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BC Historical Books

A Pacific coast pioneer Bolton, Herbert Eugene, 1870-1953 1927

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Kaspar David Naegele
The Spanish missionaries were superb pioneers of civilization. They spread the Christian faith among the
heathen beyond the borders of settlement; they taught
their rude neophytes the elements of European culture;
they directed the labor of their charges toward bringing
the frontier spaces under profitable cultivation; they
served as guardians of the border to hold back hostile
natives and intruding European neighbors.
Not the least of their pioneering service was their work
as explorers. No single body of records made so vast an
addition to geographical and ethnological knowledge of the
world in the same space of time as that contained in the
Jesuit letters and reports of the seventeenth century. In
two-thirds of the Western Hemisphere, in major and in
minor explorations alike, the missionaries generally played
a conspicuous part. For this there were good reasons.
Often the unattended friar could go unmolested and without arousing hostility into districts where soldiers were not
welcome. Because of their education they were the class
best fitted to record what they saw. So they were frequently sent alone to explore new frontiers, or as peace
emissaries to hostile tribes, or as chroniclers of expeditions
led by others. Hence it is that the best diaries of early
exploration in the Southwest, and, indeed, of most of Spanish America, were written by the missionaries.
We have but to recall the example of Friar Marcos,
who led the way to the "Seven Cities''; the rediscovery of
New Mexico by Fray Agustin Rodriguez and his band; the
journeys of Father Larios into Coahuila; the astonishing
travels of Father Kino in the deserts of Sonora and Arizona; the diplomatic embassies of Father Calahorra in
Texas; the lone travels of Father Garces, seeking a better
route to California; and the almost superhuman expedition
of Fathers Dominguez and Escalante, pathfinders in and
about the Great Basin that lies between the Wasatch and
the Sierras.
High in the list of these "splendid wayfarers" should
be placed the name of Fray Juan Crespi. The missionary
travels of this gentle Mallorcan friar carried him by sea
from Spain to America; by land, on foot or astride a horse
or a mule, all the way across Mexico, and the length of Old
and New California; and by sea again to the borders of
Alaska. To make known to the twentieth-century world
the remarkable journeys of Father Crespi is the purpose
of this volume. With rapid stroke they are sketched in the
Introduction. But this does not suffice. The only way to
appreciate his deeds as explorer and diarist is to read his
remarkable journals, and follow his itineraries with the
map. To make this possible to readers of English, Crespi's
diaries are printed here as the primary part of this book.
They have never before been assembled in one volume or
published as a separate work. They were scattered through
the tomes of Palou's New California, and are here reprinted from my English edition of that treatise (Berkeley,
■ 1926), with the addition of several important hitherto unpublished documents, a special Introduction, and Editorial
The diaries are here introduced in a charming manner
by five intimate personal letters written by Father Crespi
during the historic journeys to San Diego, Monterey, and
San Francisco bays in 1769-1770. Three of these letters—
rare treasures out of the past—have never before been
published. They give a bird's-eye view of the memorable
expedition, and prepare the way for the details of the
diaries. Two of the letters were written to Father Pal6u,
Crespi *s old schoolmate and lifelong friend; two were
addressed to Father Andres, his superior in Mexico City;
and the fifth to Jose de Galvez, the great visitor-general of
New Spain, under whose direction California was colonized.
The Introduction is devoted primarily to a sketch of the
principal expeditions in which Crespi took part. In the
Editorial Notes at the end of the volume are supplied
textual and other comments on the documents, and extensive data concerning manuscript materials for the episodes
covered by the diaries, especially from the archives of
Mexico and Spain. The footnotes are designed mainly to
assist the reader to an understanding of the narrative.
    Crespi's  Travels in North America.
Father Crespi as Diarist
Among all the great diarists who recorded
explorations in the New World, Juan Crespi
occupied a conspicuous place. For more than
three decades he pioneered the wilds of North
America. Like Francisco Palou he was a pupil
of the great Serra and for many years was his
close companion. Like them both he was a
Mallorcan. In the same mission with them he
came to America in 1749. With them he became a member of the Franciscan College of
San Fernando in Mexico. Beside them he went
as missionary to the Sierra Gorda, that wild
mountain fastness northeast of the Aztec capital.
With them he was sent to the Peninsula of California on the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767,
and there was put in charge of Mission Purisima
Two years later he was one of the small band
of friars selected by Serra to join the Portola
expedition for the occupation of San Diego and
* The materials on which this sketch of Crespi is based are indicated at some length in the Editorial Notes at the end of the volume.
With few exceptions citations to authorities are not given in the
footnotes here.
Monterey, while Palou remained behind to fill
Serra % place as president on the Peninsula.
Crespi even preceded Serra on the great march,
for he joined Rivera y Moncada, who led the
vanguard, while Serra followed with Portola.
Crespi was one of the handful of pioneers who
planted the Cross and the banner of Spain at
San Diego in that fateful summer of 1769.
With Portola he continued north, accomplishing
the first European expedition by land up the
California coast. With the mystified Portola,
seeking the harbor of Monterey, he pushed still
farther north, and became one of the discoverers
of San Francisco Bay, whose existence theretofore was unknown, and whose importance he was
one of the first to recognize. He was the only
friar who made the whole fifteen hundred mile
march from Vellicata to San Francisco Bay and
back. Serra rode the weary way to San Diego;
Father Gomez made the long march thence to
San Francisco Bay; but of the three Crespi
alone covered the whole distance. For this
reason he was commissioned to prepare the
composite diary which was made.
Returning to San Diego, with Portola Crespi
again made the land march to Monterey, and
with Serra, who had come by water, he now
became one of the founders of Mission San
Carlos, or Carmel.   Carmel was his California
home, and there he spent the next twelve years,
as Serra's companion. During part of this time
Palou also was with his old friends. But for
each of them these years were broken by more
than one long jaunt. Two seasons had not
passed when Crespi went with Fages to find a
way around San Francisco Bay to Point Reyes.
A few weeks later he conducted a mule train
south with provisions for starving San Diego,
and returned with another trainload of supplies
brought thither from Mexico by the San Carlos.
Still another year later, with Father Pena, he
went as chaplain on the great sea voyage made
by Juan Perez to Alaska.
Back at Carmel, Crespi remained there as
missionary eight years more. At the end of that
time, with Serra he visited Palou at San Francisco, and beheld again the great bay of which
he had been one of the discoverers and explorers.
By now the sand of his hourglass had run, for
he had scarcely returned to Carmel when he
died, still in his prime, just past sixty.* His
years were few, but his deeds were many and
Gentle character, devout Christian, zealous
missionary, faithful companion, his peculiar
fame will be that of diarist. Of all the men of
this half-decade, so prolific in frontier extension
• This was in 1782.
up the Pacific Coast by sea and land, Crespi
alone participated in all the major path-breaking expeditions: from Vellicata to San Diego;
from San Diego to San Francisco Bay; from
Monterey to the San Joaquin Valley; from Monterey by sea to Alaska. In distance he out-
traveled Coronado.
In all these expeditions he went in the double
capacity of chaplain and diarist. With fingers
benumbed by cold, with inflamed eyes, in drenching rain, under burning desert suns, or in his
berth on a pitching ship, suffering the while
with nausea, he faithfully chronicled the happenings of these historic journeys. Of all his
expeditions he kept superb records that have
come down to us through a century and a half.
Of the march of the Rivera party from Vellicata
in 1769 his was the best of at least two diaries;
of the journey thence to San Francisco Bay and
return his was the best of three; of the famous
march with Fages in 1772, from Monterey to
San Joaquin River by way of the Contra Costa
and Carquinez Strait, indispensable records
are his exquisite diary and his curious, salamander-like map; and of the Perez voyage he
kept one of the best of the three or more journals. These precious pages record nearly two
thousand miles of land travel and a sea voyage
of twice that distance.  Missionary, globe trotter,
and diarist he was; breviary, pack mule, caravel,
and quill might decorate his coat of arms or his
book plate.
Crespi's record was carved deep in the
palimpsest of North America. His kindly deeds
and his Christian teachings will never die. In
the Sierra Gorda, on the Peninsula, and at
Carmel the baptisms, the marriages, and the
burials of hundreds of neophytes are recorded
in his distinguished hand. The archives of
California, of Mexico, and of Spain are enriched
by his correspondence with officials and friends.
In his precious diaries the human toils, the
adventures, the thrills, the hopes, the fears of
three historic journeys on the Pacific Coast are
With the Portola Expedition
The occupation of Alta California in 1769
was one of the dramatic episodes of American
colonial history. For over two hundred years
Spain had contemplated the step but had been
busy with more important affairs. Now and
again the region beckoned, but it was far remote.
Cabrillo made known the merits of San Diego
Bay. The multitude of intelligent natives which
he encountered on the Santa Barbara Channel
offered an enticing field for missionary labors.
Drake and Cavendish threatened the western
end of the mythical Strait of Anian, and caused
misgivings for the security of Spain's commerce
on the Pacific. The ravages of scurvy made
havoc with the crews of the Manila galleons as
they came clock-wise down the Pacific coast.
The merits of lime juice as an antiscorbutic were
not yet known, and California was often talked
of as a health-giving vegetable garden for sailors
returning from the Philippines. Vizcaino, sent
to explore, reconnoitered and over-advertised
Monterey Bay. But still Alta California was
not occupied. The province was not needed and
Spain was too busy elsewhere. And so for
another century and a half the Land of Sunshine was chiefly a matter of conversation and
Then the Russian Bear threatened and the
situation changed. In the seventeenth century
the Muscovites had crossed Siberia and opened
trade with China. Early in the eighteenth century Bering made his stupendous voyages into
the North Pacific. He discovered Bering Strait,
coasted the American mainland, and initiated
the fur trade. In a twinkling his voyages were
followed by a rush of fur traders to the Aleutian
Islands. Within a few years posts were established on Bering, Unalaska, Kadiak, and other
islands, for a distance of nearly a thousand
miles.   Aleuts and sea otters now paid awful
tribute to the gold-thirsty men of the North.
Though trading activities were as yet confined
largely to the Aleutian archipelago, alarming
rumors reached the Spanish court of an impending southward push of the Russians.
It was time to act. And action was assured
by the presence of two remarkable men on the
northern frontier of Mexico. One was Jose de
Galvez, the energetic visitor-general of New
Spain; the other was Junipero Serra, the fiery
head of the Franciscan missions of Old California. The decision to move came early in
1768. On January 23 a royal order was sent
to Viceroy Croix to resist any aggressions of
the Russians that might arise. This command,
which coincided with the views already arrived
at by the visitor-general and the viceroy, reached
Galvez as he was on his way to Lower California.
While settling affairs on the Peninsula,
Galvez organized the historic expedition that was
sent forth to hold Alta California. Specifically
it was designed to establish garrisons at San
Diego and Monterey, and to plant missions,
under military protection, to convert and civilize
the natives. The general command was entrusted to Portola, governor of the Peninsula,
and the missionary work to Father Serra. In
a spectacular expedition the enterprise was carried out in 1769.2 The San Carlos under Vicente
Vila and the San Antonio under Juan Perez
conducted a portion of the colony by sea, the rest
marched overland from Lower California in
two detachments.
Owing to errors in latitude made by the
earlier explorers the vessels sailed too far north
in their search for San Diego Bay. The San
Antonio* reached port after fifty-four days at
sea. Slower still, the San Carlos was one hundred and ten days on the way, and when she
entered the harbor her crew were too ill from
scurvy and lack of fresh water even to lower the
boats. A weary fortnight was spent chiefly in
caring for the sick and burying the dead. The
supply ship, the San Jose, on which hopes were
pinned, was never heard of again after her departure from port in Lower California.3
The land parties were more fortunate. Provisions for the journey, horses, mules, and cattle
were assembled at Vellicata, a post eighteen
leagues beyond Santa Maria, the northernmost
of the old Jesuit missions.! The first of the
overland parties waved goodbye at Vellicata on
March 24, 1769.   It was led by Captain Rivera,
* Also called El Principe.
t Villicat&, or Vellicatd, was the point of departure of the PortoM,
expedition from Old California. At the time Rivera and Crespi went
through it was an Indian village where no mission had been founded
as yet. Shortly afterward Serra and Portold, arrived from the south
and founded at the site the Mission of San Fernando de Vellicatd,
the first, last, and only mission on the Peninsula founded by the
Franciscans. It was taken over by the Dominicans in 1773. It is
now in ruins.
commander of the company of Loreto. He had
twenty-five leather-jacket soldiers (soldados de
cuera), three muleteers, and some forty Indians
from the old missions, equipped with pick,
shovel, ax, and crowbar, to open the roads
through the mountains and across arroyos. As
chaplain and diarist went Father Juan Crespi,
principal historian of the expedition. To the
timid natives along the route the armored Spaniards were an apparition. Rivera's men were
declared to be " the finest horsemen in the world,
and among those soldiers who best earn their
bread from the august monarch whom they
serve." The cuera, which gave them their name,
was a leather jacket, like a coat without sleeves,
proof against the Indians' arrows except at very
close range. For additional armor they had
shields and chaps. The shields, carried on the
left arm, were made of two plies of bull's hide,
and would turn either arrow or spear. The
leather chaps or aprons, fastened to the pommel
of the saddle, protected legs and thighs from
brush and cactus spines.
The way was difficult and long, but the hours
were shortened by the joy of discovery. For
the first eight days the trail was that followed
by the Jesuit Father Linck three years before.
Thereafter, for over two hundred and fifty miles,
the route was now explored by white men for
the first time. Like De Soto, like Coronado,
Rivera and his men were pathfinders. Frequently water had to be carried in barrels and
skin bags (hotas), for the Peninsula is dry.
More than once the animals had to halt for the
night without water, and sometimes there was
no fuel for a camp fire. Several nights were
made shivery by the screaming of a mountain
lion. Much of the way was over rugged mountains. The wild Indians did no harm, but
occasionally they were threatening. When the
Spaniards reached the coast it rained, and the
men spent uncomfortable nights in water-soaked
clothing. At last the difficult journey came to
an end. On the 13th of May scouts from a height
saw the masts of the two vessels anchored in
San Diego Bay. Next day their joy was mixed
with sadness; the welcome salutes and the fond
embraces were offset by news of the horrible
inroads made by scurvy into the ranks of the
sea party.4
Just one day after Rivera and Crespi reached
San Diego, Portola and Serra set out from
Vellicata. The season was better, the trail had
been broken, and the journey was quicker than
Rivera's, even though it may have lacked some
of the romance. On the last day of June, after
a march of six weeks, the wayfarers reached San
Diego.   Serra said Mass, the Te Deum was sung,
and artillery roared salute from the new outpost
of Church and State. This first band of Spanish
pioneers on the soil of Alta California, when all
were assembled, comprised one hundred and
twenty-six souls; twenty-three of the original
number had perished on the vessels or after
landing; of the mission Indians some had deserted on the way, reluctant to leave home. On
Sunday, the 16th of July, Serra preached to a
group of naked natives made happy by little
trinkets from his stock, and dedicated the mission of San Diego de Alcala. Nearby the
presidio of San Diego was founded.5 New California had been ushered into history.
The port of Monterey was still to be protected. Indeed, it was the main objective. Portola therefore sent the San Antonio back to
Mexico for men and supplies; then, leaving the
San Carlos at anchor for want of a crew, he continued up the coast by land to complete his task
without the aid of the vessels. The march began
on the 14th of July, two days before Serra
formally founded his mission of San Diego.
Ahead rode Ortega and his scouts. Next came
Portola, Fages, Costanso, Father Crespi and
Gomez, six Catalan volunteers, and the Indian
sappers. Now followed the pack train in four
divisions, each of twenty-five loaded mules, with
muleteers and a soldier guard.   In the rear came
Captain Rivera, the rest of the soldiers, and
friendly Indians driving the caballada—the herd
of spare mules and horses.6
Portola and his band jogged northward along
the coast by a route practically on the line of the
railroads today. Most of the way pasture and
water were plentiful and the Indians numerous
and friendly. At Santa Ana River a sharp
earthquake was felt. "It lasted about half as
long as an Ave Maria, and about ten minutes
later it was repeated, though not violently." It
was from this circumstance that the inconstant
Santa Ana was long called the Rio de Ios Tem-
blores. Other shocks occurred during several
days, until the Los Angeles River was crossed.
Without great difficulty the coast was followed
past San Luis Obispo to a point near the southern line of Monterey County. But here the way
was blocked by the rugged Sierra de Santa Lucia,
whose steep cliffs overhang the sea, and a halt
of several days was necessary while Rivera and
the scouts sought a way through the mountains.
An opening was found by clambering up the
steep slopes along San Carpoforo Creek. The
way was continued then to the north and northeast for about fifty miles, across Nacimiento and
San Antonio rivers, and down Kent Canyon to
Salinas River, which was reached at the site of
King City.   This march through the Sierra de
Santa Lucia was one of the hardest stretches of
country encountered anywhere by the early explorers of the West. With grim humor Crespi
wrote, "The mountains . . . are inaccessible, not
only for men but also for goats and deer."
Arroyos flowing down the deep gorges had to be
crossed innumerable times. From a high peak
near San Antonio River nothing but mountains
could be seen in any direction. Sea and valley
were completely lost to view. "It was a sad
spectacle for us, poor wayfarers, tired and worn
out by the fatigues of the long journey.'' Some
of the soldiers by now were disabled by the
accursed scurvy. "All this tended to oppress
our hearts," said philosophic Crespi; "but, remembering the object to which these toils were
directed, and that it was for the greater glory
of God through the conversion of souls, and for
the service of the king, whose dominions were
being enlarged by this expedition, all were animated to work cheerfully."
When the scouts who went ahead looked down
the Salinas Valley they thought they saw the
ocean. The men now "all bestirred themselves,
supposing that the goal toward which we were
marching was only a short distance away, for
our desires traveled faster than we," says Cos-
tanso. But it was an illusion. Six more days'
march were necessary before the roar of the
sea was heard at Monterey Bay. The shore was
approached with breathless anticipation. Vizcaino had told of a "fine harbor." But none
was found, and Portola, bewildered, concluded
that some mistake had been made, and that the
harbor must be farther north. So north he continued up the coast. As the men pressed on
through the spacious forests, they saw, rank
upon rank, the sheer, ruddy trunks of giant
timber, and they called this new tree the palo
Colorado. This is the first historical mention
of the famous California redwood. At Half
Moon Bay they saw the Farallones, Point Reyes,
and Cermeno's (Drake's) Bay; this they recognized at once, for the old pilot Cabrera Bueno
had made it better known than any other point
on the north coast.
Plainly, they had passed Monterey and were
a long distance out of their course. So crossing
Montara Mountain they pitched camp at San
Pedro Point, to rest and debate what should be
done. Ortega, chief scout, was sent ahead to
try to reach Point Reyes. Next day, food being
nearly exhausted, some hunters struck into the
mountains northeast of the camp to look for
game. The chase, or perhaps only the hope of
it, led upward until presently they came out on
a clear height and beheld a great quiet harbor
to the east and north.   These hunters were the
first white men to report a glimpse of San Francisco Bay. Ortega returned a few hours behind
the hunters, with the news that his way to Point
Reyes was cut off by a roadstead that led into
the estuary described by the hunters—a noble
harbor that was almost land-locked, so near
together stood the two titanic pillars of its one
gate, open to the sunset ocean. Crespi, who saw
it next day, had a sense of its importance. "In
a word," he said, "it is a very large and fine
harbor, such that not only all the navy of our
most Catholic Majesty but those of all Europe
could take shelter in it."
The Indians near the Golden Gate had told
Ortega that two days' march to the north there
was a ship in a harbor. The hungry wayfarers
concluded, or dared to hope, that the vessel was
the San Jose, or perhaps the San Carlos, with
provisions. So Portola decided to push on and
find the ship. His way up the coast was cut
off by the newly-discovered channel, so he decided to go round the obstacle, by swinging
On the 4th of November the way-worn party
descended to the bay at Palo Alto. From here
Ortega and eight men were sent out to attempt
to reach Point Reyes by going round the estuary.
The worthy scout explored the bay to its southern extremity, but he succeeded in getting north
only to the neighborhood of Hayward. Either
from this point or while on the Peninsula Ortega
saw the passage through the Golden Gate and
the three islands within the strait—Alcatraz,
Yerba Buena, and Angel. Retracing their route
along the coast they again reached Point Pinos
and Monterey Bay. They planted two crosses,
one near Carmel River and the other on the bay
shore, and continued to San Diego.*
Though he was one of the lesser personages
of this historic expedition, Sergeant Ortega
should not be passed by without further mention.
He does not need my testimony, for Junipero
Serra gave him a eulogy that will fix his place
in history.   Ortega joined Portola's division of
* A good deal of debate has been indulged in as to whether
Ortega saw the entrance to the harbor. Unquestionably he saw it, for
the records of the Portola expedition plainly tell us so. From camp
at San Pedro Point he was sent north to explore, with Point Reyes
as an objective. After going "about three leagues'' he reached the
"end or head of the estuary" which the hunters had described.
There his way was blocked by a "very noble and very large harbor,'|
. . . "on the parallel of thirty-eight degrees." There were "three
islands within the strait which connects with the ocean between some
high mountains"—the pillars of the Golden Gate. On the basis of
Ortega's reports of his visit to the Golden Gate and of his tour
around to the Contra Costa, Costansd, engineer and map-maker,
drafted a map of San Francisco Bay that was strikingly accurate,
showing the passage to the ocean, and two arms of the bay, between
the Point Richmond and Alviso of today. (See Crespi's Diary, entry
for Nov. 3; Crespi to Palou, Feb. 6, 1770; Ortega to Pal6u, Feb. 9,
 'J\^-;,  V^_ -  	
.   san- FR^ascS^ttg^^
Portola's Route from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco Bay,
projected on a modern map.
the California expedition, following or rather
guiding the governor all the way to San Diego.
Up to that point, of course, they were following
Rivera's trail, and Rivera's work as pathfinder
need not be minimized in an effort to exalt
Ortega. From San Diego northward Ortega
was the real pathfinder. His work can best be
set forth in Serra's own words:
"The Sergeant went with the expedition, and
as soon as we came to the end of a short stretch
of road which some of the soldiers knew because
they had been over it on a preceding expedition,
the governor appointed him to go every day
accompanied by a soldier to explore the route
that we were to take on the following day. And
thus he continued for the space of more than a
month that our journey lasted, going three times
over the road which the rest of us traveled but
once. He went to look for the watering place
and the camping site, returned with the information, and then went with all the party to the
place selected. The soldier who accompanied
him was sometimes relieved but the Sergeant
never. The danger of going in this way among
heathen people who were now resisting us, as
we learned afterwards, kept me in constant
anxiety; and, in fact, on some occasions his
escape in safety could be attributed only to the
saints of his devotion.
"After our arrival at San Diego, where
everybody was surprised at the manner in which
we had come, the departure from that port in
search of the harbor of Monterey was determined upon. The Sergeant never left off serving in the same office; and especially when they
went out in various directions to look for the
harbor, it was he who penetrated farthest in the
examination of the estuaries of San Francisco,
looking for a passage to the other shore."
Ortega's fame as Portola's chief scout in the
discovery of San Francisco Bay is not unmerited. Portola, commander; Crespi, diarist;
Ortega, scout.
At San Diego affairs had gone badly. Fifty
persons had died and the rest were homesick.
During Portola's absence they had had a serious
brush with the natives, who had pillaged their
huts and stripped the invalids of their garments.
Provisions were scarce, and there was even talk
of abandoning the enterprise. But Rivera was
dispatched to Loreto for stock and supplies, and
the pioneers held on as if they knew the full
meaning of their fortitude. In the crisis Serra's
faith was superb. "What I have desired least
is provisions," he wrote. "Our needs are many,
it is true; but if we have health, a tortilla, and
some vegetables, what more do we want? . . .
If I see that along with food hope vanishes I
shall remain together with Father Juan Crespi
and hold out to the last breath."7
But relief was at hand. The supply ship
came. To the eyes of the friars, who kept an
unceasing vigil of prayer for nine days, and to
the discouraged Portola, the white sails of the
San Antonio cleaving the clear blue twilight
must have seemed as the wings of some heavenly
visitant, more beautiful than ever ship before
had spread to the beneficent wind. Alta California had been saved from the danger of abandonment. Another expedition to Monterey was
successful and the presidio and mission of San
Carlos were founded there (1770), near the spot
where one hundred and sixty-eight years before
Father Ascension had said Mass under a spreading oak tree.8 "Let thanks be given to His
Divine Majesty for the achievement of what has
cost so many steps and toils,'' wrote Crespi, who
had shared in all of them.
The Russian menace had been met. Spain's
frontier had been advanced eight hundred miles.
That the event was of more than local import
was generally felt, and the news of it, hurried
to Mexico by special courier and dispatch boat,
was celebrated at the capital. "His Excellency
[the Viceroy] wanted the whole population
forthwith to share the happiness which the information gave him, and therefore he ordered
a general ringing of the bells of the cathedral
and all the other churches, in order that everybody might realize the importance of the Port
of Monterey to the Crown of our monarch, and
also to give thanks for the happy success of the
expedition; for by this means the dominion of
our king had been extended over more than
three hundred leagues of land." To give the
event signal emphasis the viceroy ordered a
solemn Mass of thanksgiving sung in the
cathedral, and attended in person with his whole
viceregal court.
With the Fages Expedition
The long-talked-of harbors of San Diego and
Monterey had been occupied. But Galvez had
ordered that next a mission should be founded
for Saint Francis. And it must be established
"on that saint's port," that is, on the bay near
Point Reyes known as San Francisco Bay ever
since the sixteenth century. This was the fiat
of the great Galvez.* Here was a pious task to
be performed; and, besides, the surprising new-
* In regard to the naming and location of Mission San Francisco,
Galvez wrote an interesting letter to Serra on September 15, 1768.
This was six weeks before Galvez and Serra met and talked over
plans for New California. He said: "It is quite proper that each
religious order should invoke the protection of its own saints, and
especially must we remember the seraphic saint, Our Father San
Francisco. . . . We have seen how, in happy prophecy, the old
explorers gave the names of some of them to the principal points
on the coast above and below Monterey. The port where one of the
new missions is now to be established they called San Diego, and that
found bay or estuary piqued curiosity and
claimed attention. Portola had discovered the
puzzling harbor, but its merits were only half
recognized. In fact, it upset old notions of
geography. Cermeno had been wrecked in the
bay under Point Reyes (1595) and called it San
Francisco (now Drake's Bay). Portola regarded the noble sheet which he had stumbled
upon as tributary to Cermeno's harbor, and he
therefore called it the Estuary of the Bay of
San Francisco. By him it was regarded chiefly
as an obstruction in the path to Cermeno's Bay.
So he sent Ortega to go around the obstacle, but
the worthy scout succeeded only in getting to
the neighborhood of Hayward.
appellation must not be changed. To another fine harbor, situated in
thirty-eight and one-half degrees, they gave the name of the glorious
patriarch San Francisco, and we must not change this very appropriate title, for after a foothold is once gained in Monterey it must
be the first mission to follow; and our Father, being so beloved of
God, will facilitate the establishment by means of his powerful intercession. Let the intervening mission be called San Buenaventura as
a guaranty of good fortune, and let those that may be founded afterward take the names of other saints of the order. We must not take
away the name of San Carlos from the port or from the town to be
founded at Monterey, for if is the good-omened name of our beloved
sovereign, of the Prince of the Asturias, and of the present Viceroy
of New Spain. Nevertheless, the titular saint of that church must be
the patriarch Senor San Joseph, beeause the present expedition has
been undertaken under his special patronage; but my saint will not
be offended if the temple having his appellation is small, for he is
very humble . . . and besides, he already has on the Peninsula two
missions commended to his protection." (Joseph de Gdlvez to Juni-
pero Serra, Santa Ana, September 15, 1768. MS. Museo Nacional,
Doc. Hist. Bel. Mis. Cal. Quarto I.)
Just a year behind Ortega, Pedro Fages
lifted the veil of mystery a little higher. He
had been with Portola, and was left by him in
command at Monterey. On his own initiative
he made another attempt to reach Point Reyes
by land. With six soldiers and a muleteer he
set forth from Monterey in November, 1770.
To the south end of San Francisco Bay he broke
new ground. Portola had held to the coast.
Fages and his men struck into the interior and
by a direct route marked out the present highway from Monterey to San Jose. Northeast they
rode across Salinas River, through the broad
Salinas Valley, over the San Juan grade past
the sites of Hollister, Gilroy, Coyote, and San
Jose, to the mouth of Guadalupe River.
Thus far all was path-finding, but here at the
head of the Bay Fages joined Ortega's trail.
Spurring their mounts forward and swinging
northwest now, his party skirted the Contra
Costa for two days, going seven leagues beyond
the point reached by Ortega. From the Berkeley hills they looked west through the Golden
Gate and to the north they beheld San Pablo
Bay cutting across their route to Point Reyes.
Being needed at Monterey Fages now turned his
horse's head homeward.9
Cermeno's bay was still the goal, and nobody
had succeeded in getting around the Estuary
that stood in the way. But events and curiosity
pushed the explorers on. In May (1771) the
Principe arrived in Monterey with ten friars to
found five new missions. One of them of course
was to be named San Francisco and founded
on "his port." For so Galvez had decreed. To
everybody this still meant Cermeno's bay, near
Point Reyes. Croix ordered preparatory explorations by sea and land, but other things
demanded attention. The Principe could not
undertake the task; Fages had to go to San
Diego for men and mules; and Serra was busy
founding Mission San Antonio in the Sierra de
Santa Lucia. Saint Francis had to wait. These
things attended to, and the winter rains over, in
March Fages set forth to make another attempt
to reach Point Reyes.
With the captain went Father Crespi, six
Catalonian volunteers, six Leather-jackets, a
muleteer, and an Indian servant. Crespi's firm
hand recorded the venture.* To the head of the
estuary they followed the trail opened by Fages
more than a year before. Northwest to the
region of Hayward they retraced the ground
already twice covered by Ortega and Fages.
the Berkeley hills they were on Fages's trail.
Thereafter they were path breakers once more,
and their pulses beat faster.
* Fages also wrote an excellent diary.
Where Oakland now stands the explorers
entered a vast plain and halted directly in front
of the Golden Gate. There, with his back to the
foothills, Crespi set up his instruments and in
the clear March atmosphere mapped the passage
from ocean to bay. To him the Golden Gate
seemed two miles wide or more. In front of the
Gate he noted the three islands which Ortega
had seen—Alcatraz, Yerba Buena, and Angel.
From the head of the estuary to this point he
called it fifteen leagues, an estimate that is
confirmed by the speedometer of any good automobile.
The cavalcade moved on. Below the green
hills of Berkeley Fages's men killed a bear, but
in turn were driven to desperation by mosquitoes.
Near the site of Richmond they visited a village
of fair and bearded Indians, who gave the
Spaniards stuffed decoy geese in exchange for
Beads. A few miles farther on (six leagues from
the parallel of the Gate) near Pinole, perhaps,
they halted near "a large round bay" such that
"all the fleets of Spain could find room in it."
Crespi's queer map of the "round bay" and its
connections, preserved in Sevilla, is one of the
engaging bits of California cartography. This
fine harbor, of course, was San Pablo Bay.
Beyond it, to the northwest, the wayfarers would
reach Point Reyes.   But next day they suffered
 The Perez Voyage to the North Pacific iiPl774.    Compiled by Gilbert Becker.
Based on the diary of Perez, whose dates were one day
behind those of Crespi.
a disappointment when they learned that their
way round the bay was cut off by Carquinez
Across this ribbon of water from the Vallejo
hills came Indians on rafts to meet the fair
strangers and offer them food. Along the strait
the horsemen jingled through other villages of
fair and bearded Indians who mingled admiration with surprise and fear as the cavalcade
passed. Near the site of Pacheco they entered
the beautiful valley in which Concord stands,
a paradise for their animals. Leaving its luxuriant meadows behind, they clambered up a
spur of Mount Diablo whence they, the first
Europeans, gazed down upon the great Sacramento Valley, in its immensity one of the
impressive sights of the world.
"We saw," says Crespi, "that the land
opened into a great plain as level as the palm
of the hand." To the north they beheld Suisun
Bay; to the east the maze of islands and channels
formed by the San Joaquin and Sacramento
rivers; and beyond, the haze-covered foothills of
the great Sierras. The soldiers thrilled with
their discovery; each was an embryo Columbus.
No other white man would be "first" to behold
this matchless country. The vista before them
challenged comparison with beloved homeland.
"Some of those who were with us," writes
Crespi, "and who had seen the Ebro River in
Spain, declared that that stream is not half as
large as this one." Crespi himself was stirred
to superlatives. i' To this great river I gave the
name of my Father San Francisco, . . . which
it seems must be the largest that has been discovered in all New Spain."
Descending the eastern slope of the ridge
they halted near the site of Pittsburg. Here
their outward journey ended, for they had been
overtaken by six Leather-jackets who had followed their dim trail with letters requiring Fages
to hasten to Monterey and thence to San Gabriel
and San Diego. So, by the light of the campfire
they decided to return. The messengers were
not altogether inopportune, "in view of the fact
that our passage to Point Reyes for the examination of the port of our Father San Francisco
was cut off by these rivers." The bay near
Point Reyes was still the objective. But to cross
the river or the strait, boats would be necessary;
to go to the Sierras and around the stream would
require more men, more time, and more provisions. They were needed at home; hence they
decided to call it a day's work, return, and report to the viceroy.
By their circuitous route they had come
seventy-one leagues from Monterey;* but by
taking a more direct trail homeward they hoped
* Fages's estimate was somewhat less.
to shorten the distance and at the same time to
make new explorations. To the disappointed
this would yield at least a drop of consolation.
There was still something to see. Therefore,
reining southwestward they skirted the western
base of Mount Diablo, re-entered the Concord
Valley near Clayton, and continued west to the
region of Walnut Creek. Turning southeast
now, their spurs clinked past the site of Danville, and on through San Ramon Valley with
its oak-covered hills on either side. Veering
south they skirted the western edge of Liver-
more Valley, camped in front of the Hacienda
de las Pozas, crossed Sunol Valley, threaded
Mission Pass, and re-entered the valley of San
Francisco Bay. They had tied a great loop in
their trail. From this point they hastened to
Monterey by rapid marches over practically the
same route by which they had come. They had
covered in their journey nearly four hundred
miles, half the way over new ground.
This historic journey by Fages and Crespi
had more than merely exploratory significance.
It was a decisive factor in determining the location of San Francisco. Cermeno's bay or Point
Reyes had been predestined for that honor.
There was the historic port of Saint Francis.
But the new-found bay and its affluents stood
in the way. It was now concluded that communication with Point Reyes must be main-
tained by water; or better—and here was the
new thought expressed by Crespi—that the proposed settlement might be planted south of the
Golden Gate, in reach from Monterey by land,
and on the shore of the superb new harbor.
"From all that we have seen and learned,"
wrote Crespi in the last paragraph of his diary,
"it is inferred that if the new mission must
be established on the very harbor of San Francisco* or in its vicinity, neither provisions nor
stock can be taken to it by land; nor if it is
founded will it be able to maintain any connection with this port of Monterey unless several
canoes and some sailors are provided with which
to go from one place to the other, to transport
the necessities, and in this way make communication easy. May God our Lord, who penetrates
hearts, show the rulers what to decide in order
that they may make the decision most conducive
to His greater honor and glory, and to the welfare of those helpless, blind, and unhappy souls.
Amen." With his prayer and his diary Crespi
furnished the new idea. With the help of these
the rulers decided to found the Mission of Saint
Francis south and not north of the Golden Gate.
The Fages-Crespi expedition marks a distinct
step forward, both in discovery and in choice of
a site for San Francisco.10
* That is, Drake's Bay.
With the Perez Expedition
Not San Francisco harbor alone gave anxiety
for the northern coasts. It was the Russians
who had frightened Spain into the occupation
of New California, and the Russian danger had
not by any means passed. New and disquieting
rumors of the Muscovites continued to reach
Spanish ears. Conde de Lacy, Spanish plenipotentiary at St. Petersburg, sent alarming dispatches to Minister Arriaga at Madrid.* He
had heard that the Russian Tscherikow had recently made a voyage to the American coast, the
reports of which the government was jealously
keeping secret. Something sinister was brewing, and Spain must be on the qui vive!
Arriaga lost no time in forwarding the disturbing news to Viceroy Bucareli, with orders
to investigate. There was a buzz of excitement
in Bucareli's court, and the new viceroy showed
his quality by taking the lead. For immediate
help in this time of need he turned to Juan
Perez, ablest pilot in the California service, he
who first in this period had steered a ship into
the harbors of San Diego and Monterey. For
the ultimate problem in the North Pacific, which
he grasped with statesmanlike prescience, Bucareli asked for a corps of skilled mariners, trained
for great deeds.
* Early in 1773.
In quick response the king sent from Spain
six officers of the royal marine, detailed especially
to explore the North Pacific waters and ward off
foreign danger there. This galaxy of mariners,
coming to San Bias, in the next two decades
made one of the brilliant chapters of seamanship in the history of North America. Hezeta,
Bodega, Ayala, Quiros, Choquet, and Manrique,
with several no less gallant associates, form a
group of bold sea-dogs of the Pacific who deserve
but still await an historian.
But it was a year before this marine corps
arrived. Meanwhile Bucareli met the need of
the moment with the materials at hand. New
orders from Madrid quickened his pace. Still
another Russian expedition to the American
coasts was reported. The ambitions of the Russian Bear must be checked or it would be too
Perez sprang to the breach. In September
he submitted a plan for an expedition to the
threatened shores. He would sail north, strike
the coast in latitude 45° or 50° and then recon-
noiter southward to spy out any lurking enemies.
The best time to start would be between December and February, and the best ship available
would be the transport Santiago, alias Nueva
Galicia, newly built for the California service.
Bucareli's ideas vaulted higher. He approved the plan and put Perez in command, but
ordered him to climb the North Pacific as far
as 60° and then coast downward. By all means
the purpose of the voyage must be kept a secret.
This was to be a preliminary reconnoissance
only, not a military expedition. Since Perez
would have no armed force, he must make no
settlement. But he must note the best sites on
the coast, take formal possession of them for
Carlos III, and get acquainted with the natives.
If he found strangers settled anywhere, he must
go them one better by taking possession a safe
distance farther to the north. Through his long-
winded instructions there floats the aroma of
the East brought west by old Marco Polo. In
the spirit of the days of the conquistadores,
Perez was ordered to report on the resources of
the country—its natives, its spices, its drugs, its
metals, its precious stones. He was provided
with copies of the latest Russian maps, sent for
the purpose, with royal solicitude, from Spain.
To win the natives he carried four chests of glass
beads and four hundred and sixty-eight strings.
In distributing these gifts great care must be
taken to discriminate between the high and the
lowly; more beads must be given to chiefs than
to the rank and file.11
Detailed paragraphs told Perez just how to
"take possession." They followed good old custom.   The permanent sign of ownership would
be a large wooden cross, set on a stone base, presumably in cement. For the appropriate ceremony Perez was provided with a long formulary,
couched in legal and pious terms, which, if heard
by the red men doubtless would be most impressive—and wholly unintelligible. In the stone
base of the cross a copy of the formulary of
possession must be deposited in a sealed glass
bottle or flask. This for any Europeans who
might come meddling down the coast. It was
to be like the leaden plates buried by France
up and down the Mississippi Valley as a warning to England, most of which were found, if
ever, long after both contestants were out of the
game, to be quarreled over only by scholars.
San Bias, the California sea base, bustled
and hummed to equip and provision the sturdy
ship. Galloping couriers carried despatches
over the mountains to and from the viceroy.
Late in January, 1774, the sails of the Santiago
filled and she glided from the harbor. On board
were eighty-eight men, counting officers, crew,
surgeon, and chaplain. Besides supplies for a
year's cruise the vessel carried provisions for
Monterey. Close behind, the Principe was sent
with additional supplies to Monterey, to serve
as succor for Perez in case of need.
* The Santiago carried a distinguished passenger—a wiry little man with compelling black
 Crespi's Map of San Francisco Bay, 17
eyes, and an eager look. It was Father Serra,
returning now from his strenuous but successful mission to Mexico, where he had hypnotized
a viceroy and taken Fages's official head. He
had planned to wait for the Principe, but his
eager spirit could not bear to see a vessel depart
without him for his beloved Monterey.
At San Diego a three weeks' stop was made,
and here one of the unfit was weeded out. Not
all of Perez's men were heroes, any more than
were all those whom Washington began to
muster a few months later on the other side of
the continent. Indeed they were quite human
enough to be interesting. Dr. Joseph Davila,
sent as surgeon of the expedition, was one of
those many congenital landlubbers for whom
the ocean has unconquerable terrors. With him
Serra, who had a better stomach for the sea, was
completely disgusted. On the voyage to San
Diego the doctor lay prone in his berth, "not
from illness, but from fear," says Serra. "It
would take long to tell what was done to encourage him, but all in vain. And as soon as he set
foot on land he armed himself with a firm determination not to embark again. His wife
begged and I urged, but we could not budge him.
And there he is remaining till he has an opportunity to come by land."12 Consequently Don
Pedro Castan sailed on the voyage in the timid
doctor's place.
The voyage had been slow and the Santiago
did not reach Monterey till May 9. At three in
the afternoon the vessel fired a salute; anchor
was dropped in six fathoms; the Salve was sung
to the Virgin, and another volley fired. To each
salute the presidio guns gave response; at four
o'clock Captain Fages went aboard the ship to
pay his official respects; and as he departed three
of the ship's guns boomed again and the sailors
shouted "Viva el Rey"—"Long live the King."
All these details of ceremony the staid pilot
Estevan Martinez gives us in his diary, a log
that is mostly taken up with nautical terms not
intelligible to the layman.
At Monterey Fathers Juan Crespi and Tomas
de la Pena joined the expedition, named by Serra
to serve as chaplains. Crespi was now fifty-three
years old. He was worn by thousands of miles
of horseback travel on land, and his voyage to
America had proved him to be a poor sailor.
Nevertheless, he resigned himself to obedience
and undertook the hard service. Serra knew his
The departure from Monterey caused a stir
at the little outpost, for it was no everyday event.
Before embarking the men of the crew were confessed. To see them off Serra trudged with
the friars from Carmel over the hills and down
the long slope to the presidio, where also were
Fathers Palou and Murguia. At the beach they
embraced, Crespi and Pena said good-bye, and
went on board. This was on June 6. Anchors
were raised and the next day the Santiago was
towed from the harbor. But they reckoned
without Aeolus. They had scarcely set sail
when a contrary wind drove them back into the
harbor. In this the pious saw the hand of God,
for on the 8th the Principe arrived with the
latest news from San Bias. This of course
occasioned another delay, and while they waited
the chaplains visited the friars on land.
Jehovah was now pitted against the god of
the winds. At the request of Perez, the seaman,
Mass was sung to Our Lady. Serra officiated;
Friars Crespi, Pena, Palou, Murguia and Du-
metz made up the choir. There on the slope of
the deep-hued bay, on the spot where one hundred and seventy-two years before Vizcaino had
landed, the rich harmonies of the majestic
Church melody voiced the hopes and the prayers
of the prospective voyagers, eager yet half
afraid. A picnic dinner on the beach by friars
and officers gave a festive touch, offset the same
day by a tinge of sadness cast by the death of
the boatswain on board the ship. His body was
sent ashore for burial, where presumably it still
rests, in the Campo Santo of the presidial church
of San Carlos.   His clothing was sold "for his
burial and for the good of his soul." On the
llth the Santiago was towed out of the harbor
once more and the voyage was begun de veras.
Crespi's instructions, like Pena's, required
him to report only his observations on land, but
he decided to keep a diary of the sea voyage,
when weather and his inescapable sea-sickness
permitted. The Santiago was breaking new sea
paths. Not for one hundred and seventy years,
not since the famed voyage of Vizcaino, had the
Spaniards examined by sea the coasts beyond
Monterey. The Manila galleon, 'tis true, coming east, usually sighted Cape Mendocino, and
steered thence southward, but these were commercial and not exploring voyages, and the galleons stuck to a course familiar by long use.
Crespi's diary of the journey, like his others,
therefore, has the interest always attached to
"firstness" in discovery.13
Still the sailing was unfavorable. For two
weeks the winds were inconstant, weak, or contrary, and the weather misty. Four days after
sailing the Santiago was wafted back once more
almost to the starting point. By the 24th it had
been driven south below 34°, the latitude of Los
Angeles. San Bias now was a better gamble
than Alaska. Next day, however, the sky cleared
and they began to gain altitude. The good winds
continued, but most of the way the shut-in hori-
zon was so lowering with clouds, fog, and mist
that "it caused great horror and fear, navigating unknown seas."
The monotony of the dreary northward voyage in the crowded ship was broken by various
diversions, chiefly drab-hued. Whenever the
timid sun appeared the pilots set up their instruments and observed the latitude. On Sundays
the chaplains preached and sometimes the sailors
took communion. One day a sick sailor received
the sacrament of extreme unction. The fickle
winds shifted and the course of the craft became
a dizzy zigzag. More than once Aeolus balked
and the ship was becalmed on the wide ocean
waste. A bright rainbow followed by a squall
deserved mention in Crespi's diary. Now some
sea lions were sighted; then some birds in the
air suggested that land was near. Often in the
higher latitudes the mist turned to downright
rain, and then the sailors from the southland
huddled with numb fingers and chattering teeth.
As the winds got better the skies became heavier.
The sailors became downcast, but Perez held on,
and when on July 9th the pilots announced latitude 45° all were "delighted." Good breezes
now wafted the Santiago rapidly north and six
days later she was above latitude 51°.
This July 15 was a decisive day in the voyage.
Bucareli's instructions said sixty degrees, then
to the coast. But even viceregal commands
must be construed with reason. Perez called a
council in which it was decided to approach land.
The winds so contrary early in the voyage were
now driving him rapidly north, and he feared
lest he might not be able to get back home. The
water supply was low, "some hogsheads with
two barrels, some with one, and others entirely
empty." The crew was dispirited and weak
from cold and illness. To the simple sailors
with Perez the terrors of the uncharted North
Pacific were no less real than those which cowed
the crews of Columbus when he ventured across
the mysterious Sea of the West. To the officers
assembled these seemed reasons enough for veering to the shore, even though they were nine
wide degrees short of the goal marked on the
map by the hard-driving Bucareli.*
The talked-of moment seemed now at hand.
As preparation for taking possession of the
country the carpenters made a wooden cross.
This standard must proclaim to all comers God,
the King, and the year, so it bore the inscriptions
IN EI—Carolus III Hispaniarum Rex—Ano
de 177A. (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews
—Carlos III, King of the Spains—The Year
1774.)   As they approached the coast they still
* Since the instructions required him to go to 60° he considered
that this decision needed an explanation. The above is the one that
he gave (P6rez to Bucareli, Monterey, August 31, 1774.   MS.).
gained altitude, and on July 18 when land was
first seen they were in 53° 43'. For yet two days
more Perez worked northward, "without seeing
sun or stars." On the 20th he stood in front of
Santa Margarita Point, the northernmost tip of
Queen Charlotte Island, in latitude 55°, according to his estimate. This was another memorable day in the voyage—indeed this day and the
next, of all the days, were given the most space
in Crespi's diary.
Friar Juan gives a graphic account of experiences here at this "farthest north" of the
Perez voyage. As the Santiago approached on
the 20th the smokes of many fires could be seen
on land. Then from the roadstead a canoe
sallied forth. The occupants were singing, and
while seven men rowed the eighth, a painted
barbarian, stood up in the boat, danced, and
threw feathers into the water—driving off
strange devils, perhaps. Their singing reminded
Crespi of the natives of New California. As
they made a turn around the vessel, from the
cabin the Spaniards called them to come near.
Suspicious at first, when coaxed with bright
colored handkerchiefs, biscuits, and bread, they
drew close enough to seize the tantalizing gifts.
When a rope was thrown down they declined
to climb up, but by holding on they gleefully
waterplaned  behind the  vessel for  a  goodly
stretch. Later another canoe approached the
vessel for presents and barter. After nightfall
a third canoe-load came on a begging cruise and
by their yelling and singing disturbed evening
prayers on board.
Next day a whole fleet, bearing more than
two hundred persons, swarmed and swirled
around the vessel eager to trade. Some sang,
others strummed a wooden instrument like a
drum. Some of the canoes were twelve yards
in the keel and held twenty men. One contained
only women who rowed and steered "as well as
the most dextrous sailors." Two bold natives
went aboard, marveled at the wonders of the
ship, and were shown the image of Our Lady.
Two sailors in return delighted the natives by
leaping into the canoes and dancing with the
occupants. The young women especially gazed
at them with admiring eyes. Two red-letter
days were these in the lives of the natives, to be
recounted round many a campfire, no doubt,
until in after years the visits of the white men
became all too frequent.
Crespi's notes on these early Canadians are
unique, for the Perez expedition marks their
first recorded contact with Europeans. "They
are very fat," he writes, "of a good appearance,
red and white in color,* with long hair; and they
* Perez said they had "blue and particolored eyes"  (P6rez to
Bucareli, August 31, 1774).
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Last page of Crespi's Diary of 1774.
ilia MS., Archivo General de Indias.    Palou's
cover themselves with skins of beaver and sea
lions." This was gratifying to our good friar,
who sometimes had had to close his eyes as he
passed among naked villagers in California.
"All or most of them wear rush hats, well woven,
with a pointed crown. They are not at all noisy,
and they seemed to us to be mild and good tempered."
The excellent water craft of the islanders
attracted his attention. "These canoes looked
to us as though they were all one piece, very well
hewn. They were made with keels, almost in
the same way as those used in the Channel of
Santa Barbara, except that these have a rear
deck, which the others lack, and the prow is not
open, as is customary in the Channel. The oars
are well made. We saw in the canoes two very
long harpoons and two axes, one of which looked
to me, by the way it shone, to be made of iron,
but I could not be sure. We saw that the point
of one of the harpoons was of iron, in the form
of a pike."
The handiwork of the natives caught Crespi's
keen eye. There were fur blankets made of
tanned skins; others of woven hair in several
colors, with fringes; mats made of palm fiber;
fine hats and ordinary hats, wooden trays well
carved in relief with figures of animals, birds,
and men; wooden spoons; a spoon made of horn;
woven belts; carved and painted pine boxes
with cord hinges, inlaid with shell work. Of
food they had only dried fish.
With due propriety the friar devoted another
word to the women. This time it was to their
lip-sticks. They wore wooden discs pendant
from the lips making them look as if their
tongues were hanging out. Crespi was intrigued
by the mechanics of the thing. "They manage
it with great facility and simply by a movement
of the lip they raise it and cover the mouth and
part of the nose." Here the friar felt the time-
old man's puzzle. Why this feminine trap?
"We do not know what their purpose is, whether
it be to make themselves ugly or to adorn themselves. I am inclined to the latter." He adds,
"We were interested also to see that the women
wear rings on their fingers and bracelets of iron
and copper."*
The sailors traded for trophies to show their
friends at San Bias. The conical hats and the
curiously made mats were favorite acquisitions.
One "obtained for a large knife that he gave
* Thirteen years after Perez' voyage Captain George Dixon, in
the Queen Charlotte, visited the Indians at almost precisely the same
place, and his report of the natives is strikingly like that given by
Crespi. It is contained in Captain George Dixon, A Voyage Bound
the World . . . in 1785, 1786, 1787, and 1788 (ed. 2, London, 1789).
Like the friar, Dixon was much interested in the lip-sticks of the
women. He published a drawing of one of them, and of one of the
horn spoons.1*
them a well plaited rush hat of several colors;
the crown was conical in shape, about a span
high, and the brim of the hat was not more than
six inches wide. Another sailor bought from
them for a large knife a very pretty little mat
a yard square, woven of fine palms of two colors,
white and black, which, being woven in little
squares, makes a good and handsome piece." In
return for these articles iron was the thing most
coveted by the natives. Some of the sailors got
more than they paid for. More than one "who
bought cloaks passed the night badly because
they covered themselves with them and had to
scratch, on account of the bites of the vermin
which these heathen breed in their clothing."
The commander distributed presents, and got in
return some curios which he sent to the viceroy.
For three days Perez tried to round Santa
Margarita Point, but the swift current prevented. To the north he made out Cape Santa
Maria Magdalena (Point Muzon, on Prince of
Wales Island). Between these two capes lay
Dixon Entrance, the "bay, pocket, or strait,"
whose waters checked his advance. On July 22
Perez made observations and found that he was
exactly in 55°. In his maneuvers he had been,
or seen, as high as 55° 49'. His latitudes were
obviously too high. He tried to land, but wind
and current made it impossible.   Divine aid was
needed, and next day a Novena was begun to San
Juan Nepomuceno—evidently Perez's patron
saint—but the weather did not improve. So the
prow of the Santiago was turned homeward, to
reconnoiter the coast as it went.*
The southward voyage was even rougher and
darker than the northward cruise. Dangerous
winds and cloudy weather prevented a close
approach to the shore. But numerous points on
the coast were seen even though at a distance,
and one discovery was notable. A few days out
they saw and named Sierra de San Cristobal
on Queen Charlotte Island, but were unable to
land. On August 6 the shore of Vancouver
Island was seen. On the 8th anchor was dropped
at San Lorenzo harbor, that Nootka Sound
which fifteen years later became such a bone
of contention between Spain and England. Of
this disputed morsel of North America Perez
was the discoverer. The southern point of the
harbor he named San Estevan, in honor of
second pilot Estevan Martinez, he who later
played first role in the international drama that
was staged on those shores. Indians were seen,
and trade flourished as at Santa Margarita.
*" Tired now of trying to land, accomplishing nothing, I decided to continue exploring south from the said latitude of 55 degrees,
keeping as close as possible to the coast, but neither the wind nor
the cloudy weather permitted me to do so till the 28th of the same
month" (P&rez to Bucareli, August 31).
Momentary fair weather revived Perez's
hope of being able to land and take possession.
Here the first cross should be erected. All hands
were as eager as the commander to put their feet
on terra firma. Next day they put out the
launch to go ashore, but Fate forbade. A west
wind arose, dragged the anchor, and threatened
to drive the Santiago on the rocks. In grave
peril of shipwreck Perez cut the cable, sacrificed
his anchor, and set sail in a storm, towing the
launch. So rough was the sea and so weak were
his men now from scurvy that they could
scarcely get the launch aboard.
Keeping gingerly near the coast, as they
edged along south they saw snow-covered Mount
Olympus and named it Cerro Nevado de Santa
Rosalia. From here forward the shore was frequently seen, but owing to almost constant dark
weather and contrary winds no landing was
made, and the cross so laboriously carved by the
carpenters had an unexpectedly long voyage.
On the way down it rained several dreary days,
the weather was cold, and the sailors suffered
terribly from scurvy. One man died. "I also,"
says Crespi, "have been so badly affected in the
mouth that I have not been able to celebrate
Mass, but my companion celebrated and gave
the sermon."
When Cape Mendocino was sighted everybody was cheered, for the name of this landmark
had a familiar sound. But when next day the
ship was becalmed spirits again went down;
another Novena was begun, and that night the
sailors made a pious promise to the Holy Mother
if she would take them safely to port. But
pulses rose again for port was near. Men
shouted when the Farallones were seen; and
next day there were louder cheers when the
white adobes of the presidio came in sight. The
galliard was hoisted to the foremast and the
pennant flung to the breeze. From shore a
launch was put out; the Salve and three cannon
salutes on board were answered by the presidio.
Here Crespi* landed, home from his last long
On November 2 the sea-worn Santiago sailed
into the harbor of San Bias, whence she had
started nearly a year before. Perez and his men
had not reached sixty degrees, and they had not
planted the cross on land, but they had made
a plucky voyage into unknown seas. Bucareli
complimented the brave Alferez with words of
appreciation; the king, in a more substantial
way, recognized his merit by promotion.
Bancroft's estimate of Perez's achievement
is a sound one: "In this expedition Juan Perez,
though he had not reached latitude 60°, as instructed, nor discovered any good ports, nor
*Pena also.
landed anywhere to take possession for Spain,
nor found either foreign establishments or proof
of their non-existence, had still gained the honor
of having discovered practically the whole
Northwest Coast. He had surveyed a large
portion of the two great islands that make up
the coast of British Columbia, giving the first
description of the natives; he had seen and described, though vaguely and from a distance,
nearly all of the Washington coast, and a large
part of the Oregon. He had given to his nation
whatever of credit and territorial claims may
be founded on the mere act of first discovery."*
Crespi made no more long journeys. The
remaining eight years of his life were spent in
quiet but active missionary work at Carmel.
But his travels became justly famous among
his fellow-friars. Soon after his death Palou
chanced one day to be speaking to Serra of the
dearth of volunteers for the missionary service.
With a sigh the weary president replied: "If
the friars of our Holy Province who knew the
late Fray Juan Crespi could but see what he
accomplished, and the great harvest which he
was able to gather, great numbers of them would
be encouraged to come. If they were but to
read his diaries it would be enough to move
many of them to the point of leaving fatherland
* Bancroft, H. H., History of the Northwest Coast, pp. 156-157.
and monastery to undertake the journey in
order to have a share in this vineyard of the
Crespi's travels and toils in California may
be summed up in the simple words of Palou, his
lifelong friend and fellow-missionary:
He was the first missionary to tread its soil, for
he started in the year 1769 from the mission of
Purisima with the first division of the land expedition which discovered the harbor of San Diego. He
continued afterward with the expedition by land
until it discovered this harbor of Our Seraphic
Father San Francisco, whence he returned with the
expedition to San Diego. Shortly after his arrival
there he set out again with the expedition in search
of Monterey, and having found the harbor he took
part in the founding of the presidio and mission of
San Carlos in company with the reverend father
president. In the second year after the founding of
that mission he set out with Commander Don Pedro
Fages to explore this harbor, in which expedition
were discovered the great river or rivers which
flow into this harbor, through whose outlet they
descend to the sea. While they were engaged in
this exploration they had to turn back, as is related
in his diary. After returning to Monterey, having
traveled one hundred and forty leagues, he was sent
by the reverend father president to San Diego to
prevent the abandonment of that port, threatened on
account of the lack of provisions, which was relieved
* Pal6u, Vida del Padre Serra, dedicatory letter.
by the supplies sent by the commander with that
Shortly before the end of the year he again went
up to Monterey, and in the year 1774 he embarked
with Captain Don Juan Perez in the frigate Santiago
on the first expedition to the high latitudes of the
coasts of this sea. After his return he remained
in the mission of San Carlos until God took him
away to reward him for all these labors, from
which he had suffered in so many journeys by sea
and land, and I do not doubt he will have great
glory in heaven, for they were all directed to these
spiritual conquests. Besides being a very exemplary
and humble friar, for I knew him since he was a
boy, as we were reared together and studied together
from the very first rudiments until we finished
theology, he was highly regarded among all his
fellow pupils for his mystic and perfect religion.
For this reason I have no doubt that he is enjoying
God, and that he will pray to Him for the conversion
of all these heathen, for which end he labored so
THE diaeies
Diaries of all three of Crespi's exploring journeys were included
in Palou's Noticias de Nueva California. The only manuscript of
this work known to be extant is that made by Figueroa. When
Palou left California in 1785 he took the original of his Noticias
with him and filed it in the archives of the College of San Fernando,
in the City of Mexico, of which he became guardian or president.
Shortly before he died an order came from Madrid asking for the
compilation of a great body of documents on which to base a monumental history of New Spain. Pursuant to this order Fray Francisco
Garcia Figueroa, of the College in San Cosme, in Mexico, compiled
thirty-two volumes of Memorias para la Historia de Nueva Espafia.
Two of these volumes comprised Pal6u's Noticias. The transcript,
made from Palou's autograph manuscript "with all the exactitude
permitted by the wretched and difficult handwriting of the original,"
was certified by Father Figueroa himself on December 3, 1792. Six
decades afterward, in 1857, the Noticias was published by the government of Mexico in the great collection of Documentos para la
Historia de Mexico. It was printed from the Figueroa manuscript,
for Pal6u's holograph had disappeared. Seventeen years still later,
in 1874, a small edition—one hundred copies—was published in San
Francisco* by John T. Doyle. Not knowing the whereabouts of the
manuscript, Doyle merely reprinted the Mexican text.
Some twenty years ago I examined the original Figueroa manuscript in the archives of Mexico. A comparison of the printed Mexico
edition with the manuscript showed a multitude of variations. Pal6u
wrote a direct and simple style. The Mexican editor, a belated
G6ngorist, freely substituted "elegant" phrases for Pal6u's plain
terms. In most cases the sense was not greatly altered, but the
resulting text was by no means a faithful copy, and Doyle's text,
as a matter of course, has the same defects. Indeed, Doyle's text
was not well proof-read, and contains more errors than the Mexican
edition. When in 1926, therefore, I published an English version of
Pal6u's history (Paldu's New California) I based the translation
directly on the Figueroa MS. and not on the printed texts. That
manuscript was laboriously compared with the editions of the Mexican
editor and Doyle, which I designated respectively as M. and D.    To
justify departure in many places from these printed versions, and
incidentally to help establish a correct text, most of the. principal
variations of M. and D. from the manuscript—several hundred in
number—were indicated in the Editorial Notes.
The Crespi diaries thus scattered through Pal6u's Noticias are
here reprinted from my English edition of that work. Of the principal diary, that of the Portold expedition, the Figueroa manuscript
is the only version known to be extant. Of the other diaries there
are manuscripts in the Archivo General de Indias, at Sevilla. Several
copies were usually made of such documents, but they were seldom
identical in all respects, and so it was with these. Although in
essentials they are not greatly different, the archive versions vary
from the Figueroa texts in numerous minor particulars. For this
reason both the archive and the Figueroa texts of the Crespi diary
of the Fages expedition are here printed. The Crespi letters here
published are from the British Museum and the archives of Mexico.
Two of them are included in the Appendices to my edition of Pal6u,
but the others have never before been printed. With this explanation
the manuscripts of the three diaries may be listed as follows:
The PoRTOLi. Expedition, 1769-1770
A. The Paldu-Figueroa MS.: "Diario del Viage, y descripei6n de
Ios dilatados caminos, que a mayor honrra y gloria de Dios N. S. y
de N. Eey (que D. G.) hicieron Ios Misioneros Apostolicos del Colegio
de San Fernando de Mexico . . . desde la Mision frontera llama da
N. S. de Ios Angeles, hasta Ios Puertos de San Diego y Monterey,
toda de tierra de Gentilidad en Ios anos del Senor de 1769, y 1770,"
etc. (printed here).   See p. 53, Note.
The Fages Expedition of 1772
B. The SevUlaMS.: " Diario de la Expedizi6n que desde la Misi6n
de San Carlos de Monterey emprendio el Reverendo Padre Fray Juan
Crespi, Predicador Apostolico del Colegio de San Fernando de
Megico, en compania del Senor Gapitan y Soldados del Presidio en
demanda del Puerto de San Francisco, por el mes de Marzo de 1772.''
This is the original official draft of the diary. It is in the Archivo
General de Indias (at Sevilla), 104-6-17. Cited in Chapman's
Catalogue, No. 1925. This version and C. tell essentially the same
story, but they supplement each other at many interesting points.
C. The Palou-Figueroa MS.: "Diario que se form6 en el registro
q. se hizo del Puerto de Nuestro Padre S.n Francisco." (Printed
here in part.)
D. Crespi's Map: Crespi made a most interesting map of the
results of this expedition, the original manuscript of which is in the
Archivo General de Indias. It has been reproduced in Wagner, The
Spanish Southwest, Robertson, The Harbor of St. Francis, and
Pal6u's New California (Bolton, editor). It is reproduced in this
volume, also.
The Perez Expedition, 1774
E. The Sevilla MS.: "Ano 1774. Diario que yo, Fr. Juan Crespi
Misionero del App.co Colegio de Propaganda Fide de S.n Fernando
de Mexico, formo del Viage de la Fragata de su Mag.d nombrada
Santiago, alias La Nueva Galicia, mandada por su Capitan y AlfSrez
de Fragata D.n Juan Perez, que por orden del Exc.mo S. Baylio Frey
D. Antonio Maria Bucareli y Ursua Virrey de la Nueva Espana va
a hacer de las Costas del Norte de Monte-Rey, que se halla en la
Altura de 36 grados y medio del Norte, hasta Ios 60 grados a lo
menos." Printed by Griffin in the Historical Society of Southern
California Publications, Vol. II, Part I, Los Angeles, 1891.
F. The Pal&arFigueroa MS.: "Diario de la Expedicion de Mar
que hizo la Fragata Santiago en la que fueron Ios Padres Predic.8 Fr.
Juan Crespi y Fr. Tomas de la Pena." (Printed here.) See p. 366,
The Crespi letters here printed are from three manuscript collections. The letters to Pal6u, June 9, 1769 and February 5, 1770, and
to Father Andre"s, June 11, 1770, are from the British Museum (Add.
MS. 13974. Copia de Cartas escritas por el P. P.or Fr. Juan Crespi.)
These are official copies of letters sent by Guardian Verger to his
superior (see p. 21, Note). They are printed here without Verger's
annotations. The letter to Father Andres, June 22, 1769, is from
the original in the Museo Nacional de Mexico (Documentos Relativos
a las Misiones de Californias, MS. Quarto Series, Vol. I). The letter
to Joseph de G&lvez, February 9, 1770, is from the original in the
Archivo General y Pfiblico, Mexico (Californias, Vol. 66). The letters
of June 9, 1769 and February 6, 1770, were printed in Pal6u's New
California (Bolton, editor, Berkeley, 1926), Vol. IV, pp. 253-265,
269-285.    The others have never before been printed.
C iX BC>5
    University of British Columbia Library
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