Zaldivar, Juan De
ZALDÍVAR, JUAN DE (ca. 1570–1598). Juan de Zaldívar, Spanish soldier and explorer, was born on the mining frontier of northern Mexico about 1570. His parents were Vicente de Zaldívar, the elder, and Magdalena de Mendoza y Salazar. The Zaldívar and Oñate families of Zacatecas were charter members of a “silver aristocracy” that had discovered and developed mines at Zacatecas in the late 1540s. Over time, these families had entered into such complex marriage alliances that Juan de Oñate, the future colonizer of New Mexico, was both uncle and second cousin of Juan de Zaldívar and his brother, Vicente de Zaldívar, the younger. The Spanish crown granted Juan de Oñate a contract to settle New Mexico in September 1595, and he began the immediate recruitment of military officers and civilian settlers. The future governor chose his young kinsman, Juan de Zaldívar, as his maestre de campo and second in command. Circumstances beyond Oñate's control delayed final approval by the king's agent of preparations for the expedition until January 1598.