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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
December 30, 1937     The Catalina Islander
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December 30, 1937

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Y, DEC. 30, 1937 PAGE FIVE !Editor's Note: Roy W. Cloud, who has [men, these "Brief Highlights of California tory," is the author of "Tra s of Yester- a narrative of early California days, oI "The History of San Mateo County." is an authority on California history Was formerly historian of the Grand Par- Native Sons of the Golden \Vest.) THE EXPLORERS History's first reference to California :CUrs in a Spanish book of romance, Sergas Esplanadian", published The author, Montalvo, there of the "island of California, where great abundance of gold and prec- stone is found." From that hour the qnest for Calf- and its "great abundance of and precious stone" began. aring the centuries that followed, was indeed found in abundance, the Spanish romanticist's "precious remained within the covers of Is book. The belief that CaliK~rnia'was an is- tnd, however, persisted until the be- nh~mg ot the eighteenth centnry. m Rodriguez Cab:flip, Lieutenant ~rtez, Conqueror of Mexico, is ted whh being the actual discov- :r ,_,r ],o. the.n, ,:,r Aita Cahtornia. t by Cortez in search of treasure, the fabulously weahhy-vbut myth- Cities of Cibola, Cabrillo ted in the bay of San Diego in This hardv naxigator umcretl Mon- ey bay, chartc(l the cc, ast line as llortll as t..ape Menttuc~?o, and I11 Caillo,i~:K ~li gan~,cDe from !lllproperl~ Set D,LJken arlll. wa~ bt,.,~,~(~ on the is,aml of San m the banta 13arba~a clwnncl, shq~s finally returning to Mexico .~r another commarider. riches Cortez sought were not ;lud, but a vast new tclritory ~as Jvered fur ti~c ~panish throne. -brancis Drake, sailing under the flag thirty-seven years after landed, on June 17, 1379, at is now Drakes Bay, near the ut Point Reyes. AlthougK claimed the land for England, sovereignty of the new Cali- Ua was never seriously threatened. this visit. Drake nailed to a ~re great oaken poste" a brass suitably inscribed, as a memo- that he had taken possession "of kmgdome" m the name of Queen abem. famous relic was discovered in minity by a camper just last year years atter Drake's visit. It has :n accepted as attthentic by Califor- .historians and is now in the pos- Slon of the California Historical So- Cross, the "Prayer Book s," a towering granite structure Gate Park, San Francisco, the discovery of e's Bay. Vizcaino, sailing by corn- 1. of King Philip III of Spain for exploration of California, an- Monterey harbor, December 602: He camped there f0r some exploring the adjacent country, a cross, thereafter return- to Mexico. bronze tablet now marks the spot the cross stood. The Spaniah Era Lder Spanish control, colonization was carried on in California by Pioneer padres as Mission found- greatest of this line was the Junipero Serra, who came in 1769, landing at San He labored here for sixteen m his epochal work of Mission and died at Mission Carmel, !st 28, 1784, at the age of 70. to the Franciscans, the Jesuit had begun Mission founding in California. There, in 1697, the her, Juan Maria Salvatierra, mission at Laredo. Was Father Francisco Eusebio one of Salvatierra's associates, 1700, on a journey of explora- the head of the Gulf of Call- a, traced with his telescope the ranges far to the northward, aSCOvered that California was not d, but a part of the mainland, were expelled from Cal- decree in 1767, leav- e following year. The Franciscan order, under Serra, at ~mce took up and carried forward, missionary and colonization labors in the ::ew province. Spain took formal possession L,f tip- per California at Monterey June 3, 17711, ,.>ne humlred att,.t sixty-eight years after the landing at the harbor by Sebastian Vizcainu m i6'J2. These ceremonies were conducted by l)on Gasper de [)ol'tola, as CaliforniaCs first Governor, mass being celebrated b3 };ether Serra, and to~,k place under tnc same oak tree ;vhcre Vizcainu had canq)cd and erected a cross in 1602. 't_'tlt trtmk of this fanv+~us live oak tree, preserved by a chemical process, is now in the ChapeI u( San Carl,~s at Monterey. This ctaapel, built in 1794, is still in an excellent state uf preser- vation. A granite cross marks the spot where the live oak stood, the tree hav- ing been felled "when it began to wJthcr and decay. t'ortola's historic discovery of Sau Francisco Bay, November 2, 1769, re- enhetl when Portola's overland expedi- tion from San iNego, searching for Monterey Bay, missed Monterey en- t;re~y, Portola fiually sighting the har- bor now called ban r'ranciseo Bay, and so na:ned later by Father 5erra in honor of his patron saint, St. Francis. The first shq) ever to sail through the Golden Gate into San Francisco Bay was the San Carios, colnmanded by the Spanish Captain, Juan de Aya- la, August 5, 1775. With Portola as the first Governor of California, at Monterey, and with the establishment there ot Junipero Serra as Father President of the Mis- sions, Monterey became the seat of both the civiLand ecclesmstical author- ity of thenew 5pamsla province of California. It was likewise the military capital of the province, the main seaport and the center'of social life. Monterey, in the days "before the Gringo came", was the scintillant cen- ter of all the colorful and picturesque life of the "Days of the Dons". Here was the wealth, the beauty, the gay- ety, the enterprise of the entire coun- try lying between San Francisco and San Diego. "There will never agaiu be seen upon this earth, perhaps," says John S. McGroarty, in his book, "Califor- nia", "a life so ideal as that which was in Monterey and throughout all Cali- fornia in its halcyon days before the 'Gringo' came .... the land was fat with plenty and every door was flung wide with welcome to whomsoever might come." It was here, in Ca'lifornia's first cap- ital, that California's first newspaper, "The Californian", was published by Dr. Robert Semple, with type bor- rowed from the missions. Semple, a dentist, was a Kentuckian, standing 6 feet 8 inches, and usually dressed in buckskin, wearing a coonskin cap. Dr. Semple transferred his activities and his vigorous personality about this time to Sonoma and with General Ma- riana G. Vallejo planned the city of Benicia, named for Vallejo's wife. Semple operated the first ferry on San Francisco Bay; participated in the Bear F1ag revolt later and was chmr- man of the first constitutional conven- tion at Monterey. The Mexican Era The Spanish era in Calihu'nia end- ed, politically, toward the cud ~f 1822 wlten -\[~:xico, uuder General iturbide, threw off the yoke of Spain and set tip a separate Mexican empire with hllllsclf on the throne as Emperor Au- gustin I. The _\lexican era, under a succession of gu~ern~ws, lasted until 1840, and curled with tile entrance by the United 5tares into California's history iu that 3"car. Chiefly o~erland, the infiltration of Americans had set in during the peril,d, with American influences and pioneers gradually forging, to leader- ship. (Pf the famed American trail blazers ~,f this period was Captain jedediah Smitli, discoverer of the South Pass through the Rocky Monntains that made the historic "covered wagon" caravans possible. Smith, who sur- \i\cd ahnost incredible hardships, and death on several occasions--once ill a hand to hand battle with a grizzly, which he killed with a knife, being fearfully mauled in the encounter-- was the first :nan to bring an overland party to Califorma, by the southern or Colorado river route. tte was the frst American of record to cross the Sierras attd the first Am- erican to travel the length of Califor- nia overland, from San Diego to Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River. This intrepid scout--and the original Pathfinder, because he was twenty years before Fremont--ultimately met the death he had so o/ten defied when he was ambushed by a band of Co- manche Indians on the Cimmaron. He was then thirty-two years of age, hav- ing been a scout and trapper from his early youth. His watch, Bible--which he always carried with him--and other personal possessions were later recovered from the indians. The only geographical memorial in California to his great work, which has been altogether too little recog- nized by historians, is the SInith Riv- er, which he discovered, in Del Norte County. During this period--in 1841--the Russians, who had established a trad- ing and hunting post at Fort Ross, near Bodega Bay, about 75 miles north of San Francisco, abandoned it. Fort Ross was established in 1812. At one time the Russians maintained a seal- ing post, manned by Aleutians, on the Farallone Islands, some twenty-four miles off the Golden Gate. In the international picture, with Spain's North American power ended, England and France both were casting covetous eyes on California; a circum- stance that quite apparently hastened the series of events destined to bring Ca'lifornia under the American flag. Bear Flag Relmblle The opening of the year 1846 found California with a white population of about 10,000, including a considerable proportion of Americans engaged in agricultural pursuits, lumbering, and various kinds of trading. The Mexi- can hold in California was weak, cen- tered at Monterey and in the north, at Sonoma, where General Vallejo maintained a semblance of military rule. Conditions were highly unsatis- factory for the settlers, with practic- ally no cooperation either from the Mexican authorities or from the Unit- ed States, through snch occasional warships as visited at California har- bors. The climax to the settlers' discon- tent came just before dawn, June 14, 1846, when General Vallejo and his staff were placed under arrest by a group of twenty-four Americans, in charge of Captain Ezekial Merritt. The Bear Flag of the California Re- public then replaced the Mexican en- sign on the flagpo'le before General Vallejo's headquarters. The party included Dr. Scruple and William G. Ide, the latter becoming the leader of the Bear Flag regime. W'ithont authority to hoist the Am- erican flag, the settlers had decided on the design of a flag of their own, with a crudely paint@ grizzly bear and one star. The flag was hand- painted "with linseed oil and Venetian red" by one of the company, William L. Todd, a relative of Mary Todd Lin- coln, wife o the Great Emancipalor. An interesting detail of a narrative of the day chncerning the making of the flag, relates that, when some red material was needed for embellishment it was supplied by Mrs. Captain John Sears and said to have been "part of a petticoat" worn by her while cross- ing the' S{erras. A c~,nstitution was adopted by the settlers' at S0nbma. decta:-in~ Califor- nia a distinct, separate and sovereign naticu. Captain John C, Fremont, +,.c>f the topographical engineers, who was in Califonaia un a "t)alhfi, udmg" exliedi- tion ff,r the gov.crmnent, became ctm> mamler of the Bear "Flag forces, or- ganizing a battalion of mounted rifle- men and I)romptly suppressing such minor opposition that the Mexican authorities endeavored to offer. Fremont, called the "Pathfinder", had the famous scout, Kit Carson, at- tached to his command during his act- ivities in California. , +- /+., United States Sovereignty The Bear Flag Republic lasted just twentv-fonr days, or until the Ameri- can flag was raised at Monterey by command of Cotnmodore John Drake Sloat on July 7, 1846,. or twenty-six days, if we allow for the two days it required for the news to get to So: noma,,capital of the Republic. War had been declared between the united States' and Mexico prior to July 2, 1846, when Sloat dropped an- chor in Monterey bay. There was a delay of five days before Sloat de- nmnded the surrender of Monterey. Some authorities ascribed the delay to the occurrences at Sonoma and the in- stitution of the Bear Flag Republic However, on the seventh of July, Sloat made. formal demand on the Mexican commandante for the surren- der of the capital, landed a force of nnrines and semnen, took possession ~ the port, and ran up the American flag to a salute of twenty-one guns :l:xo:n the three warships under his oommand in the harbor. Sonoma .received'the news with ac-- claim two days later. The Bear Flag ~as promptly and officially supplanted ~n July 9, 1846, by the Stars and' Stripes, and California came under the a'ule of the United States. The Stars and Stripes were raised at l$onoma by Lieutenant Joseph War- ten Revere, Of the warship Ports- :mouth, then lying at San Francisco. L~eutenant Revere, grandson of Paul Revere, and, on his mother's side, of General Joseph Warren, the hero of Banker Hill, took the Bear Flag with hi~a on his return east. Some years later he gave it to the Society of Cal- ifarnia Pioneers, where it remained until 1906. In that year this historic relic was lost in the fire that devas- tated a large portion of San Francisco, destroying the Society's headquarters. The war with Mexico ended Febru- ary 2, 1848, and California, by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, became a part of the United States, without a government other than might be given arbitrarily to it by the President. Cal- ifornia, in fact. never held "territorial" (Continued on page 11, col. 1)