For my entire life, I had always considered myself, proudly 100% French Acadian | Cajun | Coonass. Little did I realize that my mother’s maiden name, from which I got my first name, Gary, was Spanish in origin. With aunts named Rena, Nilta, Juanita, and my mother’s name being Inez, you would think I would have had a clue … and when I asked, I found out that my Grandpa, Fils Gary was from New Iberia. I obviously have some research to do.
Malagueños in Louisiana
“In terms of international relations, the 18th century was like the 17th century, with frequent wars; although, in this case the wars were relatively shorter and the principal enemy was not France, but England. In one of the Bourbon alliances against the English, the so-called Seven Years War began, which ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1763.
In this treaty, as a consequence of backing the French, Spain ceded Florida to England. By a separate agreement, the French, who had liquidated their possessions in North America, by ceding Canada to the English, compensated Spain with the concession of Louisiana, a territory that extended along the Mississippi River from New Orleans to St. Louis, including all land with rivers, to the west, that emptied into the Mississippi.
Thus, Spain found itself with a vast region that it had to populate, even though it had not been capable of extending its dominion effectively in other regions of the Americas, such as Upper California or Texas. For such reasons, and also to offer some type of resistance to the English (who controlled the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, in the territory called West Florida), King Charles III (Rey Carlos III) accepted the proposal of the Acadians (French colonists expelled from Canada and regrouped in France) to facilitate their transport to Louisiana via a fleet of several ships that carried those colonists to New Orleans throughout 1785.
Since 1776, the Governor of Louisiana was the Malagueño, (born in the province of Malaga, Andalusia, southern Spain) Bernardo de Gálvez. Knowing that he must increase Spanish control and influence in the territory, Gálvez brought colonists from the Canary Islands and from his home area of Malaga. The United States was already in a war for its independence, and Spain secretly provided services and assistance, as did France, in the war against their common English enemy.
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In this context, the Brigantine San Joséf, sailed from Malaga on the 1st of June in 1778, with eighty-two persons from sixteen families, among them two that are clearly identified as being from Alhaurin de la Torre: the family of Juan Garrido, who left with his wife Ines Maldonado and their three children, Juan, Sebastian and Catalina; and the family of Teresa Gomez, widow of Antonio Villatoro, who traveled with her children, Antonio, Rita (recently married and accompanied by her husband, Juan Gonzales, also from Alhaurin de la Torre), Maria, Juana, and the nephew of Teresa Gomez, Francisco Villatoro.
After a difficult voyage, with stops in Cadiz, Puerto Rico and Havana, these Alhaurinos arrived in New Orleans on the 11th of November in 1778. There they waited for several months to be assigned to Colonel Bouligny, who led them to the district of the Attakapas Indians, at the beginning of 1779, where they established a town that would be called New Iberia, and where their descendents still proudly remember their Spanish past, in distinction from that of the Acadians or French descendents. For these reasons, we feel that this historic episode, important in the history of Alhaurin de la Torre, ought to be better known. Therefore, we have researched in the Archivo General de Las Indias the prologue, their journey, and the development of their first years in faraway Louisiana.”
(Extract from the book “Historia de Alhaurín de la Torre en la Edad Moderna, 1489-1812”, by José Manuel de Molina Bautista. Alhaurín de la Torre, Published in November 2005. ISBN 84-609-7905-9)