First Thanksgiving in America 80 Years Before Pilgrims

By
Real Estate Agent with HomeSmart Real Estate BR632450000

Is this the time of year when you wonder what the First Thanksgiving was like in America?

Well here is the true story that you may never had heard about. Francisco Coronado gave thanks to God our Creator in the year of our Lord 1540 in Arizona 80 years before the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts in 1620 after surviving their journey on the Mayflower and barely getting through the first Winter in the New World for their much more celebrated first Thanksgiving.

Coronado first thanksgiving               

Francisco Coronado and his men thanking God for their travels to New World in 1540.

Pilgrims arrival

Pilgrims in 1620 were not even born when Coronado explored Arizona and 5 interior States in 1540

As your family is gathering around the Thanksgiving dinner table this year and the story of the first 'Thanksgiving in the "New World" comes up, here is a true story to tell while enjoying Thanksgiving and thinking about the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock eating Turkey with the natives in 1620. People actually believe William Bradford stepped off the Mayflower as the first arrivals in a New World in what is now the adjacent 48 states. This is what our children are taught in school. Hold your horses, amigo! There was an earlier visit to my state of Arizona in 1540 and four other western states to the New World 80 years before the Pilgrims arrived or were even born. 

Coronado in Arizona

Re-enactors depiction and other similar images from https://southwestphotojournal.com/2012/11/28/ocity-of-gold/ depict Coroando's Conquistadors in Arizona in 1540, introduced horses to North America. 

Yes, it was a momentous occasion in Massachusetts. However, the Spanish explorers (also known as the "Conquistadors" led by Francisco Coronado were in Arizona in 1540, 80 years earlier. Coronado led a mighty expedition on the Coronado Trail from Arizona to what is now Kansas. The Pilgrims were not even born yet, let alone unboarding the Mayflower in 1620. The Pilgrims never left Massachusetts and  in a wooded forest region with game and fish all around them barely could get enough food to eat. The 1,000 men in the Coronado Expedition traveled mightily from 1540 through 1542 through the interior of the now United States through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas and then back again to their colonial headquarters in Sonora. These Conquistadors had many days of Thanksgiving and set up missions throughout the great desert southwest many of which are still standing.

Coronado Map

Per the ArizonaExperience.org, on the Coronado Expedition,  "Francisco Vázquez de Coronado led an expedition through Arizona in 1540 in search of transportable riches, rumored to be in the Seven Cities of Cibola. His trek through the area that today forms Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas began over 500 years ago.

Before any significant European settlements appeared on the Atlantic Coast of North America, men in Coronado’s expedition of Conquistadors were seeing the Grand Canyon and gazing at pueblo villages built by the Hopi and Zuni Indians. A Spanish nobleman from Salamanca, Spain, Coronado went to the Spanish colony of Mexico (then New Spain) in 1535, at the age of 25, as an assistant to New Spain’s first viceroy, Andiono de Mendoza. By 1538 he had married the daughter of a wealthy colonial treasurer and become the governor of the province of New Galicia....

Coronado Expedition...The Journe​y Begins in 1540​

Coronado Expedition inArizona

Coronado was appointed leader of a major expedition to conquer the area to the north of New Spain in January, 1540, upon the return of Fray Marcos de Niza and his reports of cities of vast wealth. The ambitious Conquistador quickly amassed soldiers and supplies. The quest was funded largely by Viceroy Mendoza and Coronado's wife. Several others invested their fortunes, hoping for a return of jewels and precious metal. By February, 1540, a thousand men and hundreds of horses, mules, cattle, sheep gathered at Compostela, west of Mexico City near the Pacific Coast, in preparation for the journey north. The expedition party included approximately 240 mounted soldiers, 60 additional foot soldiers, and about 800 Indians and slaves. Fray de Niza traveled as a guide. Two ships, commanded by Hernando de Alarcón, would carry the bulk of supplies up the Guadalupe River. An advance guard of 100 men set out from Culiacán on April 22, 1540 following de Niza's route north through Sinaloa and Sonora.

Coronado Arizona

Greenlee County Arizona has Coronado on their Great Seal

The party traveled to the Spanish outpost of Corazones, located near present day Ures, Sonora on the river now known as the Rio Sonora. Coronado established a large camp and moved north up the river. The expedition is probably responsible for the name place name "Sonora." The explorers used the name ”Señora” for the part of a river just upstream from Corazones. Some scholars believe that this word was an early version of “Sonora.” The army marched a few days from the “Señora Valley” to a north flowing stream, believed to be the present-day San Pedro River. After a few days on the river, they camped at the base of some mountains at a ruin then known as Chichiticale. This ruin is an American mystery! No archaeologists have found its location, but Coronado’s travel logs mention it extensively. It is thought to be a pueblo built by an ancient American Indian tribe and abandoned by 1400. It is believed to be about thirty miles west of the present town of Safford on the edge of the Apache Reservation. The search for the ruin continues today. From Chichiticale, it is likely that Coronado took an advance guard north to the pine forests of the White Mountains. He then headed northeast to the Zuni pueblo of Hawikuh, located approximately five miles east of the modern day border between Arizona and New Mexico near Zuni Pueblo. The grand pueblo was supposedly one of seven Zuni pueblos in the area."

Yes, all of this occurred in Arizona within the current day United States, before the Pilgrims were even born!

Explore the Coronado Trail in Arizona

Remember those first Thanksgivings in the US as you give thanks to God this year and also explore the Coronado Trail" in Arizona along Route 191 in Safford Arizona, about 150 miles east of Phoenix.

When you come to visit Arizona and fall in love with the beauty of the great desert southwest, let me help you buy a home and visit me at Arizona Homes and Land.

If you want to explore Arizona or to move to Phoenix including Scottsdale or to buy a home in Arizona or sell a home in Arizona, contact Jeff Masich, Associate Broker and Realtor. I would be pleased to help you and look out for your best interests while finding you the right home at the right price!

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Comments (13)

Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hello Jeff - thankfulness and gratitude can go beyond borders.  

Nov 21, 2023 01:31 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good afternoon Jeff Masich-Scottsdale AZ Associate Broker,MBA,GRI ,

Loved your history lesson on Thanksgiving! Very enlightening!

Nov 21, 2023 02:25 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Jeff Masich-Scottsdale AZ Associate Broker,MBA,GRI  loved your post, this is the real reason I get annoyed when people re-write history..... and do not celebrate Thanksgiving and start with the Christmas decorations..... Your post is reason everyone should celebrate and cherish Thanksgiving!!!!Endre

Nov 21, 2023 11:14 PM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much, Jeff, for this very interesting post.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Nov 22, 2023 09:38 AM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Jeff Masich-Scottsdale AZ Associate Broker,MBA,GRI wishing you and your family  a very special and Happy Thanksgiving today!  😄

Nov 23, 2023 07:21 AM
Jeff Masich-Scottsdale AZ Associate Broker,MBA,GRI
HomeSmart Real Estate - Scottsdale, AZ
Arizona Homes and Land Group/ Buy or Sell

Thank you Michael Jacobs and may God's peace and grace with thanksgiving be with you as well. Jeff

Nov 23, 2023 08:56 AM
Jeff Masich-Scottsdale AZ Associate Broker,MBA,GRI
HomeSmart Real Estate - Scottsdale, AZ
Arizona Homes and Land Group/ Buy or Sell

You are welcome Dorie Dillard Austin TX and Texas was part of that first Thanksgiving story 80 years before the Pilgrims as well! Jeff

Nov 23, 2023 08:57 AM
Jeff Masich-Scottsdale AZ Associate Broker,MBA,GRI
HomeSmart Real Estate - Scottsdale, AZ
Arizona Homes and Land Group/ Buy or Sell

Roger that Endre Barath, Jr. the meaning of Thanksgiving is just that and not about gifts and commercial enterprises. Jeff

Nov 23, 2023 08:58 AM
Jeff Masich-Scottsdale AZ Associate Broker,MBA,GRI
HomeSmart Real Estate - Scottsdale, AZ
Arizona Homes and Land Group/ Buy or Sell

Hi Roy Kelley thank you and happy Thanksgiving to your family as well. I appreciate your repost. Jeff 😀

Nov 23, 2023 08:59 AM
Jeff Masich-Scottsdale AZ Associate Broker,MBA,GRI
HomeSmart Real Estate - Scottsdale, AZ
Arizona Homes and Land Group/ Buy or Sell

Happy Thanksgiving George Souto and thanks for stopping by for a look back at history. Jeff 😀

Nov 23, 2023 09:00 AM
John Pusa
Glendale, CA

Hello Jeff Masich-Scottsdale AZ Associate Broker,MBA,GRI great educational history of First Thanksgiving in America. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Nov 23, 2023 02:39 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Jeff Masich-Scottsdale AZ Associate Broker,MBA,GRI  Hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving we are on the same page, Endre

Nov 23, 2023 09:52 PM
Jeff Masich-Scottsdale AZ Associate Broker,MBA,GRI
HomeSmart Real Estate - Scottsdale, AZ
Arizona Homes and Land Group/ Buy or Sell

Thank you John Pusa and that same history extends to California as well. Blessings to you and your family. Jeff

Nov 25, 2023 11:15 AM