“He was of gigantic stature, standing six feet seven inches–without his stockings, for he had none. And he was large all over in proportion, with the strength of several men. His name by baptism was Francisco Solano, and by that name he was best known.” – Platon Vallejo
246 years ago a group of some two hundred people arrived at the Presidio of San Francisco after an arduous trek from Tubac in what is today southern Arizona.
Imagine California with no landmarks from before 1848, no structures dating to the Spanish and Mexican periods. How different might the state be?
In his memoirs about life in rancho era California, José Jesús López describes how his father joined the “California Army.”
If doors and windows were primitive in Californio homes, you can also imagine that furniture was not much better.
José Jesús López grew up in the Pueblo of Los Angeles in the 1850s, in the neighborhood of *El Paredón Blanco* (today’s Boyle Heights).
Preserving historical landmarks means more than just saving old buildings. It often means preserving the link to the lives lived there.
Shortly after the end of the Mexican-American War, William Rich Hutton recalled visiting Doña Angustias de la Guerra Jimeno in Monterey…
After coming to Mexican California in 1822 on a whaling ship, Englishman William Richardson decided to stay.
Juan Bautista de Anza was a military officer, governor, explorer and diplomat. His life had an enormous impact on the history of California, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico, as well as Northern Mexico.
Soldiers and presidios played a key role in establishing the Spanish presence in California, but they are still misunderstood. Jarrell Jackman has been at the forefront of preserving and documenting this crucial element of the California frontier. Jarrell C. Jackman Dr. Jarrell C. Jackman was Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation for […]
The novel Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson sparked an interest in California’s Mission Era that attracted visitors from all over the country. But Jackson’s novel was much more than nostalgia for a bygone era — it was a cry for human rights. The story of the author, her work and how Cuba’s most famous exile […]
The California missions are home to fascinating stories and interesting facts. The following is a list 50 things you might not know about the missions– but there are many more to discover. Pirate Raid In 1818, a French privateer named Hippolyte Bouchard (known in Spanish as Hipólito Bouchard), led a series of raids along the coast of Alta California. Bouchard […]
As the Spanish Empire become more consolidated, language and writing became more and more important — both for the Spanish government and for native peoples. In part 2 of this interview we learn how indigenous people in Colonial Spanish America preserved their knowledge in the face of restrictive government policies. Listen to Part 1 Highlights […]
The story of the Spanish missions in California has its roots in 16th century Mexico. There, Franciscan friars and their native partners sought to record the memories of Aztec elders before their culture was changed forever. The information they collected is contained in the Florentine Codex. Ezekiel Stear Dr. Ezekiel Stear is Assistant Professor of […]
The story of land ownership in modern California begins with the practice of Spanish land grants. Beginning in the 18th century, Spain allowed farming and ranching by private individuals in California. In the 19th century the Mexican government continued and expanded the program. Land Laws in Spain The laws and customs about who could own […]
The Mexican-American War (or the U.S. – Mexico War) was the conflict that took place between 1846 and 1848 and caused Mexico to lose close to half of its territory and the U.S. to acquire what is today Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and California. The Spanish in North America and the Treaty of […]
What did Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo do and why is he important? Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo is best known for being the first European to successfully navigate the Pacific coast of what is today California to points north of the San Francisco Bay. During the voyage, he and his men disembarked at several points and made direct […]
For many years ranchos defined the early California lifestyle. Their impact remains with us today.
How did the Missions Affect California? Much of the culture of California has its roots in the history of the Spanish missions. And although the missions were only fully active for about 60 years, their presence had a major impact on many areas of life in California. In this article we’ll talk about some of […]