Juan Bautista de Anza
National Historic TrailWhile the American Revolution brewed on the Atlantic Coast, Spain expanded its New World empire to protect California against the British and Russians. In 1774, Juan Bautista de Anza, commander of the Royal Presidio of Tubac, successfully explored an overland route from Sonora, Mexico into Alta or Upper California. This route made possible the transport of livestock, goods, and people to sustain the new settlements.
The viceroy of New Spain then authorized Anza to lead a 1775-76 expedition to settle the port of San Francisco. Volunteer soldier-settlers came from as far south as Culiac?n. Livestock, equipment, supplies, and expedition members were gathered at Horcasitas and finally at Tibac. From there, they would travel 1000 miles on foot, horseback, burro and mule to their destination.
A variety of people made the trip—soldiers and their families, interpreters, priests, packers, cowboys, and cooks—as well as nearly one thousand head of livestock. At journey's end, 198 people, over half of them children under 12, stayed to build the Presidio of San Francisco and the missions of San Francisco de As (Mission Dolores) and Santa Clara de As.
With others using the trail established by Anza, they helped begin the settlements of San Jos? and Los Angeles, and stamped California with the language and customs of their New World Hispanic customs.
Camp 21: El AquituniCamp on this night was at a known watering spot, El Aquituni, somewhere in the distant center of the panorama before you. Anza proceeded cautiosly throughApache territory. As captain of Tubac Presidio, he had been called upon several times to rebuff Apache attacks in this area. He had avoided this very campsite on his return from his 1774 exploratory expedition because of Apache activity in the area. He also needed water for the travelers and livestock. The next day they traveled over 30 miles to reach water at the Pima villages on the Gila River. There, Anza learned that the Pima had surprised an Apache band the day before, killing two and causing them to flee.
Anza noted that the long journey to the Gila was necessary "for lack of water, any of which is found only by rare accident. Nevertheless, no dissatisfaction whatever has been shown by the people who have made the march, and this is a thing to marvel at, especially in the women and children, and their patience under the hardships is an indication of the contentment with which they are accepting their lot."