Lares was one of the last municipalities to
be established in Puerto Rico, receiving its charter from the then governor
and captain-general of the Province of Puerto Rico, Don Miguel de la Torre,
on October 6, 1831. The lengthy process was begun in 1824 and
was led by Don Juan Francisco de Soto Mayor.
|However late its official foundation, Lares
had its beginnings as el Hato de Lariz in the early 16th century.
The Spanish word hato means pasture or cattle ranch. This particular
hato owes its name to Don Amador de Lariz a Spanish nobleman and colonizer.
In 1525, the Spanish Crown granted him an encomienda (a tract of land)
that more or less occupies present day Lares, along with one hundred and
fifty Tainos to work the property. The name Lariz is of ancient
Basque origin and as far as is known, Don Amador de Lariz left no descendents
and his name has disappeared from Puerto Rican genealogy. Over the
centuries the Basque name was transformed into a Spanish one but interestingly
enough, the Jibaros, or mountain-folk of the region, pronounce it
LAH-ree to this day.
|Prior to becoming a municipality in its own
right, Lares was a barrio or ward of the town of San Sebastian del Pepino.
The principal reason for Lares' foundation was the long and arduous travel
that families residing there encountered in going to San Sebastian to attend
mass and to conduct their secular business affairs. According
to Spanish law, any barrio that was at least three leagues distant (a league
is roughly equivalent to three miles) from the nearest church and, had
a least 10 vecinos (citizens who were the head of their household) could
petition the central government to allow it to become a municipality, provided,
there were no objections from their present municipal government and, other
adjacent ones. In any event, over the course of seven years
the founders of Lares overcame various difficulties and the municipality
of Lares came into being.
|Following is a roster of the founding vecinos
and their immediate families along with some with some of their genealogical
data. This information is from: "Fundacion del Pueblo de Lares"
by G.E. Morales Muñoz. It was published in Puerto Rico
in 1946 and is out of print. Mr. Morales, was born in 1898
and is deceased. He taught history at the University of Puerto
Rico for many years and also complied "Fundacion del Pueblo de Cataño"
; "Fundacion del Pueblo de Dorado"; "Fundacion del Pueblo de Guanadia"
and "Fundacion del Pueblo de Gurabo".