“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
San Elizario in El Paso County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)

The First Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Kirchner, November 4, 2010
1. The First Thanksgiving Marker
Inscription. Late in November 1597 a colonizing expedition headed by Don Juan de Oņate left Santa Barbara in northern Chihuahua headed for what is now New Mexico. Four hundred men led the way, 130 of whom had wives and children. There were several priests, 83 wagons and carts, plus 7000 head of stock. They were planning to stay.

They reached the Río Conchos and after a needed rest, started out again on February 7. Marching on northward over the barren desert of Chihuahua for several weeks, the last four days without water, the expedition finally reached El Río del Norte (near the present-day San Elizario) on April 26, 1598. The poet-chronicler of the march Gasper Pérez de Villagrá, wrote that the river was a most welcome sight: "Horses approached the rolling stream and plunged headlong into it two of them drank so much that they burst their sides and died. Two others plunged so far into the stream that they were caught in its swift current and drowned." Some of the humans went almost as wild. The arrival was a "happy and joyous occasion," and all were in a thankful mood. Grateful for the completion of a perilous part of their journey, the abundance of water, and plenty of wild game along the river, the expedition set about preparations for a great celebration, The First Thanksgiving in what is now the United States of America, which took
San Elizario Memorial Plaza image. Click for full size.
By Bill Kirchner
2. San Elizario Memorial Plaza
The First Thanksgiving Marker is the first marker on the left.
place on April 30, 1598.

The Great Colonizer, as Oņate has been called, thus brought the Spanish culture (and ultimately, that of Mexico) to what would become the Great Southwest shaping its growth and the development of the area for generations. These historic events preceded the English colonies on the Atlantic Seaboard, the French colonization of Canada, and the Dutch settlements in the Hudson River area by several years.
Erected 1989 by the El Paso Mission Trail Association, Inc., in recognition of the Oņate Expedition and dedicated by Manuel Gullon y Oņate, Conde de Tepa.
Location. 31° 35.118′ N, 106° 16.382′ W. Marker is in San Elizario, Texas, in El Paso County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Church Road and Glorietta Road. Click for map. Marker is located at the San Elizario Memorial Plaza. Marker is in this post office area: San Elizario TX 79849, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Camino Real (here, next to this marker); Salt War (here, next to this marker); Rodriguez-Chamuscado Expedition - 1581 (here, next to this marker); San Elizario Memorial Plaza (here, next to this marker); Juan de Onate Expedition - 1598 (here, next to this marker); Espejo Beltran Expedition - 1582-1583 (here, next to this marker); San Elizario (here, next to this marker); Los Portales (within shouting distance of this marker). Click for a list of all markers in San Elizario.
Categories. ExplorationNotable EventsSettlements & Settlers
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Kirchner of Tucson, Arizona. This page has been viewed 645 times since then and 61 times this year. Last updated on , by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Bill Kirchner of Tucson, Arizona. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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