More to Explore

La Joya de Sevilleta


When Maestro de Campo Alonso García retreated down the river in August 1680 the natives of Sevilleta went south with him. It was later reported that Sevilleta was left deserted along with the other Piro pueblos of Alamillo and Socorro (Hackett and Shelby 1942:I, 70,II, 168). Otermín passed Sevilleta in January 1682 as he retreated to the south after his brief return to New Mexico (Hackett and Shelby 1942:II, 363). Vargas left the abandoned pueblo of Alamillo on September 3, 1692 and went north to the abandoned pueblo of Sevilleta. He continued on to the estancia that had belonged to Felipe Romero to find pasture for his mounts, a distance of six or seven leagues from Alamillo (Kessell and Hendricks 1992:375).

On May 30, 1726, Rivera left El Alamillo and traveled north-northeast through flat land dotted with hills, ravines and thickets and came to the ruins of a pueblo called Sevilleta, located on the east side of the river (Alessio Robles 1946:50-51). On May 18, 1760, after stopping at "Alamito", Bishop Tamarón came to the site where the pueblo of Sevilleta stood, and a little beyond it the ruined estancia of Felipe Romero. Tamarón wrote that both were "lost with the kingdom" (Adams 1953:201). Lafora viewed the ruins of Sevilleta when he passed through on August 14, 1766. He placed it across from the mouth of the Río Puerco in an area of steep hills (Alessio Robles 1939:95).

After the visit of Lafora, the area was resettled as the town of La Joya. In the 1790s landless families from Taos, Las Vegas, and Mora who had experience fighting Indians were moved there to provide protection for caravans to and from Mexico. An 1819 land grant to 67 individuals confirmed their defensive responsibilities (Taylor and Diaboli 1937:20). On March 10, 1807, Zebulon Montgomary Pike described "Sibilleta" as "the neatest most regular village I have yet seen." It was a square, with a mud wall facing the outside and the windows and doors pointing inward toward the plaza. He thought the population to be 1000. This was the last village Pike stayed in before entering "the wilderness" on his trip to Mexico as a Spanish prisoner and he noted that caravans gathered there before heading south (Coues 1895:II, 628- 632). In 1812, Pedro Bautista Pino explained that the hazards of the journey to Chihuahua made it necessary for travelers to gather at "Joya de Sevilleta" in sufficient numbers to ensure their safety during the trip south. He also noted it as "Sevilleta" a frontier post in which seven soldiers were stationed (Carroll and Haggard 1942:106,69).

Wislizenus simply called it "Joya, another small town" when he went through on 25 July 1846. His map shows the road continuing straight south as the river curved to the west (Wislizenus 1848:36). In September 1851, Baptist missionary Hiram Read arrived at "La Jolla, (La Hoyah - The Hole)," and found that he had to stay with "a Mexican, there being no American in town" (Bloom 1942:134). In 1855, Davis described "La Hoya" as a town of 400 a few hundred yards from the east bank of the Río Grande (Davis 1938:201).

The modern town of La Joya is apparently just below the ruins of Sevilleta (Marshall and Walt 1984:247). Nancy Hunter Warren, Villages of Hispanic New Mexico. School of American Research, 1987. Marta Weigle, Hispanic Villages of Northern New Mexico, Part II, Bibliography. Santa Fe: The Lightning Tree, 1973.

Latitude: 3420
Longitude: 10650