Galvan, Juan (unknown–unknown)

By: John G. Johnson

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

Updated: October 30, 2019

Juan Galván, soldier and explorer, began his military career around 1710, and by the early 1720s he was stationed at San Antonio de Béxar. In 1723 he married Francisca Xaviera Maldonado, the daughter of Sgt. Francisco Xavier and Agueda Ximénez (Gill) Maldonado of San Antonio; Galván and his wife had ten children. In 1734 he served as alferez at San Antonio. On March 13, 1748, in accordance with his orders to take command of San Francisco Xavier de Gigedo Presidio, Galván arrived at the San Xavier missions with thirty men borrowed from the presidios of Los Adaes and La Bahía. His initial report, which gave the first description of San Xavier, stated that there were so many Indians that thirty men were not enough to protect the three missions, and it recommended the establishment of a presidio with fifty soldiers. In June 1749 Galván returned to Bexar to testify before Governor Pedro del Barrio Junco y Espriella as to the suitability of the San Xavier (San Gabriel) valley for settlement. When the governor decided to investigate the region personally, he had Galván accompany him. On August 28, having returned from his expedition, Barrio annulled a previous appointment made by Capt. Toribio de Urrutia and appointed Galván the lieutenant to escort a new detachment of soldiers to San Xavier. In spite of reports by Fray Mariano Francisco de los Dolores y Viana that Galván and his men were making the Indians unmanageable, Galván continued in command of the presidio. In June 1753 he received orders from the viceroy to explore Apache country. Unable to get the volunteers expected from San Antonio, the expedition set out with only a few men and explored the Pedernales, Llano, and San Saba rivers. At the San Saba, Galván met a group of friendly Apaches who seemed eager for the Spanish to establish a mission among them. Galván reported to the viceroy that there were strong indications of rich minerals and that he expected numerous Apaches would come to a mission in the San Saba area. Galván's journey and report resulted in the mission and presidio of San Sabá.

Herbert Eugene Bolton, Texas in the Middle Eighteenth Century: Studies in Spanish Colonial History and Administration (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1915; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1970). Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Frederick Charles Chabot, With the Makers of San Antonio (Yanaguana Society Publications 4, San Antonio, 1937). Gary B. Starnes, The San Gabriel Missions, 1746–1756 (Madrid: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1969).

  • Exploration
  • Explorers (Spanish)
Time Periods:
  • Spanish Texas

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

John G. Johnson, “Galvan, Juan,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 12, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995
October 30, 2019

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: