Zacatecas, officially Free and Sovereign State of Zacatecas, is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 58 municipalities and its capital city is Zacatecas.
It is located in North-Central Mexico. It is bordered by the states of Durango to the northwest, Coahuila to the north, Nayarit to the west, San Luis Potosí and Nuevo León to the east, and Jalisco, Guanajuato and Aguascalientes to the south.
The state of Zacatecas is best known for its rich deposits of silver and other minerals, its colonial architecture and its importance during the Mexican revolution. Its main economic activities are mining, agriculture and tourism.
After Miguel Hidalgo issued his call to rebellion against colonial authorities in 1810, his insurgent followers marched through Zacatecas; they would return the following year, during a hasty retreat into the northern deserts after being routed by a Royalist army near Mexico City. Mexico gained independence in 1821, and Zacatecas was incorporated as a federal state three years later. Zacatecas was far removed from the capital, and the local mining barons sought to preserve their autonomy. During the civil wars between federalists and centralists in the first decade of the republic, Zacatecas and its lucrative mines were Federalist strongholds. In May 1835, the citizens of Zacatecas joined the other northern Mexican states by revolting against Antonio López de Santa Anna, who had suspended the federalist constitution and established a dictatorship the previous year. Except for Texas, Santa Anna crushed most of these rebellions, rewarding his soldiers with two days of pillage in Zacatecas, in which up to 2,000 people died. Santa Anna detached the prosperous city of Aguascalientes from Zacatecas and made it the capital of a separate state (reputedly, as a reward for a kiss from the beautiful wife of a local politician). The state was a battleground in the War of Reform, and Zacatecas, Zacatecas changed hands several times until, finally, in 1859 being captured by Liberal Gen. Jesus Gonzalez Ortega, who expelled most of the cities' clergy. During the War of the French Intervention, French soldiers briefly occupied the city.
In 1884, the Mexico Central Railway linked Zacatecas with Mexico City and Ciudad Juarez. Due to its location between northern and central Mexico, Zacatecas was a major beneficiary of newfound stability and economic modernization that came during the reign of Porfirio Diaz. With Mexico's second largest mint and many of its largest silver mines, Zacatecas played an important role in Mexico's economic growth. Its strategic and economic importance made it an important front in the Mexican Revolution. The Toma de Zacatecas by Pancho Villa's Division del Norte in July 1914 was the decisive battle of the Constitutionalist rebellion against the counter-revolution of Gen. Victoriano Huerta.
It is important to note that Zacatecas was part of Nueva Galicia and thus the bishop for the state in prior to 1863, when the diocese of Zacatecas was erected, sat in Guadalajara. Because many church records in Zacatecas were destroyed during the Mexican Revolution, records in Guadalajara, particularly marriage dispensations can be pivotal in research.
The group Nuestros Ranchos is a collaborative research group that focuses on the states of Jalisco, Zacatecas and Aguascalientes. The group's forums are viewable and searchable by the public and membership is free.