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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Antonio de Espejo, Utah's earliest documented European Explorer

Here in Utah, at the center of the universe, or so I have been told… for decades we have been inundated with Spanish lure related treasure stories… even to the point it would seem of a twisting of the stories and even complete fabrications are written. Where is the truth? The remaining, if any, truth lies within and after stripping away all the rhetoric exposing only what is “presumed” to be the truth, one begins to build what “could” be the truth. The academic world is no less guilty, as over the many years since the Spanish frequented our Uinta Mountains and the Northern Mountains, the game of hide and seek has come upon us, as their writers with the deception of their pens try and with great success, to convince you of the Emperor’s new clothes.

There is a truth out there, naked for all to see, and some day, I am going to tell this story, even if it is for but a few who can still distinguish the differences of being learned or educated, and of which one promotes intelligence, and which promotes a certification hanging on the wall as proof having been sufficiently strip of the ability to think or even reason. Regardless, there will always be those prim and proper and those who can only be described as gullible ready to believe anything put to the pen, regardless of the source derived… <end of rant>



Antonio (Hurtado de Mendoza?) Espejo was born in Valladolid, (His own Record says Cordoba), Espana in the year of 1540. It is believed but not verified that at the age of 31, Antonio, his wife, two sons and his brother migrated to the Americas. Antonio was a wealthy man, (whether obtained prior to coming to the Americas or after is currently unknown), he and his brother became ranchers living at the northern frontier of Mexico of the day. Circumstances unknown, he and his brother were accused of murder in 1581, his brother was arrested and Antonio fled to the Northern most outpost of Mexico at Santa Barbara Chihuahua, he is known for financing an expedition for the in part purpose of rediscovery of the Cities of Cibola reported 40 years earlier by Friar Marcos de Niza. It is said that after his famous expedition of 1582-83, Antonio was traveling back to Spain and while in Cuba he had died in 1585. (The Forgoing is according to the academics, yet a source for the information is still unknown other than what was written by Antonio himself) Now I am going to tell you the likely truth of it, based on new evidence and evidences intertwined with some common sense and what may be considered conjecture, but not really any different than the method in which the academic sources have used.

Antonio de Espejo born in Spain presumably to a wealthy family, having come from a wealthy family it is without doubt he and his brother with families came to the Americas without issue but clearly was a matter of choice for some purpose other than becoming cattle ranchers in the unknown wild or soldiers of fortune in such a hostile place. It is my estimation that something else swayed the two brother to come to the Americas and this is likely due to information passed down through his family regarding some place in the Americas and visited long ago by the ancestors of Antonio. In short he was coming to the Americas to claim his patrimony left to his family and likely documentation of this kept in the family’s possession since the days of the Explorations of the people of Septimania or the Holy Roman Empire from 700 AD to 1000 AD.

In 1581 some event occurred in which Antonio and his brother were accused of murder, there is no record as of yet as to what this was all about, but it is said his brother was arrested and Antonio fled North the outter most outpost of New Spain at the time being Santa Barbara in Chihuahua. If this accusation were true, why would Antonio rather than lie low somewhere, begin writing letters to the King of Spain in an attempt to establish a colony or Land Grant in the Northerly most parts of the most hostile regions of New Mexico. New Mexico at the time included parts of Texas Arizona, and Utah. Why would this wealthy man for some unknown reason put his wealth on the line by voluntarily financing the expedition into the virtually unknown having only been visited 40 years prior by Coronado and Friar Marcos de Niza. It is said that the expedition was for the purpose of discovering what had happened to some friars who were left in New Mexico. From the translators record it is said:

WHILE the viceroy was discussing an expedition to New Mexico, more effective measures were being taken by the Franciscan order and a private citizen. On learning through the returning soldiers that the friars who went with Chamuscado had been left alone in New Mexico, the Franciscans feared for the safety of their brethren and at once considered the organization of a rescue party. To lead it, Fray Bernaldino Beltran, of the monastery of Durango, volunteered. Hearing of the project, Antonio de Espejo, a wealthy citizen of Mexico, who was in Nueva Vizcaya at the time, offered to equip and lead some soldiers as an escort, and to pay the expenses of Father Beltran.
Through the efforts of the friar a license was secured from Captain Juan Ontiveras, alcalde mayor of Cuatro Cienegas, a settlement seventy leagues east of Santa Barbara, then in Nueva Vizcaya, but now in Coahuila.

Now understanding that by embarking upon an expedition of any kind without license could get you arrested or killed simply because it was considered as trespass on property claimed for the crown, it is clear to me that Espejo took advantage of this opportunity bypassing the process of obtaining a license himself, especially with an open accusation of him as a murderer. Espejo was on a quest, what was it he was looking for? Clearly throughout the narrative of Espejo his attention is not on the presumed “missing” friars, as you read through his narrative it is clear he is looking for previous occupation of Castilian. At every opportunity he was setting off further and further from the objective. I have noticed this constant making notation of Castilian Grapes, Castilian Onions, Walnuts Etc.. and such not only in Espejo’s expedition narrative but by others as well, I think these people knew good and well their ancestors had been there before.

Espejo even after reaching the “avowed purpose of the expedition” learning of the demise of the friars, pushed even further, at this point the majority were ready to return to Nueva Vizcaya. From the transcribers of the report of the Viceroy to the King we find…

After reaching  “the borders of the province of the Tiguas, and learned that Fathers Lopez and Rodriguez had been killed at Puaray.
The avowed purpose of the expedition had now been accomplished, but Espejo, seconded by Father Beltran, decided to explore the country before returning. Going two days east with two companions, to the province of the Maguas, adjacent to the buffalo country, Espejo learned that there Father Santa Maria had been killed before Chamuscado left New Mexico.
Returning to the Tiguas, the whole party went six leagues to the Quires, and then visited Sia, fourteen leagues to the northwest, and the Emeges (Jemez), six leagues further north-west. Turning southwest, they now went to Acoma, and thence to Zuni. At this point Father Beltran and about half of the party decided to return to Nueva Vizcaya. But Espejo and nine companions set out northward in search of a lake of gold said to be in that direction. He did not find the lake, but he visited the province of Mohoce (Moqui), and was given there a present of four thousand cotton blankets (mantas). Sending these back to Zuni by five men, with the remaining four Espejo went west in search of mines of which he had heard. After travelling forty-five leagues he found them in western Arizona, and secured rich ores. Returning to Zuni by a shorter and better route, he found Father Beltran and his companions still there.
His party being increased by another of Espejo's men, Fray Beltran now returned to San Bartolome; but Espejo, bent on further explorations, turned east again and ascended the Rio Grande to the Quires. Going east from there Six leagues, he visited the Ubates, and found mineral prospects near by. One day from the Ubates he visited the Tanos pueblos, who would neither admit him nor give him food. In view of this hostility and of the smallness of his party, Espejo now set out for home, but by a different route”
It is said that Espejo did not find the lake, and I would agree as it had been gone for at least 200 years or better, however I am certain that Espejo having been one of the first Europeans to return to this area, could see plainly the evidence of the lake he sought after, evidence that was much more obvious 480 years ago and is still visible today though more so obscured, yet evidence of which today is drowned in an extremely flawed dating system so that you would not consider...



I personally don’t think Espejo went west for 45 leagues as he said he did, had he done this there is no doubt he would have mentioned the Grand Canyon which he no doubt would have encountered. I am certain he did however head North in search of the Lake of Gold, and those 45 leagues along with other time spent, was also looking North. I think Espejo and the 4 men knew exactly what they were looking for, I would wager Espejo had with him documents handed down from his ancestors and he wasn’t going back until he knew he had found the place verifying the documents. The events that occur after they finally returned, shows he found something while gallivanting around which set him up for his next expedition of which would seem there is no record, except one…

Apparently Espejo continues seeking establishing a colony in the North by Land Grant, it is uncertain as the whether the King responded to his letters but it would be my guess according to later documentation that he got that permission in 1584. And soon he was off again, but apparently this slipped past the majority of historians and reasonably so, but based on what information would they say he was heading back to Spain and died in Cuba in 1585?



Antonio de Espejo was off again, and this time it would be 4 years before his return, or at least that was the plan, but I don’t think that worked out so well because apparently no one told the story, as it would seem it was easier to have him die in Cuba. In this expedition there is no record of who went with him, we only know that he did go… and where he went.

If you were to read Antonio’s narrative, and those of the earliest expeditions known, you will notice that not only do they continuously point out finding Castilian this and Castilian that, but they always make reference to mines they had heard about, never do the documents say they set out to “Establish” or create mines, it is always a reference to what apparently were existing mines, whose mines? Were these mines of the indigenous? Or mines of the predecessors from 500 years prior?

Now as you may or may not know, many of the projects in which I work on, have what I call an originator, this is the person who brought me the story or the document, because of this, I cannot disclose the nitty gritty details, as the originator is my friend and colleague, and to be honest, I don’t think he agrees with me on this and that’s ok. My reasons for writing about this particular incident is that even if we cannot verify the things indicated on the document, it is still considered the best and earliest evidence we have of Spanish expeditions into the Uinta mountains, and if we can pull all the other implications together from other sources or find one of the sites indicated on the map, we could also prove even earlier occupation of those who preceded the Spanish at one time of 700 AD to 1000 AD and quite possibly a much earlier migration occurring at 100 BC.



According to the originator of this document, it was given to him after getting to know a co-worker who was Apache, possible Apache/Navajo, he told him that this map with others, was taken from the Spaniards that his grandfathers had killed long ago near the four corners area. As it would seem, Espejo’s expedition of 1584 to 1588 ended somewhere on their return trip to Mexico, Unfortunately Antonio de Espejo and his men, never made it back, and Antonio without a doubt did not die in Cuba. I personally don’t have any question as to the correct analysis of the map bearing Antonio de Espejo’s signature as I trusted it to one of the sharpest of individuals I know with a great knowledge of the Uinta Geography. Upon this map which is a Land Grant area obtained by Antonio which covers some 144,000 acres in a most interesting place in the Uintas. 16 Mines two of which are specifically marked as “Castilian”, 3 presumed armor cache sites, and 2 presumed vaults.


I feel this is one of the most important projects that we have pertaining to early Utah history as it shows a history that has been ignored and suppressed. I intend to start again at the beginning, going over and recreating all the work that has already been done regarding this map, because simple details are often overlooked, we have found certain landmarks, corroborating stories and maps, that all validate not only the map but its authenticity. The research on this map/and the story behind it is extensive, even those who have been involved have not seen the half of the countless hours that has been put into this project. The project has reached the point of serious consideration and I feel warrants going over the entire project again, from the very beginning.  I am looking for a few rare types of individuals to assist, who can legitimately dedicate the time to evaluate this project tracing over the steps I have already taken, I promise you, you will be overwhelmed yet fascinated by what actually has taken place already. This is not for the casual researcher or treasure hunter, you need a computer, not cell phone, advanced photo programs and advance experience with Google Earth, USGS Maps etc… It is my desire to bring this project to the point where in trover permits are obtained and in place and plans of exploration, documentation and excavation are in place. If nothing more, this is one of the many projects I am looking for financial support so that I can do it, after all, under the current circumstances, I have nothing better to do, fortunately I love doing it… and by the time you have read this, I will already be up to my eyeballs doing it all again…

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