The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 33, July 1929 - April, 1930 Page: 72
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
cordilleras of the Sierra on the eastern side, there is encountered,
in the order given here, Napeste, Chato, Rio Grande, of which
mention was made above because it is navigable by canoes or
pirogues (and that of the del Norte is not), Rio de las Vivoras,
de los Pechos, and Rio de los Franceses, and smaller ones which
have in general no name.68 Almost all these six large rivers make
possible the crossing of the sierra with more or less work. Santa
Fe 18 of May, 1819. Facundo Melgares. It is a copy. Durango
19 of June, 1819. Franco Velasco (Rubric).
Note on Authorship
The question of the authorship of these Notes is a difficult one
to resolve, since they are an unsigned copy and since Onis gave
no clue, stating simply that they were composed by one of the
individuals "of this country who under the pretext of hunting are
going to explore the Provincias Internas and the Kingdom of
Mexico." However, the inference from the phrase "this country"
that the writer was an American is not borne out by the internal
evidence of the paper itself. Though the language of the Notes,
French, is not at all conclusive, yet the use of this vehicle is
thoroughly consonant with the alien nationality of the writer, as
appears from other evidence. Indeed, it must be admitted that
the writing has frequently constructions which are direct trans-
Further weight is added to this conclusion by observing the duties assigned
to the detachment at the Sangre de Cristo fort. This party "could make
reconnoissance of all the front of the Napestle"; that is, the Arkansas
River. Finally, this gap would be the likely place to establish a post if
the Spaniards believed, as Melgares evidently did, that intruders, such as
Pike, entered from the South Platte.
"Our present understanding of which rivers the Spaniards meant by the
above names allows us to state with certainty that the Rio Napestle was
the name for the present Arkansas River; that the "rio grande," or large
river, was, from Melgares' statements concerning it, probably the South
Platte River; but that as to the others any one may speculate. However,
there are two indications that the Rio Chato is the Spanish name for the
present Platte River. One is that "Chato" means flat, as does the French
word "Platte." In the second place, Commandante-General Salcedo wrote
to Governor Alencaster of New Mexico on September 12, 1805, as follows:
"One of the directions which I have given you in the order of the ninth
of the current (month) in order to win and strengthen the friendship of
the Indian nations which inhabit the banks of the Missouri from its con-
fluence with the Chato westwards. ... ." Translated by Bloom, L. B.,
"The Death of Jacques D'Eglise," in New Mexican Historical Review, II,
pp. 375-376. This reference to the Chato may be that the Platte River is
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 33, July 1929 - April, 1930, periodical, 1930; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101090/m1/80/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.