Plat map of Rincon del Alamito
Canary Islanders’ continued contributions to San Antonio
In March 1731, after an 1,150 mile journey from Veracruz, 56 Canary Islanders representing 16 families arrived in San Antonio de Bexar. These families received land grants near the safety of the presidio and established the first civil government in Spanish Texas.
The Canary Islanders moved to San Antonio as part of a Spanish plan to establish a civilian foothold in what is now Texas. Their settlement — La Villa de San Fernando — was built according to Spanish law around a church and large plaza. They built homes on the streets radiating out from the central plaza, established farms along the San Antonio River, used irrigation channels called acequias to water their crops, and set aside shared lands for grazing livestock.
The Catholic parish the Canarians founded became San Fernando Cathedral. Today, San Fernando Cathedral is one of the oldest surviving cathedrals in the U.S. and still serves as the heart of the Canarian community in Texas. The large plaza at the center of La Villa de San Fernando stands today as the Plaza de Las Islas Canarias, or Main Plaza. And the names of the original Canarian settlers and their descendants can also be found on streets and public buildings throughout the city.
The Canary Islands Descendants Association was created in 1977 to bring awareness and educate others on their ancestors’ impact on Texas and to preserve Canary Islander history in San Antonio. They also continue to maintain a cultural and political connection to the Canary Islands. Members have served as cultural ambassadors to the Islands and Spain, honorary legal council of Spain, and welcomed government leaders from both the Islands and Spain to San Antonio.
Discover the details of the Canary Islands descendants' history in this video on the Bullock Museum YouTube channel.
Josephine Rodriquez Mendoza, San Antonio
Time Period: 1845 - 1861
This artifact is currently on view.