Felipe Antonio de Cisneros

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Felipe Antonio de Cisneros

Birthdate: (46)
Birthplace: Provincia de Nuevo México, Nueva España
Death: August 9, 1706 (42-50)
Zuñi, Provincia de Nuevo México, Nueva España (Killed by an Apache arrow)
Place of Burial: Zuñi Pueblo, McKinley County, New Mexico, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Bartolome Cisneros and Ana Gutierrez De Salas
Husband of Josefa Luján
Partner of Juana Griego
Father of Nicolas Griego; Pedro Griego; Josefa Griego; Maria Griego; Juana Cisneros and 2 others
Brother of Josefa de Cisneros; Alonzo Cisneros; Francisco Cisneros; Catalina Cisneros; Ana Maria Cisneros and 2 others

Occupation: Alcalde Mayor of Galisteo and Alcalde Mayor of Zuni
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Felipe Antonio de Cisneros

Antonio de Cisneros born c. 1660, died August 9, 1706, killed by Apaches and buried beneath the church on the epistle side of the sanctuary, Zuñi , Nuevo México, Nueva España

Born likely in 1660 or 1661 in Zuni or Santa Fe, Antonio was an interesting figure. He lived in La Custodia as a child (the Santo Domingo area next to Highway I-25 between Santa Fe and Albuquerque). He was called a “castizo”- a person who has a Native American grandparent, likely a grandmother in this situation.

In 1680, the Pueblos banded together to drive out the Spaniards, killing scores of missionaries and families and taking women and children captive. The colony fled south to Guadalupe del Paso where they founded several towns in the Paso del Norte district, in an area known today as Juarez, Mexico. Almost all of the records in New Mexico were destroyed by both the Spaniards and the Native Americans during this time. Here they stayed for thirteen years, though many families abandoned the colony and went south to New Spain.

Antonio was a refugee in 1681 after the Pueblo uprising in 1680, staying in Guadalupe del Paso, with the other refugees. He was accounted for in 1681:

In this Plaza de Armas of San Lorenzo de la Toma on the 12th day of the month of September 1681, in order to continue the count that is being made for his Majesty’s service, there passed muster before his lordship…Antonio de Cisneros, bachelor, twenty one years of age, with his person, an harquebus, shield, and leather jacket, two gentle horses and a jack. He has nothing that belongs to his Majesty. He declared that he is in good health and desirous of serving his Majesty. He did not sign because of not knowing how…

In the muster taken at the puesto of El Ancon de Fray Garcia, north of Paso del Norte, between November 7 and 10, 1681, Antonio’s presence was again confirmed. Antonio was part of Governor Otermin’s ill fated expedition into the interior of the kingdom, which consisted of 146 soldiers. Also in the expedition were 1,200 Indian allies. This disastrous foray accomplished nothing, except rekindling the enmity between the Pueblos and the Spaniards.

This was a very difficult time for the Cisneros family. The family lived in a jacal—a simple shelter of sticks and mud. The twelve member family had nothing of material value, were almost naked because there was no clothing, and survived on the meat and milk of fifteen goats. The only possession Antonio had managed to retain was a broken down horse and a simple riding saddle.

Don Diego de Vargas, second colonizer of New Mexico and a seasoned official having been in the New World since 1673, sought and received the appointment of governor and captain general to lead the refugee colonists back to their homeland. However, the original nuevo mexicanos, considerably reduced in number by the 1680 massacre and the subsequent desertion of families who left to New Spain, were too few for an effective attempt at recolonization. Therefore, Vargas recruited soldiers from Spain and New Spain as well as civilian colonists with their families in the Valley of Mexico and the country around Zacatecas.

In 1692, Diego de Vargas was mustering colonists to return to the Kingdom of New Mexico. Antonio was anxious to leave the miserable exile camps of Paso del Norte. For more than 12 years they had been waiting for the opportunity to return to the land of his birth. Diego de Vargas wrote about Antonio:

Antonio de Zisneros, bachelor, with his poor widowed mother whom he supports, named Ana Gutierrez, and a brother named Francisco, thirteen years old, and four sisters: Magdalena, twenty years old, Ana Maria, fifteen years old, Catarina, twelve years old and Geronima, sixteen years old. Also four orphans: Juan, three years old, Maria, twelve years old, Maria, four years old, and gustina, a babe in arms. He says he is willing to enter New Mexico with me, said governor and captain-general, in order to build this house, and that later he will return for his family, if his Majesty provides him with the necessary assistance.

In the summer of 1692, Vargas led his first entrada into New Mexico, a reconnaissance party of espanoles and Native Americans in which he received the submission of the Pueblos, now weakened by disunity among themselves. His rapid movement enabled him to reoccupy Santa Fe before the Pueblos could successfully regroup against him. In 1693, in his second entrada, Vargas led a large colonizing party from Paso del Norte. The arrival of the new colonists firmly reestablished Spanish control of the upper Rio Grande Valley, but this time not without resistance from the Pueblos.

Thirty three old Antonio was the only Cisneros individual to return to New Mexico in the entrada of 1693. His aging mother was still alive in 1694 and still in Paso del Norte when Antonio sought permission to marry in Santa Fe. On January 1,1695 Antonio married Josefa Lujan Chavez, in the original church in Santa Fe (now marked by a plaque on the southeast corner of the Palace of the Governors). Josefa Chavez was born in Santa Fe in 1676, and she was also a castizo. Antonio and Josefa eventually had three children—Juana, Hermenegildo and the youngest—Felipe Neri.

The winter after Antonio and Josefa married was one of New Mexico’s “starving times”. A great plague of worms and drought the summer before had caused crop failures. In his journal entry for June 17, 1696, Don Diego de Vargas tell of Antonio returning from Santo Domingo Pueblo where he had been sent to forage for maize to feed the starving families in Santa Fe. That very same day of June 17, 1696, also marked the day the Pueblo Rebellion of 1696 turned into all out conflict.

On July 24, 1696, Antonio was with Vargas at the Battle of El Embudo (an unmarked area on the Taos Highway between Taos and Espanola). The Native American, and part African American, war chief, Lucas Naranjo, had attempted to entrap Vargas and some of his best men and annihilate them once and for all. Naranjo and his warriors waited in a safe place, entrenched in the cliffs and peaks of the mountains, ready to fight at the slope of the mountain. From below, the Spaniards fired repeatedly at them, and according to Vargas “…tuvieron la suerte de un tiro de los nuestros de un vezino llamado Antonio Cisneros…” It was the Spaniards good fortune that the bullet from a shot by Antonio hit Naranjo in the neck. When Naranjo fell to the ground, he was decapitated by Antonio and his head was carried off. Naranjo’s death and the defeat of his warriors paved the way for the eventual suppression of the Pueblo Revolt of 1696 and assure the Spaniards of permanent colonization in New Mexico. Antonio, for this and other heroics, was later rewarded by Vargas with a large tract of land in that area north of San Juan Pueblo. By 1698, Antonio had become the Alcalde Mayor of Galisteo, south of Santa Fe. He owned land just north of San Juan Pueblo, known as Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, or simply La Soledad. Antonio gave half of this land to his brother in law, Capitan Sebastian Martin Serrano (Antonio’s wife Josefa’s sister, Maria, was married to Sebastian).

Subsequently, Antonio become the Alcalde Mayor of Zuni early in the year of 1705, like his father Bartolome. Zuni was not an attractive post because of the Apaches who camped nearby. Indeed, as recorded in the AASF Burials for Zuni, Antonio was killed by an Apache arrow (de un flechazo que le dieron los Apaches), on August 9,1706 in Zuni. He is buried beneath a church there in Zuni on the epistle side of the sanctuary. The church was originally built in 1629. The church, previously known as La Asuncion, then as the Purisma de Zuni, eventually was named Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe. The Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, in Zuni, is a beautiful church. Visitors to the church will be amazed at the Cochina or Native American paintings that cover the wall. The painter, Alex Seowtewa, has spent a lifetime in painting the church, a project his father started, and his son and grandson is continuing.

Antonio left his wife Josefa widowed at about thirty years of age and their three children. Antonio had lived through two significant events in the history of New Mexico-the expulsion of the Spaniards and the reconquest twelve years later.

After his death, his widow, Josefa Lujan, had a legal battle with the four Griego children (Nicolas, Pedro, Josefa and Maria), for a tract of land. These four persons were the children of Antonio and a woman named Juana Griego. Josefa lost the case.

Antonio’s and Josefa’s children firmly established their roots in the San Juan Rio Arriba area of New Mexico. In 1707, because she did not have the means to develop the land, sold some land north of San Juan de los Caballeros, to the husband of her sister Maria—Sebastian Martin Serrano.

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Felipe Antonio de Cisneros's Timeline

Provincia de Nuevo México, Nueva España

Born likely in 1660 or 1661 in Zuni or Santa Fe, Antonio was an interesting figure. He lived in La Custodia as a child (the Santo Domingo area next to Highway I-25 between Santa Fe and Albuquerque). He was called a “castizo”- a person who has a Native American grandparent, likely a grandmother in this situation.