SAN ELIZARIO, Texas — The El Paso Mission Trails Association said the first Thanksgiving celebration was celebrated in San Elizario 23 years before the pilgrims had their Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock.
Jose Gutierrez, a member of the association, said the first Thanksgiving took place in 1598 when Juan De Onate and his caravan were exploring northern Mexico.
"They encountered the local people the manzos and the zumas and they were very friendly and Onate decided to have a celebration," Gutierrez said.
He said the group of about 500 people had ran out of water and sent a member of the party to search for water.
That water was found in the San Elizario region, according to the association.
"They all arrived in this area, the San Elizario area and obviously they were happy to reach the water," Gutierrez said.
Overwhelmed with joy, the conquistadores broke bread with the natives.
"The indians contributed their fish and their deer which was very abundant down here then the espanoles had their feast and they had the first Thanksgiving," Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez said there's documented proof of the festivities in a museum in Spain.
"The espanoles were meticulous record keepers and they had their scribes who would record everything that happened," he said.