Gold Seekers of '49 - Edwin Sabin

The Story of California

1542—On September 28, 1542, Captain Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese navigator in the service of Spain, on a voyage of exploration along the coast northward from Mexico casts anchor of his two small ships, the San Salvador and the Victoria, in San Diego Bay. He christens it the Puerta de San Miguel (Port of Saint Michael). Thence his ships explore north clear to the line of present Oregon. Mid-voyage he dies from an accident, and is buried on San Miguel Island, opposite present Santa Barbara. The exploration is continued by his lieutenant, Bartolome Ferrelo.

1579—In June, 1579, Sir Francis Drake, English adventurer, lands near the Bay of San Francisco, to overhaul his ship, the Golden Hind. He takes possession of the shore for Queen Elizabeth, christens it New Albion, and erects a monument. His bay is called Francis Drake's Bay.

1587—The Bay of Monterey visited, according to description, in 1587, by the Spanish navigator Pedro de Unamunu, in his ship Nuestra Senora de la Esperanca (Our Lady of Hope). He lands and erects a cross, and christens the place Puerta de San Lucas (Port of Saint Luke), taking possession for the King of Spain.

1595—In 1595 the Spanish navigator Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno is wrecked in Francis Drake's Bay, to which he gives the name Bay of San Francisco. This was a small bay behind Point Reyes, north of the entrance to the Golden Gate.

1602—Cabrillo's Port of San Miguel entered in 1602 by the Spanish navigator Sebastian Vizcaino, with four vessels: the San Diego (Saint James), the Santo Tomas (Saint Thomas), the Tres Reyes (Three Kings), and a launch. He christens the bay San Diego. Voyaging further, he rediscovers the Port of San Lucas, and christens it Monterey, in honor of the Count of Monterey, the ruler for Spain in Mexico.

1769—Sent out by Comandante Jose de Galvez, inspector general for Spain in Mexico, in 1769 the first expedition by land ascends from Lower California of Mexico into Alta (Upper) California. It is in two parties, one commanded by Captain Rivera y Moncada and accompanied by the Franciscan priest Padre Juan Crespi, the other commanded by Gaspar de Portola, governor of the Californias for Spain, and accompanied by the Franciscan priest Padre Junipero Serra. The object was to establish three Franciscan missions—one at San Diego, one at Monterey, one at San Francisco; and at Monterey a town and a fort. By sea set forth, with another expedition, and with supplies, the ships San Carlos (Saint Charles), San Antonio (Saint Anthony), and San Jose (Saint Joseph). The San Jose was disabled at the start. The meeting place was to be San Diego. Here, July 16, 1769, the mission of San Diego de Arcala is founded.

1769—November 2, 1769, the present Bay of San Francisco is discovered, from a hill, by some soldiers in the party of Gaspar de Portola, who had led an expedition northward from San Diego, to search for Monterey.

1770—June 3, 1770, the mission of San Carlos Borromeo de Monterey is founded. Three other missions follow, to September, 1772.

1776—September 17, 1776, the presidio or military station of San Francisco is founded.

1776—October 9, 1776, the mission of San Francisco de Asis is dedicated, on the shore of the real San Francisco Bay. By August 23, 1823, twenty-one missions have been placed.

1781—September 4, 1781, the town of Los Angeles is established.

1794—In 1794, as old records say, the first American arrived, landing from a ship and settling in Santa Barbara. He is called by the Californians, "Boston Boy."

1804—Upper California is made a separate Spanish province, by royal decree of August 29, 1804.

1821—By revolt of Mexico against Spain, in 1821 California becomes a Mexican province.

1826—In 1826 arrive the first Americans by land, being a party of trappers led from Salt Lake by Jedediah S. Smith.

1832—Captain Benjamin Morrell, Jr., of the American vessel Tartar, after having stopped at California publishes, in 1832, a book upon his travels, in which he urges the acquisition of California by the United States.

1835—President Andrew Jackson authorizes Colonel Anthony Butler, American official in Mexico, to purchase, if possible, for the United States, "the whole bay of San Francisco." The plan fails.

1839—July 3, 1839, arrives at Monterey Captain John August Sutter, a Swiss-American. In August he takes up a tract of land on the south bank of the American River, east from present Sacramento, and there establishes a trading post which he names New Helvetia, but which became better known as Sutter's Fort. The post grows to be a rallying place for American trappers and settlers.

1841—In November, 1841, arrive the first company of American immigrants, led by J. Bartleson and John Bidwell, from the Missouri River, along the Oregon Trail to the Salt Lake cut-off, thence down the Humboldt River and across the Sierra Nevada mountains and down the Stanislaus River. Numbering thirty-nine, they reach the ranch of Dr. John Marsh, early American settler, back of the present city of Oakland, opposite San Francisco.

1841—In October and November, 1841, the Bay of San Francisco, and the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers are surveyed by the Government exploring expedition under command of Captain Charles W. Wilkes, United States Navy.

1842—The Honorable Waddy Thompson, United States minister to Mexico, informs President John Tyler, April 29, 1842, that Mexico is willing to sell Texas and Upper California. He emphasizes the importance of California.

1842—October 20, 1842, Commodore Thomas ap Catesby Jones of the United States Navy raises the American flag over Monterey, thinking that war with Mexico had been declared. The next day he apologizes; but the sale of California is interrupted.

1842-43-44—The American immigration overland gradually increases in 1842, 1843, 1844, and alarms the Mexican authorities, who fear the spread of American influence. The majority of the settlers locate in Northern California.

1844—In February, 1844, Captain John C. Fremont and party, on exploring expedition for the War Department at Washington, cross the Sierra Nevada, to Sutter's Fort, and traverse California from north to south.

1845—Negotiations for the purchase of California are resumed in 1845 by President James K. Polk. The American consul at Monterey, Thomas O. Larkin, is appointed "confidential agent" for the United States, and is instructed to keep watch against any scheming by France or Great Britain, and to influence the California people to unite themselves with the Republic.

1845—In the winter of 1845-1846 Fremont again leads a party to Sutter's Fort, and on toward the coast. He is ordered out; proceeds up for Oregon, and is recalled, May 8, 1846, into California by a naval officer with dispatches for him.

1846—June, 1846, American settlers and adventurers, in the neighborhood of Sutter's Fort, revolt against the Mexican government of California; June 14 they capture Sonoma, north of San Francisco, where they raise the Bear Flag and proclaim California to be an independent republic. Fremont aids the revolution.

1846—Following news of war between the United States and Mexico, on July 7, 1846, Commodore John D. Sloat raises the American flag over Monterey; on July 9 it is raised over San Francisco and Sonoma; on July 11, over Sutter's Fort; on August 13, Los Angeles is invested, and the flag raised there.

1847—After several engagements between the American forces and the Californians, on January 13, 1847, by the treaty of Cahuenga the Californians agree to lay down their arms.

1848—By the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo between the United States and Mexico, at the close of the Mexican War, and ratified at Washington, March 16, 1848, California is ceded to the United States.

1848—James Marshall, in the employ of Captain Sutter, while washing out a mill-race at Coloma, on the American River, about thirty miles west of Sutter's Fort, on January 24, 1848, discovers flakes of gold. The news spreads; it reaches Monterey, the capital, May 29, and creates intense excitement. In December the news officially reaches Washington, by communication from General Richard B. Mason and former consul James O. Larkin, and is included in President Polk's message to Congress. During 1848 $10,000,000 in gold is gathered by miners in California.

1849—In the spring of 1849 20,000 people are collected at the Missouri River, prepared to start overland 2000 miles to the California gold fields. More than 30,000 people make the land pilgrimage this year. Others sail around Cape Horn. Many others choose to cross the Isthmus of Panama, and reach the Pacific that way. The first shipload of gold seekers arrive in San Francisco February 28, 1849. San Francisco, formerly the hamlet of Yerba Buena (Good Herb), leaps from a population of 500 to one of 15,000, and the harbor has 500 vessels at anchor, flying all flags. In 1849 $40,000,000 of gold is taken from the soil by the miners.

1849—September 1, 1849, a convention to frame a State Constitution assembles at Monterey, the capital. On October 10 the constitution is adopted.

1850—September 9, 1850, California is admitted as a State, into the Union, without having been a Territory. Since then she has forged to the front as one of the richest members of the Republic. Her soil has been found to yield greater treasures than gold, and her people pride themselves upon being among the most progressive of all between the two oceans.