The Journal of San Diego History
Spring 1975, Volume 21, Number 2
James E. Moss, Editor
Thomas L. Scharf, Assistant Editor

Images from the Article

The San Carlos, first ship to leave La Paz to carry out Spain’s colonization and settlement of Alta California, dropped anchor in San Diego Bay on April 29, 1769, some 110 days after its departure. Contrary winds, strong currents, and imprecise navigational information had caused serious delays, more than doubling the normal sailing time.1 As a result, the lack of fresh water, scurvy, and other sickness had taken a heavy toll. Nearly one-third of those on board would be buried on San Diego’s shore.2

Despite this ill-fated voyage, the San Carlos reached its appointed destination and joined the San Antonio, second ship to leave La Paz, at anchor in the lee of Ballast Point.3 Lt. Pedro Fages, military commander of the sea expedition, and Engineer Miguel Costansó, chief of cartography and surveying, promptly disembarked from the San Carlos to set up a temporary camp, help with the sick and dying, and take part in coordinating the activities of the two vessels.4 During May and June, 1769, both men played key roles in establishing a Spanish settlement in San Diego. Their first two letters to Visitador General José de Gálvez, the man responsible for planning and organizing the California adventure, give an “eyewitness account” of these early days.5 The letters are fully translated and presented herein.

Although details of the Sacred Expedition to Alta California in 1769 are known to scholars of the period, it is nevertheless worthwhile to reinforce, basic knowledge with new documentation. Fages and Costansó wrote their letters as preliminary reports just prior to the arrival of Father Junipero Serra and Gaspar de Portola with the major overland forces on July 1, 1769.6 The letters offer comments on the physical characteristics of the bay and port of San Diego, water supplies, construction of a military establishment, potential for trading and dealing with the Indians, number of rancherías, and other matters of interest to the home government. The shorter report from Fages concentrates on the Indian/military situation, whereas the longer memorandum from Costansó gives an overall assessment of Spanish endeavors.

By the end of June, 1769, José de Gálvez had returned to Mexico City from La Paz to await news of the successful completion of settlement at San Diego and Monterey. With characteristic thoroughness, the visitador had issued explicit instructions to major personnel in his attempt to ensure permanent colonization of Alta California. On the previous January 5, four days before the departure of the San Carlos, he had presented lengthy directives to Captain Vicente Vila as well as to Fages and Costansó. The fifteen articles to Vila covered the general objectives of the expedition, including conversion of Indians to the Catholic faith and extension of the Spanish domain.7 The orders also outlined procedures for coordinating the movements by land and sea. To aid Vila in finding San Diego, Gálvez referred him, in article three, to the narrative of Sebastián Vizcaíno as printed in Miguel Venegas’ Noticias de las Californias.8 In article fifteen, he asked Vila to confirm the navigational charts in Cabrera Bueno’s Navegación Especulativa y práctica.9 Both works are mentioned by Costansó in his letter to Gálvez as having put the expedition far off course. The San Carlos actually sailed nearly 200 miles to the north of San Diego.

The seventeen articles of instructions to Pedro Fages covered military aspects of the expedition. The thirty-nine-year-old Fages, commanding a seasoned company of Catalonian Volunteers, had previously served in Sonora during Domingo Elizondo’s successful march against rebellious Indians.10 Having gained the trust and respect of Gálvez, Fages received orders to take charge of all military personnel until the arrival of Portola by land.11 Gálvez placed him over Fernando de Rivera y Moncada, commander of the first overland party and leader of a detachment of 25 soldados de cuera12 The visitador charged Fages to maintain “harmony and discipline” among the soldiers, prepare the Indians for establishment of a mission under Father Serra, and to forward regularly to Mexico reports of all activities.

Engineer Miguel Costansó had also served under Domingo Elizondo in Sonora in 1767-68.13 Like Vicente Vila, Costansó had been singled out by Gálvez to participate in the junta convened at San Blas to plan the expeditions to San Diego and Monterey. Prior to his departure, Costansó completed sketches and plans for the Port of San Blas and then sailed to Baja California late in 1768.14 There he made scale drawings of the area north of Cape San Lucas and prepared for his imminent departure to Alta California.

Gálvez’s instructions to Costansó, given at the same time as those to Vila and Fages, first required the young engineer to be aware of and help in those matters concerning his fellow officers.15 He was specifically ordered to make observations of the ports of San Diego and Monterey, compare his findings with the older sailing charts, draw new maps, and examine the countryside surrounding both areas. The remainder of his charges dealt with construction of a proper fortification at Monterey, reconnaissance of the ports of Monterey and San Francisco,16 preparation of detailed accounts to be forwarded to Mexico and Spain, and finally his return to San Blas upon completion of the work.17

Fages and Costansó, as soon after recovering from the ill-effects of the sea voyage as possible, carried out their respective instructions. They reconnoitered the port and inland areas of San Diego, examining especially today’s Mission Valley. On May 14, 1769, the first overland party led by Rivera y Moncada reached the southern port and joined the survivors of the San Carlos and San Antonio. Rivera suggested the camp be transferred from the shores of the bay to a site on Presidio Hill for reasons of health and safety. The move caused the problem mentioned by Costansó of having to carry supplies a further distance from the ships. By late June the Spaniards had their camp fairly well established and were on friendly terms with the Indians. After writing the letters herein translated, Fages and Costansó had less than a week to wait for Serra and Portola with the final portion of the expedition. Its arrival marked the official beginning of settlement of Alta California. Copy of a letter of Don Pedro Fages written in San Diego on June 26, 1769 [to José de Gálvez].18

[Orders are given to Don José Maria Lario so that he will send the box mentioned in this letter to the Very Illustrious Viceroy on the first occasion.]

Printed with Permission from The Huntington Library, San Marino.
Facsimile of the first page of a letter from Don Pedro Fages to Don José de Gálvez, San Diego, June 26, 1769

Your Illustrious Lordship-My dear Sir: I am remitting to Your Excellency a box of various little things that I have obtained in trade with the pagan Indians of this vicinity. Here their rancherías are many; in fact, in seven leagues around this Port I think there are perhaps eight rancherías and some of them are well populated.19

We went with Don Miguel Costansó to examine the river which empties into this port. It was somewhat swollen when we arrived. In less than three leagues we found three rancherías along the bank.20 The river has dried up although at a depth of two spans [16 inches], by digging in the sand, very good water comes up. All along the banks there are very good water holes and woods; the land appears to me to be very good.

With regard to the Indians, they appear to be docile and alert. We have made very good friends with them and we are never lacking some little rabbits, hares, and fish that they bring to us. We give them some glass beads, but they value very highly any kind of cloth, no matter how poor it might be, since in exchange for some that I had, I received some furs and nets.

I am enclosing a report of what Box Number 1 contains and I will attempt, in exchange for beads and other items that the San Carlos carries for that purpose, to acquire more. Despite the fact that these pagan Indians appear of good character, I am observing precisely that which Your Excellency advised me in Instruction No. 9.21 I also have very well in mind that which is contained in No. 13,22 in conformance with which we have covered ourselves in a parapet which is armed with the two small cannon taken off the Principe [San Antonio] in preparation for whatever attempt they might make by day. By night I maintain two sentinels and they are changed every two hours. Don Fernando Rivera follows his own system for there are never enough precautions in suspicious country.

We have planted some seeds and later will probably plant corn.

I am desirous of additional orders from Your Excellency and can assure my prompt obedience. I ask that Our Lord guard your life many years.

Port of San Diego, June 26, 1769. Your most devoted servant and subject kisses the hand of Your Excellency.

Pedro Fages            

His Illustrious Lordship Don José de Gálvez


Report of what is contained in Box No. 1.23

Printed with Permission from The Huntington Library, San Marino.

Large body shields24….. 1
Medium-sized body shields….. 4
Medium-sized dried gourds….. 3
Simple straw hats….. 3
Large otter pelts….. 6
Small otter pelts….. 3
Wildcat pelts ….. 3
Double nets for fishing….. 8
Simple nets for fishing and hunting….. 7
Feather headdresses of the ranchería chiefs….. 8
Arrows with which they make war upon each other….. 18
Mallet painted various colors….. 1
Piece of red ochre….. 1



I exchanged the two medium-sized dried gourds with the sailors of the Príncipe who had brought them from the pagan Indians of the Islands of the Santa Barbara Channel; all the rest I have traded with the pagan Indians of this area. Regarding the red ochre, they have given indications that there is much in the earth; I will not fail to ascertain this and other matters which might be of interest. In this encampment at San Diego. June 26, 1769.

Pedro Fages            

Copy of a letter written by Don Miguel Costansó from the Port of San Diego dated the 28th of June, 1769 [ to José de Gálvez].25

Your Illustrious Lordship-My dear Sir: The lack of people and the illnesses which God has deemed to send us have been the cause of many setbacks because the objects of greatest weight and the affairs of major consideration, all demanding attention and care, have left little room for those of less importance. I do not wish to say by this that the matters for which your Excellency commissioned me in the Instructions that you saw fit to dictate are of little consequence, but Your Excellency also knows that their nature requires tranquility and serenity of soul for them to be carried out. These are benefits we have little enjoyed here.

Having recently arrived at the Port and constructed our quarters (work in which Don Pedro Fages and I did not excuse ourselves), we applied all attention to the alleviation of the poor sick ones.26 The number of these was quite high, and those who were still on foot was very small. Many are the things to be attended to at one time: the care of our own defenses occupied some and on occasions everyone; the rations and attendance of the sick occupies others; also the firewood and water, to which is added the bringing from on board that which is required for sustenance and other purposes. These are necessary and indispensable tasks which we know are fatiguing to the people who are already weak and thin, wracked by the scurvy of which not even I am exempt.

In order to recover from it and not to find ourselves in the extreme danger that we began to fear, which was for not one man to remain, we gave a hand to all the work, performing all services even to the lowest ministerings of a nurse.

As soon as the first portion of the land expedition had arrived,27 we changed our quarters to a better site adjacent to the water source even though it was some distance from the ships. With the arrival of the new people, we no longer had the inconvenience of having to separate the forces. The mules facilitated the portage and helped us achieve that which was appropriate for the greatest utility and comfort for all.

In the new quarters, using the same precautions as in the first, we also built another pole stockade for our security and put up some large sheds in order to cover the provisions and equipment of the expedition.

In the midst of these tasks and the inconvenience of our quarters, I have not neglected to gather together the necessary materials to draw up later, when time permits, the charts, maps, and reports that Your Excellency commissioned me to prepare for the correction of the older sailing plans and charts which, according to what I am experiencing, differ somewhat from the truth and suffer serious errors. The first is that the Port of San Diego is not found nor ought to be looked for in 33 degrees as Vizcafno said,28 much less in 34 where the Pilot Cabrera Bueno has it situated;29 but rather in 32 degrees 32 minutes of latitude under which, with little difference, lies the point or extreme of the hill [Point Loma] which encloses said port on the west side.30

This hill, which Cabrera Bueno gives as one of the signs of the Port of San Diego, is a part of an irregularly shaped but very long peninsula. To the north northwest said peninsula also forms the other port of which Torquemada speaks [False or Mission Bay] and which is known to be very full of sandbars.31 There might be some channel between these where ships of light draught could enter.

The same hill [Point Loma] might be two leagues in length and runs approximately north northwest and south southeast along the same course as runs the east coast of the port for more than four leagues at eye judgment.

One cannot enter the port with the wind to the northwest, but coming in with an outside tack one can anchor on the point and afterwards lie in wait in order to catch the protection of the hill.

From this point to the east coast there are two leagues of crossing, but nevertheless one cannot ply to windward between the two because there are so many sandbars along that coast that whoever tries it is exposed to running aground.32 The surest way to enter is to reach at about the distance of a pistol shot from the hill and west coast until arriving at Ballast Point, which is good for ballast, and where the ships are protected from the winds of the sea. The terrestrials are not capable of much discomfort, only the northwind comes across the flat and open land.

Ballast Point and another point on a very long and narrow tongue of land which comes out from the east coast [North Island] form a mouth of one-fourth league of width where the sea enters from different directions; this is what [Cabrera] Bueno calls estuaries; these are ports of immense capacity but little depth. Our packetboats run very far inside at high tide for the purpose of getting as close to the water hole as possible. We did not achieve this as we had hoped despite untiring effort and there remained a distance of one league or less from the water hole.

The taking on of water in this port will always be difficult, and in time of drought as now, when the water does not run in the wash, it will be impossible. Without having mules to do the work as we do it today, that is carrying the barrels from the well from which the water is drawn to the shore of the sea more than one-quarter league distant to where the launches receive it.

The water of the wells which were dug by the men of General Vizcafno on the tongue of land or sand of which Torquemada spoke is very salty and only in an urgent case of necessity is one able to drink it and then with danger to his health.33

The attached sketch serves to clarify the idea which I am giving Your Excellency of this port. It is the same as the one I made of it after inspecting the land. I am not claiming it to be an exact plan since, as I explained to Your Excellency, I have not had the time nor the means to prepare it. To make it with precision would require many days of hard work.34

Regarding the settlement of this land, the character and industry of its inhabitants and nature of the country, I will say to Your Excellency that what we have seen and experienced agrees with the account of Torquemada. The Indians are docile but inclined toward robbery and thievery; they covet everything and fall in love with anything as soon as they see it. They are lazy idlers and not very industrious. I have seen no other evidence of dexterity but their nets, which they weave very well from a thread that looks like hemp, but it is of ixtle fiber which they get from a very small species of maguey or mescal.

These nets serve as a belt and, at the same time, as an instrument with which to fish and hunt. In the woods they catch birds and little rabbits with them. They also make purses or very large sacks woven of rather fine net.

The men are entirely naked. The women cover their private parts with double nets cinched at the waist and reaching to the middle of their thighs. At times they also use a kind of little cape made of strips of fur interlaced and twisted. All randomly stain and paint themselves of various colors, among which I have observed they prefer that of red and ochre. Some use lead-colored black and they look hideous.

These are people of little ambition and they recognize our superiority in arms and in all the rest. They have bestowed great affection upon Don Pedro Fages and they also respect him very much. They have invited him at various times to be with their women, an expression of friendship that the rest have not merited. They frequently come to our lodging from all the neighboring rancherías around the port, on which occasions they have traded some nets or otter furs in exchange for cloth or handkerchiefs. The otters must be rare or they do not dedicate themselves much to hunting them because they have brought few furs despite our having asked by signs for them repeatedly.

I cannot tell Your Excellency exactly how many rancherías there are in the vicinity of these surroundings; but I believe there are no less than ten. Among these are some which are densely populated according to what I infer from the number of people who on occasions have been seen together.

They are never without their bows and arrows, which are the only arms that they use. In the beginning, when we had just recently arrived and they believed that our guns were some simple sticks, they wanted to exaggerate the strength of their arrows, which were armed with very sharp flints. But Don Pedro Fages, disposed on all occasions to win praise and show himself superior to all of them, ordered that a piece of leather that might serve as a target be placed at a convenient distance. He had them discharge their arrows and upon their seeing the mild effect that they had on the leather, he then ordered the most dexterous soldiers to shoot at the same target. Upon hearing the noise and seeing the destruction so close at hand, the Indians changed their expressions and some of the more timid ones left, giving very clear signs of their surprise and fear.

The huts on the rancherías in which we have been are round and finished in a pyramidal form covered with branches and earth. In each hut one or many families live, or better sleep, because by day all travel through the woods or go to the bay to look for sustenance.

There are no thick tree trunks in this land with which they can make canoes, but they supplement the lack of these with balsa rafts made from cattails whose reeds are tied together with ixtle fiber.35 With these they maneuver and can enter the estuaries and beaches of the port to spearfish or fish. They use a short double-bladed paddle and row with the greatest agility from one side to the other. Each raft cannot hold more than one man who sits in the middle over a little stack of hay with legs crossed. They always get their buttocks wet but it does not matter much to them.

We have our quarters on one side of the canyon which encloses the bed of the stream or rivulet of which I spoke before and which in actuality has no other water than that retained in the wells. At a rifleshot’s distance or a little less inside the same canyon, the Indians have a ranchería consisting of some twenty-five families. The banks of the river within our view and those which we have sometimes examined in passing are luxuriant, filled with willows and some slender cottonwoods which are of good use for small beams and putting up houses. The land is deeply moist, of good topsoil, and covered with very beautiful pasture grass.

Desiring to examine all of the canyon to see if it penetrated deeply into the interior, Don Pedro Fages and I, accompanied by the reverend father missionaries Fray Juan Vizcaíno36 and Fray Juan Crespi,37 with six soldiers of the volunteers, carried out this endeavor.

We followed the entire canyon which is nearly three leagues in length and no less than a thousand yards in width in some parts and at the widest it might be more than two thousand. It is equally pleasing in all parts and is covered with trees along the banks of the river. It has considerable moist land of tillable soil which ought to produce all kinds of grain and seeds in abundance. The missionary fathers, who have acquired greater experience than I have in these matters, also judged it to be so.

We found two rancherías of Indians along our trail. In the first, half ruined, we saw no one except two or three women and some children; but the second consisted of some 75 or 76 families. These people received us with a thousand demonstrations of happiness and joy because they recognized us and had visited us on various occasions. They told us by signs that they would look for rabbits and hares for us to eat, with the understanding that we would give them Ñipas, which is what they call our clothes. They later went into the woods and in less than three hours brought us a substantial amount of game that we took in exchange for cloth.

This is the account that I am able to give Your Excellency at present. On another occasion, God giving me health, I hope to give a more complete report, carrying out my duty with respect for Your Excellency and punctually observing that which you have ordered me in your instructions. Our Lord guard the life of Your Excellency as many years as He can. Port of San Diego in the Encampment established on land, the 28th of June, 1769. Very Illustrious Lordship. Your most attentive and grateful servant kisses the hand of Your Excellency.

Miguel Costansó            

His Illustrious Lordship Don José de Gálvez.

Postscript. I hope that Your Illustrious Lordship will give my apologies to His Excellency the Viceroy about the involuntary failure in which I find myself since I have not been able to send this report to him either.



1. The San Carlos, under command of Captain Vicente Vila, a native of Andalucia, sailed from La Paz on January 9, 1769, clearing the port on January 10. It carried a total of 62 persons including 23 sailors and 25 soldiers (Catalonian Volunteers), supplies for about eight months, implements of various kinds, and certain religious properties. See Robert Selden Rose, editor, “The Portolá Expedition of 1769-1770: Diary of Vicente Vila,” Publications of the Academy of Pacific Coast History, Volume 2, No. 1, Berkeley, University of California, 1911.

2. Apparently only two persons succumbed on board the San Carlos before it reached San Diego, although perhaps as many as 21 died soon after. Father Junipero Serra, in a letter to Father Juan Andres written at San Diego, July 3, 1769 (Antonine Tibesar, ed., Writings of Junipero Serra I Washington, D.C.: Academy of American Franciscan History, 19551, Volume 1, p. 135), indicated that three soldiers and all the crew “with the exception of one sailor and a cook” had died since the arrival of the San Carlos in port. Little was known at that time about the cause of or cure for scurvy or other vitamin deficiency diseases; scurvy was generally assumed to be contagious. See Lawrence D. Townsend, M.D. “Dietary Deficiency Diseases in the Period of Discovery,” San Diego Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. X (October, 1964), 45-48. For a summary of reports about the number of deaths, see Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of California (San Francisco: The History Company, 1886) Volume I (Volume XVIII of The Works), p. 131, n. 10.

3. The San Antonio, alias the Príncipe, sailed from La Paz on February 15, 1769, under command of the Mallorcan mariner Juan Pérez. Also instructed to look for San Diego too far north in Latitude 34°40′, Pérez first landed on Santa Cruz Island in the Santa Barbara Channel in mid-March. Returning southward, Pérez reached San Diego on April 11 and decided to remain 20 days in hopes of making contact with the tardy Vila. Although at sea only 55 days, the majority of the San Antonio’s crew suffered from scurvy. See Bancroft, History of California, Vol. 1, pp. 127-130. Pérez’s orders are found in Instrucción que ha de observar puntualmente Don Juan Pérez… Capitán… del Paquebot … San Antonio alias el Príncipe, en el viage de ida y vuelta que va a hacer desde esta Bahia a los Puertos de San Diego y de Monterey given by Don José de Gálvez, Cabo de San Lucas, February 12, 1769, Archivo General de Indias (AGI), Guadalajara 416, C-1187, microfilm in The Bancroft Library, Berkeley, California.

4. Letter from Don Pedro Fages to Don José de Gálvez, San Diego, June 26, 1769, and letter from Don Miguel Costansó to Don José de Gálvez, San Diego, June 28, 1769, Mss. GA 487 and GA 583, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

5. Visitador General José de Gálvez, born in the province of Malaga in 1720, served as a liaison between King Carlos III of Spain and the viceroy of New Spain for several years prior to his appointment as Minister of the Indies. He arrived in Mexico in 1765 to carry out certain programs adopted by the Bourbon monarch, among which were expulsion of the Jesuit Order, reform of the customs house at Vera Cruz, strengthening of royal monopolies over tobacco and other products, subjugation of Indians on the Sonoran frontier, and, finally, expansion of Spanish control into Alta California. This ultimate effort was primarily the desire of Gálvez himself who almost singlehandedly, by using the threat of Russian expansion and need for defense, convinced Viceroy Marques de Croix and Carlos III of the need to move northward. This, coupled with plans for religious conversion encouraged by the new president of the California missions, Franciscan Father Junipero Serra, provided the driving force behind the proposal for settlement at San Diego and Monterey. See Herbert Ingram Priestley, José de Gálvez, Visitador General of New Spain (Berkeley: University of California, 1916); and Luis Navarro Garcia, Don José de Gálvez y la Comandancia General de las Provincias Internas del norte de Nueva Espana (Sevilla: Estudios Hispano-Americanos, 1964).

6. There were two separate groups traveling northward by land from Baja California. The first, commanded by Fernando de Rivera y Moncada, captain of the Loreto presidio, included Father Juan Crespi, 42 Christian Indians, and a number of pack animals and livestock. They reached San Diego on May 14, 1769. The second and major overland expedition led by Gaspar de Portola, Governor of California, and accompanied by Father Serra, arrived on July 1, 1769, to complete the final segment of the expedition. See Herbert E. Bolton, Fray Juan Crespi, Missionary Explorer on the Pacific Coast: 1769-1774 (Berkeley: University of California, 1927); Donald Eugene Smith and Frederick J. Teggart, editors, “Diary of Gaspar de Portola during the California Expedition of 1769-1770,” Publications of the Academy of Pacific Coast History, Volume 1, No. 3, Berkeley, University of California, 1910; and Richard Pourade, The Call to California (San Diego: Union-Tribune Publishing Company, 1968).

7. Instruccion que ha de observar Don Vicente Vila Piloto del Numero de Primeros de la Real Armada, Capitán… del Paquebot San Carlos, alias Toison de Oro, en viage que… va a hacer este vagel a los Puertos de San Diego, y de onterey given by Don José de Gálvez, La Paz, January 5, 1769, CA 1, The Bancroft Library, Berkeley, California. These instructions are summarized in English in Bancroft, History of California, Vol. I, pp. 129-130, n. 7.

8. Relación del Viaje del Capitán Sebastián Vizcaíno Ano de 1602, a reconocer la costa exterior y occidental de la California sobre el Mar del Sur, Apendice II, in Father Miguel Venegas, Noticia de la California y de su Conquista Temporal y Espiritual Hasta el Tiempo Presente [ 17391. Volume III, Madrid, 1757, reprinted in Mexico, D.F., 1944. See also Henry R. Wagner, Spanish Voyages to the Northwest Coast of America in the Sixteenth Century (San Francisco: California Historical Society, 1929).

9. José Gonzalez Cabrera Bueno, Navegacion especulativa y pratica, Manila, 1734, reprinted under the editorship of W. Michael Mathes in Coleccion Chimalistac de libros y documentos acerca de la Nueva Espana (Madrid: Ediciones José Porrua Turanzas, 1970).

10. Fages, born in 1730 in Guizona (Province of Barcelona), entered the Light Infantry in Catalonia in 1762 and participated in Spain’s invasion of Portugal during the Seven Years’ War; in 17o7 he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the newly formed Infantry Company of Catalonian Volunteers destined for service in Sonora. Fages served two terms as chief executive of Alta California from 1770-1774 and 1782-1791, dying in Mexico City in 1794. See Donald A. Nuttall, “The Governantes of Upper California,” California Historical Quarterly, Vol. LI (Fall, 1972), 268; and Nuttall, Pedro Fages and the Advance of the Northern Frontier of New Spain, 1767-1782. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Southern California, 1964.

11. Instruccion que ha de observar el Teniente de Infanteria Don Pedro Fages como Comandante de la Partida de viente cinco hombres… y gefe militar en la expedicion que va por mar a los Puertos de San Diego y de Monterey, given by Don José de Gálvez, La Paz, January 5, 1769, CA 1, The Bancroft Library, Berkeley, California. These instructions are summarized in English in Bancroft, History of California, Vol. I, pp. 131-132, n. 11.

12. Rivera y Moncada, born in or near Compostela, New Spain, had been a member of the Loreto presidio company since 1742 and captain since 1750; he served as governor of Baja California under Jesuit supervision from 1750 to 1767, and later as lieutenant governor of the Californias in Monterey from 1774 to 1777 and in Loreto from 1777 until his death in the Yuma massacre in 1781. The 25 soldados de cuera, or leather-jacket soldiers, under Rivera’s command had served with him in Loreto. See Nuttall, “Gobernantes of Upper California,” p. 270, and Ernest J. Burrus, S.J., ed., Diario del Capitán comandante Fernando de Rivera y Moncada, Two Volumes (Madrid: Ediciones José Porrua Turanzas, 1967).

13. Born in Barcelona in 1741, Costansó entered the Corps of Engineers in January, 1762, served for two years along the Catalonian and Granada coasts of Spain, and then sailed with six other military engineers for Vera Cruz, where he was stationed until 1767. Following his participation in the California expedition, Costansó returned to Mexico to pursue a distinguished career in engineering, architecture, teaching, and civic improvement. See Janet R. Fireman and Manuel P. Servin, “Miguel Costansó: California’s Forgotten Founder,”California Historical Quarterly, Vol. XLIX (March, 1970), 3-19; Ray Brandes, ed., The Costansó Narrative of the Portola Expedition (Newhall, California: The Hogarth Press, 1970); and Adolph Van Hemmert-Engert & Frederick J. Teggart, eds., The Portola Expedition of 1769-1770: Diary of Miguel Costansó,” Publications of the Academy of Pacific Coast History, Vol. 1, No. 2, Berkeley, University of California, 1909.

14. Michael E. Thurman, The Naval Department of San Blas: New Spain’s Bastion for Alta California and Nootka, 1767 to 1798 (Glendale: Arthur H. Clark Company, 1967), p. 62.

15. Instruccion que ha de observar el lngeniero Delineador Don Miguel Costanzo en la Expedicion Maritima, y de Tierra, a que va destinado, durante el Viage, y en los Puertos de San Diego, y Monterrey, situados en la Costa Occidental de esta Peninsula a los 33 y 37 Grados de Latitud given by Don José de Gálvez, La Paz, January 5, 1769, AGI, Guadalajara 416, C-1170, Microfilm in the Bancroft Library, Berkeley, California.

16. Paragraph 4 of Costansó’s instructions refer to the bay of “San Francisco que situan las Relaciónes antiguas en los treinta y ocho Grados y medio [381/2°1 deLatitud” or present-day Drakes Bay.

17. Letters written by several of the major participants in the California venture (Crespi, Fages, Costansó, Serra, Portola, and Rivera y Moncada) between June 9 and July 4, 1769, were dispatched from San Diego to San Blas via the San Antonio on July 9. From the port of San Blas they were carried overland to Mexico City where they arrived on August 1. See Maynard Geiger, trans. and ed., “Spreading the News of the California Conquest, 1769-1770,” Southern California Quarterly, Vol. XLVII (December, 19o5), 395-403.

18. I have used the copy of this letter found in GA 487, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California. There are two microfilm copies, AGI, Guadalajara 417, and AGI, Mexico 13o9, C-1311, in The Bancroft Library, Berkeley, California.

19. Within a vicinity of seven leagues, or approximately 16 miles, there were some 3 to 5 thousand Diegueno Indians; each ranchería or village generally contained 45 to 50 families. See A. L. Kroeber, Handbook of the Indians of California (Washington, D.C.: Bulletin 78 of the Bureau of American Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution, 1925), pp. 711-712;

20. Probably Paulpa, Nipawai, and Sinyeweche; Kosoi was on Presidio Hill.

21. “9th. The natives are to be impressed with the advantages of peace and salvation and protection from foreign insult offered by the Spaniards,” in Bancroft, History of California, p. 131, n. 11.

22. “13th. The natives are never to be fully trusted, but always watched, for the ‘common enemy’ will surely incite them to mischief,” in Bancroft, History of California, p. 132, n. 11.

23. Memoria de lo que contiene el Caxon N°. 1‘, copy found in GA 534, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California; also found in AGI, Guadalajara 417, and AGI, Mexico 1369, C-1312, microfilm copy in The Bancroft Library, Berkeley, California.

24. The translation of the Spanish word coras is taken from local usage in Baja California. The word coraza generally denotes a metallic cuirass and is from the same Latin root (corium) as cuera or leather jacket. On the other hand, Lesley Byrd Simpson editor and translator of The Journal of José Longinos Martinez (San Francisco: John Howell, Books, 1961), p. 33, indicates that cora is the basket that women in northern Baja California wear on their heads.

25. Copy found in GA 583, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California; also found in AGI, Guadalajara 417, and AGI, Mexico 1369, C-1314, microfilm copy in The Bancroft Library, Berkeley, California. 26. See Rose, “Diary of Vicente Vila,” pp. 99-103.

27. May 14,1769; see note 6 above.

28. “Diary of Sebastián Viscaino, 1602-1603,” in Herbert E. Bolton, ed., Spanish Exploration in the Southwest, 1542-1706, p. 80; see also W. Michael Mathes, Sebastián Vizcaíno and San Diego Bay, Journal of San Diego History, Vol. XVIII (Spring, 1972),1-7.

29. José Gonzalez Cabrera Bueno, Navegacion especulativa y practica, p. 305.

30. George Davidson in “An Examination of some of the Early Voyages of Discovery and Exploration on the Northwest Coast of America from 1539 to 1603” printed in the Report of the Superintendent of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (Washington, D.C., 188o), p. 194, states that the Bay of San Diego “is readily distinguished by the notable landmark of Point Loma, in latitude 32°39′.”

31. Father Antonio de la Ascencion, a priest of the Order of Discalced Carmelites who accompanied the Vizcaíno expedition of 1602-03 to California, supplied his account of the voyage to Fray Juan de Torquemada for inclusion in his Monarquia Indiana published in Sevilla in 1615. The Ascencion-Torquemada account (Vol. 1, pp. 694 et. seq.) was that which later appeared in Father Miguel Venegas’ Noticia de la California and was used on board the San Carlos in 1769. See note 8 above.

32. Today’s Zuniga shoals.

33. On North Island.

34. The map found in the Archivo General de Indias in Sevilla and attributed to Vicente Vila by Robert Selden Rose (“Diary of Vicente Vila,” p. 3) and others, is no doubt the work of Miguel Costansó. Although the sketch is not signed, it is unlikely that Vila, not a cartographer and not instructed to do so, would have taken time out to draw a map of San Diego. On the other hand, the style, the lettering, and the fact that he had been specifically ordered to do so (Instruccion que ha de observar el Ingeniero Delineador Don Miguel Costanzo… ” paragraph 2°, AGI, Guadalajara 416, C-1170), lend credence to Costansó’s authorship. The original identification was made by Pedro Torres Lanzas in his Relación descriptiva de los mapas, pianos, etc. de Mexico y Floridas (Sevilla, 1900) Vol. 1, p. 177, merely as “appearing to have been made by Don Vicente Vila.”

35. See James R. Moriarty, “Pre-Spanish Marine Transport and Boat Building Techniques on the Upper and Lower California Coast,” in Ray Brandes, ed., Brand Book Number One (San Diego: San Diego Corral of the Westerners, 1968), pp. 19-26.

36. Fray Juan Gonzalez Viscaino, a Franciscan born in 1728 near Palencia, Spain, sailed on the San Antonio as chaplain from La Paz to San Diego in company with Fray Francisco Gomez. Father Vizcaíno assisted Father Serra in founding Mission San Diego de Alcala on July 1o, 1769, was wounded when natives attacked the mission on August 15, and returned overland to Baja California with Rivera y Moncada on February 11, 1770. See Maynard Geiger, O.F.M., Franciscan Missionaries in Hispanic California, 1769-1848 (San Marino: The Huntington Library, 1969), p. 121.

37. Fray Juan Crespi, born in Mallorca, Spain, in 1721, attended the Convent of San Francisco de Palma and studied under Father Serra. Sailing with Serra for Mexico in 1749, Crespi labored in the Sierra Gorda missions until 17o7. Following his trek to San Diego with Rivera y Moncada, Crespi accompanied a number of other exploratory endeavors and served at Mission San Carlos Borromeo (Carmel) until his death in 1782. See Geiger, Franciscan Missionaries in Hispanic California, pp. 51-55.



Iris Wilson Engstrand, Associate Professor of History at the University of San Diego and editorial consultant for the Journal of San Diego History, specializes in the field of early California. She is the author of William Wolfskill, Frontier Trapper to California Ranchero (1965), a contributor to the Mountain Men Series published by the Arthur H. Clark Company, and has translated from Spanish and edited Noticias de Nutka: An Account of Nootka Sound in 1792 (1970), by José Mariano Mozino. Dr. Engstrand has also written articles on the wine industry in California and Spanish exploration in colonial Mexico. Her article entitled “Rancho Guajome: A California Legacy Preserved,” was published in this journal in the Winter, 1974, issue. Illustrations provided by the author.