Today in Texas History – February 16

From the Annals of the Explorers  –  In 1599, Spanish explorer Juan de Oñate found Jusepe Guitiérrez at Picurus, New Mexico.  JG was the lone survivor of the ill-fated expedition led by  Francisco Leyva de Bonilla.  Five years earlier, Bonilla had been sent by by Governor Diego de Velasco of Nueva Vizcaya to pursue a group of Native Americans suspected of widespread theft. Bonilla quickly abandoned the pursuit and began to search for the fabled treasure of Quivira.  The group spent about a year on the upper Rio Grande encamped at Bove (San Ildefonso). From there they explored parts of Texas, Oklahoma,  Kansas, Arkansas and Nebraska.  According to Gutiérrez, a Mexican Indian who was with the party, Bonilla was stabbed to death after a quarrel with his lieutenant, Antonio Gutiérrez de Humaña, who then assumed command.    JG and five others deserted and attempted to return to New Mexico.  Only JG made it back, but he was captured by Apache and Vaquero Indians and held for a year.  He finally made his way to Cicuyé and was later found by Oñate at Picuris who recognized his value as a guide and interpreter. When Oñate arrived at Quivira in the summer of 1601, he learned that Humaña and his followers had been killed by hostile Indians on their return journey.

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