While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Donald E. Chipman

MARES, JOSÉ (?–?). José Mares was a successful pathfinder between New Mexico and Spanish Texas. His most notable expedition was closely tied to the arrival in Santa Fe of Pedro Vial on May 26, 1787. Vial, who wrote only in French, had kept a diary of his trek from San Antonio by way of Taovaya villages on the Red River. By early July the governor of New Mexico had examined the translated diary and perhaps concluded that Vial had not found the shortest route between the two capitals. It appears that Fernando de la Concha, who succeeded Juan Bautista de Anza as governor of New Mexico (1787–93), commissioned Mares's expedition, which left Santa Fe for San Antonio on July 31, 1787. Mares, a pensioned corporal past the age of active service, was accompanied by Cristóbal de los Santos, a native of Bexar who had journeyed to Santa Fe with Vial, and Alejandro Martín, an Indian interpreter. The three men traveled eastward through the region near the site of present Tucumcari and entered the West Texas plains en route to Taovaya villages on the Red River. After a brief stay on the Red, Mares and his companions marched southward to San Antonio, reaching the capital on October 8, 1787. By Mares's calculation, his trek had covered 373 leagues, or about 970 miles. He expressed a desire to return to Santa Fe as soon as feasible, and he left Bexar on January 18, 1788. On this occasion, he traveled in a generally northwestern direction. His path took him by way of the San Saba and upper Colorado rivers. From the locale of modern Amarillo, Mares crossed the Llano Estacado. He forded the Pecos River to the east of Santa Fe and arrived at the capital on April 27, 1788. On the return trip he had covered an estimated 325 leagues, or about 845 miles. His round trip increased familiarity with the terrain and peoples between Santa Fe and San Antonio. His expedition, coupled with those of Pedro Vial, linked Santa Fe more closely with the Spanish realms in Texas and Louisiana.

Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–1958; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Noel M. Loomis and Abraham P. Nasatir, Pedro Vial and the Roads to Santa Fe (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1967).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Donald E. Chipman, "MARES, JOSE," accessed August 09, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fma44.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...