In 1777 the Spanish Crown ordered a recruitment of seven hundred men from the Canary Islands to serve as militiamen and settlers in the Province of Louisiana. The recruitment included both single and married men. Married recruits were allowed to take their families with them. Their military duties were to occupy and defend Spanish territory in Lower Louisiana, especially those lands located near waterways having outlets to the Gulf of Mexico.
From 1778 to 1783 more than two thousand Canary Islanders were sent to Louisiana. The majority of the Canary Islanders were placed in settlements at Galveztown, Valenzuela, St. Bernard, and Barataria. Although they suffered many hardships, many of the Canarian settlers survived and eventually adapted to the low, flat topography and hot, humid weather of their new homeland. Today their descendants are scattered throughout the state and far beyond, and many Hispanic surnames remain to recall the legacy of the Canary Islander settlers in Louisiana.
Background of the Canary Islanders Heritage Society of Louisiana:
In 1996 a group of persons met in Baton Rouge to form a Society that would promote and preserve the heritage of their Canarian ancestors. This Society eventually would become known as the Canary Islanders Heritage Society of Louisiana. The Canarian ancestors of that group had lived in Galveztown, located about twenty-five miles south of Baton Rouge at the confluence of the Amite River and Bayou Manchac, and in Valenzuela, located nearby on the west side of the Mississippi River along Bayou Lafourche.
The society maintains interest in the history of all of the Canarian settlements in the state, but places special emphasis on the history of Galveztown and Valenzuela. The Society has headquarters in Baton Rouge and most of its members are from Louisiana. However, some members live elsewhere in the United States and communicate with the Society by e-mail and by telephone. Persons interested in the society are invited to join the organization. Canarian kinship is not a prerequisite. One needs only to express an interest in the objectives of the society. For more details, please contact us.
©2006 Canary Islanders Heritage Society of Louisiana