Texas Collection Announces Thanksgiving Display

Nov. 19, 2003

The Texas Collection has a new display titled 'The Very First Thanksgiving.' The exhibit features a variety of cookbooks and a children's book telling the story of the first thanksgiving feast, which took place 23 years before the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth Rock near present-day El Paso, along the Rio Grande.

In January, 1598, Juan de Onate and 600 settlers left Mexico City to establish the first permanent colony in New Mexico. The pilgrims crossed Rio Grande del Norte on April 20 after four months of terrible hardships in the Chihuahua Desert. Their first camp in Texas was near present day El Paso where they rested for several days.

Governor-General Onate proclaimed a 'Gracias a' Dios' to be held on April 30. Fish, ducks, and geese were harvested from the river for a great feast. A chapel was erected and the Mass of Thanksgiving was read. Each year in April, the Onate Historical Festival is held at the Chamizal National Monument, near the site of the first Thanksgiving.

- Dorothy (Dot) Copeland, Texas Collection