Love and Marriages on the Route of the Camino Real
© 2016 By John D. Inclan
Beginning with a historical background, this ancient highway is known as the King’s
Highway or El Camino Real. This 2, 500 mile rode runs from the capitol of the Viceroyalty of
New Spain, present day Mexico City, and continues to Saltillo, (Coahuila), Monterrey, (Nuevo
Leon), Laredo, San Antonio, Los Adaes (Texas), and on to Natchitoches, Louisiana. For
centuries the Native tribes used connecting trails for trading between Santa Fe, (New Mexico),
the Great Plains, and the Chihuahuan Desert.
First followed and marked by Spanish explorers and missionaries in the early 1700s, El
Camino Real de Los Tejas was one of several El Camino Reals, or “royal roads,” that connected
Spain’s dominion in North America with Mexico City. The town of Los Adaes, borderland of
East Texas, was founded in 1717 by Captain Domingo Ramon, son of Governor Diego Ramon.
The purpose of this article undertakes to bring attention to the Spanish marriages
recorded at St. Francois de Natchitoches Catholic Church, Natchitoches, Louisiana. I used as
reference the book, Natchitoches Church Marriages 1818-1850, by Elizabeth Shown Mills. The
City of Natchitoches, Louisiana, is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase. It
begins as a French colonial settlement established in 1714 by Louis de St. Denis, near the
Natchitoches Indian village on the Red River. The city’s early years were shaped by trade and
plantation agriculture. It was given notoriety by the filming of the movie “Steel Magnolias.” St.
Denis, built a garrisoned post to repel the Spanish of Texas and to promote trade with the locals.
These actions soon found him at odds with the Spanish who considered his flourishing trade
illicit and unlicensed. Knowing no boundaries, St. Denis, a Canadian-born adventurer, traveled
to the lands of the Hasinai Indians, and from then on to Spanish outposts on the Rio Grande. On
July 19, 1714, he strode into the Presidio San Juan Bautista Del Rio Grande de Norte, located in
the state of Coahulia, Mexico, and, because of his so-called illicit trading, was placed under a
pleasant house arrest. It was here that he met and romanced, Manuela, the daughter of Don
Diego Sanchez Navarro y Camacho and Dona Mariana Gomez Mascorro de la Garza, the
granddaughter of Don Diego Sanchez Navarro and Dona Feliciana Camacho y Botello.
Widowed, Dona Feliciana married Major Diego Ramon, the former Governor of Coahuila and
now, the Commander of the Presidio. In 1716, St. Denis married Manuela in the local Chapel of
the Presidio San Juan Bautista. During 1716 and 1717, he participated in the founding of six
missions and a presidio in East Texas. In April, 1717, St. Denis returned to San Juan Bautista
with a sizable amount of merchandise, in keeping with his successful trade practices. This time,
due to the end of the thirteen years’ Franco-Spanish War of the Spanish Succession which ended
with the death of King Louis XIV, he was once again under suspicion. This time he was to be
sent for imprisonment to Mexico City. St Denis fled and by 1719, made his way back to
Natchitoches. In 1721, Spanish officials permitted Manuela to join him, and they spent their later
years at the French outpost on the Red River. The 1722 census for Natchitoches lists the St.
Denis’ and two children. The 1726 census indexes St. Denis, Manuela, and three children. (From
the article written for Somos Primos, “Captain Louis Juchereau de St. Denis (1674-1744” by
John D. Inclan).
Listing only Spanish Surnames:
Acosta, Aleman, Alvarez, Amador, Andrada, Aragon, Arocha, Arriollo,Avila, Ayala, Balboa,
Barela, Bargas, Barrera, Basquez, Bustamante, Cadena, Calderon, Chirino, Conde, Cordero,
Cordova, Cortez, Cortinas, Cruz, Cuellar, de Aro, de la Vega, de la Garza, de la Pena, Delgado,
de los Santos Coy, del Rio, de Luna, de Soto, Diaz, Espinosa, Estrada, Fernandez, Flores,
Fuentes, Garcia, Gomez, Gongora, Gonzalez, Gutierrez, Grande, Guerra, Guerrero, Hernandez,
Lacoste, Losada, Leyba, Longoria, Lopez, Losoya, Mancha, Mansolo, Martinez, Medina,
Menchaca, Mora, Moreno, Murquiz, Navarro, Ocon, Pacheco, Olivares, Ortis, Poche, Perez,
Prado, Ramirez, Ramos, Recio, Rodriguez, Ruiz, Salinas, Salcedo, Sanchez, Sandoval, San
Miguel, Santa Cruz, Santos, Sepulveda, Serda, Solis, Sosa, Soto, Trevino, Vaca, Vega,
Villarreal, Ximenez. Ybaro.
The book lists the de la Garza, Moras, Basquez, Padilla, and the Barbo families as the earliest
Spanish families recorded in Louisiana (Copy of reference book below).