Juan Bautista de Anza y
Again, my thanks to all of those sources provided
by the Internet and used in this chapter.
As my progenitors were from España and thus Españoles,
I’m duty bound to present them in a more truthful, honest, and thoughtful
light. I will not provide as non-Spanish writers and commentators’ subtexts
do, offering narratives with an underlying and often distinct theme in their
writing which is decidedly anti-Spanish. For them pobladores
are never just settlers, they must always be colonists. Spanish soldados
are not soldiers, they’re always conquistadores.
So rather than being resourceful, brave, and ingenious people Españoles are depicted as greedy, brutal, ugly, murderous
caricatures. This will not be the case in this chapter.
In this chapter, I’m attempting to expand the
vision for most readers regarding how 18th-Century C.E. España and Españoles are
viewed. Typically non-Spanish writers and commentators provide cardboard cut-out
type characters of Spanish explorers, military men, civilians, and governmental
The person this chapter was written about,
Gobernador Juan Bautista de Anza y Bezerra Nieto (July
7, 1736 C.E.-December 19, 1788 C.E.), was a man of flesh and blood not a cardboard cut-out character.
He lived, breathed, loved, felt, cared, explored, fought, built, and died. Anza y Bezerra Nieto didn’t do any of these things in a vacuum.
His life and accomplishments impacted people he loved and cared for, such as
those progenitors and distant relatives of mine, those de Ribera soldados, who fought with him against the Comanche
and knew him personally. Anza was not just a soldier, that life, his life, also affected his
In the case of Juan Bautista de Anza, or Anza,
his life’s work was far more than just a series of battles. There were also
the journeys of exploration which took him far and wide. He was a complex human
being led by strength of character. Juan
was true to his calling as a soldado,
but he was also a diplomat and highly capable administrator. He understood the
arts of accommodation and governance when it came to the lives of his people and
the Natives who shared his culture, religion, and values. Anza
was first and foremost a just administrator.
Beyond this, as a leader, Anza was part of a more complex Spanish cultural, economic,
military, and religious infrastructure. España’s
Corona Española had by the time of
his birth and long military career expanded its Nuevo Mundo possessions world-wide. Unfortunately, España
was by then, a power in decline. Yet her settlements in Nueva
España continued to look for ways to expand and improve their common
interests through exploration and commerce. However, their military power
remained an important part of that equation for Nueva
Further, the anti-Spanish narratives lack the
necessary historical depth and width of el
Imperio Español’s cultural and religious complexity and interaction. In
short, they normally give a very basic “how” and almost never provide the
true “why” of España’s Nuevo
Mundo actions, activities, and resulting outcomes. The anti-Spanish make
little of the complexity of communication between the parties, the difficulty of
travel during the period, and the obvious lack of necessary resources that
negatively affected Spanish exploration, and the difficulty of effective and
efficient coordination of efforts throughout the Nuevo
Mundo and Nueva España. All of
these negative factors were off-set by excellent planning and execution.
To better understand this unique personality, one
must place the man in the context of his environment and his times. His world
included a political gravity centered half the world away in España
which dictated policy and action throughout the Nuevo
Mundo. Nueva España was only an extension of that political hub at Madrid. Both distance and time played major parts in critical policy
and military decision-making and the ultimate outcomes resulting from commands
coming from the Corona Española.
A third important element for decision-making and
policy implementation was that of governance and those who held power in those
far-away places in the Nuevo Mundo.
Those who mattered in this scenario were the Peninsulares or those Españoles
born on the Ibero Peninsula. The Criollos
or Españoles born in América,
were second tier inhabitants of the Nuevo
Mundo with little social standing, power, or authority. They stood only
above the Mestízos or persons of
mixed racial ancestry, especially of mixed European and Native American
ancestry. The last tier of the social ladder was held by the Natives.
Therefore, men such as Anza, Criollos, were
suspect and considered inferiors. Only through great feats of military courage
and success, exploration and the finding of valuable resources and other assets,
and highly-regarded administrative skills did a Criollo reach coveted positions of power and material success. Anza
was such a man.
The final area of competence for a Criollo
who would be a leader in Nueva España
was the ongoing relations with the Church and its hierarchy. In the Nuevo
Mundo that was no easy task. The military and the Church had been at odds
since the beginning of settlement over the treatment of Natives.
The name Anza
is Vasco. Vascos were granted nobility in the 14th-Century C.E. by the Corona
Española of Castilla (España). The
use of the "de" infers that his family line was of the nobility of el
Juan Bautista de Anza
was the son of presidial Capitán, de Anza
(Anssa), and María Rosa Bezerra Nieto of Frontéras,
Sonora, Méjico. She was of Criollo
birth, an Américano-born child of
Spanish parents. Born at the Presidio
of Janos, the date is estimated at
between 1695 C.E. and 1700 C.E. The Presidio
of Janos was under continuous attack
and raided by marauding Apaches and
other belligerent Native tribes. Her parents were António Bezerra Nieto, a presidial capitán, and Gregoria
Catalina Gómez de Silva of Janos,
Chihuahua, Méjico. Little is known of
her childhood beyond the fact that she lived at one of the northernmost frontéra
outposts of Nueva España. His
grandfather was António de Anza a
pharmacist and his grandmother was Lucía
de Sassoeta of Hernani Guipuzcoa, España.
For the purpose of clarification his surname was
"Anza." An erroneous
20th-Century C.E. tradition applies the 14th-Century C.E. designation of
nobility granted to the Anza family
“de” and to refer to him
as "de Anza." Never, in Anza's
day did he or any of his contemporaries refer to him "de
Anza" when referring to him by surname. Over one hundred and fifty of
his signatures are available for study. In all, he signed only his surname,
deleting Juan Bautista, each time
signing only "Anza." With
that said, I will use only Anza
without the “de”
in the remainder of this chapter.
The archives in Old Méjico and Sevilla, España
microfilm documentation and hard copy information available on Anza.
There is also a great deal of information about him in secondary literature.
However, it would appear that much is erroneous. In the Bancroft Library in
Berkeley, California and Documentary
Relations of the Southwest in Tucson, Arizona are kept
other valuable sources of information regarding Anza.
In an effort to expand its Nueva España settlements, attempts had been made by España
since the 17th-Century C.E. to find a passable land route through Baja
California. The region proved to be treacherous and difficult and none had
been discovered. During the period, only sea routes provided a solution.
In this chapter, the reader will notice the
absence of the term “colonies” which has been used in the past by
anti-Spanish, non-Spanish, Anglo-Americans, Northern European, and other writers
and commentators for a subliminal negative effect upon the Spanish entrants to
the Nuevo Mundo and their
accomplishments. The more appropriate term “settlement” is use instead.
18th-Century C.E., España's holdings
in the Américas had become an
important source of wealth for the Corona
Española and were watched over carefully. The basis to the continued flow
of España's Nuevo Mundo wealth, of
resources and goods, was its safe delivery to various points of destination. España's
Américas generated a number of valuable resources, many through extensive
mining operations. Their locations were integral to the administration of España's
Far Eastern territories. With the acquisition of the Filipinas, ports on the Pacific Coast of Spanish North América
became an important stopover for ships making the journey across the ocean from Manila. Crews could find a temporary rest from the elements, scurvy,
and pirates before continuing on to España.
By the 1700s C.E., a string of presidios
and misiónes stretched across the landscape of the Spanish Américas,
as was the case in Nueva España.
These were a connective geographic network of Spanish governmental, military
defensive sites, communications capabilities, cultural, economic, and religious
In time, what would eventually emerge were the
concept, exploration, and settlement which were to extend España's reach from her Nueva
España northern most settlements into Alta
California. Juan Bautista Anza's
expeditions were driven by this combination of Nueva España expansion, internal Spanish governance, and the
Church’s misiónero commitment.
By 1737 C.E., Anza’s
father Juan Bautista de Anza I, Comandante
of the post at presidio of Frontéras since 1719 C.E., was preparing to make an attempt to
locate a route to California.
Unfortunately, Juan's father was killed in combat in 1739 C.E. by Apaches
before the senior Anza could make the
journey. Little is known of Juan’s
childhood except that when he was about three years of age, Juan's
father was killed by Apaches.
Following family tradition at age sixteen, Juan
joined Spanish miquelets in December 1, 1752 C.E., at San Ignacio, Sonora, Méjico at the Frontéras.
Two years later, in 1754 C.E. at eighteen, Anza
became a cadete in the presidial cavalry at Frontéras, Sonora, and Méjico.
This he did under the supervision and training of his brother-in-law, Gabriel
At nineteen, on July 1, 1755 C.E., Anza
was promoted to Teniente at Frontéras, and, after participated in campaigns against the Indians
By age twenty, Anza advanced to the rank of cavalry teniente at Frontéras in
Three years later, at age twenty-three, Juan
made the rank of capitán of the Tubaca (Tubac) Sonora, Méjico
(Present-day Arizona) Presidio
in December 1759 C.E.
1760 C.E., at age thirty, Anza was
promoted to the rank of Capitán and Comandante
of the presidio at Tubac. While
there, he perfected his skills as a soldado
and comandante en Jefe when fighting
the fierce Apaches in the north, at
today’s Arizona and Seris Indians in the south near present-day Hermosillo, Sonora. Anza
led five expeditions against the rebellious Seris.
Anza also became well known for his
attention to professional and appropriate soldiering. As a result, by the age of
thirty Juan's military career was
On June 24, 1761 C.E., at almost age thirty-one, Juan
married Ana María Pérez Serrano of Arizpe,
Sonora. No children were born to the two.
By the mid-1760s C.E., España faced a greater challenge to its hegemony on the Pacific
Coast from rival European powers. These nations were anxious to expand their own
empires at the expense of España’s.
Therefore, España's rivals
systematically tested the resilience and effectiveness of imperial governance
and military capabilities engaging privateers for the tasks. They searched for
areas of weakness which could be exploited. At various times, both Britain and
France progressively antagonized Spanish commerce on the high seas attacking
shipping when an opportunity presented itself. These pirates under orders from
Paris and London harassed and took slow-sailing Spanish cargo ships. This
systematic pirating was followed by the launching of voyages of discovery in the
The Russians had also become a problem. They had
settled Alaska and were exploring the West Coast for trading posts within
striking distance of the rich Spanish mines. The Russians had also made forays
along the North American Pacific Coast extending as far south as Oregon. These
were searching for Nuevo Mundo sources
of otter and seal pelts. This Russian exploration into California
alarmed the Spanish Virrey in Méjico
City knowing that the rivalry would continue as far south as Spanish California.
The settlement of Las Californias would
begin with the el Imperio Español's
discovery of Nueva España, today’s Méjico
and some areas of the United States, the modern-day American states of Tejas,
Arizona, Nuevo Méjico, California, and other lands which made up Nueva
España. California would be one of the last of these Spanish provinces to be
When discussing the early Las Californias, the misiónes,
presidios, pueblos, estancias, and ranchos
are invariably remembered. Almost everyone has visited or read about the old
town or pueblo of San Diego, and the pueblo
of Los Ángeles, the misiónes
at Santa Bárbara and Monterey,
and the presidio at San
Francisco,. However, one important
part of the pastoral era of California history is not as easily remembered, it is the Spanish ranchos
and estancias. Unfortunately, there is very little visible evidence of
these large ranchos and
estancias with their adobe houses.
One cannot stand in many of the downtowns’ of California
and physically touch or see the old ranchos
or the estancias. As a result, these are almost forgotten as part of California's
past. Fortunately, the misiónes,
presidios, and pueblos have not
been forgotten. One of these pueblos
is San Francisco with its misión
The first Alta
California Spanish settlement with its
misión and presidio was established at San
Diego. From this first settlement, the Spanish Gobierno founded 4 presidios,
4 pueblos, and 21 Catholic misiónes.
In addition, the Gobierno granted vast
amounts of rancho and estancia lands to pobladores
Throughout the Spanish Américas, including Nueva
España (Today’s Méjico and the
U.S.) and Latino América, a system of
military outposts was created for the protection of Spanish Ciudádanos.
Called presidios, they were established to maintain order and enforce
Spanish governance. During the period, España
had also invited various orders of the Catholic Church to establish misiónes,
believing that Spanish subjects should also be Christians.
of El Imperio Español and pobladores
in Nueva España would over
time become a mixture of European, Native American, and African heritage. Each
brought with them their own traditions and culture, melding into one in the
By 1767 C.E., at the age of thirty-seven,
interestingly Anza was one of the
Spanish officers charged with the gathering and removal of Jesuit misióneros from Sonora by
José de Gálvez, the Inspector General
of Méjico. España's
internal situation had been experiencing complicated and difficult matters
between Church and state authorities. Many believed that the Society of Jesús
(Jesuits) had acquired too much influence, power, and wealth contributing to
dysfunction in Spanish affairs. This was supposedly accomplished through
political intrigues by the frayles. To
counter this perceived overreach of power by the Jesuits, King Cárlos
It would appear that Anza’s competence in these matters of Church and state was
appreciated by de Gálvez,
bringing him close to the famous, powerful, political, and appreciative de
One of these new Franciscans to enter the vacuum
was Fray Juan Crespí. He entered the Baja
California Peninsula in 1767 C.E. and was placed in charge of the Misión
La Purísima Concepción de Cadegomó. Misión La Purísima was founded west of Loreto
in Baja California Sur, by the Jesuit
misiónero Nicolás Tamaral in 1720
C.E. By 1735 C.E., it was moved to a new location at the Cochimí ranchería
known as Cadegomó, meaning "arroyo
of the carrizos," about 30 kilometers south of the original site.
By 1768 C.E., the Virrey of Nueva España, António
María Bucareli y Ursúa was growing more and more concerned about the
probability of Russian encroachment and eventual incursion on what was
acknowledged Spanish territory. He ordered Capitán
Juan Bautista Anza to recruit soldados
and pobladores in Sonora, Nueva España (now Méjico),
prepare an expedition, and establish a misión
and presidio in the port of San
A story is recounted about the naming of San
Francisco by California's first historian and the first Franciscan pastor of Misión
Dolores, Fray Francisco Palóu. In 1768 C.E., José de Gálvez informed Junípero
Serra of the names to be given to the Misiónes
to be established in Alta California.
Serra remonstrated saying, "Is there then to be no Misión
for Our Father San Francisco?"
de Gálvez jested, "If San
Francisco wants a misión, let him
cause his port to be discovered, and it will be placed there!" As fate
would have it, San Francisco would
lead España to this future port.
Seven years later, Juan Bautista Anza
would march north from Pueblo San Diego
with a settlement party to establish a Spanish presidio
and misión named San Francisco.
From 1769 C.E. to 1772 C.E., in a separate but
coordinated effort, the soldado Gaspar
de Portolá i Rovira and
the Franciscan frayles made their way
northward up to Alta California
along the Pacific Coast from Baja California. The Land Expedition would travel north to Alta
California (Future state of California) through
the present-day coastal counties of San
Diego, Orange, Los Ángeles, Ventura, Santa
Bárbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Mateo,
and San Francisco. They and the
dedicated soldados of the Land
Expedition founded a series of coastline outposts. However, these expeditions
led by de Portolá in 1769 C.E.
created only small settlements in Alta
California and once there, the Españoles
would have to fight to exist due to a lack of resources.
de Portolá was born on January 1, 1716 C.E. in Os de Balaguer, in Cataluña, España, of Catalán
nobility. Don Gaspar
served as a soldado in the Spanish
army in Italy and Portugal. He was
commissioned alférez in
1734 C.E., and teniente in
The Franciscan Fray, Juan
Crespí joined the Land
Expedition led by Gaspar de
Portolá and Junípero Serra
in 1769 C.E. As Crespí was the only
Franciscan fray to make the entire
journey by land, he became the first official diarist for the misiónes.
He was one of three diarists to document the first exploration by Europeans of
interior areas of Alta California.
traveled in the vanguard of the Expedition led by Capitán Fernando
Rivera (Ribera) y Moncada up to San Diego
in Alta California. There a presidio
and misión were established.
Fray Crespí would eventually continue north with de Portolá
and Capitán Rivera to identify the port of Monterey. After reaching Monterey
in October 1769 C.E., Fray
Crespí continued with a
de Portolá scouting party and explored as far north as present-day San Francisco Bay. He
became one of the first Europeans to see the Bay.
By 1769 C.E., the establishment of another presidio
north of the Monterey area was not in
the original plans of the Spanish Monarch, Cárlos
III. Perhaps this is due to España’s
having no knowledge of the large body of water to the north. However, Vizcaíno
era maps did refer to a river at the location of the Golden Gate but it was not
explored and the location was passed by.
This would all change on July 14, 1769 C.E., when San
Francisco Bay was rediscovered by the Land Expedition from San
Diego. The first westerners to see the bay of San
Francisco would be members of the 1769 C.E. Gaspár de Portolá Expedition. After establishing a limited control
over San Diego, de Portolá took a
small party north in search of Monterey.
An advance de
Portolá Expedition party under Sargento
José Francisco Ortega, a Criollo
born in Guanajuato in central Méjico,
reported that they had seen a "brazon
del mar" - an arm of the sea and noted that sighting. They had sighted
what would eventually would be known as the Golden Gate and the San Francisco
Bay, on November 1, 1769 C.E. This made the Europeans aware of the existence of
the immense bay and its beautiful passage through the coastal mountains. Ortega would, was to serve at the guarniciónes of San Diego,
Santa Bárbara, and Monterey
during his career.
By the 1770s C.E., the Españoles had been in the Nuevo
Mundo Américas for over 200
years. Their Imperio Español included
the present-day western United States, Florida,
and the Filipinas. Yet, they had not
secured the Pacific Coast from English and Russian incursion.
In 1770 C.E., the Spanish soldado, Don Pere Fages i Beleta or Don Pedro Fages (1734 C.E.-1794 C.E.),
assumed the responsibility for establishing a land route in Alta
California to the north. Fages was
born in Guissona, Lerida province, Cataluña, España. In 1762 C.E. he entered the light infantry in Catalonia
and joined España’s invasion of Portugal
during the Seven Years' War.
In May of 1767 C.E., Fages was commissioned as a teniente
in the newly formed Free Company of Volunteers of Cataluña. He set sail from Cádiz along
with a company of light infantry, voyaging to Nueva
España (Méjico). He and his men
were to serve under Domíngo Elizondo in Sonora.
Capitán Gaspar de Portolá
led an expedition to establish a Presidio
at Monterey. He was joined by
Franciscan Fray Junípero Serra. On June 3, 1770 C.E. a mass was held under an oak tree at the
same location where Vizcaíno had held
mass 168 years earlier.
Sebastián Vizcaíno (1548
C.E.-1624) was born in 1548 C.E., in Extremadura, Crown of Castilla (España).
Coming to Nueva España in 1583 C.E.,
he sailed as a merchant on a Galeón
de Manila to the Filipinas in 1586
C.E.-1589 C.E. The disputed concession for pearl fishing on the western
shores of the Gulf of California was
transferred to Vizcaíno in 1593 C.E. Sebastián
succeeded in sailing with three ships to La
Paz, Baja California Sur in 1596 C.E. He then gave this site which had
been known to Hernándo Cortés as
Santa Cruz, its modern name,
La Paz. Soon thereafter, he and attempted to establish a settlement.
Unfortunately, difficulties with declining morale of the pobladores
and soldados, resupply of needed
resources, and a fire soon forced the abandonment of the new settlement.
By 1601 C.E., the Virrey, the Conde de
Monterrey at Méjico City,
appointed Vizcaíno general-in-charge
of a second expedition. This was to locate safe harbors in Alta California for Galeónes
de Manila to use on their return voyage to Acapulco from Manila.
Sebastián was also given the
responsibility to map the California coastline
that Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo had
first reconnoitered 60 years earlier in detail. He departed Acapulco
on his flagship, the San Diego,
on May 5, 1602 C.E. With him were two other ships the San
Tomás and the Tres Reyes.
On November 10, 1602 C.E., Vizcaíno entered and named San
Diego Bay. Sailing up the Pacific Coast, Vizcaíno named many places such as the Santa Bárbara Channel Islands, Point Conception, the Santa
Lucía Mountains, Point Lobos, Carmel
River and Monterey Bay. In
taking these actions, he changed the names given these by Cabrillo
in 1542 C.E.
As a result of Vizcaíno's voyage, there was a flurry of enthusiasm for
establishing a Spanish settlement at Monterey.
Unfortunately for him, this was ultimately deferred for another 168 years after
the Conde de Monterrey left to become Virrey of Perú. A
colonizing expedition had been authorized in 1606 C.E. It was to proceed in 1607
C.E. However, it was delayed and later cancelled in 1608 C.E.
Finally, at the same oaks where Franciscan Fray
Junípero Serra said mass, Monterey
was founded. The Royal Presidio and Misión,
San Cárlos de Borromeo de
Monterey, were established as Monterey’s
Don Pere Fages i Beleta,
now in Nueva España rode to the Llano de
Los Robles or Plain of the Oaks (Later known as Santa Clara Valley) with a handful of Lanceros and some muleteers (mule drivers). The arrival of the Españoles
to the Llano de Los Robles resulted in these Spanish explorers describing
the Llano de Los Robles as a broad
grassy plain. It was covered with oaks and well-watered with marshy creeks and
rivers. Their courses could be traced from a distance by the trees growing along
their banks. The astute explorers
commented on the abundance of good agricultural land. They also took notice of
the number of Indian ranchería.
All agreed that Llano de Los Robles
was an excellent place for a misión.
There, the church of Misión Santa Clara
de Asís would be founded in 1777 C.E. It was to be the first outpost of
Spanish civilization in the Santa Clara
From there they went east, encamping near the
present-day city of Alameda. By
November 28, 1770 C.E. the men viewed a large "bocana" or estuary mouth. Not being able to cross the Punta
de los Reyes, Fages halted and then made his way back to Monterey.
By 1771 C.E., expeditions led by Gaspar
de Portolá established more small settlements in Alta
California. These would create a greater need for support and protection
from the Corona Española.
In 1772 C.E., the landscape of Baja
California was largely a desert. Its sand dunes eventually came to an abrupt
end at steep mountains. However, España’s
increasing awareness of the need to consolidate its hold on the Pacific Coast
forced the issue of overcoming the desert and finding a route through it for
settlement of Alta California. This situation prompted Anza, among others, to pursue opening such a land route. That same
year, the ever eager Anza requested
permission from the Virrey of Nueva
España to discover a route to Alta
March of 1772 C.E. saw Don Fages once again returning north with six soldados, a muleteer, a Native American servant and the Fray,
Juan Crespí (March 1, 1721 C.E.-January 1, 1782 C.E.). He was a Franciscan misiónero and was to become an explorer of Las
Californias. A native of Mallorca
in Cataluña, Crespí entered the
Franciscan order at the age of seventeen. He came to Nueva
España in 1749 C.E., and accompanied explorers Francisco Palóu and Junípero
Fray Juan Crespí accompanied
Capitán Pedro Fages in order to
gain a clearer understanding of the large body of water to the north. From the
east bay they saw the Farallónes (Farallon
Islands) and three islets within the bay that someday would be known as Alcatraz,
Angél Island, and Yerba Buena.
Armed with this added intelligence, Don
Fages' party concluded its journey with a report and chart that prompted
additional interest in the region. On that exploration of areas to the east of San
Francisco Bay, the Fages
Expedition members were the first Europeans to see the Sacramento
River and the San Joaquín
Having read these reports, Padre Junípero Serra began to lobby the Virrey of Nueva España
for two more misiónes in the vicinity of what came to be called the Port of San
Francisco, one in the Santa Clara Valley
and one at the opening to the bay.
Don Pedro Fages felt
that he did not have enough soldados
to support another misiónero program.
However, Virrey António Bucarelli y Ursúa
championed Serra's cause,
relieving Don Fages and replacing him
with Capitán Fernando Xavier de Rivera y Moncada (c. 1725 C.E.-July 18, 1781 C.E.)
as military comandante of Alta
California. Don Fages was transferred to the Apache wars in Arizona.
Rivera y Moncada,
a Criollo, was born near Compostela, Nueva
España (Mexico). His father, Don
Cristóbal de Rivera, was locally prominent and a local office holder. Rivera
was born of Don Cristóbal's second
wife, Joséfa Ramón de Moncada. He
entered military service in 1742 C.E., serving in Loreto,
Baja California, at a time when that peninsula was almost totally under the
control of Jesuit misióneros. In 1751
C.E., Rivera was elevated over several
older and higher ranking soldados to
the command of that presidio. He
participated in the important reconnaissance of the northern peninsula together
with the Jesuit misiónero-explorers Ferdinand
Konščak and Wenceslaus Linck.
In 1755 C.E., Rivera
would marry Doña María Teresa Dávalos;
a marriage probably arranged by their parents. The couple had four children;
three boys and a girl. His tenure as military comandante of Baja California
was generally successful. He was highly thought of by the Jesuits, though he was
also embroiled in conflicts with local Ganaderos,
and miners who were in conflict with the Jesuits.
By 1773 C.E., there would be two presidios
and five misiónes in Alta California.
At that time, the total population of Españoles
was about seventy frayles and soldados.
They had established five misiónes:
Diego de Alcalá in 1769 C.E.
Borromeo del Carmelo in 1770 C.E.
de Padúa in 1771 C.E.
Gabriel Arcángel in 1771 C.E.
Obispo de Tolosa in 1772 C.E.
were established at San Diego and Monterey
The viability of España's Alta California outposts immediately came into question.
Problems obtaining badly needed supplies jeopardized expansion into the region
and maintaining outposts in the region. The sixty-one soldados and eleven Franciscan frayles
that were assigned to various settlements were almost completely dependent upon
supplies from Nueva España’s
capital at Méjico City for their
survival. The Españoles encountered
continual difficulties obtaining these supplies which led to starvation
ensure their possession and the protection of Alta
California, the Españoles needed
an overland route in Nueva España
originating in Sonora.
Resupplying the settlements by way of by of Méjico
City via the sea had been extremely difficult. This made further settlement and
supply of Alta California even more
challenging. The small Spanish ships that made the arduous sea voyage were from San
Blas, Nueva España (Méjico). San Blas is a port located about 99 miles north of Puerto
Vallarta, and 40 miles west of the state capital Tepic. These
ships were unable to carry cattle or many people. In addition, the prevailing
Pacific winds and currents along the California
Coast made trips hazardous. Each trip north from San Blas in Baja California
to Monterey took five times as long as
did the returning trip south. To make matters worse, ships were frequently lost.
Some were blown out to sea or destroyed on the rocky coastline. Despite these
obstacles, the sea route proved more advantageous than the treacherous and
difficult land route through Baja
It was the Jesuit padres who engineered the El
Camino Real portion of the road in
Baja California. The Spanish soldados
built the first sections on the peninsula. Later the natives did more of the
work. The network of roads radiated outward from the first mission at Loreto,
the Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto
Conchó or Our Lady of Loreto Misión.
Loreto is a coastal villa
on the Sea of Cortés. There the misión
was founded. It is the first and oldest misión
built in either Baja or Alta California. The early
misión was the center for further
exploration into the deserts and mountains of Baja. It also aided in the expansion of the Catholic misión
The Jesuits had originally established Misión
de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó in 1697 C.E in Loreto.
Soon it became obvious that the Loreto
site had too little water to be suitable for agriculture and, thus, could not
become self-sustaining. The Jesuits were told by Cochimí
visitors to Loreto of potential
agricultural land across the nearby Sierra
de la Giganta.
In May 1699 C.E., Francisco María Piccolo, along with a dozen Cochimí guides and ten Spanish soldados,
crossed the mountains on horseback and entered the valley the Indians called Biaundó,
about 12 miles inland from the Gulf of California.
The other part of the Misión's name, Viggé,
was the Cochimí word for mountain. The inhabitants of a Cochimí rancheria at
the site were friendly and Piccolo
baptized 30 of their children.
In October 1699 C.E., Piccolo returned with a contingent of soldados and Indian converts and began to construct the Misión.
Piccolo dedicated the Misión
on December 3, 1699 C.E., and San
Francisco Javier (also Xavier)
became the second most enduring misión
established in Baja California. The Misión
was abandoned in 1701 C.E. because of a threatened Indian revolt, but
reestablished by Juan de Ugarte in
1702 C.E. However, efforts to grow crops proved unsuccessful due to lack of
water for irrigation and in 1710 C.E. the Misión
was moved a few kilometers south to its present location which had a dependable
source of water from a spring. The energetic Ugarte constructed dams, aqueducts, and stone buildings. Between
1744 C.E. and 1758 C.E., Miguel del
Barco took the responsibility for building what became known as
"the jewel of the Baja California
Camino or more properly El Camino Real
de Tierra Adentro (The Royal Road) of the Interior Land would be extended
from Tucson to San Diego.
In 1773 C.E., at age thirty-seven, Anza
received permission to lead the overland exploratory expedition to Alta
California for locating and mapping an overland supply route from António
María Bucareli y Ursúa, the region's virrey.
This initial launch to Alta California
found its feasibility in Anza's belief
that such a route was possible. Anza,
Comendador of the presidio at Tubac, Nueva España (Now Arizona),
was friendly with the local Yuma
Indians. His conversations with the Yuma
convinced him that a supply route was feasible. On September 17,
By 1773 C.E., Anza
was ordered to explore for a route from Tubac,
Arizona to Alta California.
In 1774 C.E., Fray
Juan Crespí was Capellán of the
expedition to the North Pacific conducted by Juan José Pérez Hernández. His diaries provided valuable
records of these expeditions. One chapel he built, at the Misión
San Francisco del Valle de Tilaco in Landa,
located in today’s Jalpan de Serra
region of Méjico. It is reported to
still be standing.
Anza's Spanish military contingent set out from Tubac,
The Expedition headed north and reached the Yuma
village at the junction of the Gila
and Colorado rivers without much difficulty. With the help of the Yuma
Indians, the Españoles crossed the Colorado
River, and proceeded southward in an attempt to circumnavigate the sea of sand
dunes. During the effort, Anza's party
became lost. After ten days of traveling in the desert, they found their way
back to the Colorado River. The Españoles
were soon reunited with the Yuma
Indians. Determined to continue, Anza
followed Tarabal's suggestion, which offered a more northerly route through
the San Gabriel Mountains.
By March 22, 1774 C.E., Anza crossed the Colorado
River, and arrived on the Pacific Coast at San
Gabriel near present-day Los Ángeles.
Within days, they camped along the San
Jacinto River. The party had finally reached Misión San Gabriel.
Although the weather was relatively cool, the Anza
Expedition had traversed the most arid region of North America. Men and
livestock relied on the infrequent oases and natural cisterns, and after a month
of trial and error they opened a trail from the Colorado
River across the barren Imperial and Mexicali valleys to the San
After a needed rest, Anza reached the presidio
of Monterey sometime between April 18,
1774 C.E. and May 1, 1774 C.E. They had finally reached Monterey,
California. This difficult three month expedition and journey was plagued
with frequent bouts with starvation. Fortunately, Juan
Bautista had accomplished his goal of discovering the much needed overland
supply route. This effort would expand Spanish settlement in California. Anza had
successfully found an overland route and traveled to the newly established Presidio
of Monterey, California. His mission was successful. It would ensure Juan's
advancement and appointment by the King of España
to Teniente de Coronel. Juan’s
expedition of discovery has also secured him a place in history. The question
remained, whether it could be used for large-scale expeditions.
After staying only three days in Monterey,
the confident explorer, Anza, would
retrace his route. By May 5, 1774 C.E., he was again at San
By May 28, 1774 C.E., he completed the return trek
to Tubac. Unbelievably, his
expeditionary force had returned back in Tubac,
Arizona by the end of May. Anza
upon his return was then promoted to teniente
reported to Bucareli in Méjico
City and delivered his diaries.
In August, 1774 C.E.,
Naval Officer Manuel de Ayala y
Aranza arrived in Vera Cruz and
proceeded to Méjico City to
receive orders from the Virrey, Don António María de Bucareli y Ursúa regarding Alta California.
Also, in 1774 C.E., an exploration expedition led
by Capitán Fernando Rivera y Moncada
began explorations for a suitable site for the Misión of San Francisco.
Charged with another survey of the "Port and River of San Francisco," Rivera
commanded 16 Lanceros, a muleteer, two
servants and one fray, another native
of Mallorca, Fray
Francisco Palóu. The 21 riders left Monterey
on November 23, 1774 C.E.
By November 24, 1774 C.E., Capitán Juan Agustín Bautista Anza
was ordered by Virrey Bucareli to
return to California from
his earlier established overland route.
Virrey Bucareli had turned to the experienced Capitán
Juan Agustín Bautista Anza of the
Tubac Presidio, in
present-day Arizona, to found the San
Francisco presidio and provide the Christianized Méjicano
and Native American pobladores for the
The new overland Settlement Expedition was to
arrive, settle, and exercise control of the region. At this point in time, the Españoles
had no ships stationed in the area with which to go further north and provide
any meaningful control across the Bay. Anza
would eventually leave with a group of pobladores
and twenty-eight soldados to found a
new misión and presidio on the bay of San
Francisco. Some 136 pobladores
were enlisted, and, with two Franciscans, two officers, ten soldados,
and thirty-one muleteers.
By December 4, 1774 C.E. Rivera’s Exploration Expedition halted at "a long lake ending
down at the shore" (now Lake Merced in the southwestern part of San
Francisco). Rivera continued on with Palóu
and four troopers until they reached either what now is called Land's End or
perhaps present-day Point Lobos, where
they set up a cross. Presents were made to Ssalson Ohlone people of beads and
Spanish food, including wheat and frijoles.
Palóu records in his diary that the
Indians were much taken with the products of European culture and Palóu
promised that he would return and help the First Peoples to plant seeds and
gather them in great abundance. Palóu
believed that the Ohlone were pleased, understood him and would help build
houses when he returned to establish a misión.
Rivera’s Exploration Expedition headed home making their
way to Monterey by December 13, 1774
The result of the Rivera Expedition was a plan with a program for second Anza
Expedition to settle the area south of the Golden Gate with a presidio
and a misión. Here, at the
northernmost area of the Spanish possessions in California, Anza’s
second expedition, an overland Settlement Expedition, was to facilitate the
second phase of these plans.
The second Anza
Settlement Expedition was to be launched immediately, reflecting a settlement
mandate. In this mission he was joined again by Gracés and Tarabal. His
second-in-command was to be José Joaquín
Moraga, an eighteen-year military veteran.
The strength and number of Anza's Settlement Expedition has been subject of debate. Anza's
diary indicates 240. However, recent analysis of his letters suggests it might
have been closer to three hundred.
Recruits were also gathered at the Presidio
of San Miguel de Horcasitas, Sonora's
provincial capital. There, Anza had
chosen as his Teniente, José Joaquín
Moraga. Fray Pedro Font, a Franciscan
misiónero, was picked as expedition Capellán
for his ability to read latitudes.
sent de Ayala y Aranza to San
Blas where he took command of the schooner Sonora,
part of a squadron under the general command of Don Bruno
de Heceta, in the frigate Santiago. The squadron sailed
from San Blas early in 1775
C.E. However, when they were lying outside San
Blas about to set out, the commander of the packet-boat San Cárlos,
Don Miguel Manrique, was taken ill. Ayala y Aranza was ordered to take command of this larger vessel,
sailed back to San Blas to return the
unfortunate Manrique. He and rejoined
the squadron after a few days' sailing. Ayala
y Aranza was designated to pass through the strait and explore what lay
within, while the Santiago and Sonora continued
prepared for his next accomplishment, he continued recruiting through April and
May. His efforts also took him to find recruits in the villa of El Fuerte in the
Province of Sinaloa and Alamos
Eventually accompanying the main force would be
twenty-nine women (wives of the soldados),
four volunteer families, 128 children, twenty muleteers, three vaqueros,
three servants, and three Indian interpreters. The expedition would also bring
695 horses and mules, and 355 cattle for the purpose of food and future
livestock expansion in the northern Nueva
España region. Additionally, Anza
would recruit some 170 pobladores,
most of whom had been living on the edge of poverty.
Anza remained the summer in Horcasitas, the capital of Sonora.
There he spent time training his new recruits for the difficulty that lay ahead.
The crossing of Apache country would
be no easy matter.
In the early 1770s
C.E., the Spanish royal authorities had also ordered a naval exploration
of the north coast of California,
"to ascertain if there were any Russian settlements on the Coast
of California, and to examine the Port
of San Francisco." By this time, Don Fernando
Rivera y Moncada had already marked the point for a misión
in what is now San Francisco.
Also, a Land Expedition to establish Spanish rule over the area, under Juan
Bautista Anza would be sent northwards.
Manuel de Ayala y Aranza,
then a teniente was one of
those assigned to the naval expedition. In 1775 C.E., 30-year-old de
Ayala y Aranza (December 28, 1745 C.E.-December 30, 1797 C.E.) was
one of those preparing the way for Spanish settlement in northern California.
De Ayala y Aranza was a Spanish naval officer,
born in Osuna, Andalucía.
He entered the Spanish navy on the September 19, 1760 C.E., and rose to achieve
the rank of Capitán by 1782 C.E.
He would retire on full pay due to his achievements in California on March 14, 1785 C.E.
As the skipper of the packet-boat San Cárlos,
de Ayala y Aranza sailed from San Blas
with supplies for the proposed settlement. His other duties included the
charting of the bay and its shoreline, and ascertaining whether a navigable
passage existed to the inland waterway from the sea. Finally, Ayala
sought to learn whether a port could be established there.
San Cárlos took on supplies at Monterey, leaving there on July 26, 1775 C.E. and then proceeding northwards.
On August 4, 1775 C.E. the San Cárlos arrived just outside present-day Golden Gate. Ayala
y Aranza passed through the Golden Gate on August 5, 1775 C.E.,
with some difficulty and great caution because of the tides. He tried a number
of anchorages, finding that off Ángel
Island most satisfactory, but failed to make contact, as he had hoped, with
Anza's party. That morning, Ayala
sent his First Piloto, José de Cañizares, into the harbor with a longboat. That evening
he followed, anchoring somewhere near what became North Beach. Ayala
y Aranza then placed a wooden cross where he landed the first night. This
was the first European ship to enter this great bay.
On August 12, 1775 C.E., de Ayala y Aranza gave the
name Isla de Alcatraces (Alcatraz),
"island of the pelicans," and what is now Yerba
Buena Island, "on account of the abundance of those birds that were on
For some next 44 days, de Ayala y Aranza and Cañizares
completed a thorough reconnaissance before the San Cárlos headed
back to Monterey on September 18, 1775
C.E. Returning to San Blas Shortly
thereafter, de Ayala
y Aranza enthusiastically reported to the Virrey giving a full account of the geography of the bay. He
reported the fine harbor presented "a beautiful fitness, and it has no lack
of good drinking water and plenty of firewood and ballast." He also
concluded that it possessed a healthful climate and "docile natives lived
there." A chart of the Bay of San
Francisco was prepared by José de Cañizares.
In short, he stressed its advantages as a harbor.
This was that chiefly the absence of "those troublesome fogs which we had
daily in Monterey, because the fogs
here hardly reach the entrance of the port, and once inside the harbor, the
weather is very clear."
Recognizing the perils that lay before him, Anza
later relocated his military operations from Horcasitas
to Tubac in mid-October of 1775 C.E. It is situated on the Santa
Cruz River. This was the original Spanish Settlement Period guarnición
in Arizona. There he continued preparations.
His stay at Tubac
lasted only until October 23, 1775 C.E. Juan
Bautista Anza’s Settlement Expedition departed from the Northern Nueva
España town of Tubac, Arizona on
the route established the preceding year. The Expedition resembling a traveling
village, left with 240 pobladores,
heading to the San Francisco Bay in Alta
California. In the journal he kept of the journey, Anza
recorded the following number of travelers: Comandante
Juan Bautista Anza; Three frayles;
40 Spanish soldados; 29 women who were
the wives of the soldados; one hundred
thirty-six other family members, including children of the soldados
as well as four other volunteer families that did not include soldados;
fifteen Muleteers; seven servants of the frayles
and of Capitán Anza; five Indian
interpreters; three others; and a commissary. Animals in the expedition included
165 pack mules carrying supplies, 320 Horses, and 302 cattle. Their 500-mile
journey would lead them on horseback across rivers, deserts, and snowy
mountains, through territory that had been traveled by only a few Spanish
explorers before them.
With planning and preparation having been
completed, he left with approximately three hundred volunteers and one thousand
head of livestock. Whatever the number, it was a sizable group. They would
finally leave from the final staging area Tubac,
having been delayed by Apache raids.
The Apaches had driven off the entire
herd of 500 horses three weeks prior to the expedition's arrival, forcing it to
continue with no fresh mounts. The contingent had no wagons or carts. All
supplies were loaded on pack mules. This meant that his troops had to load the
mules each morning and unload them when they reached their destination. Food
supplies included six tons of flour, frijoles,
cornmeal, sugar, and chocolate, loaded on and off of pack mules every day.
Materials from cooking kettles to iron for making horseshoes added more tonnage.
The Comendador and his servants had a
tent, as did Fray Font
and his assistants. The families, vaqueros,
muleteers, and soldados shared ten
tents among them.
The goal of the Expedition was to establish a
Catholic misión and military presidio
near the mouth of the bay, and to secure the area for the Corona
Española. The Expedition was expected to be so difficult that the Spanish virrey
had to promise to pay for the pobladores’
clothing, food, and supplies for years to come, and still only the poorest
families volunteered, in the hopes of a better life in Alta
California. Most of the people in the group knew they would never again
return to their homes in the settled regions of Méjico.
They had to bring things with them what they would need to survive in the new
land they were going to, a land they had never seen, where no Españoles
had settled before them.
The first night out, the group suffered its only
death en route when María Manuela Piñuelas
died from complications after childbirth. Her son lived. Two other babies born
on the trip brought the total number of pobladores to 198. Of these, over half were children 12 years old
and under. At San Xavier del Bac
(located about 10 miles south of today’s downtown Tucson, Arizona), Fray
Font presided over the woman's burial and the marriage of four couples.
Departing from San Xavier del Bac, the expedition left behind the last Spanish
settlement until Misión San Gabriel.
Guiding them across Baja California's formidable landscape was no easy task. Anza's
Settlement Expedition slowly made its way northward, up the Santa
Cruz river valley, past what is now present-day Tucson.
It then followed the Gila River west
until it intersected with the Colorado
River. While they camped, Anza, Font,
and a few soldados visited Casa
Grande, which was already known as an ancient Indian site. There were
frequent bouts of sickness affecting the party and its animals. These delayed
progress, as did the birth of a second baby.
The Settlement Expedition finally reached the Colorado
River on November 28, 1775 C.E. They were assisted in crossing the Colorado
by Olleyquotequiebe (Salvadór Palma),
chief of the Yumas (Quechan), whose
tribe had befriended Anza on his 1774
C.E. trek. With assistance from the Yumas
it was crossed without incident.
On December 4, 1775 C.E., the Anza
Expedition parted company with the Yumas
and Padre Gracés. These stayed behind to begin their misiónero
As the party followed the Colorado River west, Anza
divided the Expedition into four separate groups. He did this in hopes that by
staggering the groups, in this way they would each make better use of available
water supply. Anza also thought that
separate groups made for better foraging. The Expedition now constituted three
groups of pobladores and one of
livestock, each traveling one day apart.
Mid-December’s weather was unseasonably cold.
Temperatures and weather conditions alternated daily between wet and dry. Life
on the trail was miserable due to these conditions. Clothing became wet and damp
from the rain and snow, increasing the chance of illness. The dry weather caused
thirst for the Expedition. Later, the cattle stampeded resulting in the loss of
fifty cows. This limited the food supply for the pobladores in California.
Just before Christmas, Anza's party
had made their way into Coyote Cañon
what is now Anza Borrego Desert State Park. There they regrouped. On Christmas
Eve a third baby was born.
On December 26, 1775 C.E., the Settlement
Expedition finally reached a pass, the gateway to Alta
They reached San
Gabriel on January 4, 1776 C.E. Upon the Expedition’s arrival at Misión
San Gabriel Arcángel (In San Gabriel,
California), the European population of Alta
California was doubled. However, Misión
San Gabriel was only to be a stopover.
There the Expedition regrouped and later forged
ahead. They finally continued up the Pacific Coast in mid-February, 1776 C.E.
From there they followed known trails through Indian villas along the coast of California,
visiting Misión San Luís Obispo de
Toloso and Misión San António de Padúa.
Misión San António de Padúa is a
Spanish misión was established by the
Franciscan order in present-day Monterey
County, California, near the
present-day town of Jolon. Founded on
July 14, 1771 C.E., it was the third misión
founded in Alta California. The
Expedition remained there longer than anticipated. Due to hostilities between
Spanish pobladores and the Kumeyaay
Indians around San Diego, Anza
was recruited by the Comandante of California, Capitán Fernando Xavier de Rivera y Moncada, to
suppress the rebellion.
To their credit, the Capitán Juan Bautista Anza Settlement Expedition arrived in Monterey,
California area from Sonora
on March 10, 1776 C.E. with 240 pobladores
and 1,000 head of domestic stock. It was also in that year that España
named Monterey the official capital of Baja and Alta California.
Anza had arrived with some of the first pobladores for Spanish California
with most of them bound for San Francisco.
Monterey’s soldados and their wives lived at the Royal Presidio (located where the San
Cárlos Cathedral now stands) struggled to create a pueblo and raise families.
The Expedition finally reached the Monterey
Presidio and Misión San Cárlos del
While the larger group waited, Anza
took a small group to explore San
Francisco Bay. Although several earlier expeditions had explored the region,
no appropriate site for settlement had yet been determined. By March 23, 1776
C.E., Anza had left his weary fellow sojourners at this location and took
an advanced party from Monterey to
select the new outpost of el Imperio Español.
From there Anza led a party of twenty
men including Fray Pedro Font onward
to the San Francisco Bay to
investigate possible sites for the new presidio.
Fray Font was another of the gifted Franciscans to
chronicle early California history,
but only for a short period because he was there in connection with the second Anza
expedition. Born in Geróna, Cataluña,
he came to Méjico in 1763 C.E. Within
a decade, he moved to Sonora as a misiónero
among the Pimas. Upon his return with Anza
in 1776 C.E., he would go to San Miguel de
Ures. There, the Fray completed the short version of the diary that gained
him fame, the longer edition being completed in 1777 C.E. Three years later, Fray
Font would die at Caborca. Font included a map of the Port of San Francisco in his diary.
According to an account kept by Fray
Font, on March 27, 1776 C.E., "the weather was fair and clear, a favor
which God granted us during all these days, and especially today, in order that
we might see the harbor which we were going to explore." After a march of
four hours, they "halted on the banks of a lake or spring of very fine
water near the mouth of the port of San
Francisco," today's Mountain Lake. This spot afforded a resting place
for the tired riders. Then, Anza took Fray Pedro Font and four soldados
to scout further.
Anza reconnoitered the northern end of the San
Francisco peninsula. Going to the northernmost tip of San
Francisco Bay's peninsula and looking down from Cantil
Blanco or White Cliffs, Anza had
seen enough. He ordered the party back to camp. There, Fray Font set down his somewhat over-optimistic impressions:
"This place and its vicinity has abundant pasturage, plenty of firewood,
and fine water, all good advantage for establishing here the presidio or fort
which is planned. It lacks only timber, for there is not a tree on all those
hills, though the oaks and other trees along the road are not very far away.
Here and near the lake there are "yerba
buena" and so many lilies that I almost had them inside my tent." Font
continued and, for one of the first times, clearly used the term San
Francisco as the name of the great bay: "The port of San
Francisco is a marvel of nature, and might well be called a harbor of
harbors, because of its great capacity, and of several small bays which it
unfolds in its margins or beach and in its islands."
Followed the Pacific Coast northward, the
Expedition sighted the bay of San
Francisco on March 28, 1776 C.E. He recommended a mesa overlooking the entrance to the bay as the location of the
projected presidio and the area of Arroyo
de los Dolores on the interior of the bay for the misión.
There he chose sites for the presidio
and the misión. Anza returned to the Cantil
Blanco of the previous day to erect a wooden cross. This was at or near the
present-day toll plaza on the south
side of the Golden Gate Bridge. This action marked the formal act of possession
for España. Anza also selected the ground where the cross stood as the spot for
a presidio to protect the region. Then
the party further surveyed the immediate area.
Anza was to follow orders and next explore the
"River of Saint Francis." He would travel the east side of San
Francisco Bay before turning south to return to Monterey.
Fray Font recorded: "On leaving we ascended a small
hill and then entered upon a mesa that
was very green and flower-covered, and an abundance of wild violets. The mesa
is very open, of considerable extent, and level, sloping a little toward the
harbor. It must be about half a league wide and somewhat longer, getting
narrower until it ends right at the white cliff. This mesa
affords a most delightful view, for from it one sees a large part of the port
and its islands, as far as the other side, the mouth of the harbor, and of the
sea all that the sight can take in as far as beyond the farallónes.
Indeed, although in my travels I saw very good sites and beautiful in all the
world, for it has the best advantages for founding in it a most beautiful city,
with all the conveniences desired, by land as well as sea, with that harbor so
remarkable and so spacious, in which may be established shipyards, docks, and
anything that might be wished. This mesa
the Comandante selected as the site of
the new settlement and fort which were to be established on this harbor: for,
being on a height, it is so commanding that with muskets it can defend the
entrance to the mouth of the harbor, while a gunshot away it has water to supply
the people, namely, the spring or lake where we halted. The only lack is timber
for large buildings, although for huts and cuarteles and for the stockade of the presidio there are plenty of trees in the groves."
A story is recounted about the naming of San
Francisco by California's first historian and the first Franciscan pastor of misión
Dolores, Fray Francisco Palóu. In 1768 C.E., José de Gálvez, the Inspector General
of Méjico, informed Junípero
Serra of the names to be given to the misiónes
to be established in Alta California. Serra remonstrated, saying, "Is there then to be no misión
for Our Father San Francisco?" De
Gálvez jested, "If San Francisco
wants a misión, let him cause his
port to be discovered, and it will be placed there!" As fate would have it,
San Francisco would lead España
to this future port. Seven years after that, Juan
Bautista Anza had marched north from Pueblo
San Diego with a Settlement Expedition to establish a Spanish presidio and misión named
Fray Pedro Font had
accompanied that San Francisco
Settlement Expedition, and kept copious notes about the journey in his journal.
The following excerpts by Fray Font
recount the group’s experiences while traveling from the South Bay Peninsula
through an area which today is the Santa
Clara Valley. They provide some striking images of the world that the Españoles encountered: “Friday, March 29, 1776 C.E. We traveled
through the valley some four leagues to the southeast and southeast by south,
and crossed the arroyo of San
Mateo where it enters the pass through the hills. About a league before this
there came out on our road a very large bear, which the men succeeded in
killing. There are many of these beasts in that country, and they often attack
and do damage to the Indians when they go to hunt, of which I saw many horrible
examples. When he saw us so near, the bear was going along very carelessly on
the slope of a hill, where flight was not very easy. When I saw him so close,
looking at us in suspense, I feared some disaster. But Cabo
Robles fired a shot at him with aim so true that he hit him in the neck.
On Saturday, March 30, 1776 C.E, Fray
Pedro Font offered, “On beginning to go around the head of the estuary we
found another villa, Indians from there showed great fear as soon as they saw us,
but it was greatly lessened by giving them glass beads. One of the women, from
the time when she first saw us until we departed, stood at the door of her hut
making gestures like crosses and drawing lines on the ground, at the same time
talking to herself as though praying, and during her prayer she was immobile,
paying no attention to the glass beads which the Comandante offered her.”
His task accomplished, Anza decided to return to Monterey
on April 4, 1776 C.E. After this survey of the bay, Anza returned from Monterey
to Méjico, and his second in command,
Teniente José Joaquín Moraga, took
command of the Settlement Expedition to lead it to its final destination.
On April 5, 1776 C.E., the Friday before Palm
Sunday, Señor Comandante Coronel Juan
Bautista Anza explored a creek and lake. This day was traditionally called
the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows (Nuestra
Señora de los Dolores). He gave them both the name "Dolores."
The Misión San Francisco de Asís has as its common name "Misión
Dolores," taken from the name of the now vanished Lake Dolores
and Dolores Creek. However, neither Font
nor Anza would have to deal with the actual establishment of a
settlement since both men left the bay area for Monterey on April 5th, arriving there some three days later, on
By April 14, 1776 C.E., at age forty, Anza
and Fray Font left Monterey
for Méjico City. Upon his arrival
there, Anza would receive another
promotion and a new assignment destined to take him away forever from California.
Upon his triumphant return to Méjico
City, Anza was made Comendador
of all the troops in Sonora to be
effective in the fall of 1776 C.E.
Anza arrived at the Presidio of Horcasitas in Sonora
on June 1, 1776 C.E.
The year-long journey proved difficult. Four
volunteers died that year. One would die from complications associated with
childbirth. The other three died from the plague which struck the town of Horcasitas
while they were there preparing for the journey that summer. In total, there
were nine live births and five miscarriages suffered by volunteers of the
expedition between Culiacán, Sonora,
and San Gabriel, Alta California.
at San Francisco would be established
in June 1776 C.E., by an expedition which set out in two parts. One, the
original Anza Settlement Expedition
would leave from Monterey and go by
land, the other by sea. The objective of both was the bay named in honor of
Saint Francis of Assisi, hence, San
having left for Méjico, it fell to José
Joaquín Moraga to lead the final leg of the Settlement Expedition
northward. Moraga would serve as both
as comandante and habilitado
or authorized person/deputy of the Presidio
of San Francisco from its founding
until his death on July 13, 1785 C.E. The son of José
Moraga and María Gaona, he hailed
from Misión Los Santos Ángeles de
Guevavi, in today's Arizona, where
he was born on August 22, 1745 C.E.
On June 17, 1776 C.E., Capitán Fernando Xavier de Rivera y Moncada
later relented allowing Teniente
Moraga to finally move the pobladores
from Monterey to San Francisco
Bay to build the presidio and found
the misión. Ten days later, they
achieved their goal. They set about building Misión San Francisco de Aísi.
Moraga had departed Monterey
on June 17, 1776 C.E., with some 193 weary
pobladores (both soldados and Ciudádanos,
some with families and other single adventurers) made ready for a new life at San Francisco Bay. Here is an excerpt from Moraga’s correspondence in which he describes that final leg of
the journey: “In the valley of the latter there appeared before us a herd of
elk to the number of eleven, of which we got three without leaving our road.
This merciful act of the infinite providence of the Most High is noteworthy, for
the soldados were by now tired out by
the difficulties of the road and weak on account of the customary fare,
consisting only of maíz and frijoles, on which they were being fed, a reason why the women with
continuous sighs were now making known their great dissatisfaction. But this
refreshment of meat appearing before us, and we being able with such ease to
take advantage of it, the soldados not
only were revived with such a plenty of food, but they were also delighted with
the prospect of the abundance of these animals which the country promised. And
it is certain, most Excellent Sir, that these elk are of such size and have such
savory flesh that neither in quantity nor in quality need they envy the best
On June 27, 1776 C.E., the land Settlement
Expedition contingent under the command of the Comandante
of the new post, Don José Moraga,
arrived in the neighborhood of the Golden Gate arriving along the shore of Laguna
Dolores, near what is now Albion and Camp Streets in the Mission District.
Two Franciscan padres, Fray Francisco Palóu
and Fray Benito Cambón, accompanied
them. The Expedition had reached the northernmost tip of the San
Francisco peninsula, which Anza
had previously selected as the site for the military presidio.
They halted at the site of what became the Misión
Dolores. It included Frayles Palóu
and Cambón, a few married pobladores
with large families, and seventeen dragoons. Moraga's main force had arrived at a Bay Area clearing overlooking
the bay and immediately began work on a chapel and a few crude shelters for the guarnición.
The expedition had carried with them garden seed, agricultural implements,
mules, horses, and sheep. The group would rest there and wait for supplies which
the ship, the San Cárlos.
Part of the Land Expedition contingent, Frayles
Palóu and Cambón, five servants, six soldados
and families, and one poblador with
family would remain to manage the Misión
site. Each of the California misiónes
had a group of soldados assigned to it
by the gobernador. Soldados
were sent with the padres each time
permission was granted by the government to establish a new misión.
The job of the soldados was to protect
the misión and the padres.
The group of four to six soldados assigned to a misión
under the command of a Cabo was known
as an escolta. The soldados’
were housed in the cuarteles or
headquarters barracks. These buildings were usually separate from the misión compound. Each soldado
was provided a small bed or cot. It was made of a wooden frame with rawhide
tightly stretched over it for a mattress. Cots were arranged in one room,
leaving the soldados little privacy.
The soldado’s uniform and military
equipment were hung on pegs on the wall adjacent to each bed.
soldados were called soldados de cuera
or leather-jackets. This was because of their leather jackets which were
sleeveless vest-type jackets made of six or eight layers of tanned deerskin or
sheepskin. The jacket acted as protection against arrows, which could not
penetrate the thick layers of leather.
were also equipped with thick leather chaps or leggings to keep their legs from
being cut and scratched when riding through brush. Additional protection was
provided by an adarga or shield which
the soldado carried it on his left
arm. The adarga was composed of two
protective layers of raw oxhide.
Most of the misión
soldados were supplied with several horses and a mule. Horses had not been
known in the Nuevo Mundo before the Españoles
arrived. When riding a horse soldados
wore a leather apron. It was fastened to the saddle and hung down on both sides,
covering his legs.
wore a belt that held bullets and gunpowder across his shoulders. His weapon was
a lanza with a long wooden shaft and a
sharp metal tip, an espada ancha
or short sword with a wide blade, and a short escopeta,
a smoothbore .69 caliber flintlock musket. The flintlock musket was a gun with a
smooth bore inside the barrel. The spark used to set-off the charge was
activated by a flint striking a piece of steel. It wasn’t very accurate when
fired, but easy to load.
Under an enramada
or arbor built by Moraga's soldados, Fray
Francisco Palóu celebrated the first Mass on the feast of Saints Peter and
Paul, June 29, 1776 C.E. It is considered the "official birthday" of Misión
San Francisco de Asís and of the city of San Francisco. The Misión
is named after the founder of the Franciscan Order, Giovanni di Pietro di
Bernardone and informally named Francesco, is formally known as Saint Francis of
Assisi (1182 C.E.-1226 C.E.). Founded under the direction of Fray
Junípero Serra, it is the sixth Franciscan misión
to be established in Alta California.
The remainder of the Españoles moved about three miles northwest to establish the Presidio
of San Francisco close to the south shore of what is now the Golden
Gate channel. Padre Palóu would
dedicate the site five days before the American Declaration of Independence was
Although they had arrived at their destination,
the pobladores could not begin
construction of the Presidio until the
arrival of the supply ship San Cárlos,
which was delayed in its arrival, taking 42 days to make the voyage from Monterey
due to poor sailing conditions.
This delay caused further hardship for the soldados
and their families, as recounted here by Teniente
Moraga: “The boat was now tardy and provisions were getting low, so I
ordered the sargento to prepare four soldados,
two servants, and fifteen mules equipped with pack saddles, so that on the June
30, 1776 C.E., they might go to Monterrey
to request some provisions of Don Fernando
Ribera and at the same time ask him to supply me with some goods, for the soldados
are naked and the cold in these days is severe, and it is a pity to see all the
people shivering, especially since they were raised in hot climates and this
being the first year in which they have experienced the change of temperature.
For this reason I am living in fear that such nakedness may bring upon us some
disastrous sickness. It was now necessary to reduce the ration for the soldados
until the boat should arrive or the pack train return, and, in order that hunger
might not make the people disconsolate, on the same day I detached my sargento
with three soldados and six servants
with the order that, not sparing any effort whatever, he should see if he could
capture some elk, but although he tried hard he was unable to aid us with this
Moraga would pass the next several weeks actively
exploring the region. On these forays, he concluded that a plain to the
southeast of the Cantil Blanco seemed
better suited for a military outpost. Don
Moraga realized cold fogs often shrouded the windy spot which had been
selected by Anza. He may have desired
a slightly milder climate than the exposed cliffs selected by Anza.
He also sought convenient sources of water, which he found on a good plain in
sight of the harbor and entrance, and also of its interior. As soon as he found
the location the Teniente decided that
it was suitable for settlement. With this in mind, Moraga
relocated the main force to the spot he selected. Without waiting for the
detachment which was coming by sea, the contingent chose a site for the presidio
and began work upon the modest buildings of that station. Seed was planted, the
cattle and sheep were put out to graze, and the horses and mules began their
On August 12, 1776 C.E., an Indian attack on
people in the area was carried out by the rival Ssalson tribe. From Padre
Palóu: “The heathens of the villas
of San Mateo, who are their enemies, fell upon them at a large town
about a league from this lagoon, in which there were many wounded and dead on
both sides. Apparently the Indians of this vicinity were defeated, and so
fearful were they of the others that they made tule rafts and all moved to the
shore opposite the Presidio, or to the
mountains on the east side of the bay. We were unable to restrain them, even
though we let them know by signs that they should have no fear, for the soldados
would defend them.”
By mid-August 1776 C.E., work at the misión
was on a church and living quarters along with corrales
for herds of cattle and horses. Wheat and vegetable crop areas were also
laid out and turned for planting.
In the early stages the main priority was to
survive while awaiting sea borne supplies. During this time Moraga's
force remained in its rudimentary encampment without any special military
That situation changed when the San
Cárlos, the Spanish packet-boat under
the command of Capitán Juan Manuel de Ayala y
Aranza (December 28,
1745 C.E.-December 30, 1797 C.E.) finally
arrived on August 17, 1776 C.E. After the ship's Capitán, its Piloto and
the ship's Capellán came ashore, they
concurred with Moraga's selection for
the fort and presidio. With this, the Piloto,
Cañizares, laid out: "A square measuring ninety-two varas
(ninety yards square each way) with divisions for church, royal offices,
warehouses, guardhouses, and houses for soldado
pobladores, a map of the plan being formed and drawn by the first Piloto."
To expedite construction a squad of Marineros
and two carpenters was left to join in to complete a warehouse, the Comandancia
and a chapel while the soldados worked
on their own dwellings.
The Royal Regulations of 1772 C.E. required that
the presidios be constructed of adobe
brick. This was a suitable material and design for presidios
on the Southern Spanish Provincias
Internas but it was never suitable for the northern climate of Monterey or San Francisco
with their high winds and heavy rains. The Moroccan design was meant for the
arid climate but the Spanish bureaucracy could not adjust to geography. Wooden
or stone buildings were more appropriate for those climates. However the Spanish
soldados followed orders and planned a
design with an adobe wall and bastions
that followed the 1772 C.E. regulations. Consequently, from the beginning the San
Francisco Presidio was subject to continual rebuilding. In future, the Presidio would be dependent on the supply ships from San
Blas for basic food needs and there were often food shortages.
The first part of September saw the buildings of
the presidio post substantially
On September 17, 1776 C.E., Teniente José Joaquín Moraga founded the Presidio of San Francisco.
With sufficient progress being made, the San
Cárlos crew joined the soldados
and Ciudádanos and four misiónero
priests at a solemn high mass. It was the feast of the Stigmata of Saint
Francis. A solemn possession of the Presidio
in the name of the King of España was
led by the grizzled soldado Moraga,
while a mass was celebrated by Palóu.
The ceremony of formal dedication was followed by the singing of the Te Deum
Laudamus accompanied by the peal of bells and salutes were fired by repeated
salvos of Cañónes, muskets, and guns
over land and water. A cross was then planted. The roar and sound of the bells
doubtless terrified the Natives, who did not allow themselves to be seen for
many days. Thus, the presidio of San
Francisco was founded.
October 9, 1776 C.E. is supposedly the ecclesial
dedication of the misión church. Moraga's
soldados remained about a month and withdrew to found the Royal Presidio
near the Golden Gate.
The ship San
Cárlos remained until October 21, 1776 C.E., to provide help in the
building of the Presidio and Misión
On October 10, 1776 C.E., Fray Junípero Serra was taken to the presidio at San Francisco
and for the first time looked upon the blue waters of the Golden Gate. Standing
upon the summit of the Cantil Blanco
he exclaimed: "Thanks be to God, now has Saint Francis, with the holy cross
of the procession of the misiónes,
arrived at the end of the continent of California;
for," he added with pious pleasantry, "to get any further it will be
necessary to take to the water.”
The first marriage was that of Maríano
António Cordero, a soldado of the
Monterey Company, with Juana
Francisca Pinto, daughter of the soldado
Pablo Pinto, married, November 28, 1776 C.E.
By December 1776 C.E., that month saw the first
violent encounter with the Españoles
and local Indians who had started to return to their villas. According to Spanish reports the Indians were harassing soldados
and women. One Indian was caught and flogged while others escaped. Soldados went
after the others who denied guilt. As the soldados started toward the Indians
they started firing arrows, wounding a horse and soldado. The soldados
fired back, killing one Indian and wounding others. Seeing death at a distance,
the Indians gave up and the two men accused of abetting the original crime were
whipped and told they would be shot if they tried to attack a Spanish soldado
again. These events were documented in Padre
The first burial was on December 21, 1776 C.E.,
being that of María de la Luz Muñoz,
wife of the soldado José Manuel València.
The first child born in the new establishment was
to the wife of the soldado, Ignacio Soto.
The babe was hastily baptised, ab instantem mortem, and named Francisco
José de los Dolores Soto.
The December 31, 1776 C.E., report of the guarda
almazen or store-keeper shows a force of thirty-eight men, including
officers, eight pobladores, thirteen marineros
and servants, two padres (Palóu
and Cambón), and one guarda
almazen, Hermenegildo Sal: total
sixty-two men at the Presidio and Misión.
The servants included mechanics, vaqueros,
etc., and four marineros landed from
the San Cárlos to assist on the
buildings and in digging ditches to bring water from the stream. During the
winter the adobe walls of the Presidio were begun.
The walls of the presidio, begun by Moraga
in the winter of 1776 C.E.-1777 C.E., were, at the time of Vancouver's visit,
1792 C.E., completed on three sides, but on the fourth, or easterly side, a
compromise was introduced by a palisade supplemented by bushes planted to cover
its appearance. The adobe walls were
fourteen feet high and five feet thick.
In February 1777 C.E., Anza delivered his reports and diaries to Virrey Bucareli
In April 1777 C.E., the Presidio of San Francisco
was honored by a visit from the Gobernador,
Felipe de Neve.
accomplishments, at age 41, he received appointment as gobernador of Nuevo Méjico
on August 24, 1777 C.E. For a time, Anza
was forced to delay moving to Nuevo Méjico due to the need to study the potential problems and develop
appropriate strategies. He remained just a short while planning for his Nuevo
By age 43, Anza
led an expedition against Comanches
near Pike's Peak in 1779 C.E.
By 1779 C.E., in an effort to reorganize Nuevo
Méjico’s defenses, Anza had
imposed self-protected villas and
fortified towns consolidating these separate operations into cohesive groups.
The loss of previously enjoyed liberties irritated the powerful landowners
causing them to complain to higher authorities. Though the litigation continued,
Anza went about building the fortified towns, villas, and organized miquelets
for self-defense. Satisfied that his fortifications were complete, he quickly
turned to security matters. The Comanche
Nation was his chief concern and irritant. Largely untouched by smallpox, they
remained strong and aggressive. Resistant to Spanish rule and hungry for profit
the raiding by the Comanche continued.
also prepared his soldados and the Ciudádano
miquelets for the fight. Several of the soldados listed with Anza
are linked directly too many Hispanos
who have a history in northern Nuevo Méjico
and southern Colorado, including my
progenitors the de Riberas. In a
recently published book, "Anza and
Cuerno Verde-Decisive Battle" the Ribera's:
Alfonso, Balthasár, José, and Matiás
are shown as having been soldados with
Juan Bautista Anza, who went to Colorado
to battle Cuerno Verde, the great Comanche
chief in 1779 C.E. The oldest brother, Alfonso
de Ribera, was born about 1749 C.E. at Santa
Fé. Balthasár António de Ribera
was baptized on
Juan Bautista the
founder of San Francisco, California,
now faced one of his biggest challenges. After becoming Gobernador
of Nuevo Méjico, which included
present-day southern Colorado, the
relentless Comanche raids were taking a heavy toll on the settlements of the
northern Spanish Frontéra. It was his
mission to end the bloody attacks, and subdue once and for all, the Comanche.
Anza’s purpose for his campaign against the Comanche was to stop their raids and to form an alliance with them.
The experienced Indian fighter knew these goals could only be achieved in
From their position of power and strength, the Comanches
conducted frequent raids against the Spanish pobladores
and Indian Pueblos in Nuevo
Méjico. Unless this was stopped the region’s stability and existence were
in question. Its inhabitants were spread out operating estancias
and ranchos in isolated areas. The
original Spanish pobladores and
subsequent waves of settlement had adapted to the land, following isolated water
sources and the best grazing areas. This left a large portion of the pobladores
open to attack and vulnerable. The aforementioned difficulties would also delay Anza’s
efforts to reorganize Nuevo Méjico’s
defenses and implement José de Gálvez’s
spearhead strategy of moving the Frontéra
northward and outward to ensure Spanish domination of their North American
Anza had a strong military background and was a
veteran of many campaigns against the Indians. His primary strategy would rely
heavily on the element of surprise by attacking the Comanches from the north
instead of coming at them from the south, as others had done. The Gobernador
had studied Chief Cuerno Verde and the
Comanches carefully. He and his
officers understood the geography of the plains that extended from Colorado to eastern Nuevo Méjico.
Juan learned from earlier armies sent
against the Comanche. They had all
taken the mountain pass east of Taos into the Comanche’s
territory. The Comanche carefully
patrolled the pass and had early warning whenever Spanish troops approached
them. Anza concluded the only way to
successfully move his troops without notice was to travel up the west slope of
the Rockies. His plan was to arrive at a place near the enemy's camp, then have
his soldados leave the mountains and
outflank the Comanche.
Both the great Indian Chief and Anza
were proven leaders. They had similar reasons for hating each other’s people.
Both had lost a father in battle, one to the Españoles
and one to the Indians. Anza's father
had been killed by the Apaches when he
was four years old. Understanding what the Comanche
had done, he vowed to lead an expedition to destroy Cuerno Verde. The Españoles
had given the chief of the Comanches
the name, Cuerno Verde (Greenhorn),
because of his penchant for wearing a headdress with a green-tinted buffalo
horn. In addition, they both shouldered the responsibility of saving their
people from what each perceived as a threat to their very existence. The stage
was set for two great leaders to find their place in history.
By 1779 C.E., Anza
was ready to act. He equipped his miquelets with horses and issued military
supplies. He then divided the six hundred man miquelets into three divisions to better coordinate the complex
actions ahead. Juan next sent out
scouts to collect intelligence and report on the enemy.
Mobilizing his troops, Anza next prepared to move against the Comanches in their own backyard, the never entered homeland of the
frontal Rockies. In present-day Colorado,
Anza would attack the Comanche
in full force, surprising them and defeating them in two running battles. By
killing leading war chiefs and successfully defeating the Comanche,
he would embolden the Utes to join the
Españoles against their traditional
enemies, the Comanches. The Utes
would kill many Comanches. The
combined assaults would lead to the eventual surrender and cooperation from the
once powerful Comanche.
Anza moved forward with five hundred and sixty-three
men and fifteen hundred horses. Marching north to Colorado, he was to find Cuerno
Verde, engage him, and defeat his forces.
Leading an expedition across Nuevo
Méjico and Colorado to conquer
the rebellious Comanches was no easy
matter. Recognized as the "Kings of the Plains" in the 18th-Century
C.E., the Comanches lived up to their
reputation. Anza knew victory could
only be achieved by invading the Comanche’s
homeland and capturing or killing Chief Cuerno
Verde who was responsible for destroying many towns and killing hundreds. Cuerno
Verde, whose father was killed on one of these raids, had vowed to expel the
Españoles by any means possible.
The plan was successful. Anza’s troops crossed over the ridges of the Front Range just
below Pike's Peak and attacked the Indians from behind. He learned that Cuerno
Verde had gone to pillage Nuevo Méjico
and was returning to his camp along the Arkansas River. By 1779 C.E., Anza’s scouts had located the Comanches’
position. The stance taken by both men, as the sun set behind the majestic Sangre
de Cristo Mountains on
Darkness, however, offered them a reprieve from
next day’s inevitable showdown. Anza
and his soldados crossed the Arkansas
River and engaged the Comanches under
the command of the much-feared Chief Cuerno
Verde. Cornering him near today’s Rye, Colorado,
the Españoles killed Cuerno
Verde and several of the other headmen. Anza,
in his finest military campaign had surprised the Comanches
and killed their chief.
For some years, the exact location of the Anza
and Cuerno Verde battle site has been as difficult to find. The decisive
battle between the Comanche Chief, Cuerno
Verde, and Juan Bautista Anza, Gobernador of Nuevo Méjico,
occurred near the Greenhorn Mountains. At a place approximately eighteen miles
southwest of present-day Pueblo, Colorado
the two met and did battle. On this ground the Españoles
finally defeated the feared Comanche.
Los Comanches-The Play
Done in the early 1930s C.E, there exists a rare
cast portrait of the folk play Los
Comanches, in Ensenada, Nuevo
Méjico. It is an equestrian auto de entrada which was probably written between 1774 C.E.-1780
C.E. The folk play was most probably written Don Pedro Bautista Pino of Galisteo.
He had participated in the Comanche
campaigns of the 1770s C.E. and wrote admiringly of his former foes in his 1810
C.E. report on Nuevo Méjico. It is
reported that he wrote for the Cortés de
There is a photograph of a rare cast portrait of
the folk play Los Comanches taken in
the early 1930s C.E. The pobladores
of the Ensenada, Tierra Amarilla, and Chama
areas most certainly had memories handed down of the Comanche wars. These came mostly from areas further down the Chama
Valley which had been abandoned due to intense fighting in the 1770s C.E. A
Dr. Roberto Vialpando stated that in the 1980s C.E., he had seen Los
Comanches performed in the upper Chama
Valley when he was growing up.
He remembered that the fanciful military uniforms
of the “Spanish” soldados were
based on 19th-Century C.E. reproductions. The actual 18th-Century C.E. miquelets
were soldados de cuera, soldados
who used leather armor and broad hats. The “Comanche”
warriors were dressed in buckskin or rough cloth with stereotypical plains
headdresses characteristic in Nueva Méjico
is not present in this picture. The Comanche war chief, Cuerno
Verde, has the most distinctive, with its presumably green horn. He along
with 40 of his most able warriors and shamans were killed in an ambush by Gobernador
Juan Bautista Anza and a combined force of 600 presidial soldados,
miquelets, Pueblo auxiliaries, and Utes
near present-day Colorado City
(between Colorado Springs and Trinidad)
in late August, 1779 C.E. Green Horn Mountain, which towers west of the site is
named for the chief. The victory play “Los
Comanches” conflates episodes from this final campaign and other previous
Identification of the play’s characters is based
on the manuscript of Los Comanches
published by Aurelio Espinosa in 1910
C.E. The 1930s C.E. era El Rancho
production described by Lorin Brown in the WPA files uses a script very similar
to Espinosa’s. Names of secondary
characters can vary.
Negra - Black Head
Pardo - Grey Bear
Tabaco - Tobacco
Cuenta - Beaded Shoe
The other 4 Spanish soldados are based on actual historical figures with the following
names. Some productions refer to them with terms of rank like Teniente
de la Peña
Salvadór de Ribera (My Progenitor)
The character wearing a cape 7th from right may be
an ambassador or officer character.
The musicians with guitar and accordion provide
music for the entradas, and when Cuerno
Verde calls for music in the play. They are comparable to the musicians
which play guitar and violin in Alcalde. In
Ranchos de Taos, the Comanches
music is played with the single headed tombé
drum accompanied with Native American style syllable singing.
That same year, 1779 C.E., Anza was proven correct. The Comanche
tested his strategy for home defenses while he was fighting in the Rockies. A
band of eastern plains Comanche had
raided Taos in his absence. Warned
about their approach, the Españoles
quickly withdrew to their fortified settlement and held the Comanches off. The miquelets
had won the day and Anza’s defense
policy was proven right.
Later that same fall, Anza led an expedition to the Hopi
country to try to help save that people, who were dying from a long-lasting
Anza’s successful battle effectively stopped the Indians
raids that had plagued Nuevo Méjico.
This victory eventually led to a permanent truce with the Comanche. It marked the longest lasting peace treaty ever signed by
the Comanches and the governments of España,
Méjico or the United States.
Unification of the Borderlands
Having secured Nuevo Méjico, Anza was to turn his attention to unifying the
Borderlands by establishing a trade route between them. The cornerstone of the
strategy was the belief that a trade route from Sonora to Las Californias
could be established and proved viable if protected. This would mean that the Provincias
Internas would be able to benefit from the commerce that would result from
trade with each other and Las Californias.
It was hoped that Nuevo Méjico goods
would be exchanged for goods coming into Las
Californias. In short, Nuevo Méjico
needed to eliminate the traditional annual trade trips to Chihuahua, which were long and dangerous. Also, the establishment of
routes to Sonora, Tejas,
and Luisiana were the answer.
It was Teodoro
de Croix, Comandante-General of the Provincias
Internas who planned the venture. The three-part expedition was headed by Coronel
Anza and was to proceed from Santa Fé
to Tucson. He was to be supported by the Sonora force under Capitán
Joséph António Vildósola. A second force under Capitán Francisco Martínez from Nueva
Vizcaya was to join them.
Sonora route was to be the first to be established. Arizpe was the capital of the Provincias
Internas. Arizpe was founded in
1646 C.E. by the Jesuit misiónero
Jerónimo de la Canal, with one of the Spanish misiónes in the Sonoran Desert. The region of Arizpe was occupied by the Opata
Native people. The name Arizpe is
a Vasco word "Aritzpe."
The word Aritz meaning Oak and Pe means
under, thus "Under the Oaks."
As discussed earlier, in 1775 C.E., an overland
Exploratory Expedition approved by the King of España
was successfully led by Capitán Juan
Bautista Anza with soldados, misióneros,
and pobladores. It had located and
mapped a more direct land route to, and had established further settlement of Spanish
Alta California. The Anza
Exploratory Expedition had reached San
Francisco Bay in 1776 C.E. There Anza
located sites for the Presidio of
San Francisco and Misión
San Francisco de Asis (In present-day San
By 1776 C.E., Arizpe
was made the capital of the Spanish Comandancia
y Capitanía General de las Provincias Internas. As the capital, Arizpe
became a city by the end of the 18th-Century C.E., the first in the Sonora
Internas had jurisdiction over several provinces: Sonora
and Sinaloa (present-day Somora and Sinaloa, Nueva Vizcaya (present-day Durángo and Chihuahua), Las Californias (present-day Baja California
Peninsula and California) Santa Fé de
Nuevo Méjico (present-day Nueva
Méjico), Los Tejas (present-day
Texas), New Kingdom of León (present-day
León), Nuevo Santander (present-day Tamaulipas and southern Tejas),
and Coahuila in Nueva
Extremadura (present-day Coahuila and
Tejas south of Nueces
A second disaster occurred in Nuevo
Méjico during Anza’s administration. It was the smallpox epidemic of 1780 C.E.
through 1781 C.E. By the time it had run its course ten percent of
Nuevo Méjico’s population died. The close quarters of the Pueblo
Indian settlements proved to be lethal with the vast majority of the deaths
occurring in the pueblos.
At age 44, Anza
explored the Hopi pueblos in 1780 C.E.
to understand their condition.
His task was done by
As a result, his dream of a unified frontier
ended. Over the five years, 1777 C.E.-1781 C.E., enough pobladores, soldados, and
cattle followed Anza's trail to
establish two Nueva España pueblos, San
José and Los Ángeles. However,
after a Yuma uprising in 1781 C.E., Anza's
route was abandoned by the Españoles.
For at time, Nuevo Méjico would
remain isolated and California would
be left to fend for itself. The trade routes would finally be established over
the years by the Indian tribes and later used by the Españoles
In the 19th-Century C.E., the Gila
River section became part of the Butterfield Overland Mail Route. It was also
the last leg of the "southern route" many Americans followed to strike
their fortunes in the California Gold
What we know of Anza's expeditions we owe to the diaries kept by Anza
and those who traveled with him, particularly Padres
Font and Gracés.
My Progenitor, Salvadór de Ribera (Rivera)
was one of Anza’s officers during
that period. The Muster Roll of March 1, 1781 C.E. — Nuevo Méjico State Records Center and Archives Roll 11, Frame
217-220 (SANMII) (Frame 217) Presidio
of the Province of Nuevo Méjico,
Royal Presidio of the Villa
of Santa Fé follows:
Cavalleria - Horsemen
Muster roll executed by the Teniente, with the rank of Capitán,
Don Manuel de la Azuela of the Internal Province of the Royal Presidio
of Santa Fé, of this company that is guarding, and is responsible this
day 1st of March 1781 C.E.
That same year, King Cárlos’ request and collection instructions came from the Virrey
of Nueva España. The Borderlands including Nuevo Méjico received word in August of 1781 C.E., of the need for
contributions for the war effort against England from España. Anza appointed a
commission to oversee the collection at each pueblo and villa. The
historical record suggests that most males over eighteen years of age
contributed. Those contributing would have included the de Riberas, Quintanas, Ceballos, and Lucero de Godoy’s, all of my family lines.
That same year, King Cárlos’ request and collection instructions came from the Virrey
of Nueva España. The Borderlands including Nuevo Méjico received word in August of 1781 C.E., of the need for
contributions for the war effort against England from España. Anza appointed a
commission to oversee the collection at each pueblo and villa. The
historical record suggests that most males over eighteen years of age
contributed. Those contributing would have included the de Riberas, Quintanas, Ceballos, and Lucero de Godoy’s, all of my family lines.
America is indebted to these Borderland Provinces
of Northern Nueva España where my
progenitors had lived for generations. The provinces included Nuevo
Méjico, Tejas, and California.
Each contributed funds to defray expenses of the American Revolutionary War.
These Spanish Ciudádanos provided
money, arms, food, and men to the cause. They did so while under extraordinary
burdens of ongoing Indian wars and regional disasters. It should be noted that
the Spanish Nueva España had more
than assisting the Revolutionary War to deal with.
This assumption that all males over eighteen years
of age contributed is based upon the total amount collected for each province.
Scholars have concluded that the aggregate donation amount closely approximates
an amount that the total number of un-exempted males of that age who would have
While the Nuevo
Méjicanos were fighting Indians and giving money to the cause, Bernardo
de Gálvez’s army destroyed the British forces at Mobile. De
Gálvez then planned his action against the crown jewel of the Southeast,
the British stronghold at Pensacola, Florida.
The victories in the West had made it possible for de
Gálvez to turn his undivided attention towards the Gulf Coast.
It was after the Indian battles in which my
progenitors, the de Ribera's
participated, they would find their way to Pecos,
Nuevo Méjico. The family followed the Spanish soldado who had fought with Anza
and was later assigned to the Pecos
Presidio, Alfonso de Ribera. Both Alfonso
and his brother, Miguel Gerónimo, had
served the Spanish Corona Española
during the American Revolution. Born
about 1749 C.E., Alfonso enlisted in
the Spanish Army on
Born in 1790 C.E., Juan Rivera (de Ribera), Matiás'
great, great, great-grandson was the last to serve as a Spanish soldado.
He supposedly reported to the Pueblo
at Pecos. It is thought that he fought
in the 1805 C.E. battle at the settlement of Cebolleta (Sevietta) at
current day Mount Taylor. Juan de Ribera,
Alfonso’s Nephew, and niece arrived
at Pecos and were adopted by him. Why Alfonso
adopted his brother, Miguel Geronimo's
(Baptized September 1761 C.E. in Santa Fé),
son and daughter is unknown. However, it is known that Juan’s mother, María de la
Luz Gurulé, died during childbirth. Miguel
then married María Francisca Ortíz
at the Military Chapel and La Castrense
Church in Santa Fé, Nuevo Méjico on
May 6, 1790 C.E.
In 1782 C.E., Anza
at 46 years of age, was promoted to coronel
From the moment Anza was appointed Gobernador,
fate conspired against him. A drought began that year and lasted through 1782
C.E. The damage to crops and livestock was disastrous. The local tribes were on
the brink of starvation causing more Indian raiding and stealing from the
Spanish population. Unfortunately for the Españoles,
the Apaches, Utes, Comanches, Navajos
and other isolated warlike tribes remained largely untouched by ongoing plagues.
These would continue to be a constant threat to the Spanish pobladores
and friendly Indians of the region.
In 1784 C.E., because of political conflicts with Felipe
de Neve, Comandante of the Provincias Internas, Anza was suspended from government, charged
with misinformation and incompetent judgment in the massacre by Yuma
Indians on the Colorado River of Fernando de
Rivera y Moncada, four Franciscan misióneros,
and over thirty pobladores in July of
The restless Anza
asked to be released from his governorship in 1786 C.E., at age 50 his request
was granted the following year. He was then made Comandante of the Buenaventura
Presidio, previously the Frontéras
Presidio. He was made Comandante
of all the troops in Sonora shortly
Anza remained gobernador
of Nuevo Méjico until November 10, 1787 C.E., as his successor to that post
did not arrive until the end of 1787 C.E.
It is also important to note that during his term,
he oversaw the preparation of a map of the province by Bernardo
Anza’s next appointment was as Comandante of the Tucson
(now Arizona) Presidio in the fall of 1788 C.E.
Anza returned to Tubac
where, on October 1, 1788 C.E., he was reappointed Comandante, a post he held until his sudden death after a brief
illness at the town of Arizpe, where
he was interred in the church of Nuestra
Señora de la Asunción.
After conducting a review of the troops at Tucson,
Anza returned to his home in Arizpe,
dying there suddenly on
Anza’s remains would be identified and ceremonially
reinterred in 1963 C.E.
What can be said about Gobernador Juan
Bautista de Anza y Bezerra Nieto? He was a soldado
of supreme skill and an officer that led men firmly and fairly. Anza
was also the consummate explorer. In government he was considered an able
administrator. For his time, he succeeded at almost everything he undertook.
sure that if I asked my progenitor, Don Salvadór de Ribera, Sub-Teniente
of Light Troop who
served with Anza in 1779 C.E. through
1781 C.E., what kind of man was he? Salvadór
would say that Anza
a man of honor and a fine Spaniard.
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