Francisco Vasquez de Coronado
Written by Donald E. Sheppard

Francisco Vasquez de Coronado was the Spanish Conquistador who explored the Southwestern part of the United States. Born in Spain in 1510, he went to Mexico City in 1535 where he married the daughter of Spain's Treasurer for Mexico. In 1538 he became a member of the town council and acting Governor of Nueva Gatina. He led his expedition into North America just after Cabeza de Vaca arrived in Mexico City with stories of riches to the north.

Coronado PortraitOn February 22, 1540, Coronado's expedition, with 300 Spaniards and 1,000 Indians, began their march into the interior of this continent. Their trail led up the Gulf of California and crossed the White Mountains of Arizona. They conquered Cibola but with much disappointment. They did not find the gold which others had reported there.

Coronado moved his camp to the upper Rio Grande where his people killed more than 200 men, women and children in a massacre to pacify the area. In 1541 he led a party north, across Western Texas and Oklahoma, arriving at Quivira on the Kansas River in Kansas. He found only grass huts, not the rich places described to him by Cabeza de Vaca and legends of Zuni Pueblo tribes in New Mexico. In vain, he returned southwest to his people's camp then back to Mexico City in 1542 along the same trail he had taken from there.

He continued to serve as a city councilman despite the fact that he had been crippled by a head injury received during a jousting tournament in New Mexico. Coronado died in Mexico City in November, 1554.                 Based on a Report by Maurice Jordan, Edited by Donald E. Sheppard

Coronado's Trail Map                            Coronado National Memorial

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