A diary of a journey through New Mexico

Nicolas Lafora kept a diary while he was traveling with a military inspection team in Mexico, from Tepozotlán to New Mexico between 1766-1768.  He also made a series of maps.  His diary and maps reflected his overall impression that the settlements and pueblos of “Nueva España” were predominately and diversely indigenous.  His diary was copied a few times, and then bound into books.  One of these books (dated 1768) is maintained at the Biblioteca Nacional de España (BNE) in Madrid and was recently digitized and made available online — click HERE.


The title page, translated into English, says “Report of the Journey which by Order of the Most Excellent Viceroy, the Marquez de Cruillas, made by the Captain of Engineers Don Nicolas de Lafora, in Company of the Field Marshall Marquez de Rubi, commissioned by His Majesty to review the Interior Presidios Situated on the Frontier of the Part of North America belonging to the King.”


Below is one of the several pages on New Mexico (click to enlarge).  Based on Lafora’s estimates and observations at the time, New Mexico had 37 settlements, 2,703 families of Teguas, Genizaros, Tiguas, Abiquius, Pecuries, Taos, Pecos, Tanos, Zuñis, Acomas, Moquinos, Queres, Xemes, Sumas, and Piros, amounting to 10,524 persons.  The number of “Spanish” came to 9,580 persons, distributed among 1,487 families.  The total number of “souls” was 20,104.  According to Lafora, the “Indios” as well as the Spanish were well prepared for war, as they learned to use weapons and ride horses when they were young.  They did this to defend themselves against the “Naciones Gentiles” (probably referring to those persons who he called “Apaches Gileños” and “Pharanoes”) who surrounded them, except to the south near Nueva Viscaya at a place called Las Boquillas.


(Courtesy of the Biblioteca Nacional de España)


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