Antonio Valverde y Cosío

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Antonio Valverde y Cosío
38th Spanish Governor of New Mexico
In office
Preceded by Félix Martínez
Succeeded by Juan Páez Hurtado
40th Spanish Governor of New Mexico
In office
Preceded by Juan Páez Hurtado
Succeeded by Juan Estrada de Austria
Personal details
Born 1670
Villapresente, Cantabria, Spain
Died December 1728
El Paso, Texas
Profession Political and military

Antonio Valverde y Cosío (1670–1728) was a prominent entrepreneur and Spanish soldier who served as interim governor of Santa Fe de Nuevo México in 1716 and from 1718–1721. His politics were based, in large part, on stopping the French invasion of New Mexico.


Early life[edit]

Antonio Valverde y Cosío was born around 1670 in Villapresente, Cantabria, Spain,[1] to Antonio Velarde and Juana de Velarde y Cosío.[1][2] He was attracted to New Spain by various business interests that his family had in the region. He began working in Sombrerete (in modern Mexico) because minerals had been discovered there in 1646. Over time, he and his associates created an important business in the area. The success of their partnership grew over the next 24 years. In 1693, Diego de Vargas, governor of New Mexico, recruited settlers and soldiers from Sombrerete, and Valverde decided to join them. Eventually, he became Vargas' secretary.

From June 1694 to July 1697, Valverde served as a soldier in New Mexico, fighting to impose Spanish authority in New Mexico and restore the region's Hispanic population. Over the next two years (1694–96), he and Vargas participated in the war against the Puebloan peoples, who had rebelled against Spanish sovereignty because of the maladministration of Juan Francisco Treviño. In December 1695, Valverde was promoted to captain of the local presidio.

He participated in many battles in 1696, including an assault on the mesa at Acoma. In early June, he began a military campaign against the Tewa people, who had promoted a Native American revolt along with the Tiwa, Keres, and Jemez people. That same year, Valverde suffered a serious illness, and Vargas gave him permission to travel to Mexico City for treatment.

In July 1697, Pedro Rodríguez Cubero replaced Vargas as governor and presented complaints against Vargas and Valverde. Vargas was imprisoned for several years, but Valverde was unaffected because he was in Spain at the time.

Valverde and Juan Bautista de Saldúa shared the captaincy of the presidio of El Paso, a position Valverde held for the remainder of his life.[1] In 1699,[3] he also became the alcalde of El Paso.[1][3]

He had an estate, including a large farm, in San Antonio de Padua. In addition, he controlled much of the economy of El Paso, along with trade and business in many other parts of New Mexico. In 1705, he became a lieutenant general under Governor Francisco Cuervo y Valdés. In 1708, he was named a councilman of Santa Fe.[1] Two years later, in 1710, he attained the rank of general.[3] In 1712 and 1714, he fought against the Suma Indians and Apaches, who had rebelled against the Spanish.[1]


Valverde was appointed acting governor of New Mexico in 1716, replacing Félix Martínez. He was replaced in the same year by Juan Paez Hurtado, but regained the position in 1718.[1][4]

As governor, Valverde confronted the French invasion of New Mexico’s eastern and northeastern fringe, specifically in the Great Plains. In 1719, Spain and France joined forces against the Comanches and Utes, and Valverde led a column of Spanish troops (60 soldiers from Santa Fe and 45 Spanish settlers[5]) and auxiliary Native Americans[4][5] (465 Pueblo warriors and 165 Apaches[5]) to attack the Comanches.[5] When Valverde and his troops reached the Arkansas River, one of the Apaches of El Cuartelejo told him that the French had built two villages on Pawnee lands west of the Missouri River, "as big as Taos" in New Mexico. He also said that the French were arming the Native Americans to fight the Spanish.[4]

In response, Valverde traveled to northern New Mexico to try to block the French, establishing a mission on the northeastern flank of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. He led 600 men in search of the French settlement, but never found it, although the expedition reached the Pawnee lands.[5] In 1720, he led a small group of explorers from Santa Fe into the Plains.[1] On his return to Santa Fe, he sent a report to the viceroy, Baltasar de Zúñiga, concluding that the French were preparing to enter New Mexico and that they were bribing the native tribes with gifts, including firearms.

On January 10, 1720, Viceroy Zúñiga ordered Valverde to establish a presidio in the Apache settlement of El Cuartelejo. However, Valverde suggested to the viceroy that Jicarilla, just 40 miles from Santa Fe and with cultivated fields, would be a better choice. He noted that the Apaches of El Cuartelejo, allies of the Spanish, were 130 miles from Santa Fe and had no supplies, so they could not adequately defend themselves from enemy attacks; Valverde argued that the Spanish should help defend them. The viceroy agreed to the suggestion, and the Spanish troops moved north into unknown territory, toward Jicarilla.[1]

In June 1720, Valverde directed the Villasur expedition to check the growing French influence in the Great Plains and capture French traders there.[6] The expedition of 100 men, including many Pueblo Amerindians, traveled to the confluence of the Loup River and North Platte River in what is now Nebraska. In New Mexico, members of the Pawnee and Otoe tribes attacked with firearms, killing many of the explorers.[1]

Valverde finished his term in New Mexico in 1721, when the viceroy of New Spain appointed Juan Estrada de Austria as the new governor of the province.[4]

Last years[edit]

Valverde was accused of facilitating the murder of explorers through the Villasur expedition. He was eventually prosecuted and fined 200 pesos, but the prosecution took place only after seven years of investigation. In the interim, Valverde had again become a rancher in El Paso. He lived there until his death on December 15, 1728.[2] He was buried in the mission at Guadalupe del Paso.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Although Valverde never married, he had several children: Antonia, María Rosa, Juana, and Antonio de Valverde. He was also the uncle of Juan Domingo Bustamante, who would become governor of Spanish New Mexico. He was one of the wealthiest men in New Mexico, with a hacienda that included large wheat fields, a flour mill, a vineyard, and a farm with sheep, cattle, horses, mules, hogs, and goats. He also had nine black and mulatto slaves and more than 30 farm laborers.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l New Mexico Office of the State Historian: Antonio de Valverde Cosio. Posted by Richard Flint and Shirley Cushing Flint. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Valverde y Cosío. Genealogies. consulted in may 07, 2011, to 13:09 pm.
  3. ^ a b c Naylor, Thomas H.; Hadley, Diana; Mardith K. Schuetz-Miller (editors; 1997). The Presidio And Militia On The Northern Frontier of New Spain, Volume 2; part 2. The Central Corridor and the Texas Corridor, 1570-1700. Page 242. The University of Arizona Press.
  4. ^ a b c d Martínez Laínez, Fernando and Canales Torres, Carlos. Banderas lejanas: La exploración, conquista y defensa por parte de España del Territorio de los actuales Estados Unidos (Flags far: The exploration, conquest and defense by Spain of the Territory of the present United States). Page 228-229. Fourth edition: September 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d e Abbot, Carlos (2013). Colorado: A History of the Centennial State, Fifth Edition. University Press of Colorado.
  6. ^ Chartrand, Rene (2011). The Spanish Army in North America. Osrey Publishing. p. 11. ISBN 978 1 84908 597 7.