Marc Simmons: Pueblo became Spanish capital
"In 1890, scholar Adolph Bandelier wrote that Juan de Oñate's 1598 colonizing expedition at journey's end halted at San Juan Pueblo. Then later it moved across to the west side of the Rio Grande and founded San Gabriel.

The history for the 15 years of San Gabriel's existence is of considerable interest, since the community until 1610 served as New Mexico's second capital. Unhappily, the story is poorly documented, leaving us with a number of puzzles and gaps in our knowledge.

In at least two early letters, Gov. Oñate referred to San Juan Pueblo as the capital, so that place enjoys the distinction of being the initial seat of Spanish government in New Mexico.

Having the bulk of foreigners crowded into the native village was inconvenient for all concerned.

Hence, an arrangement was worked out whereby the colonists crossed the river to the neighboring pueblo of Yungue Oweenge, whose residents gave up their adobe apartments and moved in with relatives at San Juan.

So, Yungue Oweenge became San Gabriel de los Españoles (sometimes referred to as San Gabriel de la Paz). And it automatically was elevated to the rank of capital of the kingdom of New Mexico, as it was then known."

Get the Story:
Buried in time: The mystery of San Gabriel (The Santa Fe New Mexican 6/27)

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