was Taos, where each spring they went in large numbers to 
attend a great fair, where they exchanged peltry and captives for 
horses, knives, and other merchandise. 2 In spite of this trade 
with the Spaniards, the Comanche were overbearing, and often 
stole horses and committed other depredations in the settlements. 
During the quinquennium of Governor Codallos y Rabal (1744- 
1749) they several times attacked Pecos and Galisteo, killing one 
hundred and fifty residents of Pecos alone. In view of this 
situation, Governor Velez, the successor of Codallos, was forced 
to fortify and establish garrisons at both Pecos and Galisteo. 
Thus, the Comanche situation was already precarious before the 
peace with the Jumano and the coming of the French traders; 
and their advent made it worse. 3 

One of the trading parties which followed upon the Comanche 
alliance with the Jumano was among the former tribe early in 1748, 
but we know little of the history of the expedition. On February 
27 of that year seven Comanches from a village on the Xicarilla 
River entered Taos and reported that thirty-three Frenchmen 
had come to their settlement and traded muskets for mules. All 
but two had gone back, but the two were waiting at the village 
to accompany the Comanche to the Taos fair. In consequence 
of the report Governor Codallos wrote the viceroy a letter in 
which he surmised some conspiracy between the Comanche and 
the French, recalled the destruction of the Villazur expedition 
in 1720 through French influence, pointed out the increased danger 
from the Comanche now that they were securing firearms, and 

1 Carlanes, Palomas, Chilpaines, Pelones, Natag6s, and Faraonea. 

1 Many of these facts concerning the Comanche situation are gleaned from the 
two expedients cited above, note 5. 

1 Governor Tomas Velez Cachupin to the viceroy, Santa Fe, March 8, 1750, in 
Autos fhos sre averiguar, fol. 31. 


proposed a military post on the Xicarilla River, the avenue of 
approach for both the Comanche and the French. 1 

So far as we know, the party of which Codallos wrote did not 
enter the New Mexico settlements, but this is not true of one 
which arrived the following spring. Near the end of his term, 
early in 1749, Codallos sent his lieutenant, Bernardo de Bustamante 
y Tagle, to attend the Taos fair. When he returned to Santa Fe 
on April 12 he brought with him three Frenchmen whom the 
Cornanche had conducted to the fair and who had requested 
Bustamante to take them to the capital. 2 The new governor, 
Tomas Velez Cachupin, had the strangers promptly lodged in 
the Palacio de Gobierno and duly interrogated. Since they did 
not know Spanish, they were questioned through an interpreter 
named Pedro Soutter, who was " sufficiently versed in the French 
language." The formal interrogatorio drawn up for the purpose 
contained fifteen points, and was quite typical of Spanish adminis- 
trative thoroughness. It asked each of the strangers his name, 
marital status, religion, residence, his route in coming, the coun- 
try and tribes passed through, the names, location, and condition 
of the French settlements, their relations with the Indians, the 
extent and nature of the fur trade, whether the French had mines, 
and numerous other items of interest to the frontier Spanish 
authorities. 3 

The first examination of the three strangers took place on 
April 13, another being held subsequently. Since the first state- 
ments were in some respects confused and indefinite, due in part, 
it w r as claimed, to the inefficiency of the interpreter, and since 
much new light is shed by the subsequent depositions, my narra- 
tive will be drawn from the two combined. 4 

1 Antonio Duran de Armijp to Governor Codallos, Taos, February 27, 1748, in 
Twitchell, The Spanish Archives of New Mexico, vol. 1, p. 148 ; Joaquin Codallos 
y Rabal to the viceroy, Santa Fe, March 4, 1748, ibid., pp. 148-151. 

8 Aulto of Velez, April 12, 1749, in Autos fhos sre averiguar, ff. 1-2. 

1 Notification y juramento de d n Pedro Souter in Autos fhos sre averiguar, 2-3 ; 
" Ynterrogatorio," ibid., 3-4. 

4 Declarations of the three Frenchmen, April 13, in Autos fhos sre averiguar, 
4-12 ; Velez to the viceroy, June 19, 1749, in ibid., 13-14 ; declarations of the 
three Frenchmen March 5, 1750, in ibid., 16-20. They declared that the first 
of the three rancherfas of Comanche comprised eighty-four tents and eight hun- 
dred persons; the second forty and the third twenty-three tents, with people in 
proportion. They declared that they saw five fusees among the Comanche, and 
that the Indians would not permit them to enter the village. The Comanche lived 


As first recorded the names of the strangers were given as 
Luis del Fierro, Pedro Sastre, and Joseph Miguel; they later 
emerged as Luis Febre. Pedro Satren, or Latren, and Joseph 
Miguel Riballo. According to the declarations, Febre was twenty- 
nine years old, a native of New Orleans, and by trade a tailor and 
a barber. He had been a soldier at New Orleans, had deserted 
to Canada, going thence to Michillimackinac ("San Miguel Ma- 
china "), to Ysla Negra, Illinois (Silinue), and to the Arkansas 
post. Pedro Satren, forty-two years old, was a native of Quebec, 
where he had been a carpenter and a soldier. He had also been 
at Michillimackinac and at the Arkansas post, whence he had 
deserted after fifteen days' service. Riballo, twenty-four years 
old, was a native of Illinois, a carpenter by trade, and had been 
a soldier in Illinois and at the Arkansas post. All stated that 
they were bachelors and Catholics ; none could sign their names. 
All claimed to have deserted from the Arkansas post because of 
harsh treatment. They had heard of New Mexico and its mines 
from certain Frenchmen who had returned from Santa Fe a few 
years before. They had been encouraged to make the attempt to 
reach it by the alliance made some two years before between the 
Jumano and the Comanche, which made it possible to go through 
the country of the latter. These statements illustrate clearly 
the effect of the safe return of the Mallet party and of the treaty 
between the Indian tribes. 

The point of departure of the Febre party was a village of 
Arkansas (Zarca) Indians a short distance west of the post. From 
there twelve men had set out together in the fall of 1748. Going 
up the Napestle (Arkansas), they passed the two villages of the 
Jumano, to which point French traders went regularly in canoes 
to trade. 1 Being conducted from here by Jumano Indians, after 
going one hundred and fifty leagues they reached a Comanche 
settlement of three villages, where they remained some time, 
hunting with the Indians and being asked by them to join in a 
campaign against the A tribe. From the Comanche settlement 

chiefly on buffalo but utilized some wild cattle for food. Deposition of Febre, in 
Autos fhos sre averiguar, 6. 

1 In the depositions the two Panpiquet, or Jumano, villages were said to com- 
prise about three hundred warriors, and the tribe to be fierce cannibals. Autos 
fhos sre averiguar, 6-7. 


Febre, Satren, and Riballo were conducted, in the course of a 
month, to the Taos fair, whence they were taken by Bustamante 
to Santa Fe, arriving there six months after setting out. 1 Upon 
reaching Santa Fe they were dispossessed of their fusees, lodged 
in the Real Palacio, and set to work. 

Two months later (June 19) Governor Velez made a report of 
the occurrence to the viceroy which is an interesting commen- 
tary upon the economic needs of the old Spanish outpost, and 
of the local attitude toward intruding foreigners who could add 
to the economic wellbeing of the province. At that time, Velez 
said, the strangers were working quietly and proficiently at the 
Real Palacio, two of them being employed as carpenters, and 
Febre as tailor, barber, and blood-letter. He added, "since 
there is a lack of members of these professions in this villa and 
the other settlements of the realm ... it would seem to be very 
advantageous that they should remain and settle in it, because 
of their skill in their callings, for they can teach some of the many 
boys here who are vagrant and given to laziness. It is very lam- 
entable that the resident who now is employed as barber and 
blood-letter is so old that he would pass for seventy years of age ; 
as for a tailor, there is no one who knows the trade directly. 
These are the three trades of the,, Frenchman named Luis. And 
resident carpenter there is none, for the structure of the houses, 
and repeated reports which I have from the majority of the in- 
habitants, manifest the lack of carpenters suffered in the province." 
In view of these conditions, the governor recommended that the 
Frenchmen be permitted to remain in New Mexico, promising 
to deport them to Mexico City if they should give cause. 2 

The governor's report reached Mexico in due time, and on 
August 29 was sent to the auditor general de guerra, the Marques 
de Altamira, the man at the capital who at this epoch had most 
to do with the government of the provinces. 3 In view of the in- 
definiteness of the declarations of the three Frenchmen, particu- 
larly in matters of Louisiana geography, he was suspicious of 
their honesty, and he therefore advised that new depositions be 

1 Depositions of Febre, Satren, and Riballo, in Autos fhos sre averiguar. 
J Velez to the viceroy, June 19, 1749, in Autos fhos sre averiguar, 13-14. 
8 Decreto of the viceroy, ibid., 13 (bis). It is to be noted that in the origi- 
nal the numbers 13 and 14 are repeated in the numbering of the folios. 


taken. On the other hand, he approved the governor's request, 
and advised that the strangers be allowed to remain at Santa F6 
to teach their trades, on condition that they be duly watched. 1 

The auditor's advice was acted upon, and on October 3 a de- 
spatch was sent to Governor Velez. 2 It was in consequence of 
these instructions that new depositions were taken, March 5, 1750. 
The Frenchmen had been in Santa Fe nearly a year now, and no 
interpreter was necessary at least none was officially appointed 
as had been the case before. The preeminence of Satren among 
the three is indicated by the fact that his was the only declara- 
tion written in full, the other two men saying little more than to 
subscribe to what he stated. 3 In his new deposition many of the 
shortcomings of the former were corrected and many new details 

In the meantime seven other men from Louisiana had arrived 
at Santa Fe at different times. Satren declared them to be fur 
traders whom he knew, and that they had left Louisiana, like 
himself, in order to make a better living among the Spaniards. 4 
Clearly, however, they were not of the party of twelve in which 
Satren had set out in 1748, for they left Arkansas a year later. 

Among the newcomers was a Spaniard named Felipe de Sandoval, 
who made a deposition at Santa Fe on March 1, 1750, four days 
before the second declaration of Satren was given. According to 
his statement he had left Spain in 1742. Near Puerto Rico his 
vessel had been captured by the English and taken to Jamaica. 
After remaining there a prisoner for two years he fled on a French 
vessel to Mobile, going thence to New Orleans and to the Arkansas 

1 Altamira noted especially the fact that the deserters failed, in their descrip- 
tions of Louisiana, to mention the Natchitoches and Cadodacho posts. By 
a misreading he understood the declarations to state that New Orleans was six 
hundred leagues from the Mississippi River, whereas they meant that it was that 
distance from Santa F6. Altamira also misunderstood the declarations to state 
that the Comanche settlements were one hundred and fifty leagues from Santa F6. 
What they stated was that the settlements were that distance from the Jumano 
villages. Altamira, dictamen, in Autos fhos are averiguar, 13 (bis)-16. The nu- 
merals here and below refer to folios. 

1 Decreto of the viceroy, September 30, 1749, Autos fhos sre averiguar, 15 ; 
memorandum, October 3, ibid. 

1 Declarations of Satren, Febre, and Riballo, March 5, 1750, in Autos fhos sre 
averiguar, 16-20. Satren told in his new declaration of the military post among 
the Canse (Kansas) and stated that this was the tribe who "defeated the Spaniards 
who in the year twenty, to the number of twenty men, penetrated as far as this 
place under the command of Don Pedro de Billasur, this kingdom of New Mexico 
being then governed by Don Antonio de Balverde y Cosio," ibid., 18. 

* Ibid., 19. 


post (Los Sarcos). There he became a hunter. In all he re- 
mained in Louisiana five years. 1 

In Arkansas he learned of New Mexico through members of the 
Mallet party who had descended the Arkansas River. In the fall 
of 1749 he set out for New Mexico from the Arkansas post with six 
companions, one of whom was a German. Ascending the Napestle 
(Arkansas) River in canoes, at the end of fifty days they reached 
the Jumano settlement, where a French flag was flying. This 
tribe was at the time living in two contiguous villages of grass 
lodges, situated on the banks of the Napestle, surrounded with 
stockades and ditches. They were a settled tribe, raising maize, 
beans, and calabashes. According to Sandoval the two villages 
comprised five hundred men. At this time they were still at 
war with the Pananas (Pawnees). They were fierce cannibals, 
and while Sandoval was among them he saw them eat two cap- 
tives. They had extensive commerce with the French, and a 
short time before Sandoval's visit they had received presents, 
including a French flag, from the comandante general of Louisiana. 
They had a few horses, which they had secured from the Co- 
manche. 2 

After remaining twenty days with the Jumano, Sandoval's 
party set out, accompanied by twelve Indians. They went south- 
ward and then westward for twenty days, looking for the Co- 
manche, but did not find them. At the end of that time Sando- 
val's companions turned back with the Jumano, leaving him 
alone. Soon becoming lost, he returned, by twelve days' travel, 
to the Jumano. His companions had not returned there. 

After remaining with the Jumano a few days, Sandoval set out 
again, guided by a Comanche Indian who had gone to the Jumano 
to trade. Ascending the Napestle (Arkansas), at the end of 
forty days they reached a Comanche settlement at the foot of a 
mountain whence flowed the Rio Case (Canse, Kansas?). Here 
Sandoval remained four months, hunting with the Comanche. 
While at the village twenty Jumano and two Frenchmen came 
to trade. When the Jumano returned they left the Frenchmen, 

1 Declaration by Felipe de Sandoval, Santa Fe, March 1, 1750, in Autos fhos are 
averiguar, 21-24. 

2 Declaration by Sandoval, Santa Fe, March 1, 1750, in Autos fhos sre averiguar. 


who decided to accompany Sandoval to Santa Fe. In another 
party there arrived at the Comanche village a German and a 
French priest. There are indications that they were members 
of Sandoval's original party. 1 They, too, contemplated going on 
to Santa Fe, but the German, not being a Catholic, feared the 
Inquisition. Accordingly, after remaining nine days, they went 

Sandoval and his two companions set out again, guided by a 
Comanche who was going to New Mexico to sell slaves to the 
Spaniards. Proceeding slowly for seven days to another Co- 
manche village, and then three days through a difficult mountain, 
they reached Taos. Sandoval estimated the distance from Taos 
to the Jumano as twenty or twenty-five days northeast by east, 
and from the Jumano to the Arkansas post down the Napestle 
River by boat as nine days. 

After taking the new depositions, on March 8, 1750, Governor 
Velez reported again to the viceroy. 2 The burden of this com- 
munication, aside from a long geographical description, 3 was the 

1 In my transcript of Sandoval'a declaration, it is stated that he left Arkansas 
with "four Frenchmen, a sargente, and a German" ibid., fol. 21. In view of the 
presence of the religionario and the German among the Comanche I am led to sus- 
pect that sargente here is a miscopy for religionario or religioso. 

J Governor Velez Cachupin to the viceroy, Santa Fe, March 8, 1750, in Autos 
fhos are averiguar, 25-31. 

1 Governor Velez's geographical statement is of great interest as showing the 
outlook from New Mexico at that time. The distance from New Mexico to Louisi- 
ana was commonly regarded as about two hundred leagues to the east, that to San 
Antonio, "of the government of Coaguila," as one hundred and fifty southeast. 
To the east and southeast were the Carlanes, Palomas, Chilpaines, Natagees, and 
Faraones, the last two tribes living to the south. To the northwest were the 
Comanches and Jumanes, the latter called by the French Panipiquees. The two 
tribes, now allied, made cruel war upon the Carlanes and other Apache bands 
above named. The entrance of the French into New Mexico was facilitated by 
the Comanche-Jumano alliance. The Rio de Napestle, "well-known in this realm," 
had its source in a very rugged mountain range, about eighty leagues from Taos ; 
the Arkansas was shallow in its upper reaches, but at the Jumano village, he had 
learned from the French, it was large, and farther down, after being joined by the 
Colorado (Canadian) it was still larger. Soldiers of New Mexico, in pursuit of 
Comanches, and led by Don Bernardo de Bustamante y Tagle, had reached the 
vicinity of the Jumano, following the banks of the Rio de Napestle, "on which 
expedition were acquired adequate reports of those regions, in the summer very 
delectable and pleasing, and inhabited by innumerable buffalo, which the Divine 
Providence created for the support of the barbarians and the greed of Frenchmen." 
To the north of New Mexico, in the rugged mountains, at a distance of one hundred 
and fifty or two hundred leagues, were the nations of Chaguaguas, and less remote, 
the Yutas, with whom also the Comanche were at war. For this reason they 
(meaning the Comanche, I understand) went northwest, joined the Moachos and 
fought with the settlements of New Mexico, namely the Navajoo, Zuni and Moqui. 
From reports given by the Moachos it was thought that to the northwest the sea 
wasjess then two hundred leagues distant. 


danger to New Mexico arising from the new alliance between the 
Comanche and the tribes of the east, the danger of Comanche 
attacks on New Mexico, and the bad policy of Governor Mendoza 
in permitting the Mallet party, "who were the first who entered," 
to return after having spied out the land. "I regard as most 
mischievous the permission given to the first Frenchmen to re- 
turn," he said, because "they gave an exact account and relation, 
informing the Governor of Louisiana of their route, and the situ- 
ation and conditions of New Mexico." He was convinced, more- 
over, that it was French policy which had "influenced the minds 
of the Jumanes or Panipiquees to make peace with the Comanches, 
recently their enemies, with the purpose of being able to intro- 
duce themselves by the Rio de Napestle, thus approaching near 
to New Mexico." None of the newcomers were soldiers, he said, 
but all were paid hunters, in the employ of fur merchants. Now 
that they knew the way, he feared that they would come with 
increasing frequency, "which to me appears less dangerous to 
these dominions than that they should return to their colonies 
with complete knowledge of and familiarity with the lands in- 
spected through their insolence." Better distribute them, he 
thought, as settlers in Nueva Vizcaya or Sonora, without per- 
mission to return, especially since all were good artisans, already 
at work at their trades, and since they were crack shots, and 
therefore would be very useful in defending the provinces against 
the Indians. 

The governor's report reached Mexico by August, and on 
January 9, 1751, Altamira reviewed the whole matter. 1 The 
new depositions of Satren and his companions satisfied him on 
geographical matters. In view of what Velez had written, he 
urged keeping out the French, on the one hand, and the opening 
of communication between New Mexico and Texas, on the other. 2 

1 On August 14 it was sent to Altamira, the auditor general de la guerra. On 
September 14 Altamira asked for the documents relating to previous French in- 
trusions into New Mexico, and on the 16th the viceroy ordered them furnished. 
Autos fhos sre averiguar, 25. On November 18 a testimonio of the governor's 
report was made. Memorandum, ibid., 31. 

2 Altamira estimated that from Santa Fe to Los Adaes it was less than two hun- 
dred leagues, and still less from Albuquerque or El Paso, "and it would be very fit- 
ting that the transit and communication be facilitated from one province to the other, 
in order that with mutual and reciprocal aid of arms, intervening tribes who per- 
secute both realms, should be forced into subjection, which would be aided greatly 


He approved, also, sending to the interior the six new intruders 
and others who might come later, designating Sonora as the place, 
because it was the most remote possible from Louisiana. 1 On 
January 14 the viceroy approved the recommendation, and on 
the 31st the corresponding despatch was written. 2 

Two distinct parties of Frenchmen had thus entered New Mexico 
in less than a year by the Arkansas River. They were soon fol- 
lowed by others over the northern route. In the meantime the 
Jumano had made peace with the Pawnee (Panana) and had se- 
cured an alliance of the Comanche with the Pawnee and even with 
the A tribe. 3 In these arrangements the French no doubt had a 
hand, as in the case with the earlier Comanche-Jumano treaty. 

In 1751 four traders from New Orleans reached New Mexico by 
way of the Missouri River, it is said, but who they were and what 
the circumstances of their journey has not yet come to light. 4 
In the following year, however, another party came by that route 
concerning whom our information is quite complete. This expedi- 
tion, it will be seen,, had official sanction in Louisiana. 5 

On August 6, 1752, two Frenchmen arrived at the cemetery of 
the mission of Pecos, bearing a white flag, and conducted by 
Jicarilla and Carlana Apaches whom they had encountered fifteen 
leagues before, on the Gallinas River. They had nine horses and 
nine tierces of cloth, or of clothing. Father Juan Joseph Toledo, 
missionary at Pecos, deposited the merchandise in the convent of 
the mission, and at once wrote to the governor. Fray Juan was 
clearly not a French scholar, for the names of the strangers he wrote 
as Xanxapij and Luis Fxuij. In later correspondence they emerged 
as Jean Chapuis and Luis Feuilli (also Foissi). 6 

by practical acquaintance with the watering places, pastures, and other features 
of that unknown intervening space," ibid., 26. 

1 Altamira, dictamen, January 9, 1751, in Autos fhos sre averiguar, 25-30. 

*Decreto, January 14, 1751, ibid., 30. On January 25, a testimonio of the 
expediente was made and deposited in the archives of the Secretaria del Vireynato. 
Memoranda, January 14, ibid. 

8 According to the Spanish documents these tribes were now making war on the 
Kansas and Osage. Testimonio de los Autos (see note 5), fol. 14. 

*Ibid., 11. 

8 The account of this party is gleaned from the expediente entitled Testimonio 
de los Autos fhos a Consulta del Goy T del nuebo Mex sobre haver llegado dos fran- 
zeses cargados de efectos que conduzian de la Nueba Orleans, hereafter cited as Testi- 
monio de los Autos. 

9 Fray Juan Joseph Toledo to Governor Velez, Pecos, August 6, 1752, in Testi- 
monio de los Autos, 2. 


Father Toledo's message was received at Santa Fe on the day 
when it was written, and the alcalde mayor of Pecos and Galisteo, 
Don Tomas de Sena, who happened to be at the capital, was at 
once sent to conduct the Frenchmen thither. Next day he re- 
turned with the strangers and their goods. Their papers were 
confiscated, and on the 9th their depositions were taken, Luis 
Febre, who by now was "slightly versed in the Spanish tongue," 
acting as interpreter. From the confiscated documents, the 
declarations, and the related correspondence, we learn the follow- 
ing story of the advent of Chapuis and Feuilli into the forbidden 
territory. 1 . 

Chapuis, forty-eight years old, was a native of France and a 
resident of Canada. On July 30, 1751, he had secured a pass- 
port from the commander at Michillimackinac, Duplessis Falberte, 
permitting him to return to Illinois to attend to his affairs, and 
to embark the necessary goods to sell in Illinois those later 
confiscated at Santa F. Reaching Ft. Chartres, he conferred 
with the commander, Benoit de St. Clair (Santa Clara in the docu- 
ments), relative to opening a trade route to New Mexico, his 
object being to deal in fabrics. St. Clair encouraged the enter- 
prise, and on October 6, 1751, issued a license to Chapuis and 
nine other men to "make the discovery of New Mexico and carry 
the goods which they may think proper," permitting Chapuis to 
carry a flag, and commanding the men not to separate till they 
should reach their destination. Chapuis was therefore the recog- 
nized leader of the expedition, which had a semi-official sanction. 
As transcribed into Spanish records, the names of the others men- 
tioned in the license were Roy, Jeandron, Foysi, Aubuchon, Calve, 
Luis Trudeau, Lorenzo Trudeau, Betille, and Du Charme. 2 

Feuilli was evidently not at Ft. Chartres at the time when the 
license was issued, but joined Chapuis at the Kansas (Canzeres) 
Indian village, 3 said to be one hundred and fifty leagues from 

1 Decreto of the governor, Santa Fe, August 6, 1752, ibid., 9 ; Obedecimiento 
by Thomas de Sena, Alcalde Mayor and Capitan a guerra of Pecos and Galisteo, 
Santa Fe, August 7, 1752, ibid., 9. Decreto of the governor, Santa Fe, August 8, 
ibid., 9-10 ; Juramento del Interprete, August 8, ibid., 10. 

2 Declaration of Juan Chapuis, August 9, 1752, ibid., 10-14 ; license signed 
by Benito de Santa Clara (translation), Fuerte de la Charte, October 6, 1751, ibid., 
8 ; license signed by Duplesis Falberte, Fuerte de San Phelipe de Michilimacinac, 
July 30, 1751, ibid., 8. 

* In his first declaration Feuilli stated that he joined Chapuis at the Kansas 



Ft. Chartres, where for eight years he had been official interpreter 
in the pay of the king of France, and where, during the same period, 
there had been a detachment from Ft. Chartres. The Kansas 
detachment is called in the documents Fuerte Cavagnol. 1 Where 
the other eight men joined Chapuis does not appear. 

Chapuis set out promptly, and on December 9, 1751, was at 
Fuerte Cavagnol. On the way thither, or after reaching there, 
he passed among and traded with the Osages and Missouris, who, 
together with the Kansas, comprised five villages, all under French 
domination maintained by soldiery. At Fuerte Cavagnol Chapuis 
formed a partnership with Feuilli, "to go together to Spain, under 
contract to arrive during the month of April near the settlements 
of Spain, beyond Sta Bacas," Chapuis agreeing to advance to 
Feuilli four hundred pounds in merchandise for the journey, on 
condition that if Feuilli should break the agreement he should 
pay Chapuis five hundred pounds. Feuilli could not sign his 
name. The agreement was witnessed by Pedro and Lorenzo 
Trudeau. On the same day Feuilli acknowledged a debt to 
Chapuis of four hundred and nine pounds, due in the following 
April, to be paid in beaver skins or other peltry, at the price cur- 
rent at Fuerte Cavagnol. 2 

Leaving the Kansas about the middle of March, 1752, the party 
continued to the Pawnee (Panana). Either there or at the Co- 
manche 3 eight of the men turned back, 4 through fear of the Co- 
manche, who could not be trusted. The two partners continued 
to the Comanche, who levied a heavy toll upon them as a condi- 
tion of letting them pass, but having received liberal presents 

post, ibid., 13; but in the later one he stated that he left "the city of Los Yli- 
nueses in October, 1751, which was about the time that Chapuis set out ibid., 36. 

1 Declaration of Feuilli, ibid., 13. 

1 Agreement between Juan Chapuis and Luis Foissi, Fuerte Cavagnol, December 
9, 1751, ibid., 3; acknowledgment of debt by Luis Foissi, December 9, 1715, 
ibid., 3. Among the papers found in the possession of Chapuis and Feuilli at 
Santa Fe were two which throw further light on their operations. One was a letter 
signed by Languemin to an unnamed person, requesting him to aid Chapuis in 
recovering a slave sold by the former to the latter, and saying, "I have delivered 
thirty pounds of merchandise to the said Chapuis to give to the savages. I will 

give more if necessary. I would have gone myself to if the Truteaus had 

not gone up." Another was a letter by Foissu (Feuilli) to Sefior Moreau to come 
and report what was happening in the district, ibid., 4. 

Feuilli stated that it was four and a half months from the time of leaving the 
Kansas to that of arriving at Pecos, ibid., 14. 

4 There is a discrepancy in the documents regarding the place where the eight 
turned back. 


they directed them to New Mexico. From a point north of the 
Arkansas they were guided by an Ae Indian who had been a cap- 
tive in New Mexico and was fleeing, and whom they induced to 
return with them as guide, bringing them in from the north. 
At the Gallinas River, fifteen leagues from Pecos, they met Jicarilla 
and Carlana Apaches, who conducted them to the Pecos mission, 
which they reached, as we have seen, on August 6, forty days after 
leaving the Comanche, four and one half months after leaving the 
Kansas, and ten months after leaving Ft. Chartres. 1 

In the course of the interrogation by Governor Velez, Chapuis 
explained that his plan for trade was to convey goods up the 
Panana (Missouri) River by canoes, to the neighborhood of New 
Mexico, and thence by caravan, with horses bought from the 
Pawnee and Comanche. On account of risk from the Comanche, 
" in whom they have not complete confidence," they would escort 
each caravan with fifty or sixty soldiers. Feuilli stated that by leav- 
ing the Missouri to the left (sic), it would not need to be crossed. 
The other six rivers, excluding the Mississippi, he said, could be 
forded by horses. In a later statement Feuilli said that the goods 
could be taken in canoes up the Panana River to the Panana 
Indians, thence to New Mexico by horses bought from that tribe 
for the trade, a distance of three hundred leagues. 2 On being in- 
formed that their project was entirely illegal, both Chapuis and 
Feuilli emphatically declared that they were ignorant of the fact, 
and had supposed that by paying duties they might trade. Hav- 
ing learned that such was not the case, they begged permission 
to go back to report to their commander. 

But their request was not granted. On the contrary, Governor 
Velez decided to send the intruders to Mexico. Their goods were 
confiscated, put up at auction for three days, and sold to Thomas 
Ortiz, a cattle ranchman, for 404 pesos, 3 reales, 11 granos, the 
proceeds being devoted to defraying the expenses and conducting 
the prisoners to the capital. Of the amount the governor him- 
self took one hundred pesos for the expenses incurred in New 
Mexico. On the 18th Velez reported the incident to the viceroy, 

1 Governor Velez to the viceroy, September 18, 1752, ibid., 24 ; declaration 
of Feuilli, Mexico City, November 23, 1753, ibid., 37. 
Ibid., 12, 38. 


and expressed renewed fear at the Comanche alliance with the 
eastern tribes. About the first of October the prisoners were 
sent south, in charge of Pedro Romero, of El Paso, and on October 
29 they reached Chihuahua. From there they were conducted 
to Mexico by Lorenzo Alvarez Godoy, "muleteer of the Mexican 
route," who received fifty pesos for the service. 1 

In January, 1753, the governor's report was handed to Altamira, 
who in return expressed the fear that the proposed trade was a 
pretext for "other hidden and more pernicious ends." The matter 
being referred to Dr. Andreu, the fiscal, it was July before he re- 
plied. The original declarations of the Frenchmen were then 
handed to a translator. Meanwhile the prisoners were languish- 
ing in jail and clamoring for release. In November Andreu again 
took up the matter and had new depositions taken from the 
foreigners. They contained a few contradictions and a few ad- 
ditions to the former stories. 2 

Immediately after the declarations were taken, orders were 
issued requiring kind treatment given the prisoners, and on January 
18, 1754 the fiscal gave his opinion. Since the Frenchmen had 
come to open up a trade route with the permission of a French 
official, one of them being in the pay of the French king, he rec- 
ommended that the prisoners be sent at once to Spain, in order 
that the king might decide the matter. On the 19th this recom- 
mendation was approved by the viceroy. 3 

The French advance through the Comancheria at this time, 
encouraged as it was by Governor Bienville and the commandant 
St. Clair, gives significance to the proposal of Governor Kerlerec 
of Louisiana, in 1753, to break through the Apache barrier and 
open up trade with the more interior provinces of Mexico. In a 
memoire addressed to the king in that year the new governor 
spoke of Spain's jealous frontier policy, the weakness of her out- 

1 Governor Velez to the viceroy, September 18, 1752, ibid., 24; declaration 
of Feuilli, Mexico City, November 23, 1753 ; ibid., 14-24, 29-30, 37. 

* Decretos of the viceroy, January 12, 1753 ; Dictamen of the auditor, January 12, 
1753 ; Respuesta fiscal, July 28, 1753 ; Decreto of the viceroy, July 30, 1753 ; es- 
cripto by the prisoners ; Dictamen fiscal, November 15, 1753 ; Citacidn de Inter- 
prete, November 21, 1753 ; Deposition of the prisoners, November 21-23, 1753 ; 
Notorio al Alcalde, November 23, 1753 ; Respuesta fiscal, January 18, 1753, ibid., 
2425 ; 3240. 

* Pro jet de Paix et D' Alliance avec les Cannecis et les Avantages qui en Peuvent 
Resulter Envoy e par Kerlerec, Gouverneur de la Province de la Loiiisianne, en 1753, 
in Journal de la Societe des Americanist es de Paris, Nouvelle Serie, vol. 3, pp. 67-76. 


posts, and the ease with which the mines of Coahuila and Nuevo 
Leon could be conquered. As a base for securing them in case 
of any rupture, he proposed taking possession of the country of 
the Apache, at present attached neither to Spain nor France, he 
said. But unless peace were established between the Apache and 
all their numerous enemies to the eastward, access to their coun- 
try would be impossible. He proposed, therefore, to remove the 
barrier to the Apacheria by securing an alliance between the 
Apache and these eastern enemies. Under the existing circum- 
stances of the French monarchy, it is not strange that the proposal 
was never made the basis of a program, but the fact that it was 
made at all is significant. 1 

These intrusions of Frenchmen into New Mexico were closely 
bound up, in their effect upon Spanish policy, with similar 
infringements upon the Texas border, which had been going on 
with greater or less freedom for many years, and the noise made 
by the incursions over the New Mexico border found its loudest 
echo on the Texas frontier. In 1751, when the doings of the 
Febre party in New Mexico were reported to the king of Spain, 
they were considered together with the Louisiana-Texas question. 
As a result of the deliberations, on June 26, 1751, it was ordered 
that French intruders in the Spanish dominions be prevented from 
returning to their country under any pretext whatsoever. The 
viceroy was ordered to keep vigilant watch of the operations of 
the French nation, and, if necessary, to order the commandant 
of Louisiana to abandon the Presidio of Natchitoches and Isla de 
los Labores, "without using the force of arms for the present, in 
case he should resist it, in order not to cause disturbances and 
obligations on those frontiers which might become paramount in 
Europe." 2 

In the course of the next two or three years complaints regarding 

1 Instruction Reservada que Trajp el Marquez de las Amarillas, Aranjuez, July 30, 
1755 (Capitulo 8 summarizes previous proceedings), in Instrucciones que los Vireyes 
de Nueva Espana Dejaron a sus Sucesores (Mexico, 1867), pp. 96-97. 

2 Testim de Autos de Pesquiza sobre comertio Ylicito y Demos que expresa el 
superior Despacho que esta por caveza de ellos, Adais, 1761, Bexar Archives, Adaes, 
1739-1755 ; Report of Investigation of French trade by DeSoto Vermudez, under 
direction of Gov. Barrios, 1752-1753, in Archive General y Publico, Mexico, 
Historia, vol 299 ; Testimonio de autos fechos en virtud de Superior Decreto Expedido 
por el ex 1 Sefior D n Juan Fran co de Guemes y Horcasitas, etc., September 26, 1752, 
Bexar Archives, Adaes, 1739-1755. 


French aggressions on the Texas border grew apace. Barrios y 
Jauregui, Governor of the province, made investigations, reported 
that the French were operating freely among all the tribes of north- 
eastern Texas, and that the Spaniards were at the mercy of the 
French, who absolutely controlled the natives who were held in 
check only by Louis de St. Denis, the younger. As offsets, 
Barrios proposed that Spaniards be permitted to sell firearms to 
the Indians, that freedom be promised to slaves escaping from 
Louisiana, and that a presidio be established on the San Pedro 
River, a branch of the Neches, from which to watch the French 
traders. 1 

This was the situation in January, 1754, when it was decided in 
Mexico to send Chapuis and Feuilli to Spain. Immediately 
thereafter (January 21-22) the viceroy held a junta to consider 
the royal order of June 26, 1751, together with the related affairs 
of Texas and New Mexico. It was decided for the present to 
make no move to drive the French across the Red River, since it 
was not certain whether that stream or Gran Montana was the 
boundary. For the same reason the sending of an engineer to 
mark the boundary, which had been suggested, was regarded as 
unnecessary. Barrios's proposal that Louisiana slaves be publicly 
offered their liberty was declared to be in bad taste, and further 
consideration was regarded as necessary before acting upon his 
plan for a presidio on the San Pedro. But Barrios was ordered to 
keep watch that the French should not extend their boundaries ; 
French interpreters must be recalled from villages on Spanish 
soil, and Governor Barrios, "with his discretion, industry, vigi- 
lance, and prudence must try to prevent the commerce of the 
French with the Indians of Texas, observing what the governor 
of New Mexico had practiced in the matter, with the idea of 
preventing the Indians from communicating with them." 2 

This decision of the junta de guerra in Mexico bore fruit in the 
arrest by Barrios, in the fall of 1754, of the French traders, Joseph 

1 Instruction Reservada, July 30, 1755, in Instrucciones que los Vireyes de Nueva 
Espafla Dejaron a sus Sucesores, pp. 96-97. 

1 This episode is discussed at length by Bolton, in Southwestern Historical Quar- 
terly, vol. 16, pp. 339-378. The connection between the junta of January 21-22, 
1754, and the arrest of Blancpain is shown in Expediente sobre la aprehencion . . . 
de Ires Franceses, Archivo General de Indias, Sevilla, Guadalajara, 103-6-23, a 
copy of which I secured through Mr. W. E. Dunn. 


Blancpain and his associates, on the Texas coast, near the Trinity 
River, and the establishment there soon after, of a Spanish pre- 
sidio and mission, as means of holding back the French. Thus the 
whole French border question, from Santa Fe to the mouth of the 
Trinity, was treated as one. 

The French intrusion into New Mexico found another echcTin 
Sonora. On March 2, 1751, Fernando Sanchez Salvador, Cap- 
tain of Cuirassiers of Sonora and Sinaloa, cited the French ad- 
vance westward as a reason for haste in the Spanish occupation 
of the Colorado of the West. He was convinced that the French 
traders had ulterior ends and that they would soon reach the 
Colorado and descend it to the South Sea unless impeded by a 
Spanish advance. 1 

1 Sanchez thought that the Carmelo River, of California, was a western mouth 
of the Colorado. Cuarta Representation, in Doc. Hist. Mex., Ill Ser., vol. 3. 
pp. 662-663.