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Canary Islanders of Louisiana
Transcript of Canary Islanders of Louisiana
Do you know where the Canary Islands get their name?
The natives found on the islands were called Guanches. They were described as robust, fair skinned, and handsome. These peaceful people were often times killed or enslaved by the conquerors who came upon them.
So, why would native peoples who have lived on this
island for so long want to relocate to a relatively unknown
place, to uproot their entire lives for an uncertain future?
Since 1682, Louisiana had been French, named by LaSalle for
for the king.
By royal order of August 15, 1777 the Spanish crown
commanded the governor and commandant general of the
Canary Islands (Matias de Galvez) to enlist 700 men for
Recruits were required to be from 17 to 36 years of age, and at
least 5' 1/2" in height. Butchers, gypsies, mulattoes, and
executioners were not permitted to sign up.
Recruits were paid 45 reales upon signing up, and 45 more upon
arrival in New Orleans. They also recieved 1/2 peso per day while
waiting to depart.
Recruiters were also paid to find recruits. The taller the recruit
they could find, the greater the payment. Up to 45 reales if the
recruit was at least 5' 3" tall.
Tenerife - 45%
Gran Canaria - 40%
La Palma, La Gomera, Lanzarote - 15%
Five of the islands sent recruits to Louisiana.
The 700 recruits brought with them their families, bringing
the total number of immigrants to 2,373.
Flag of the Louisiana Infantry 1779
Regimiento de Infanteria de Luisiana
Militia forces served with Galvez and defeated the British
at battles in Pensacola, Mobile, Natchez and Baton Rouge.
In fact, when these soilders helped to capture Baton Rouge
from the British, they were given something for their efforts.
So, what are some reasons why these people might leave
heir homeland for a new and relatively unknown place?
November 1778 the first ship leaves for Louisiana.
The Santisimo Sacramento with its 264 passengers leaves from
Santa Cruz in Tenerife on July 10, 1778.
Illness breaks out aboard the ship at sea, and it stops in Havana
in September to drop off 14 people.
The ship arrives in New Orleans on November 1st.
Santisimo Sacramento - 264 passengers - departed July 10, 1778
La Victoria - 292 passengers - departed October 22, 1778
San Ignacio de Loyola - 423 passengers - departed October 29, 1778
San Juan Nepomuceno - 202 passengers - departed December 9, 1778
Santa Faz - 406 passengers - departed February 17, 1779
All five ships of the first wave reached Louisiana. They all were
loaded and departed from Santa Cruz in Tenerife.
Due to war having broken out between Britian and Spain,
the second wave of ships never reaches Louisiana.
The El Sagrado Corazon de Jesus stopped in Havana, where eight
bachelor recruits were enlisted into the Havana Dragoons, a militia.
It later sailed to Pensacola in early 1782 where many people settled.
The San Carlos was captured at sea by the British and taken to
Denmark's Island. Its passengers were taken to Puerto Rico on
a Swedish frigate and eventually made it to Louisiana in 1783.
The San Pedro somehow wandered off course and landed on the
northern coast of Venezuela at Caracas in 1780.
So where did these people go when they arrived in Louisiana?
The Barataria settlement was abandoned after only a few years
due to excessive flooding.
Many of the settlers there relocated to Galveztown and Valenzuela.
The first settlers arrived at Galveztown in Jan of 1779.
By early 1780 nearly 1/3 of those people had died from disease.
Then in August a devastating hurricane hit the settlement.
Unlike the other settlements, Galveztown was actually laid out
as a town, as seen in this early map.
The most successful of all the settlements was Valenzuela.
Located just below the confluence of Bayou Lafourche and
the Mississippi River, lands were fertile and farming was good.
Valenzuela was not laid out in typical block fashion, but rather
a series of parcels of lands along the bayou.
As seen in this early map, strips of land were occupied by early
settlers like Francisco Hidalgo, Pedro Gonzales, Juan Hidalgo,
Juan Aleman, Bartolome Hernandez and Andres Perera.
1772 - Church of the Ascension is built in Donaldsonville
Feb 1779 - the settlement is ordered to be marked out for six cabins
Mar 1779 - the first settlers arrive
Jan 1780 - an additional 80 people are brought in
Mar 1782 - a tornado strikes leveling 4 houses
Aug 1794 - a hurricane ravishes the area
So what happened to these settlements??
1784 - there were 174 people, 154 of which were Islenos
1785 - Acadians arrive on seven ships, increasing population to 353.
1788 - over 800 Acadians have arrived bringing population to about 1,500.
The Canary Islanders Heritage Society of Louisiana, founded in 1996, exists to document, preserve, and celebrate the heritage of our Spanish ancestors from the Canary Islands who immigrated to Louisiana in the 18th century. We focus on the original Canarian settlements founded at Galveztown, Valenzuela, and St. Bernard, and on later Canarian resettlements within the state. We also promote friendship and cultural exchanges between Louisiana and the Canary Islands.
Officers and Board of Directors
President - Joan Aleman
Vice President - Layne Lindsly
Treasurer - Steve Estopinal
Secretary - Stella Tanoos
Board Of Directors
Fr. Gerald Lefebvre
Canary Islands History
40 BC - Islands are discovered by King Juba II
999 - Arabs begin trading at Gran Canaria
1479 - Treaty of Alcáçovas establishes Spanish sovereignity
1755 - Acadians are exiled from Nova Scotia
1763 - Treaty of Paris ends the Seven Years War and divides LA
1766 - Acadian exiles from Maryland arrive in New Orleans and help the Spanish establish the fort at St. Gabriel
1777 - The Spanish Crown orders the recruitment of 700 men from the Canary Islands for military service in LA
Jul 1778 - The first ship leaves the Canary Islands for Louisiana
Nov 1778 - Galvez explores where Bayou Manchac meets the Amite River.
Jan 1779 - first settlers arrive at Galveztown, shortly after settlements begin at Barataria and St. Bernard
Sep 1779 - Galvez captures Baton Rouge from the British with the help of the Canary Islanders from Galveztown in the Spanish militia
1780 - The last of the immigrants leave the Canary Islands arriving in Cuba where they remain due to war having broken out
Mar 1780 - Galvez captures Mobile from the British
1781 - Captain Maxent, commandant at Valenzuela replaces Collell at Galveztown. Oldest church record of Manchac is from Feb 1781
1782 - End of the Barataria settlement, a tornado hits Valenzuela in March, and the Mississippi River floods affecting Galveztown
1783 - War ends, the remaining Islenos arrive from Cuba
1786 - oldest church records from Galveztown
1794 - Two hurricanes hit Louisiana on Aug 10 and 21, causing flooding at Galveztown and destroying several houses and leveling fields at Valenzuela
1795 - Treaty of San Lorenzo ceded Spanish territory above the thirty-first parallel to America. The governor ordered the fort at Galveztown to be rebuilt.
1797 - In Sep, the governor removed Louis Judice as commandant of Lafourche de Chetimachas, replacing him with an American
1802 - Spain returns the Isle of Orleans to France which sold it and the Louisiana territory to the US in 1803
1803 - On Nov 30, Spanish sovereignty in Louisiana ended. Baton Rouge and the Florida parishes remain Spanish lands for the next 7 years
1804 - Gov. WCC Claiborne sends an inspector to the area. He reports in Feb that there is a small fort just below the junction of the Amite and Iberville Rivers with 12 Spanish soldiers under command of Thomas Estevan
1805 - Last residents depart Galveztown
1807 - Last recorded church entry at Galveztown. Governor Claiborne creates nineteen parishes including the Islenos parishes of
Assumption, Ascension and St. Bernard
1810 - Settlement at Galveztown completely abandoned.