Guatemala Genealogy

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The FamilySearch moderator for Guatemala is Dwsmith2

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Guatemala General History

The following is taken from a book “Guatemala the Land of the Quetzal” by William T. Brigham. A facsimile reproduction of the 1887 Edition. Unitversity of Florida Press, Gainesville, 1965. Library of Congress catalog Card No. 65-14894 pages 265-268, 271, 281, and 283"

"Immediately prior to the arrival of the Spaniards, there were 19 tribes or families identified as follows: Mam; Ixil; Aguacateca; Uspanteca; Poconchi; Quekchi; Chol; Mopan; Quiche; Tzutohil; Cakchiquel; Pipil; Sinca; Pupuluca; Pokomam; Chorti; Alaguilac; Maya and Carib. In 1523, Cortez commanded Pedro de Alvarado to leave the City of Mexico at the head of 300 infantry, 4 cannon, 200 Tlaxcaltecas and 100 Mexicans to conquer Guatemala. Alvarado destroyed wave after wave of resistance with a great slaughter. The Spaniards loss was only a few men and horses. A decisive battle was fought on a plain between Quezaltenango and Totonicapan. Alvarado writes to Cortez that it was composed of twelve thousand men from Utatlan and countless numbers from the neighboring towns. Those not killed were taken prisoner and branded on the cheek and thigh and sold as slaves at public auctions with 1/5 of their price belonging to the King of Spain. By 1524 the last legitimate sovereigns of the native Guatemalan rulers surrendered and were executed. For almost three hundred years (1524 – 1821) Spain governed Central America. Every act of oppression that could be exercised upon the Indios was invented by the foreign rulers and the native population was greatly reduced by mismanagement. On 15 September 1821, Gavino Gainza, a representative of Spain, sympathetic to the locals, joined local rebels to declare independence from Spain.”


The largest jurisdictions in Guatemala are called 'Departments'. These are analogous to States or Provinces in other countries.

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