Salinas Varona, Gregorio de (ca. 1650–unknown)

By: Robert S. Weddle

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: July 1, 1995

Gregorio de Salinas Varona, Spanish official, was born about 1650, entered royal service as a private soldier, and rose through the ranks. Having served nineteen years in Flanders, he was promoted in the spring of 1687 to infantry captain and ordered to recruit a company for Presidio de la Florida. He completed the task by the following June and embarked for New Spain, in company with his son Alonso, to serve the viceroy Conde de Monclova. On arrival in October 1687 Salinas was sent to Tehuántepec to oust a band of pirates who had seized control of the Pacific coast and was thrice wounded in the effort. Back in Mexico City, he was ordered by the new viceroy, Conde de Galve, to join Alonso De León's 1690 Texas expedition. As he journeyed north toward Monclova, he escorted four of the Franciscans destined for the first East Texas mission, San Francisco de los Tejas. At the conclusion of that entrada, he carried De León's report to Mexico City while conducting a French prisoner, Pierre Meunier, late of the La Salle expedition. Fluent in French, he served as interpreter in Meunier's interrogation in the capital. The following October, Salinas was ordered to Veracruz to join the voyage of Francisco de Llanos to reconnoiter La Salle's old settlement site at Matagorda Bay. He commanded an infantry company on that expedition.

By royal order of May 30, 1691, Salinas was given command of the Presidio de San Francisco de Coahuila (Monclova), but other assignments kept him away from the post. The previous month the viceroy had ordered him to assist the expedition of Governor Domingo Terán de los Ríos, aimed at expanding the East Texas missionary effort. Commanding seaborne reinforcements for Terán, Salinas embarked at Veracruz on the ship Santo Cristo de San Román, captained by Juan Enríquez Barroto. He rendezvoused with Terán at Matagorda Bay, proceeded to the existing Hasinai missions, and thence to the Kadohadacho villages on the Red River in what is now Miller County, Arkansas. At the conclusion of that nightmarish adventure, he reembarked, with Terán, on Enríquez's ship to sail the Mississippi River and examine Mobile and Pensacola bays. A storm that arose at the mouth of the Mississippi frustrated this undertaking. Salinas returned to Mexico City in June 1692 and, as cavalry captain, took part in quelling the corn riots. Terán, meanwhile, had resigned, and Salinas succeeded him as governor of Coahuila. Barely settled in his new post, he was ordered to undertake a relief expedition to the afflicted East Texas missions. On May 3, 1693, he left Monclova with twenty soldiers and ninety-six mules loaded with provisions. On this expedition he defined a portion of the Old San Antonio Road. During his term as governor, Salinas aided the material improvement of the Coahuila missions and assisted the "reduction" of numerous natives. His term ended on December 26, 1697. He afterward served as sargento mayor of Puebla de los Angeles and in 1705 became governor of Nuevo León. When in 1709 he was named governor of Presidio de Santa María de Galve at Pensacola Bay, he was serving as governor of Honduras. At Pensacola, he kept a watchful eye on the French at Mobile, especially on the doings of Louis Juchereau de St. Denis. In August 1718, shortly after a French force had withdrawn from St. Joseph Bay, Salinas occupied the site and established a presidio there. In 1720 he was granted permission to retire to Mexico City "to heal his infirmities" and died there.

Archivo General de Indias, Archivo General de Indias de Sevilla (Madrid, 1958). Jay Higginbotham, Old Mobile: Fort Louis de la Louisiane, 1703–1711 (Mobile, Alabama: Museum of the City of Mobile, 1977). Robert S. Weddle, The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682–1762 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1991).
  • 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.

Robert S. Weddle, “Salinas Varona, Gregorio de,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 03, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995

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