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Joaquín del Real Alencaster
By Rick Hendricks
Joaquín del Real Alencaster was born to Antonio del Real and María Antonia Alencaster in Cádiz, Spain, around 1761. According to testimony by his brother, Antonio, the family moved from Cádiz, where the brothers were born, to Algeciras where Antonio, at least, grew up from the age of one.
Joaquín began his military service as a cadet on 5 January 1773 and continued at that rank for seven years before being promoted to subteniente on 5 January 1780. On 16 September 1787 he attained the rank of teniente, was raised to ayudante mayor on 5 October 1790, and became a captain on 23 April 1794. On 4 September he achieved his highest rank, teniente coronel, the rank he held when he was named governor of New Mexico.
During his career Real Alencaster served in the Regimiento de Zaragoza, the Segunda Batallón de Infantería Ligera Voluntarios de Aragón, and the Santa Fe presidial company. He participated in the expedition to Algiers and in the action of 8 July 1775. He embarked with his company during the siege of Gibraltar on 15 July 1782 and disembarked on 1 May 1783. He was at the siege of Oran from 18 June until 30 July 1791. He was named ayudante supernumerario to Major General Ignacio Lancaster and del número with the King's approval to Major General Félix Corraja from March 1795 until the conclusion of the war. He was ayudante to General Vason de Friest in the action of Sallon on 30 June and Lascun on 4 September 1794. He was in the action of 9 July 1801 in which the enemy attacked El Balle.
Joaquín and Antonio recieved permission to embark on the frigate San Antonio, also known as El Hércules, on 2 June 1804. The ship was sailing out of Cádiz bound for Verzcruz in New Spain. Traveling with the brothers were two servants, Vicente Villalba, a native of the Provincias Internas, and Lorenzo Ramón García, a native of Navascués in Navarra. Joaquín took possession of the office in Santa Fe on 23 March 1805.
In 1805 several of the presidial soldiers on invalid status representing all soldiers in a similar situation petitioned the General Commander of the Provincias Internas to request that they be granted military rights and privileges as were other presidial soldiers. At the time, the soldiers of the Santa Fe were under ecclesiastical rights and privileges. They were poor men who performed every task assigned to them, such as guarding the horse herd and provisions and standing guard duty.
Governor del Real Alencaster stated in a note to the General Commander of the Provincias Internas that he considered the matter as having been dealt with. These men were only called on to perform services when necessary, and the physical condition of each invalid soldier was taken into consideration when assigning tasks.
Antonio García de Tejada echoed the governor’s comments to the General Commander of the Provincias Internas and added that he knew that the invalids of the presidio of San Carlos de Cerrogordo enjoyed military rights and privileges. He was at a loss as to why the invalid soldiers of Santa Fe did not have them.
Bishop Olivares stated that Nemesio Salcedo, General Commander of the Provincias Internas, declared that invalid presidial soldiers should enjoy military rights and privileges. A copy of this order was sent to the military chaplain in Santa Fe.
Fray Francisco de Hocio, the military chaplain in Santa Fe, related to Bishop Olivares that upon reciept of his order, he had informed the invalid soldiers and the interim priest of the parish church in Santa Fe, fray Buenaventura Merino. Merino had recovered from his illness, but during the time he was ill, fray Francisco had taken over the administration of the parish church, which Father Antonio José Ortiz handed over newly roofed around the middle of July. With the support of the governor, Hocio had collected alms for the conclusion of the church. The governor was the first to contribute, and after him most of the citizens of means donated something. The poor provided labor. In this way the church got new flooring, was whitewashed, and given a new door, which Father Ortega had begun. The two new side doors were also made. The side altars of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe and San José were been placed in their respective places. In the first side altar, because it is the smallest, he placed a very beautiful painting of the Souls in Purgatory brought from Mexico City. Given that there was no altar of privilege, Father Hozio humble requested that the bishop make the altar to Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe the privileged one. Several parishioners had made this suggestion to Hozio.
Antonio José Ortiz reported to Bishop Olivares on 29 September that work on the parish church in Santa Fe had been completed. Ortiz reiterated his earlier comment to Bishop Olivares that work had been completed on the Santa Fe parish church. He noted that even the towers were finished. The church was large enough to hold everyone in Santa Fe and others from elsewhere. On the north side of the church was an enclosed graveyard with a door in the body of the church. The church measured forty varas long by twenty-five varas wide. On the south side was a salon to serve as the chapel for the Third Order with a door on the side leading to the church and another leading to the walled cemetery. Ortiz said that was done at his expense and that he did not receive any other contributions.
Ortiz also made the San José chapel. He was taking care of it and placing some vestments and adornments in the chapel. He had done this with the full approval of the Franciscan custodian and the current minister of the church. His only compensation was to be permitted to be buried along with his wife and children in the chapel, as well as other family members.
Father Hozio, who was interim priest because of Father Merino’s illness, would not allow Ortiz to bury anyone other than his immediate family.
Soon after his arrival in Santa Fe, the Franciscans brought to the governor’s attention the shortage of priests in New Mexico. The governor forwarded to the bishop a request from fray José Rubí related to finding additional priests for New Mexico. The governor informed the bishop that Father José Bibián de Ortega, a diocesan priest, was headed for Durango to see the bishop and to participate in the competition for vacancies in curacies in the diocese. The governor asked the bishop to see if he could do anything for Ortega because his situation merited some assistance. Ortega informed Bishop Olivares that he had departed Santa Fe on 17 May 1805 for Durango where he expected to arrive around the middle or end of July. In October the governor thanked the bishop for having helped out Father Ortega and for having given permission for the priest of San Felipe to say a second Mass at Santo Domingo.
Because New Mexico was short five priests, the governor asked the bishop to permit any priest serving two missions, including the military chaplain in Santa Fe, to say Mass in both churches on days when attendance was mandatory. In many places, the Mass was not being said at all. This situation could arise because of the absence of the permanent priest from a mission or because of vacancies.
Given the frequent need to examine how couples seeking to wed are related, the governor asked the bishop to grant dispensations for prohibited relationships. He suggested the current custodian, fray Ramón González or the former custodian, fray Francisco Hozio, the current military chaplain. In a letter reserved for the bishop’s eyes only, the governor informed the bishop that he had learned that for some time the bishop had wanted to place Father Pereiro in the curacy of Santa Cruz de la Cañada. The governor said that there were serious reasons not to make this move but that he preferred not to make them public. He hoped the bishop would accept his position in the matter. The governor believed there were many better candidates.
The most important event in Governor del Real Alencaster's term was a crisis largely of his own making. He had not been in New Mexico a year before he almost lost control of the province. Del Real Alencaster confronted a chaotic situation in which interlopers from the United States kept appearing in his jurisdiction, and locals pursued trade with the Plains Indians, particularly the Comanches, in a most irregular fashion. He attempted to implement measure that would limit this unwanted activity. In addition he wanted to limit the goods New Mexicans could carry to the annual trade fair in Chihuahua, prohibit selling sheep to the Navajos, and banning the collection of grain from the citizens of the Río Arriba to provision the Santa Fe Presidio. Felipe Sandoval of San Miguel urged the people to disobey the governor and continue to trade with the Comanches as they had always done. When the governor had the ringleaders taken to Santa Fe for questioning, a mob quickly formed and started for Santa Fe. Disaster was averted, and the mob desisted only after learning that the protest leaders were not being jailed.
Del Real Alencaster also continued a series of probes that his predecessor began in search of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In midsummer 1806, the governor dispatched Lieutenant Facundo Melgares with some five hundred militiamen for a six-month campaign toward the Missouri River. Melgares made it was far as a large Pawnee village on the Republican River in present-day Nebraska. Although they passed within 150 miles of each other, Melgares and Lewis and Clark did not meet. The governor had better luck locating Zebulon Montgomery Pike. Probes encountered Pike and his men in the San Luis Valley of today's Colorado and brought them to Santa Fe in early March 1806. After questioning the American, del Real Alencaster was suspicious of Pike and sent him to Chihuahua for further interrogation.
Antonio del Real Alencaster wed María Antonia Calles y Calves, daughter of don Andrés Calles and doña Josefa Calves in Chihuahua on 19 January 1818. There is no further mention of his brother, Joaquín.