John Vonderlin: You can read historic books online…

Story from John Vonderlin

Email John

Hi June,
   This is from the October 10th, 1909 issue of “The San Francisco Call.” It is about the, at that time, upcoming 150 year celebration of Portola “discovering” the San Francisco Bay. I’m thinking the book by Zoeth S. Eldredge should be public domain and how about Una. H.H. Cool? Please note that the OCR software can not only misread letters, it can also put paragraphs in the wrong order, as well as other articles dispersed througout the one your reading. There is a ton of Portola stuff, some of it I haven’t seen in books about or by his expedition members, that is in these old newspapers. If you want to post it, I’ll Correct the Text. I’ve already removed the extraneous articles. Enjoy. John
HOW many of the ‘thousands who
will this month do honor to Don
Gaspar de Portola really know
just what he did?
Most of us have been told that he
discovered the bay of San Francisco,
but how did he happen^ to, make the
discovery and upon what mission wai
he engaged at the time?
The answers are found in a band*
some and handy little volume Just
published by the reception committee
of the California Promotion committee
entitl<>d “The March of Portola and the
I*OK of the Ran Carlos.”
The history of the march ‘of the ex
plorer Is written hy Zoeth S. Eldredge
In most entertaining style, and It is
the fruit of exhaustive study of old’
Hpanlsh manuscripts and other ancient
authorities. It can not be doubted that
It is the most complete and reliable
history of its period yet produced.
The log: of the San Carlos and some
other Spanish manuscripts have been
translated by E. J. Molera and- ap
pended to the Eldredge history. The
book is well illustrated by Walter
The volume is rich in historic detail
and makes some announcements for
the first time that do violence to our
long cherished ideas regarding the
parly settlement of California. For
y example, while all credit is given
Father Junipero Serra and the devoted
friars who preceded, accompanied and
followed him it is clearly shown that
It was not religious fervor that brought
civilization to California, but stern
jniHtary necessity. The friars were
merely parts of the retinue of the
soldiers, according to the customs of
Catholic countries of past centurjes.
As the <friars did most of the record-
Ing and most of the writing of his
tories, it is not strange that they gave
their accounts a strong religious flavor.
According to the new Fortola history;
the expedition that resulted in the dis
covery of San Francisco bay was the
direct resuH of the inroads, ,real and
threatened, of other European nations
upon the Spanish claims in what was
generally termed New Spain, which
extended as far north as the forty
second parallel of latitude. Although.
Spain had- made claim to this vast Pa
cific coast line for over two centuries,
she had done little or nothing to make
good the claim by settlement.
On the other hand, Russia had
crossed from Siberia and her repre
sentatives were forcing their way far
ther and farther south, through Alaska
toward Alta California. England was
preparing to make a descent upon’ the
Calif ornian coast to make good the”‘
technical claim of sovereignty,made by
Sir Francis Drake In 1579.
In view of these conditions. Don
Carlos 111 of Spain saw that h« must
be up and doing. At the came time
he issued his famous decree expelling
the Jesuits from the Spanish domin
ions. It was here that Don Gaspar de
Portola made his appearance.
The Jesuits had established several
missions In Lower California. Portola,
who was a captain of dragoons in th« .
regiment of Spain, was appointed rov^
_ y-r. or of both Lower and Upper Call-
and sailed with 25 dragoons, 25
Infantrymen and 14 Franciscan friars
to dispossess the Jesuits and turn over
all the Californian missions to the
Franciscans. “-. i-.’-^

Portola was directed .to taka ener
getic- measures to resist/ the advance
of the Russians ,and to protect his
province from all foreign Inroads. The
problem before him was a difficult one.
From Cape San Lucas on the
the Rogue river on the- north the “civi
lized portion of th« community did not
number over 400. Including the’famlles
of the soldiers in the garrison of Lo- •
reto and those -of the miners In the ,
couth. The ports of San Diego and
Monterey were open to easy , Invasion
and could be readily fortified and held
by any small force that might : seize
Two expeditions were organized by
Portola to act Jointly. One was to pro
ceed by land, the other by sea. Por
tola himself, although governor of the
Callfornias, decided to take charge of .
the undertaking himself, as commander
in chief, taking Immediate > personal
.leadership of the land expedition, of
which Don Fernando de Rivera y Mbn
cado was second In command. The
forces consisted of 40 cavalrymen from
the presidio of Loreto in Lower Call- ,
fornla, under Rivera; 25 Infantrymen
of Catalonia, under .Lieutenant Don
Pedro Fages. and 30 Christian Indians
“•armed with bows and arrows. The ex
pedition was also accompanied by Don
Miguel Costanso, ensign of engineers;
Don Pedro Prat, a physician, and the
following Franciscan friars: . Junipero
Serra, Juan Crespi, Fernando Parron, •
Juan Viicalno and Francisco Gomez. \
\u25a0 The sea expedition was borne in two j
small . vessels, the San Carlos and the^
San Antonio, the former commanded by
Don Vicente Vila and the latter ‘by
Don Juan Perez. i \
. The land expedition was in two di
visions. The ‘first, under Rivera, left
Velicata March 24, 1769. and the second,
under Portola himself, on May. 15. With
Rivera were Padre Crespi,’ Pilotln Jose
Canizares, 25 soldiers, three muleteers
and 11 Christian Indians. With Portola
were Padre Junipero Serra, 15 soldiers
under Sergeant Jose Francisco de Or
tega, two servants, some muleteers and
Indians — 44 in all.
The first stage of the march was
– through 20(^miIes of barren country to
San Diego. . From Junipera- . Serra’s
diary it appears that this was a dreary
period, with few incidents of impor
tance. . On June 20 they came in sight
:Of the sea.-at Ensfenada de < Todos San
tos, A week Jater San Diego was
reached, where a’ junction ‘was made
with Rivera’s column.”
The sea expedition was less fortu
nate. The two ships limped into port,
their crews down’ with scurvy.- The
dead were buried ” and the sick went:
back in the San Antonio to San Bias.
On July 14 Portola began . his long
.march to Monterey, , which ,was to have
such signal results. He organized his.
expedition with care and started with
Sergeant Ortega and 27 soldiers under
Rivera, Fagos’ and six Catalan volun
teers,’ Ensign Costanse, the priests
Crespi and Gomez, 7 muleteers, 15
• Christian Indians and two . servants—
64 in all.
.Testimony is borne to Portola’s high
ability as a leader by the fact that he
made his march through a wild, un
known country in the face of great
difficulties, .dangers ..and hardships,
without the loss of a man, an experl
. ence In strong contrast wjth those of
other early explorers In the new world.
Some of the best known names In
California history ar« -to be. found in
. the roster of the little command. There
was Portola himself, first governor – of,
California; – j Rivera, comandante of;
‘California from 1773 to 1777, killed in
the .Yuriia revolt In 1781; Fages, cdm
andante of California from \u25a0:. 1969 to,
1773″ and’ governor from 1782 to f 78<Tf
Pedro Anmdor, who gave his name to
Adamor <?ounty; Juau Bautista Alva-r
rado, grandfather of -Governor | Alva
rado, Jqse Raimundo Carlllo, founder
\u0084: This ‘newest % story of JCing

How :^ well’he;’ carries “out- his ;Dromls«» !
of the great Carillo family ;_ Jose An
tonio Torba, founder of the family, of
that name and grantee of .the Rancho
-Santiago Santa Ana, and others. . .
To Sergeant Ortega is\ given; the
credit of having .discovered the Golden
gate and Carquiriez strait. This state
ment, it Is expected, will arouse dis
pute, but the author is .prepared to de
fend it. Ortega certainly received high,
honors later. He became lieutenant
and brevet captain, comandante .of:
the Presidio /of Monterey, founder- *of
the Presidio of Santa Barbara and of
the missions “of San Juan Caplstrano:
and San Buenaventura.’ – ,
The march was a difficult one, by
reason of its being through an un
known country, with danger from
lurking hostile Indians. From twb ;
to four Spanish leagues (5 to 10 stat-.
ute miles) , were made a day. The ;
road followed was V practically ; that :
known afterward as El Camino ‘real..’
On August. 18 the site of Santa Bar-;
bara was reached/ Thus far the \u0084ex- r
pedition had been received . hospitably;
by the Indians, .who , gave, them re
freshment and every I facility of their;
numerous rancherlas. Guadalupe lake,
in the northwest corner or Santa Bar
bara county, was ‘ reached on Septem
ber 10, and herea Test’was taken, as
many of the soldiers were suffering
from sore feet and some were ill. >,
Genuine troubles now began to come
thick and fast. Confronted by the Sierra
de Santa Lucia, they had to labor hard
to pass through the rugged mountains.
As they ascended the cold increased and
‘all suffered exceedingly. In’spite of this
and of the appearanoe. of scurvy,; they
pressed bravely on,*on September
26 emerged f rom the f,mountalns “. “an^ |
camped atr the Salinas: river, rwhich
\u25a0 they, afterward followed ‘down* to ‘the
-sea.\: \u25a0′ ;’ .- -\:– “”: } : ‘ -\u25a0″ :’; : ~* <\u25a0′>’ i ; ;”,. \u25a0:/\u25a0:” \u25a0\u25a0-.
, Upon, reaching the mouth of the Sali
nas river, on,” September ‘; 30,- they be
lieved .that they were V close to Monte
rey, which they had for? their goal.; E
remains for the reader to .discover.
had excursions” and\ park, concerts; – to :
upset ‘a; system in. no time. -But the
xploring ; parties made reconnajsances
both: north and south In search of the
great port’v of Monterey, but . they j were
baffled. Much perplexed,’ Portola called
a council/ of \u25a0 his officers : on i October 4,
and laid the situation before them. Slx\
teen-men were, too sick to do duty, and
the labor of the rest.was increased ac
cordingly.’ The season was getting late
and further passage through the Sierra
would be obstructed by the snow. Opin
ions differed, and, after hearing all,
Portola resolutely made- nls decision,
i which was to s go f orward, # putting his
trust in God. “If Monterey were found, .
all well and good; – if : not, they should
find another place for settlement. … ah
agreed and signed a document to this,
effect. . On October 7 the march was resumed,
Ortega and his scouts in advance, .to
lay out a path. for therest of the col
umn to follow.. Sixteen of. the men had
now lost tbe’use of .their limbs. .Bach
night the ailing ones were rubbed with
oil, and In j the ‘ day »were /conveyed In
hammocks .stretched between two
mules, in , tandem. The Pajaro river
was crossed on the Bth, and on the 17th
they reached the ‘site of the present
Santa Cruz.
; .On . the 21st , and 22d, having good
water and- fuel, the command rested ay
the {‘entrance of the canyon of Waddell
creek, and here; both\ Portola and , Ri
vera, worn out by their hard work r pri
vations and-;anxiety, ‘ themselves -were
I added to the sick list. -Food .ran: low,
and’ reduced.’ rations were.s erved out.
The daily allowance was five; tortillas
•of bran and flour for each’ man, < ,- y. .
\u25a0 Relief was, found jon. the\23d- at an
Indian; r’anch’eria,” near- Pigeon ; point, \u25a0
and then they again’ pressed on toward
the’north.y; Diarrhea broke out, and all
became much alarmed, until it was dis
covered, that the ! new ailment relieved
the scurvy.^ C-f }’-” : .%’- i -.* -v’>- : \u25a0’• –
TOn’October 27 some abandoned Indian
.huts \rere ‘found, but they-were soon
given up, on account of a ; pesf of fleas
within. ; ” .; r . – ,
els” . ; and from Baron Munchau sen, and
“By noon of the next day,” according
to Mr. Eldredge’s “narrative,” “Jthe pio-.
neers had prepared a passage over the
bold promontory •’ of Point San Pedro,
and at 10 o’clock in the morning the.
company set out on the trail of the ex
pioradoros and made their painful way
to the summit. Here a wondrous sight •
met their eyes and quickened their
flagging spirits. Before ‘ them, bright
and beautiful, was spread a great ense
nada, its waters dancing in the sun
light. Far to the northwest a point
reached out Into, the “sea, rising: ab
ruptly before them, high above the
ocean. \ Further to the left.’west-north
west, were seen six or seven white Far
allqnes, ‘and finally, along the ; shore
northward, they discerned the white
cliffs and what ‘appeared to be the
! mouth of the Inlet,” ‘
Thus \u25a0’\u25a0 was the bay of San Francisco
revealed to clvllzed-man. By infer
ence it was Ortega, leader of the
scouts, who first beheld it.
Details of’the further exploration of
the great bay are given. : It took Por
tola some time to convince himself
arid his followers, that it was not Mon
terey,” but another place altogether that
they had found. Ortega, with his pio
neers, was sent on a trip of discovery
around the bay. He got as far north
as Carqulnez strait, where he turned
back,- reporting that to go around. the
estero would involve too long a jour
‘ Hunger and the approach of winter
forced the explorer to retrace his foot
steps,, and on November 11 the little
column started bacK to renew the
search” for Monterey, c Their hardships
were . redoubled: Food was nearly all
gone. ‘They had to kill their mulea for
meat and even to eat acorns. Finding
themselves in such straits they deter
mined ;to return to San Diego, which
they did, and reached that place after

24. 1770.
‘The fact is that Portola really did
find the port of Monterey on his return
trip from San Francisco bay, but he
did not recognize it. He erected two
crosses — one’ upon Monterey bay, tho
identity of the place being revealed to
him in San Diego bay by Captain Vila
of the ship San Carlos.
Portola thereupon decided to. make
another expedition to Monterey, which
he did, this time with a better outfit.
He sent the ship San Antonio by sea
with Juniparo Serra. Costanso, Prat
and a large cargo of stores, he himself
-proceeding by land with Fages. 12 Ca
talan volunteers, 7 soldiers, Crespi. 2
muleteers and 5 natives. He followed
the same route ho had taken on his
retreat from Monterey and arrived on
May 24 near the cross he had planted
on December 10 preceding. The San
Antonio arrived a week later, and on
June 3, 1770. Portola and his followers,
\u25a0with appropriate ceremonies, took for
mal possession -of the country, estab
lished the Presidio of Monterey and
the mission of San Carlos de Borromeo
de Monterey, the second mission in
California. ,• -”
On July 0 Portola turned the new
statlen and the district over to Lieu
tenant Fages and sailed for San Bias.
He never returned to California.
.The translation of the log of the San
Carlos, commanded by Don Juan Ma
nuel de Ayala la a moat interesting,
. document, as 13 the report of Ayala to
Don Antonio Maria Bucareli, viceroy
of New Spain, on his examination of
the port of San Francisco in 1775. This
report is accompanied by a singularly
accurate chart of San Francisco bay.
the original of which Is now Jn tha
India office. Seville. Spain.-
The little book gives succinct!* and
in most attractive form tha explora
tions of Portola, which San Franciscans
are now about to celebrate with th* co
operation of representatives of all civ
ilized nations.


About June Morrall

1947 - 2010
This entry was posted in John Vonderlin and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.