At the very beginning of the Spanish occupation of Alta California and until 1777, the governors were military commanders. Until 1804, governors were in charge of overseeing the province of Las Californias, both Baja and Alta California.
Researching the Early Days: The Sylveria Pacheco Project (Part 1)
What happens when a project starts out as a footnote, and then takes on a life of its own? Over the upcoming weeks and months I’ll share my research journey.
Podcast Episode 002 — “You Have to Carry This On”: What it Means to Be a Californio
In this episode, I speak with Greg Bernal-Mendoza Smestad, a direct descendant of the families who settled Alta California over 200 years ago. Greg talks to us about their journey, the character of those people who risked their lives to come to come north, and the legacy they passed on.
Native American Life at the California Missions: An Overview
How did native people live at the Spanish missions in Alta California? What were their jobs? What did they eat? An in-depth look at Native American life in the California missions.
Podcast Episode 001 — How to Visit All 21 California Missions with Maggie Espinosa
A conversation with writer Maggie Espinosa, on her quest to visit all 21 California missions, from San Diego to Sonoma.
The California Frontier Podcast – Introduction
Introducing the California Frontier Podcast, dedicated to the people and stories of the California mission and rancho eras.
California Mission Founders: Names, Dates and Bios
People often ask who founded the Spanish missions in California. And while Fr. Junípero Serra and Fr. Fermín Francisco de Lasuén are rightly credited as the main mission founders, several other missionaries were involved in establishing missions in California.
Native Americans of the California Missions: Territories, Affiliations and Descendants
Native American Tribes of the California Missions
A Trip to San Juan Bautista on the Winter Solstice (Video)
https://youtu.be/P6vj46xdq8Y&rel=0 The winter solstice illuminations are a fascinating and little-known aspect of the California missions. This is the story of my trip to witness this phenomenon.
Recently I began recording a series of interviews for a new podcast I will be launching as part of California Frontier. For one of the first interviews, I had the pleasure of visiting Greg Bernal Smestad. Greg has made it his mission to preserve and maintain the heritage his ancestors, who came to California […]
Saving Our Stories
A few nights ago I attended a community meeting aimed at designating my county as a National Heritage Area. Throughout the United States, from Alaska to West Virginia, there are over 60 National Heritage Areas. Not one is in California.
“The Spirit Within Saint Junípero”: A Book of Stunning Photos
Exploration and Settlement of California (Part 2 of 2)
For most of the 17th and 18th centuries, Spanish ships dominated the Pacific. But her rivals Russia and England were busy contesting that dominance. Who would be the first to settle California?
What Were the Spanish Missions in California?
What were the Spanish missions in California? How did they begin? The Spanish missions in California were communities of indigenous people (Indians) established by Franciscan missionaries in the 18th and 19th centuries. The were frontier institutions and part of Spain’s effort to have a presence in California. (Click here for a map of all 21 Spanish missions in […]
A Hidden Gem: Ulistac Natural Area (Video)
Once a Native American settlement and later a rancho, Ulistac Natural Area is now a great place for a kid-friendly day hike in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Mission San Antonio de Pala: Why You Need to Visit
San Antonio de Pala, founded in 1816 as an asistencia (branch) of San Luis Rey, is a living Native American community and an important destination on your next visit to San Diego.
¡Siempre Adelante! Junípero Serra Goes to New York
A new exhibit on the life of Junípero Serra made its New York debut in. It tells the story of the missionary from Mallorca in his own words.
Happy Birthday San José
San José, California is the oldest city on the West Coast. In November it celebrates its birthday.
Happy Birthday Junipero Serra
Junipero Serra was born Miguel José Serra on November 24, 1713, in the town of Petra on the island of Mallorca, Spain, 302 years ago. You can read more about Junipero Serra’s life here.
Mission San Diego in 3D
I am a big fan of old stereo photos. As a child I loved to look at View-Master reels, especially the ones with views of far away places. To look at these places through a 3D viewer gave me the impression that I was actually visiting the places. For a moment I was transported to […]
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