The Azpeitias living in the western United States and parts of Mexico are descendants from two ancient peoples, the Basques of Europe and the Tarascan Indians of Mexico. They and their blood relatives share the heritage of both the old world and the new.
About 18 miles west of San Sebastian, Spain, near the south coast of the Bay of Biscay lies the town of Azpeitia. This town in the Basque province of Guipuzcoa is assumed to be the ancestral home of the Azpeitia family, although it is possible that family originated in one of the other Spanish Basque provinces (Alava, Vizcaya, or Navarre). There is a remote possibility that the Azpeitia family originated in one of the French Basque provinces (Labourd, Basse Navarre, Soule).
The Basques are known as the mystery people of Europe, because they evidently did not immigrate from elsewhere and are racially and culturally distinct from other European populations. The English, Irish, Germans, French, Spainsh, Swiss and other Europeans all came to their present homelands from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the North Countries. But the Basque populace and culture seems to have developed in the very region they still occupy. Archeological evidence shows that the Basque region has had continuous human occupation for the past 70,000 years. Most of the other European regions were settled about 3,000 years ago. Some authorities suggest that the Basque are direct descendants of Cro-Magnon men, the cave painters who left renowned art treasures at such famous sites as Lascaux. Other disagree, but most experts say that the Basque have lived in their present homeland since at least 5000 B.C., thousands of years before any other European people.
The Basque language, called Euskera, is unrelated to any other language in the world. The blood types and other physical features of the Basques are different from other peoples. This and other evidence indicates that they are literally the native people of Europe.
The Basques are probably best known as the world's best sheepherders. But they are also excellent administrators, and many have become government officials. During the Spainsh age of exploration, the Basques were also skilled shipbuilders and mariners. They built and manned many of the ships that sailed on the voyages of discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries. For example, Columbus' flagship Santa Maria was owned and manned by Basques, and so was the Nina.
Basque were among the first colonists in the New World, settling mainly in Mexico and South America. Many later moved into the western parts of the United States. There may have been Azpeitias among these early colonists and among the members of the expeditions of Hernan Cortes, Francisco Pizarro, Juan Cabrillo, and Hernando DeSoto, but the first Azpeita that we know of was Miguel Azpeitia. He came to Mexico, probably landing at Vera Cruz, in the early 1800's as a member of the military escort of a Basque expedition. Miguel Azpeitia was the 4 greats-grandfather of the youngest generation of Azpeitia at this reunion (1978).