José de Urrutia

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This article is about the Spanish explorer. For the Spanish general, see José de Urrutia y de las Casas.
José de Urrutia
Born 1678
Guipuzcoa, Basque Country, Spain
Died July 16, 1741
San Antonio, Texas
Nationality Spanish
Occupation Explorer and captain of San Antonio de Béjar Presidio

José de Urrutia (c. 1678 to 1741) was a Spanish explorer and settler of Texas, who became captain of San Antonio de Béjar Presidio and long lived with the natives of East Texas.


José de Urrutia was born in Guipuzcoa, Basque Country, Spain around 1678. Due to their participation in the Domingo Teran de los Rios expedition, he and his brother, Toribio, settled in Texas sometime before 1691. During this time, Urrutia lived in the barracks that were built near the Neches River.[1] Many of the soldiers who were exploring with Domingo Teran de los Rios pulled out of Texas in the winter of 1693, due the increasing hostility of the Tejas Indians.[2]

Shortly after, José de Urrutia had an accident on the San Marcos River, (scholars now believe it was actually the Colorado River [1] or the Christmas River). Due to his injury,[2] he was forced to stay with the Native Americans in the region. However, he was not alone, as three soldiers chose to stay with him. Urrutia lived with the Kanohatinos, Xarames and Tohos tribes for seven years and established important links with these natives.[1] He quickly earned the respect of these tribes by learning their languages and customs.[2] In fact, he became "captain" of all nations hostile to the Apaches, and he conducted further extensive wars against the Apache Nation.[1] In 1696, he returned to New Spain. There, he held a prominent position with the Spanish government military.[2] In 1700, after the founding of Mission San Juan Bautista, he decided to resume his explorations in Texas.[1]

After settling in San Antonio, Urrutia was named captain of San Antonio de Bexar Presidio on July 23, 1733. After forty years of experience dealing with the natives of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Texas, and he was one of the best informed of all the Spanish on the issues and problems that guided Indian life in this state. His hate for the Apaches remained, and in the winter of 1739, he decided to conduct another war against the Apaches in the region of San Saba. Apparently, San Saba was also the place where the soldiers Juan Antonio Bustillo y Ceballos had carried out its war on Apache in 1732, as well. Urrutia died on July 16, 1741[1]

Personal life[edit]

On 7 January 1697 Urrutia married Antonia Ramon and they had a daughter, Antonia. The couple married in the parish church of Santiago Apostol, Monclova, in the state of Coahuila, Mexico. But later, after the death of his first wife during childbirth, he had a second wife, Rosa Flores and Valdez, with whom he had four daughters and six sons, including Toribio de Urrutia who later would happen to him as captain of the Presidio de Bexar.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Steve Gibson. "Handbook of Texas Online:Urrutia, José de". Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d John D. Inclan. "Geneabios:Biographies for Genealogy:Urrutia, José de". Biographies for Genealogy. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 

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