California The Golden State

Named after a fabled island in “The Deeds of Esplandian” by Montalvo… written in 1500.

The romantic epochs of California history parade before us in picturesque array… the conquistador, the cowled monk, the trapper, miner, emigrant and the state builder; each leaving his contribution to the colorful history and brilliant future of the Golden State.

Early discovery in New Albion

The Californian Indian had little religion or industry. The Northern tribes were the most aggressive. In September of 1542 Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo landed his two ships, the San Salvador and Victoria in San Diego Bay which he named San Miguel. Cabrillo touched at Santa Catalina Island, San Pedro, and Santa Monica. Returning in 1543 he died on San Miguel Island, January 3rd. Bartolome Ferrelo, Cabrillo’s pilot, took charge and in 1543 explored northward touching at Cape Mendocino.

1579 on June 17th Francis Drake landed “The Golden Hind” near Point Reyes (Drake’s Bay), naming the land Nova Albion. Upon this exploration England later claimed the Oregon Territory.

1595, Nov. 4th, Rodriguez Cermenho landed in Drake’s Bay.

1602 Sebastian Vizcaino explored California touching San Diego Harbor, Santa Catalina Island, Monterey Bay. Vizcaino’s records were of tremendous assistance to later expeditions.

Founding of the Missions

Jose de Galvez, Visitador-General for New Spain, decided to have settled Alta California and sent expeditions to San Diego and Monterey. This gave opportunity for Father Serra and his friend Francisco Palou, Franciscans, to establish missions. The occupation was to use religious (by Missions), military (by forts, presidios) and civil (by towns, pueblos) forces.

1769, Gov. Gaspar de Portola was given command and Junipero Serra made Father-President of the mission system.

The expedition set out in four divisions, two of them in ships, the San Carlos and San Antonio and two land expeditions, the first under Rivera y Moncada; and the last under Captain Portola and Father Serra. A third vessel, the San Jose, sailed for California but never arrived; lost at sea without trace. The San Antonio reached San Diego on April 9th and the last division, Portola and Serra’s, arrived on July 1st, completing the first expedition for settlement into Alta California.

Within three weeks Father Serra dedicated the first California Mission to San Diego de Alcala. The presidio of San Diego was founded at the same time. On July 14th Capt. Portola and 64 men started march to Monterey Bay, passing through the present sites of Santa Ana, Carpinteria, Gaviota, Pajaro and down the Salinas Valley. Missing this Bay they continued north and discovered San Francisco Bay November 1, 1769.

On the return south they reached Carmel Bay, crossing Cypress Point peninsula Dec. 9th 1769, and San Diego on the 24th of January.

June 3rd, 1770, Father Serra landed from the San Antonio on the shore of Monterey Bay to establish Mission San Carlos and the nearby presidio of Monterey. A few years later the mission was moved to Carmel Valley where Father Serra lived, died in 1784 and was buried.

Monterey was the Capital of California under Spanish rule.

The first chain of missions was quickly established to connect Monterey with San Diego. San Antonio de Padua 1771; San Gabriel Arcangel 1771; San Luis Obispo 1772; San Francisco de Asis (Dolores) 1776; San Juan Capistrano 1776; Santa Clara 1777; San Buenaventura 1782 (all of these missions were founded by Father Junipero Serra); Santa Barbara 1786 (the presidio in 1782); La Purisima Concepcion 1787; Santa Cruz 1791.

The second chain of Missions planned by Gov. Neve were La Soledad 1791; San Jose 1797; San Juan Bautista 1797; San Miguel Arcangel 1797; San Fernando 1797; San Luis Rey 1978; Santa Ynez 1804.

The two Missions established, more for a blockade of Russians influence, in the North were San Rafael Arcangel 1817 and San Francisco Solano 1823. The Mission Road from San Diego to Monterey was called El Camino Real.

1774 Juan Bautista de Anza broke a cattle and provision trail from Sonora, Mexico to San Gabriel Mission and Monterey. 1776 The Mission and Presidio of San Francisco founded by Padre Francisco Palou and Jose Joaquin Moraga, Anza’s lieutenant, with immigrants, brought in Anza’s second expedition. 1785 Fermin Francisco de Lasuen made Father-President and dedicated seven missions before 1803. 1779 Regulation governing the forts, troops and colonization written by Gov. Felipe de Neve, California’s first legislator. 1782 Presidio established at Santa Barbara and pueblo started.

1792 Capt. Geo. Vancouver visited Monterey and Santa Barbara.

In the early settlement, colonists were offered free house, lot, land, and given clothing and supplies for several years. The use of stock and farming implements and freedom from taxes for 5 years. He had to sell his products locally and was subject to military service and community project’s labor.

1777 San Jose, California’s first pueblo, established, The Alameda of Willow Trees planted in 1805. 1781 Gov. Felipe de Neve on Sept. 4th founded the City of Los Angeles on site of Yang-na, an Indian village.

1811 Russian colony purchased on Bodega Bay, paid Indians “3 blankets, 3 pr. of breeches, 2 axes, 3 hoes and some beads” for the land. 1812 Fort built 20 miles north of Bodega called Ft. Ross.

1818 Monterey sacked and burned by two privateer vessels from Buenos Aires. 1769-1821 Nine Spanish Governors of California under Spanish Rule. 1821 Mexican Revolution.

Under Mexico

1823 Mexico becomes a Republic, California a Mexican Territory with Luis Antonio Arguello its first Governor. 1830 Population of California – White 4,250, Indians 25,000. 1833-37 Gen. Mariano G. Vallejo founded Mexican colonies at Sonoma, Petaluma and Santa Rosa. 1833 Mexican law decreed Missions be secularized.

1835 Capt. William A. Richardson founded the village of Yerba Buena, which was later to become the city of San Francisco. 1841 Capt. John A. Sutter purchased movable goods and land from the Russian-American Company (Ft. Ross) and moved goods to New Helvetia, present Sacramento, which he had colonized in 1839. 1846 Walter Colton was first American Alcalde (Mayor) of a California city, at Monterey.

Under Mexican rule the people were happy. The caballero in from his rancho was a dashing figure on the Camino Real. Fiestas and Rodeos were the gathering places, the fandango and the baile their pastime. Land was free, the largest grant, to Manuel Nietos was for more than 300,000 acres, from the Santa Ana River to the San Gabriel and from the Sierra Madre Mtns. to the sea. Hunting was plentiful, crops and livestock bountiful. The ranchero was a real overlord, but a happy one.

In 1825 Don Augustin Vicente Zamorano, Secretary to the Governor had a few types which he used to “stamp” the first printing in California at Monterey. Probably in 1834, Zamorano brought a complete printing outfit to the state. The first printer in English was Rev. Walter Colton, Chaplain of the frigate Congress, at Monterey in 1846.

The U. S. go West

The early Americans into California weer trappers such as Jedediah Smith and his band of fifteen who in 1826 came overland through Cajon Pass to San Gabriel Mission. Leaving all but one companion he traversed the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys, to Salt Lake and back into Oregon. James Ohio Pattie in 1827 who came in through Baja California. Ewing Young in 1831 from Taos, New Mexico down the Salt, Gila and Colorado Rivers to Los Angeles. Geo. Yount 1826, J. J. Warner, Thomas Fitzpatrick, Joseph Walker, Antonio Robidoux and Dr. John Marsh.

Homeseekers were many. Among the first already mentioned was Johann August Sutter 1839 who built a fort in present site of Sacramento (New Helvetia) which has been restored. His fort was the rendezvous for American settlers. 1841 The Western Emigration Society made first planned trip into California headed by John Bidwell and John Bartleson. They made memorable trip from Independence, Missouri, to John Marsh Ranch at the base of Monte Diablo. Bidwell later joined Sutter. President Jackson tried to purchase a part of California from Mexico but was unsuccessful as was also President Tyler.

1842 Commodore Thos. Ap Catesby Jones “captured” Monterey and raised the Stars and Stripes, thinking we were at war with Mexico. Discovering his mistake he sailed away.

1843 the Chiles-Walker party of emigrants arrived, also the Hastings party. 1844 the Stevens-Murphy party. 1844 John C. Fremont arrived on his first expedition. 1845 Fremont made second expedition with 60 soldiers (believing the war with Mexico was eminent) and seized Gavilan (Hawk’s) Peak northeast of Monterey raising the American flag. Fremont was asked to leave the state and did so but returned and camped at Marysville Buttes.

On June 14th, 1846 a band of Americans led by Wm. B. Ide surrounded Comandante Vallejo’s home capturing him and other officers and took them to Sutter’s Fort. Not knowing his status with Fremont, Ide made a flag, upon it a bear, a star, and the words “California Republic”. This was called the Bear Revolution. July 7th, 1846 Commodore Sloat raised the American flag over the Custom House at Monterey and declared California a portion of the United States. July 9th Capt. John B. Montgomery raised the flag at Yerba Buena (San Francisco).

July 15th Comm. Robt. F. Stockton arrived at Monterey and took command. Gillespie and men captured at Ft. Hill (Los Angeles) and were taken to San Pedro. Juan Flaco (Lean John) made his famous horseback ride to San Francisco, 500 miles in 5 days, for aid. Gen. Stephen W. Kearny arrived with 100 men and was defeated in the Battle of San Pasqual Dec. 6th, 1846. Gen. Kearny joined Stockton at San Diego and marched on to Los Angeles. Gen. Jose Flores offered opposition at San Gabriel River and Montebello but was defeated and Jan. 10th, 1847, Gillespie again raised his flag over Los Angeles.

The Cahuenga Capitulations of Jan. 13th, 1847 closed the conquest and California became U. S. territory under President Polk who agreed to pay Mexico 15 million dollars.

April 1846 the Donner Party headed by Geo. and Jacob Donner and James F. Reed left Springfield, Illinois, for California. Winter caught the party at Truckee (Donner) Lake and 35 perished. The remainder were rescued by Capt. Sutter and other California volunteers.

Gold and The Forty-Niners

Jan. 24, 1848, James Wilson Marshall discovered gold while building a saw mill at present Coloma, in partnership with Sutter. This gold strike started the big rush of the Forty-niners to California by land and sea. At the beginning of 1849 the population of California was perhaps 26.000, at the end of the year it had added about 100,000.

From Independence, Mo., the emigrants moved their covered wagons westward over the Central Trail through Nebraska and Utah or by the old Santa Fe Trail. Some sailed around the Horn or trekked across the Isthmus of Panama.

One of the heroic episodes of the emigrant trains was Wm. Lewis Manly’s trip across Death Valley to save the people in a wagon train from death by thirst and starvation.

Sacramento became headquarters for the Northern mines which reached to the northern boundary and Stockton for the Southern activity which ranged from the Mokelumne southward all in the Western foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The “Mother Lode” ran from Amador to Mariposa. Prices soared, brown sugar $3 per pound, flour $1.50 per pound, a square meal $3 (in advance).

The State

1847 Col. Mason became military governor when Gen. Kearny left for the East. Civil law was disregarded. 1849 Gen. Bennet Riley became governor. Aug. 1, delegates elected to form a state constitution or territorial organization. Sept. 3, the convention assembled in Colton Hall in Monterey. Dr. Robt. Semple chosen president.

One of the first acts was to make California a “free” state. Making it the 16th free state against 15 slave states.

The boundaries were settled. Oregon and Mexico had already fixed the north and south boundaries but California territory ran into New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming. The present eastern boundary was agreed to after much debate.

Nov. 13, 1849, was elected the first governor, Peter H. Burnett. San Jose was made the Capitol though the State was not legally admitted until Sept. 9, 1850, when Capitol moved to Vallejo, then to Sacramento but floods caused the removal to Benicia and in 1854 moved back to Sacramento.

John C. Fremont and Wm. M. Gwin were elected U. S. Senators. The rougher element found in all new countries was also here and called themselves the “Hounds”. In 1851 a Vigilance Committee was formed in San Francisco to preserve order.

1851 College of the Pacific and Santa Clara University established. The aftermath of the gold rush and inflated prices brought on the depression of 1854. The depression brought back crime which caused the reorganizing of the Vigilance Committee under Wm. T. Coleman in 1856.

December 24th, 1849 first great fire of San Francisco – the second was on May 4th, 1850, burning 300 buildings. In June and September – two others. On May 4th, 1851, the greatest fire occurred which burned more than a thousand buildings.

1851 Land Act passed to ascertain and settle land claims. Old Spanish and Mexican grants were trespassed by squatters and prospectors during the gold rush.

The first industry of California was fur trading, otter and beaver being the main furs. Hides and tallow were chief exports during the first half of the century. 1849 The Union Iron Works was founded by James & Peter Donahue. 1851 Monthly Mail established between Sacramento and Salt Lake City; Gregory’s Great Atlantic and Pacific Express first stage arrived in Los Angeles. 1852 Adams and Co. had local agencies when Wells Fargo and Co. established their system. 1854, a branch mint was established in San Francisco. 1856, Feb. 22, Sacramento Valley Railroad between Sacramento and Folson first railroad to operate in the state. 1857, Savings and Loan Society first corporate bank to organize. 1858, Camel Caravan (of 75 camels) arrived in Los Angeles on way to Ft. Tejon from Texas. Butterfield Overland Mail Co. established after Congress passed the Overland California Mail Bill. 1860, The Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Co. established pony express system. 1861, Telegraph lines were completed to California. The Central Pacific Railroad Co. was organized by the “Big Four.” Leland Stanford, Collins P. Huntington, Chas. Crocker and Mark Hopkins. Theodore D. Judah was chief engineer and surveyed the line over the mountains. The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 gave impetus to the project and actual construction started in Sacramento in Jan. 1863. The last spike was driven May 10, 1869 at Promontory, Utah, which connected the Central Pacific and Union Pacific, making the first continental railroad.

1862, the disastrous Sacramento Valley flood occurred.

1860, There was much talk and some newspapers favored a “Pacific Republic” comprising Washington, Oregon, Utah, New Mexico and California. Confederate sympathizers organized secret societies, but Leland Stanford was elected governor by a decided majority of Union supporters. Approximately 16,000 men enlisted on the Union side.

1868 University of California established. 1870 California population 560,247.

Fifty-five Chinese were in California in Feb. 1849 but by April 1852 approximately 10,000 had landed in San Francisco. The depression of 1854 caused anti-Chinese feeling. In 1871 Newton Booth was elected governor on an anti-Chinese platform. In 1877 Denis Kearney launched a Workman’s Party whose platform was anti-Chinese, anti-rich, and shorter hours for the working man. He finally advocated dynamite and guns to attain his aim and again “Old Vigilante” Wm. T. Coleman gathered his “Committee of Safety” and restored order. The anti-Chinese movement caused to be passed the Exclusion Acts of 1882, 1892, and 1902.

1878-1879 New Constitution written and ratified. 1880 University of Southern California established. 1890 Population of California 1,213,398; Leland Stanford, Jr. University established, Dr. David Starr Jordan its first president. 1901 Sherman Institute for Indians established in Riverside. 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. 1910 Initiative and referendum and the recall legislation passed during Gov. Hiram W. Johnson’s term. 1910 Population of State 2,377,549. 1911 Women’s Suffrage Act passed. 1913 The election of U. S. Senators by direct vote Amendment ratified. 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition at San Francisco. 1916 Panama-California Exposition at San Diego. 1917 Nearly 150,000 Californians were in the World War. Herbert Hoover made food administrator and had supervision of relief work in Belgium.

1917-22 Under Gov. Wm. D. Stephens the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Finance, Institutions, Labor and Industrial Relations, and Public Works were created. 1920 Anti-Alien Initiative passed. 1928 Herbert Hoover elected President of the United States. 1930 Sate’s population 5,677,251. 1935 California-Pacific International Exposition in San Diego. 1936 Largest suspension bridge in the world opened for use across Golden Gate. Also completion of $70,000,000 bridge across San Francisco Bay, joining San Francisco and Oakland. 1939 Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco.

Prominent Personages (not mentioned in text), Bret Harte, Joaquin Miller, John Muir, Luther Burbank.

Area 158,297 square miles, length 770 miles, breadth 375 miles. State flower, golden Poppy; State bird, California Valley Quail.

Minerals are petroleum, gold, silver, copper, zinc, quicksilver, structural materials, borax, gypsum, natural gas.

First in the production of apricots, almonds, walnuts, peaches, cherries, prunes, and plums, fruit canning and preserving, and motion pictures. Other large fruit crops are raisins, citrus fruits, olives, figs, pears, apples and grapes. Melons, cantaloupes, lettuce, artichokes, beans, spinach, asparagus, and other vegetables are grown extensively. The dairy and poultry industries are large. Hay, barley, cotton, sugar beets and wheat are main crops. Lumber industry is extensive. Power transmission lines from hydro-electric plants network the State.

Curiosity: Until the present boundaries were established in 1849, California Territory had included all of Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico.

This article is a transcript of the text found on the map “California, the Golden State by R.T. Aitchison” published in 1938 by The Mentholatum Company and authored by R.T. Aitchison. You can find more info about the map by visiting our California Missions Maps’ page.