Francisco de Ibarra
Francisco de Ibarra was born about 1534 in Eibar, Gipuzkoa, in the Basque Country of Spain. He went to Mexico as a young man, and upon the recommendation and financing of his uncle, conquistador and wealthy mine owner Diego de Ibarra, Francisco was placed at the head of an expedition to explore northwest from Zacatecas in 1554. The young Ibarra noted silver in the vicinity of present-day Fresnillo, but passed it by. He explored further and founded towns at San Martín and Avino, where the silver mines made him a mine owner in his own right.
In 1562, Ibarra headed another expedition to push farther into northwest Mexico. In particular, he was searching for the fabled golden city of Copala (also called Cibola). He did not find the mythical treasure, but explored and conquered what is now the Mexican state of Durango. Ibarra was appointed governor of the newly formed province of Nueva Vizcaya (New Biscay) in 1562, and the following year he founded the city of Durango to be its capital.
In 1564, Ibarra, following rumors of rich mineral deposits, crossed the Sierra Madre Occidental to conquer what is now southern Sinaloa. Prospectors discovered silver veins in the new territory, and in 1565, de Ibarra founded the towns of Copala and Pánuco.
- P. J. Bakewell (1971) Silver Mining and Society in Colonial Zacatecas 1546–1700, Cambridge: University Press, p. 28–29.
- John Francis Bannon (1970) The Spanish Borderlands Frontier 1513–1821, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, p. 29, 53–54.
- José Ignacio Gallegos (1960) Durango Colonial, 1563–1821, Mexico City: Editorial Jus, p. 78.