Santiago Gurulé

The first known Frenchmen nationals to settle in New Mexico were Jean L’Archebeque, Jacques Grolet, and Pierre Meusnier, who would later be known as Juan Archibeque, Santiago Gurulé, and Pedro Meusnier, the first two becoming the paternal heads of large New Mexico families. These men had all been soldiers under the French Explorer René Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle. After the ill-fated La Salle expedition of 1684, the three joined the Velasco-Farfan colonists prior to the muster taken at La Laguna near Zacatecas on 23 November 1693. Santiago Gurulé endured captivity with the Indians, then later interrogations in Mexico City, and the trip back to Spain where he was imprisoned, along with L’Archebeque.


1663 – Jacques Grolet was born in La Rochelle, France and baptized at the Church of St. Jean, the son of Yvon Grolet and Marie Odón.

1671 – Jean L’Archebeque born in Bayonne, France, the son of Claude L’Archebeque and Marie d’Armagnac.

1682 – La Salle descends the Mississippi River to its mouth, and then proposes that he be permitted to establish a colony that could serve as an avenue for conquering the Spanish mines in Mexico. A French base in that area would also provide support for ships that could prey on Spanish treasure ships. The King approves his plan but splits leadership.

24 July 1684 – La Salle departs from La Rochelle, France with four ships and 200 men, arms and munitions to set up a colony on the Mississippi. Among the complement are Jacques Grolet (age 20, sailor), Jean L’Archebeque (age 13) and Pierre Meusnier (age 14).

August 1684 – La Salle arrives in Santo Domingo only to find that the ship La Francois, carrying all the supplies, was lost to the Spanish Buccaneers.

December 1684 – Land on Matagorda Island where a temporary fort was built.

March 1685 – Colony, disseminated by disease, infighting and attacks by the Indians, is down to 180.

1686 – Jacques Grolet deserts the expedition with another deserter named Ruter and begins his life with the Tejas Indians.

January 1687 – La Salle divides the colony – sends 16 men to Canada for help. Leaves 20–25 men behind. Infighting accelerates, and three of the party were murdered. Concerned by the delay in their return, La Salle goes to investigate.

January 1687 – La Salle murdered after being lured into an ambush by L’Archebeque. Party further divides, seven men continue to Illinois and six men remained with the Hasinai Indians (including Jean L’Archebeque and Pierre Meusnier). Grolet returns to the Colony after La Salle’s murder but decides to stay with the Hasinai Indians as well. Infighting continues, and two more Frenchmen kill each other.

1689 – Captain Alonso de Leon, with 30 soldiers, commands the search for Grolet and L'Archebeque after hearing rumors of French activities in an area considered to be Spanish territory. Over a period of time, six expeditions were dispatched by land and five by sea in an attempt to find any signs of French intrusions.

Henri Joutel, LaSalle’s trusted lieutenant, told of hearing about Grolet:

"This Care which kept me from Sleeping sound, was the Occasion, that one Night I heard some Body moving near my Bed, and opening my Eyes, by the Light of the Fire, which never goes out in those Cottages, perceiv’d a Man stark naked, with a Bow and two Arrows in his Hand, who came and sat down by me, without saying any thing I view’d him for some Time, I spoke to him, he made me no answer, and not knowing what to think of it, I laid hold of my two Pistols and my Firelock, which the man perceiving he went and sat by the Fire. I follow’d, and looked steadfastly on him, he knew and spoke to me, throwing his Arms about and embracing me, and then made himself known to me to be one of the French Men I had sent for.

We fell into Discourse, I ask’d him for his Comrade, he told me he durst not come, for Fear of Monsieur de La Salle. They were both sailors, this Man who was of Brittany, was call’d Ruter; the other of Rochelle, Grollet. They had, in the short Space of Time, so perfectly enujr’d themselves to the Customs of the Natives, that they were become meer savages. They were naked, their Faces and Bodies with Figures wrought on them, like the rest. They had taken several Wives, been at the Wars and kill’d their Enemies with their Firelocks, which had gain’d them Reputation; but having no more Powder nor Ballo, their arms were grown useless, and they had been forced to learn to shoot with Bows and Arrows. As for Religion, they were not troubled with much of it, and that Libertine Life they led, was pleasing to them."

6 April 1689 – Grolet and Ruter arrived, both in Indian dress, that is barefoot, with only a clout and some turkey feathers at their shoulders, on their heads. Joutel then states:

"Grollet had not consented to have his face mark’d like the other (Ruter) nor to cut his Hair after the Indian Manner; for those People cut off all theirs, except a small lick on the Crown of the Head, like the Turks, only some of them have small Tresses on the Temples."

Grolet stayed with the Indians and was unheard of for two years until he took part with L’Archebeque in writing a letter to the Spaniards. In the interim, their life with the natives was not pleasant, as they knew of the murders of their fellow colonists and feared for their own lives. The letter was on a piece of parchment which had a drawing depicting a ship, possibly one of La Salle’s. The drawing is presumed to have been the work of L’Archebeque, and he signed his name to the message in poetic form. The message read:

I do not know what sort of people you are
We are French we are a-
Mong the savages we would like much to be
Among the Christians such as we are
We know well that you are Spaniards
We do not know whether you will attack us
…we are sorely grieved to be a-
mong the beasts like these who believe neither in God
nor in anything gentlemen if you are willing to take us away
you have
only to send a message as we have but
little or nothing to do as soon as we see
the note we will deliver ourselves up to you

I am
Your very humble
And very obedient
Jean L’Archeveque
Of Bayonne"

Grolet had also written on the same parchment, but it was barely legible, and only a few words remained.

25 April 1689 – L’Archiveque responds and states that the duo would come out to their rescuers in two days, as they were tired of being among the barbarians.

1 May 1689 – Captain Leon describes his first impressions of Grolet and L‘Archiveque:

"Sunday, May 1st, about evening prayer, the governor arrived with his companions, bringing two Frenchmen, streaked with paint after the Indian fashion. He had found them twenty-five leagues and more from where we had set out with the main body. One of them, the one who had written the letter, was named Juan (L’Archebeque); the other, a native of Rochelle, was named Jacome. They gave an account of the death of their people, the first saying that an epidemic of smallpox had killed more than a hundred persons; that the rest had been on friendly terms with the Indians of all that region, and had no suspicion of them; that a little more than a month before five Indians had come to their settlement under pretext of telling them something and had stopped at the most remote house in the settlement; that the Frenchmen, having no suspicions, all went to the house unarmed to see them; that after they were inside other Indians kept coming and embracing them; that another party of the Indians came in from the creek at the same time, and killed them all, including two religious and a priest, with daggers and sticks, and sacked all the houses; that they were not there at the time, having gone to the Texas, but that when they heard the news of this occurrence, [the] four of them came, and finding their companions dead, they buried the fourteen they found; that they exploded nearly a hundred barrels of powder, so that the Indians could not carry it off; and that the settlement had been well provided with all sorts of firearms, swords, broadswords, three chalices, and a large collection of books, with vary rare bindings. The two Frenchmen were streaked with paint after the fashion of the Indians, and covered with antelope and buffalo hides. We found them in a rancheria of the Chief of the Texas, who were giving them sustenance and keeping them with great care . . . The governor made a separate report of all that was expedient or important in the declarations of the two Frenchmen, to sent to His Excellency."

May 1689 – Grolet and L’Archebeque arrived in Coahilla, and they were then sent to Mexico City for interrogation. At this time L’Archebeque is 28 and Grolet is 29. During the interrogation, Grolet admits to having taken an Indian wife, as had Ruter.

Summer 1689 – The two Frenchmen were sent to Spain where they were imprisoned for the next 2½ years.

May 1690 – Pierre Meusnier, age 20 and Pierre Talon rescued from the Indians.

16 June 1690 – Three more Talon children rescued from the Indians and were sent to live with the viceroy in Mexico City. Meusnier sent to help the friars in constructing a glossary of Indian words to help the missionaries.

May 1692 – L’Archebeque and Grolet petition the King of Spain for their freedom or to be returned to the Indies, indicating to the King that they had committed no crime.

July 1692 – L’Archebeque and Grolet were given their freedom and permitted to join the Flota with Captain Andres Pez y Malzarraga.

16 November 1693 – Grolet, Meusnier, and L’Archebeque join the Velasco-Farfan colonists in Zacatecas where they are listed as convicts on the muster roll.

3 April 1696 – Juan Archibeque petitioned to marry Antonia Gutierrez, the widow of Tomas de Hita (or Sanchez).

1 May 1697 – Documents show “Santiago Grolle” took part in the distribution of cattle to various colonists at Santa Fe.

10 November 1699 – A prenuptial investigation takes place between Santiago Gurulé and Elena Gallegos, daughter of Antonio Gallegos and Catalina Baca. Both were listed as residents of Bernalillo, New Mexico.

28 December 1699 – Pedro Meusnier marries Luisa Madrid, daughter of Pedro Madrid and Yumar Varela at Guadalupe El Paso.

1701 – Archibeque purchases a house in Sante Fe.

2 April 1703 – Antonio Gurulé, son of Santiago Gurulé and Elena Gallegos, was baptized.

1703 – Antonia Gutierrez, wife of Juan Archibeque, dies.

1711 – Santiago Gurulé dies intestate at Bernalillo.

1712 – Elena Gallegos, who referred to herself as a widow, registered her cattle brand. She also acquired the tract of land known as the Jésus Maria Grant.

1715 – Juan Archibeque takes part in the campaign with Paez Hurtado against the Apaches and then retires from the military.

1719 – Archibeque, widower, marries Manuela Roybal, age 22, daughter of Ignacio Roybal and Francisca Gomez Robledo, while his son Miguel marries her sister Maria.

1720 – Juan Archibeque is sent on the ill-fated Villaseur Expedition where the Indians murder him.

1721 – Antonio, son of Santiago Gurulé and Elena Gallegos, marries Antonia Quintana, daughter of Jose de Quintana and Antonia Lujan Dominguez.

18 April 1761 – Antonio Gurulé makes his last will where he states that he and Antonia were married 40 years and that marriage produced nine children, and all were named in the will.

Timeline events extracted with permission. For specific details and other information, please consult Jose A. Esquibel and John B. Colligan, The Spanish Recolonization of New Mexico: An Account of the Families Recruited at Mexico City in 1693 (Albuquerque: Hispanic Genealogical Research Center, 1999).