History of California by Helen Elliott Bandini

Produced by David A. Schwan History of California By Helen Elliot Bandini Illustrated By Roy J. Warren B. Cal. W. P. 16 Preface This book is an attempt to present the history of California in so simple and interesting a way that children may read it with pleasure. It does not confine itself to the
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Produced by David A. Schwan

History of California

Helen Elliot Bandini

Illustrated By
Roy J. Warren

B. Cal.
W. P. 16


This book is an attempt to present the history of California in so simple and interesting a way that children may read it with pleasure. It does not confine itself to the history of one section or period, but tells the story of all the principal events from the Indian occupancy through the Spanish and Mission days, the excitement of the gold discovery, the birth of the state, down to the latest events of yesterday and to-day. Several chapters, also, are devoted to the development of California’s great industries. The work is designed not only for children, but also for older people interested in the story of California, including the tourists who visit the state by the thousand every year.

For her information the writer has depended almost entirely upon source material, seldom making use of a secondary work. Her connection with the old Spanish families has opened to her unusual advantages for the study of old manuscripts and for the gathering of recollections of historical events which she has taken from the lips of aged Spanish residents, always verifying a statement before using it. She has, also, from long familiarity with the Spanish-speaking people, been able to interpret truly the life of the Spanish and Mission period.

The illustrator of the history, Mr. Roy J. Warren, has made a careful study of the manuscript, chapter by chapter. He has also been a faithful student of California and her conditions; his illustrations are, therefore, in perfect touch with the text and are as true to facts as the history itself.

The thanks of the author are due not only to a host of writers from whom she has gained valuable assistance, and some of whose names are among those in the references at the end of the book, but to others to whom further acknowledgment is due. First of these is Professor H. Morse Stephens, whose suggestions from the inception of the work until its completion have been of incalculable advantage, and whose generous offer to read the proof sheets crowns long months of friendly interest. Secondly, the author is indebted to the faithful and constant supervision of her sister, Miss Agnes Elliott of the Los Angeles State Normal School, without whose wide experience as a teacher of history and economics the work could never have reached its present plane. The author also offers her thanks to Mr. Charles F. Lummis, to whom not only she but all students of California history must ever be indebted; to Mrs. Mary M. Coman, Miss Isabel Frazee, to the officers of the various state departments, especially Mr. Lewis E. Aubrey, State Mineralogist, and Mr. Thomas J. Kirk and his assistant Mr. Job Wood of the educational department; to Miss Nellie Rust, Librarian of the Pasadena City Library, and her corps of accommodating and intelligent assistants, and to the librarians of the Los Angeles City Library and State Normal School.

The passages from the Century Magazine quoted in Chapters V-IX are inserted by express permission of the publishers, the Century Company. Acknowledgment is due, also, to the publishers of the Overland Monthly for courtesy in permitting the use of copyright material; and to D. Appleton & Co. for permission to insert selections from Sherman’s Memoirs.



I. The Land and the Name
II. The Story of the Indians
III. “The Secret of the Strait”
IV. The Cross of Santa Fe
V. Pastoral Days
VI. The Footsteps of the Stranger VII. At the Touch of King Midas
VIII. The Great Stampede
IX. The Birth of the Golden Baby
X. The Signal Gun and the Steel Trail XI. That Which Followed After
XII. “The Groves Were God’s First Temples” XIII. To All that Sow the Time of Harvest Should be Given XIV. The Golden Apples of the Hesperides XV. California’s Other Contributions to the World’s Bill of Fare XVI. The Hidden Treasures of Mother Earth XVII. From La Escuela of Spanish California to the Schools of the Twentieth Century
XVIII. Statistics


History of California

Chapter I.

The Land and the Name

Once upon a time, about four hundred years ago, there was published in old Spain a novel which soon became unusually popular. The successful story of those days was one which caught the fancy of the men, was read by them, discussed at their gatherings, and often carried with them when they went to the wars or in search of adventures. This particular story would not interest readers of to-day save for this passage: “Know that on the right hand of the Indies there is an island called California, very near the Terrestrial Paradise, and it is peopled by black women who live after the fashion of Amazons. This island is the strongest in the world, with its steep rocks and great cliffs, and there is no metal in the island but gold.”

There is no doubt that some bold explorer, crossing over from Spain to Mexico and enlisting under the leadership of the gallant Cortez, sailed the unknown South Sea (the Pacific) and gave to the new land discovered by one of Cortez’s pilots the name of the golden island in this favorite story.

This land, thought to be an island, is now known to us as the peninsula of Lower California. The name first appeared in 1542 on the map of Domingo Castillo, and was soon applied to all the land claimed by Spain from Cape San Lucas up the coast as far north as 441, which was probably a little higher than any Spanish explorer had ever sailed.

“Sir Francis Drake,” says the old chronicle, “was the first Englishman to sail on the back side of America,” and from that time until now California has been considered the back door of the country. This was natural because the first settlements in the United States were along the Atlantic seacoast. The people who came from England kept their faces turned eastward, looking to the Mother Country for help, and watching Europe, and later England herself, as a quarter from which danger might come, as indeed it did in the war of the Revolution and that of 1812.

During the last few years, however, various events have happened to change this attitude. Through its success in the late Spanish war the United States gained confidence in its own powers, while the people of the old world began to realize that the young republic of the western hemisphere, since it did not hesitate to make war in the interests of humanity, would not be apt to allow its own rights to be imposed upon. The coming of the Philippine and Hawaiian Islands under the protection of the United States, the Russo-Japanese war, which opened the eyes of the world to the strength of Japan and the wisdom of securing its trade, and the action of the United States in undertaking the building of the Panama Canal, are indications that the Pacific will in the future support a commerce the greatness of which we of to-day cannot estimate. With danger from European interference no longer pressing closely upon the nation, President Roosevelt in 1907 took a decided step in recognizing the importance of the Pacific when he sent to that coast so large a number of the most modern vessels of the navy. In fact, the nation may now be said to have faced about, California becoming the front door of our country.

It is well, then, to ask ourselves what we know about the state which is to form part of the reception room of one of the leading nations of the world.

It is a long strip of territory, bounded on one side by the ocean so well named Pacific, which gives freshness and moisture to the ever-blowing westerly winds.

On the other side is a mountain range, one thousand miles long, with many of its peaks covered with perpetual snow, holding in its lofty arms hundreds of ice-cold lakes, its sides timbered with the most wonderful forests of the world.

Few regions of the same size have so great a range of altitude as California, some portions of its desert lands being below sea level, while several of its mountains are over ten thousand feet in height. In its climate, too, there are wide differences as regards heat and cold, although its coast lands, whether north or south, are much more temperate than the corresponding latitudes on the Atlantic coast. The difference in the climate of the northern and southern portions of the state is more marked in the matter of moisture. Most of the storms of California have their beginning out in the North Pacific Ocean. They travel in a southeasterly direction, striking the coast far to the north in summer, but in winter extending hundreds of miles farther south. During November, December, January, and February they often reach as far south as the Mexican line. Then, only, does southern California have rain. The water necessary for use in the summer time is gained by irrigation from the mountain streams, which are supplied largely from the melting snows on the Sierras.

The home lands of the state may be divided into two portions: the beautiful border country rising from the Pacific in alternate valleys and low rolling foothills to the edge of the Coast Range; and the great central valley or basin, which lies like a vast pocket almost entirely encircled by mountains the high Sierras on the east, on the west the low Coast Range. Two large rivers with their tributaries drain this valley: the San Joaquin, flowing from the south; and the Sacramento, flowing from the north. Joining near the center of the state, they cut their way through the narrow passage, the Strait of Carquinez, and casting their waters into the beautiful Bay of San Francisco, finally reach the ocean through the Golden Gate.

Down from the Sierras, mighty glaciers carried the soil for this central valley, grinding and pulverizing it as it was rolled slowly along. Many years this process continued. The rain, washing the mountain sides, brought its tribute in the rich soil and decayed vegetation of the higher region, until a natural seed bed was formed, where there can be raised in abundance a wonderful variety of plants and trees. In the coast valleys the soil is alluvial, the fine washing of mountain rocks; this is mixed in some places with a warmer, firmer loam and in others with a gravelly soil, which is the best known for orange raising.

The state owes much to her mountains, for not only have they contributed to her fertile soil, but they hold in their rocky slopes the gold and silver mines which have transformed the whole region from an unknown wilderness to a land renowned for its riches and beauty. They lift their lofty peaks high in the air like mighty strongholds, and, shutting out the desert winds, catch the clouds as they sail in from the ocean, making them pay heavy tribute in fertilizing rain to the favored land below.

The climate, which of all the precious possessions of California is the most valuable, is best described by Bret Harte in the lines, “Half a year of clouds and flowers; half a year of dust and sky.” Either half is enjoyable, for in the summer, or dry season, fogs or delightful westerly winds soon moderate a heated spell, and in nearly all parts of the state the nights are cool; while the rainy, or winter season, changes to balmy springtime as soon as the storm is over.

In a large portion of the state the climate is such that the inhabitants may spend much of their time out of doors. As a rule few duties are attended to in the house which can possibly be performed in the open air. It is growing to be more and more the custom to have, in connection with a Californian home, a tent bedroom where the year round one or more of the members of the family sleep, with only a wall of canvas between them and nature.

The vacation time is spent largely in summer camps, at either mountain or seashore, or, quite often, a pleasant party of one or two families live together, very simply, under the greenwood tree beside some spring or stream, spending a few weeks in gypsy fashion. While the young folk grow sturdy and beautiful, the older members of the party become filled with strength and a joy of living which helps them through the cares and struggles of the rest of the year. This joy in outdoor life is not, however, a discovery of to-day. The old Spanish families spent as much time as possible in the courtyard, the house being deserted save at night. When upon journeys, men, women, and children slept in the open air. Even the clothes-washing period was turned into a kind of merrymaking. Whole families joined together to spend days in the vicinity of some stream, where they picnicked while the linen was being cleansed in the running water and dried on the bushes near by.

Once before, when the world was younger, there was a land similar to this,–sea-kissed, mountain-guarded, with such gentle climate and soft skies. Its people, who also lived much out of doors at peace with nature, became almost perfect in health and figure, with mental qualities which enabled them to give to the world the best it has known in literature and art. What the ancient Greeks were, the people of California may become; but with an advancement in knowledge and loving-kindness of man toward man which heathen Athens never knew.

What will be the result of this outdoor life cannot yet be told; climate has always had an active influence in shaping the character and type of a people. With a climate mild and healthful, yet bracing; with a soil so rich that the touch of irrigation makes even the sandiest places bloom with the highest beauty of plant, tree, and vine; with an ocean warm and gentle, and skies the kindliest in the world,–there is, if we judge by the lesson history teaches, a promise of a future for California greater and more noble than the world has yet known.

Chapter II.

The Story of the Indians

“Run, Cleeta, run, the waves will catch you.” Cleeta scudded away, her naked little body shining like polished mahogany. She was fleet of foot, but the incoming breakers from the bosom of the great Pacific ran faster still; and the little Indian girl was caught in its foaming water, rolled over and over, and cast upon the sandy beach, half choked, yet laughing with the fun of it.

“Foolish Cleeta, you might have been drowned; that was a big wave. What made you go out so far?” said Gesnip, the elder sister.

“I found such a lot of mussels, great big ones, I wish I could go back and get them,” said the little one, looking anxiously at the water.

“The waves are coming in higher and higher and it is growing late,” said Gesnip; “besides, I have more mussels already than you and I can well carry. The boys have gone toward the river mouth for clams. They will be sure to go home the other way.”

Cleeta ran to the basket and looked in.

“I should think there were too many for us to carry,” she said, as she tried with all her strength to lift it by the carry straps. “What will you do with them; throw some back into the water?”

“No, I don’t like to do that,” answered her sister, frowning, “for it has been so long since we have had any. The wind and the waves have been too high for us to gather any. Look, Cleeta, look; what are those out on the water? I do believe they are boats.”

“No,” said the little girl; “I see what you mean, but boats never go out so far as that.”

“Not tule boats,” said Gesnip, “but big thick one made out of trees; that is the kind they have at Santa Catalina, the island where uncle lives. It has been a long time since he came to see us, not since you were four years old, but mother is always looking for him.”

The children gazed earnestly seaward at a fleet of canoes which were making for the shore. “Do you think it is uncle?” asked Cleeta.

“Yes,” replied her sister, uncertainly, “I think it may be.” Then, as the sunlight struck full on the boats “Yes, yes, I am sure of it, for one is red, and no on else has a boat of that color; all others are brown.”

“Mother said he would bring abalone when he came,” cried Cleeta, dancing from one foot to the other; “and she said they are better than mussels or anything else for soup.”

“He will bring fish,” said Gesnip, “big shining fish with yellow tails.”

“Mother said he would bring big blue ones with hard little seams down their sides,” said Cleeta.

Meantime the boats drew nearer. They were of logs hollowed out until they were fairly light, but still seeming too clumsy for safe seagoing craft. In each were several men. One sat in the stern and steered, the others knelt in pairs, each man helping propel the boat by means of a stick some four feet long, more like a pole than a paddle, which he worked with great energy over the gunwale.

“I am afraid of them,” said Cleeta, drawing close to her sister. “They do not look like the people I have seen. Their faces are the color of the kah-hoom mother weaves in her baskets. There are only three like us, and they all have such strange clothes.”

“Do not be afraid,” said Gesnip. “I see uncle; he is one of the dark ones like ourselves. The island people have yellow skins.”

The time was the year 1540, and the people, the Californians of that day. The men in the boat were mostly from the island of Santa Catalina, and were fairer, with more regular features, than the inhabitants of the mainland, who in southern California were a short, thick-set race, with thick lips, dark brown skin, coarse black hair, and eyes small and shining like jet-black beads. They were poorly clothed in winter; in summer a loin cloth was often all that the men wore, while the children went naked a large part of the year.

With wonderful skill the badly shaped boats were guided safely over the breakers until their bows touched the sand. Then the men leaped out and, half wading, half swimming, pulled them from the water and ran them up on the beach.

The little girls drew near and stood quietly by, waiting to be spoken to. Presently the leading man, who was short, dark, and handsomely dressed in a suit of sealskin ornamented with abalone shell, turned to them.

“Who are these little people?” he asked, in a kind voice.

“We are the children of Cuchuma and Macana,” replied Gesnip, working her toes in and out of the soft sand, too shy to look her uncle in the face.

“Children of my sister, Sholoc is glad to see you,” said the chief, laying his hand gently on Cleeta’s head. “Your mother, is she well?”

“She is well and looking for you these many moons,” said Gesnip.

The men at once began unloading the boats. The children watched the process with great interest, Abalone in their shells, a dainty prized then as well as now, fish, yellowtail and bonito, filled to the brim the large baskets which the men slung to their backs, carrying them by means of a strap over the forehead. On their heads they placed ollas, or water jars, of serpentine from quarries which may be seen in Santa Catalina to-day, the marks of the tools of workmen of, that time still in the rocks.

There were also strings of bits of abalone shell which had been punctured and then polished, and these Sholoc hung around his neck.

“Uncle,” exclaimed Gesnip, touching one of these strings, “how much money! You have grown rich at Santa Catalina. What will you buy?”

“Buy me a wife, perhaps,” was the reply. “I will give two strings for a good wife. Do you know any worth so much?”

“No,” said the girl, stoutly. “I don’t know any worth two whole strings of abalone. You can get a good wife for much less.”

The men, who had succeeded in loading the contents of the boats on their heads and backs, now marched away, in single file, crossing the heavy sand dunes slowly, then mounting the range of foothills beyond. The children followed. Gesnip had her basket bound to her head by a strap round her forehead; but, though her uncle had taken out part of the contents, it was a heavy load for the child.

As they neared the top of the hill, Sholoc, who was ahead, lifted his hand and motioned them to stop.

“Hush,” he said softly, “elk.” Swiftly the men slipped off their loads and with bows in hand each one crept flat on his belly over the hill crest. Gesnip and Cleeta peeped through the high grass. Below them was a wide plain, dotted with clumps of bushes, and scattered over it they could see a great herd of elk, whose broad, shining antlers waved above the grass and bushes upon which they were feeding.

“Are those elk too?” asked Cleeta, presently, pointing toward the foothills at their left.

“No,” replied her sister, “I think those are antelope. I like to see them run. How funny their tails shake. But watch the men; they are going to shoot.”

As she spoke, four of the hunters, who had crept well up toward the game, rose to their feet, holding their bows horizontally, not perpendicularly. These weapons, which were made of cedar wood, were about four feet in length, painted at the ends black or dark blue, the middle, which was almost two inches broad, being wrapped with elk sinew. The strings also were of sinew. The quiver which each man carried at his side was made from the skin of a wild cat or of a coyote. A great hunter like Sholoc might make his quiver from the tails of lions he had killed. Projecting from the quiver were the bright-feathered ends of the arrows, which were of reed and were two or three feet long, with points of bone, flint, or obsidian.

The hunters, knowing how hard it was to kill large game, had chosen their arrows carefully, taking those that had obsidian points. Almost at the same moment they let fly their shafts. Three elk leaped into the air. One tumbled over in a somersault which broke one of its antlers, and then lay dead, shot through the heart by Sholoc. Another took a few leaps, but a second arrow brought it to its knees. Then it sank slowly over upon its side; but it struck so fiercely at the hunter who ran up to kill it with his horn knife that he drew back and shot it again.

“Where is the third elk?” asked Cleeta, looking around.

“Over there,” said Gesnip, pointing across the plain.

“Then they have lost it,” said the child, with disappointment.

“No, I think not. It is wounded. I saw the blood on its side,” said the sister. “See, one of the men is following it, and it is half a mile behind the herd. I am sure he will get it.”

“This has been a lucky day,” said Gesnip. “So much food. Our stomachs will not ache with hunger for a long time.”

“That is because mother wove a game basket to Chinigchinich so he would send food,” said Cleeta.

By the time the party had traveled two miles, Gesnip, with her load, and Cleeta, whose bare brown legs were growing very tired, lagged behind.

“O dear,” said the elder sister, “we shall surely be too late to go into camp with uncle.” Just then a whoop sounded behind them, and a boy of thirteen, dressed in a rabbit-skin shirt, carrying a bow in his hand, came panting up to them.

“Payuchi,” said Gesnip, eagerly, “carry my basket for me and I will tell you some good news.”

“No,” replied Payuchi, shaking his head, “it is a girl’s place to carry the basket.”

“Just this little way, and it is such good news” urged Gesnip. “It will, make your heart glad.”

“Very well, then, tell it quickly,” said the boy, changing the basket of mussels to his own broad back.

“Sholoc has come from Santa Catalina with baskets of abalone and fish, and with ollas all speckled, and strings of money. He is near the top of the grade now. Upon hearing the good news the lad darted away at a great pace, his sisters following as fast as they could. Sholoc and his party had stopped to rearrange their loads, so the children overtook them at the head of the trail leading to their home.

“Below them was a valley dotted with live oaks, and along the banks of the stream that ran through it was a thick growth of alders, sycamores, and willows. At the foot of the trail, near the water, was a cluster of what looked like low, round straw stacks. No straw stacks were they, however, but houses, the only kind of homes known in southern California at that time.

“It was the Indian settlement where Gesnip, Cleeta, and Payuchi lived, and of which their father, Cuchuma, was chief. The jacals, or wigwams, were made of long willow boughs, driven into the ground closely in a circle, the ends bent over and tied together with deer sinews. They were covered with a thatching of grass that, when dry, made them look like straw stacks.

“Sholoc stepped to the-edge of the bluff and gave a long, quavering cry which could be heard far in the still evening air. Instantly out of the group of jacals came a crowd of men and boys, who gave answering cries.”

“I am glad they have a fire,” said Cleeta, as she saw the big blaze in the middle of the settlement, “I am so cold.”

“Take my hand and let’s run,” said Gesnip, and partly running and partly sliding, they followed the men of the party, who, notwithstanding their heavy loads, were trotting down the steep trail.

They were met at the foot of the grade by a crowd which surrounded them, all chattering at once. Sholoc told of the elk, and a number of men started off on the run to bring in the big game. As the visitors entered camp, Macana, a kind-faced woman, better dressed than most of her tribe, came forward. She placed her hand on Sholoc’s shoulder, her face lighting up with love and happiness.

“You are welcome, brother,” she said.

“The sight of you is good to my eyes, sister,” an answered Sholoc. That was all the greeting, although the two loved each other well. Macana took the basket from Payuchi’s back.

“Come,” she called to Gesnip, “and help me wash the mussels.” Then, as she saw the younger girl shivering as she crouched over the fire, “Cleeta, you need not be cold any longer; your rabbit skin dress is done. Go into the jacal and put it on.” Cleeta obeyed with dancing eyes.

Gesnip followed her mother to the stream.

“Take this,” said Macana, handing her an openwork net or bag, “and hold it while I empty in some of the mussels. Now lift them up and down in the water to wash out the sand. That will do; put them into this basket, and I will give you some more.”

Meantime some of the women had taken a dozen or more fish from Sholoc’s baskets, and removing their entrails with bone knives, wrapped them in many thicknesses of damp grass and laid them in the hot ashes and coals to bake.

When the mussels were all cleaned, Macana emptied them into a large basket half filled with water, and threw in a little acorn meal and a handful of herbs. Then, using two green sticks for tongs, she drew out from among the coals some smooth gray stones which had become very hot. Brushing these off with a bunch of tules, she lifted them by means of a green stick having a loop in the end which fitted round the stones, flinging them one by one into the basket in which were the mussels and water. Immediately the water, heated by the stones, began to boil, and when the soup was ready, she set the basket down beside her own jacal and called her children to her. Payuchi, Gesnip, Cleeta, and their little four-year-old brother, Nakin, gathered about the basket, helping themselves with abalone shells, the small holes of which their mother had plugged with wood.

“Isn’t father going to have some first?” asked Payuchi, before they began the meal.

“Not this time; he will eat with Sholoc and the men when the fish are ready,” replied his mother.

“This is good soup,” said Gesnip. “I am glad I worked hard before the water came up. But, Payuchi, didn’t you and Nopal get any clams?”

“Yes,” said her brother, making a face; he had dipped down where the stones were hottest and the soup thickest, and had taken a mouthful that burned him. “Yes, we got some clams, more than I could carry; but Nopal was running races with the other boys and would not come, so I left him to bring them. He will lose his fish dinner if he doesn’t hurry.”

“Mother,” said Cleeta, “may we stay up to the fish bake?”

“No,” answered her mother. “You and Nakin must go to bed, but I will save some for your breakfast. You are tired, Cleeta.”

“Yes, I am tired,” said the little girl, leaning her head against her mother’s shoulder, “but I am warm in my rabbit-skin dress. We all have warm dresses now. Please tell me a good-night story,” she begged. “We have been good and brought in much food.”

“Yes, tell us how the hawk and coyote made the sun,” said Gesnip.

“Very well,” said the mother, “only you must be quite still.”

“It was in the beginning of all things, and a bowl of darkness, blacker than the pitch lining of our water basket, covered the earth. Man, when he would go abroad, fell against man, against trees, against wild animals, even against Lollah, the bear, who would, in turn, hug the unhappy one to death. Birds flying in the air came together and fell struggling to the earth. All was confusion.”

“Once the hawk, by chance, flew in the face of the coyote. Instead of fighting about it as naughty children might, they, like people of good manners, apologized many times. Then they talked over the unhappy state of things and determined to remedy the evil. The coyote first gathered a great heap of dried tules, rolled them together into a ball, and gave them to the hawk, with some pieces of flint. The hawk, taking them in his talons, flew straight up into the sky, where he struck fire with his flints, lit the ball of reeds, and left it there whirling along with a bright yellow light, as it continues to whirl to-day; for it, children, is our sun, ruler of the day.”

“The hawk next flew back for another ball to rule the night, but the coyote had no tule gathered, and the hawk hurried him so that some damp stems were mixed in. The hawk flew with this ball into the sky and set it afire but because of the green tules it burned with only a dim light; and this, children, is our moon, ruler of the night.”

“That is a fine story,” said Payuchi. “I am glad I did not live when there was no light.”

“Tell us how the coyote danced with the star,” said Gesnip.

“No,” replied the mother, “another time we shall see. Now I shall sing to coax sleep to tired eyes, and the little ones will go to bed.” And this was what she sang: “Pah-high-nui-veve, veve, veve, shumeh, veve, veve, veve, shumeh, Pah-high-nui-veve,” and so on, repeating these words over and over until Cleeta and Nakin were sound asleep. Then she laid them on their tule mats, which were spread on the floor of the jacal, where baby Nahal, close wrapped in his cocoon-shaped cradle, had been a long time sleeping.

“Mother,” said Gesnip, coming into the jacal, “they have brought in the elk. Don’t you want something from them?”

“Yes,” replied Macana, “I will go and see about it. I want one of the skins to make your father a warm hunting dress.”

The Indians who had gone after the elk had skinned and cut them up where they lay, as they were so large that the burden had to be distributed among a number of carriers. Macana found Sholoc busy portioning out parts of the elk. As he had a fine seal-skin suit himself, he gladly gave her the skin of the deer which he had shot.

“Isn’t that a big one?” said Payuchi. “It will make father a fine hunting suit, it is so thick.” Gesnip was loaded down with some of the best cuts of the meat to take to her father’s jacal. Cuchuma himself began removing the tendons from the legs, to cure for bowstrings, and to wrap a new bow he was going to make.

“Here, Nopal,” said Sholoc to his oldest nephew, a lad of fifteen, “I will give you a piece of the antler and you can grind it down and make yourself a hunting knife. It is time you ceased to play and became a hunter. I had killed much game when I was your age.”

“Will you give me some of the brains that I may finish tanning a deerskin? I have been waiting to finish it until I could get some brains, but it has been a long time since any one has brought in big game,” said Macana.

“Yes,” answered Sholoc, “you shall have them. Payuchi, hand me my elk-horn ax so that I can split open the head, and you can take the brains to the jacal.” Soon not a piece of meat, a bit of skin, tendon, or bone, was left. All was put to use by these people of the forest. And now the feast was ready. The women had roasted many pieces of elk’s meat over the coals. The fish had been taken from under the hot ashes, the half burned grass removed from around them, and the fish broken into pieces and put in flat baskets shaped like platters. There were also pieces of elk meat and cakes of acorn meal baked on hot stones.

As was the custom with the Indians, the men were served first. Payuchi watched anxiously as his father and the other men took large helpings from the baskets.

“Do you think there will be enough for us to have any?” he asked Gesnip. “I am so hungry and they are eating so much. If I were a man, I should remember about the women and children.”

“No; you wouldn’t if you were a man; men never do,” answered Gesnip. “But you need not worry, there is plenty. Mother said there would be some left for breakfast.”

“Wait for that till I get through,” said Payuchi, laughing. After all had eaten a hearty meal, more than for many weeks they had been able to have at any one time, the tired women each gathered her children together and took them to her own jacal, leaving the men sitting around the camp fire. Payuchi, who tumbled to sleep as soon as his head touched his sleeping mat, was wakened by some one pulling his rabbit-skin coat, which he wore nights as well as days.

“Payuchi,” said a voice, “wake up.”

“I have not been asleep,” answered the boy, stoutly, as he rubbed his eyes to get them open. “What do you want, Nopal?” for he saw his brother speaking to him.

“Hush, do not waken mother,” said Nopal, speaking very softly. “I know that the men will make an offering to Chinigchinich. I am going to watch them. We are old enough, at least I am. Do you want to come?”

A star shone in at the top of the jacal, and Payuchi gazed up at it, blinking, while he pulled his thoughts together.

“They will punish us if they find us out,” said he at length.

“But we won’t let them find us out, stupid one,” replied his brother, impatiently.

“What if Chinigchinich should be angry with us? He does not like to have children in the ceremony of the offering,” said Payuchi.

“I will give him my humming-bird skin, and you shall give him your mountain quail head; then he will be pleased with us,” answered Nopal.

“All right,” said the boy; “I do not like very well to part with that quail head, but perhaps it is a good thing to do.”

Creeping softly from the jacal, the boys crouched in the shade of a willow bush and watched the men by the camp fire.

“They are standing up. They are just going,” said Payuchi, “and every one has something in his hand. Father has two bows; I wonder why.”

“I think he is going to make an offering of the new bow to Chinigchinich,” answered Nopal. “I thought he was going to keep it and give me his old one,” he added, with some disappointment.

“What are they offering for?” asked the young brother.

“For rain,” said Nopal. “See, they are going now.” In single file the men walked swiftly away, stepping so softly that not a twig cracked.

After a little the boys followed, slipping from bush to bush that they might not be discovered. They had walked about a mile, when they came to thicker woods with bigger trees and saw a light ahead of them. Nopal laid his hand on his brother to stop him. Peeping through a scrub-oak bush, they looked down into a little glade arched over with great live oaks. In the middle of the opening they saw, by the light of a low fire, a small cone-shaped hut. Beside it stood a gigantic figure painted and adorned with shells, feathers, rattlesnake skins, and necklaces of bone.

“Come back,” whispered Payuchi, his teeth chattering with fear. “It is Chinigchinich himself; he will see us, and we shall die.”

“No,” answered Nopal, “it is only Nihie, the medicine man. He looks so tall because of his headdress. It is made of framework of dried tules covered with feathers and fish bladders. I saw it one day in his jacal, and it is as tall as I am. That jacal beside him is the vanquech [temple], and I think there is something awful there. You see if there isn’t. Hush, now! Squat down. Here they come.”

In a procession the men came into the opening, and, stalking solemnly by, each cast down at the door of the temple an offering of some object which he prized. Cuchuma gave a bone knife which he greatly valued, and a handsome new bow. Sholoc gave a speckled green stone olla from Santa Catalina and a small string of money; but these were chiefs’ offerings. The other gifts were simpler–shells, acorn meal, baskets, birds’ skins, but always something for which the owner cared.

At last the medicine man, satisfied with the things offered which became his own when the ceremony was over, stooped and drew forth the sacred emblem from the temple. It was not even an idol, only a fetich composed of a sack made from the skin of a coyote, the head carefully preserved and stuffed, while the body was dressed smooth of hair and adorned with hanging shells and tufts of birds’ feathers. A bundle of arrows protruded from the open mouth, giving it a fierce appearance. While Nihie held it up, the men circled round once again, this time more rapidly, and as they passed the medicine man, each gave a spring into the air, shooting an arrow upward with all his force. When the last man had disappeared under the trees, Nihie replaced the skin in the temple, put out the fire, and, singing a kind of chant, he led the men back to their jacals. The boys stood up. Payuchi shivered and drew a long breath.

“We must get away now; Nihie will be back soon to get the offerings,” said Nopal.

“But first we must offer our gifts, or Chinigchinich will be angry,” said Payuchi.

“Come on, then,” said the brother; so, stealing softly down the hillside, the boys cast their offerings on the pile in front of the hut and ran away, taking a roundabout path home, that they might not meet the medicine man returning.

“We must hurry to get in the jacal before father,” said Nopal, suddenly. “I didn’t think of that. Run, Payuchi, run faster.” But they were in time after all, and were stretched out on their mats some minutes before their father and Sholoc came in.

Macana’s first duty in the morning was to attend to the baby, whose wide-open black eyes gave the only sign that it was awake. She unfastened it from the basket and unwrapped it, rubbing the little body over with its morning bath of grease until the firm skin shone as if varnished. When it had nursed and was comfortable, she put the little one back in its cradle basket, which she leaned up against the side of the hut, where the little prisoner might see all that was going on.

Instead of the usual breakfast of acorn meal mush, the children had a plentiful meal of fish which their mother had saved from the feast of the night before.

“I didn’t think any one could catch so many fish as uncle brought last night,” said Cleeta, as she helped herself to a piece of yellowtail.

“Yes, they do, though,” said Payuchi. “Last night, after supper, uncle told the men some fine stories. I think he has been in places which none of our people have ever seen.

“He told us that once he journeyed many moons toward the land of snow and ice until he came to the country of the Klamath tribe, where he stayed a long time. He said that when they fish they drive posts made of young trees into the bottom of the river and then weave willow boughs in and out until there is a wall of posts and boughs clear across the stream. Then the big red fish come up from the great water into the river. They come, uncle said, so many no one can count them, and the ones behind push against those in front until they are all crowded against the wall, and then the Klamath men catch them with spears and nets until there is food enough for all, and many fish to dry.”

“I should like to see that. What else did he tell you?” asked Gesnip.

“He said he visited one place where the great salt water comes into the land and is so big it takes many days to journey round it. Here the people eat fish, clams, and mussels instead of acorns and roots. On the shore they have their feasting ground where they go to eat and dance and tell big stories, and; sometimes to make an offering. So many people go there, uncle said, that the shells they have left make a hill, a hill just of shells that is many steps high. From the top of it one may look over the water, which is so long no eye can see the end of it.”

“What else did you hear?” asked Gesnip.

“Nothing more, for mother called me,” replied her brother. “I should like to hear more of those stories, though.”

“Mother,” asked Gesnip, as she finished her breakfast, “when am I to begin to braid mats for the new jacal?”

“Soon,” replied Macana. “This morning you and Payuchi must gather the tule. Have a large pile when I come home.” So saying, the mother strapped the baby on her back and, accompanied by the younger children, went out with other women of the tribe to gather the white acorns from the oaks on the highlands pear the mountains.

The December wind, from the snow-capped peaks, chilled and cut with its icy breath their scantily clothed bodies, but for hours they worked picking up the scattered nuts. The labors of an Indian mother ceased only while she slept.

“Come, Payuchi,” said Gesnip, “let us go down to the river and get tules.”

“All right,” replied the boy, readily. “Sholoc is going down too. He is going to show the men how to make log canoes like his instead of the tule canoes our people use. But I like the tule canoes, because I can use my feet for paddles.” When they reached the river, which was really a lagoon or arm of the sea, the children stopped to watch the men at work. A large log, washed down from the mountains by some flood, lay on the bank. It was good hard wood, and the children saw that it was smoking in three places.

“This is going to make two canoes, but neither one will be so big, as uncle’s,” said Payuchi.

“How can it make two canoes if they burn it up?” asked his sister.

“You are stupid, Gesnip,” said her brother. “Don’t you see they are burning it to separate it into two parts? Then they will burn each log into the shape of a boat, finishing it up with axes of bone or horn. Uncle told me how they did it.”

“Why have they put the green bark on the top of the log?”

“I think it is to keep it from burning along the edge; don’t you see? And then there are wider pieces to protect it at the ends. See how they watch the fire and beat it out in one place and then in another.”

“Why does it burn so fast?” asked Gesnip.

“Because they have daubed it with pitch. Can’t you smell it?” said the boy, sniffing.

“Yes, I can smell it,” replied his sister. “But come now and help me gather tules. Father is going to burn down our house and build a new one for winter, and I must make a tule rug for each one of you for beds in the new home. It will take a great many tule stems.”

“It is cold to wade,” said Payuchi, stepping into the water at the edge of the river.

“Yes,” answered Gesnip, “I don’t like to gather tules in winter.”

The children pulled up the long rough stems one by one until they had a large pile.

“I think we have enough,” said Payuchi, after they had been working about two hours.

“Yes, I think so too,” said his sister. “My back aches, my hands are sore, and my feet are so cold.” Payuchi brought some wild grapevine with which he tied the tule into two bundles, fastening the larger upon his sister’s back; for with his people the women and girls were the burden bearers, and a grown Indian would not do any work that his wife could possibly do for him.

After they had traveled a little way on the homeward path, Gesnip stopped.

“Don’t go so fast, Payuchi,” she begged. “This bundle is so large it nearly tumbles me over.”

“Just hurry a little until we get to the foot of the hill yonder where Nopal and the other big boys are playing, and you can rest while I watch the game,” answered her brother. Gesnip struggled on, bending under the weight and size of her awkward burden until, with a sigh of relief, she seated herself on a stone to rest while Payuchi, throwing his bundle on the ground, stood up to watch the boys.

“See, Nopal is It,” he said. Nopal, coming forward, stooped low and rolled a hoop along the ground, which the boys had pounded smooth and hard for the game.

As the hoop rolled another boy stepped forward and tried to throw a stick through it, but failed. Then all the players pointed their fingers at him and grunted in scorn. Again Nopal rolled the hoop, and this time the boy threw through the ring, and all the boys, and Payuchi too, gave whoops of delight.

The children watched the game until Gesnip said that they must go on, for their mother would be home and want them. When they returned, Macana was warming herself by the fire where the men were sitting.

“See our tule; is it not a great deal?” asked the children, showing their bundles.

“Yes, but not enough,” replied their mother. “You will have to go out another day.”

The women, who had been working all the morning gathering acorns, now squatted near the fire and began grinding up the nuts which had been already dried.

“Gesnip,” called her mother, “bring me the grinding stones.” The girl went to the jacal and brought two stones, one a heavy bowlder with a hollow in its top, which had been made partly by stone axes, but more by use; the other stone fitted into this hollow.

“Now bring me the basket of roasted grasshoppers,” said the mother. Taking a handful of grasshoppers, Macana put them into the hollow in the larger stone, and with the smaller stone rubbed them to a coarse powder. This powder she put into a small basket which Gesnip brought her.

“I am glad we caught the grasshoppers. They taste better than acorn meal mush,” said Payuchi.

“How many grasshoppers there are in the fall,” said Gesnip, “and so many rabbits, too.”

“We had such a good time at the rabbit drive,” said Payuchi.

“And such a big feast afterwards, nearly as good as last night,” said Gesnip.

“Tell me about the rabbit drive,” said Cleeta, squatting down beside the children in front of the fire.

“It was in the big wash up the river toward the mountains,” began Payuchi. “You have seen the rabbits running to hide in a bunch of grass and cactus when you go with mother to the mountains for acorns, haven’t you?”

Cleeta nodded. “Not this winter, though. We saw only two to-day,” she said.

“That is because of the drive,” said her brother. “It was in the afternoon, with the wind blowing from the ocean, and all the men who could shoot best with bow and arrow, or throw the spear well, stood on the other side of the wash.”

“Father was there,” said Cleeta.

“Yes, and many others,” said Payuchi. “Then some of the men and all of us boys got green branches of trees and came down on this side of the wash. Nopal started the fire. It burned along in the grass slowly at first, and when it came too near the jacals on one side or the woods on the other, we would beat it out with the branches, but soon it ran before the wind into the cactus and bunch grass. The rabbits were frightened out and ran from the fire as fast as they could, and in a few minutes they were right at the feet of father and the other hunters. They killed forty before the smoke made them run too.”

“My dress was made of their skin,” said the little girl, smoothing her gown lovingly. “It keeps me so warm.”

“Did the fire burn long?” asked Gesnip.

“No, we beat it out, or it would have gone up the wash into the live oaks; then we boys should have been well punished for our carelessness.”

Here their mother called to them.

“Payuchi,” she said, “put away this basket of grasshopper meal. And, Gesnip, go to the jacal and find me the coils for basket weaving.”

“What shall I bring?” asked Gesnip.

“The large bundle of chippa that is soaking in a basket, and the big coil of yellow kah-hoom and the little one of black tsuwish which are hanging up, and bring me my needle and bone awl.”

“Do you want the coil of millay?”

“No, I shall need no red to-day.”

Squatted on the ground, where she could feel the warmth of the fire on her back, but where the heat could not dry her basket materials, Macana began her work. Taking a dripping chippa, or willow bough, from the basket where it had been soaking, she dried it on leaves and wound it tightly in a close coil the size of her thumbnail, then spatted it together until it seemed no longer a cord, but a solid piece of wood. Thus she made the base of her basket; then, threading her needle, which was but a horny cactus stem set in a head of hardened pitch, she stitched in and out over the upper and under the lower layer, drawing her thread firmly each time. The thread was the creamy, satin-like kah-hoom. Round and round she coiled the chippa, the butt of one piece overlapping the tip of another, while with her needle she covered all with the smoothly drawn kah-hoom. After a time she laid the kah-hoom aside for a stitch or two of the black root of the tule, called tsuwish.

The children had watched the starting of the basket, then had begun a game of match, with white and black pebbles. After a time Gesnip, looking up from her play, exclaimed, as she saw the black diamond pattern the weaver was making:–

“Mother, why are you weaving a rattlesnake basket?”

“I am making it to please Chinigchinich that he may smile upon me and guard you, children, and Cuchuma from the bite of the rattlesnake. There are so many of them here this year, and I fear for you.”

“Thank you, mother,” said Gesnip. “If Titas’s mother had made a black diamond basket, maybe the snake would not have bitten her.”

“I think Chinigchinich does smile upon you,” said Payuchi, “for when we were so hungry in the month of roots [October] you wove him the hunting basket with the pattern of deer’s antlers, trimmed with quail feathers, and see how much food we have had: first the rabbits, then the grasshoppers, and now the fish and elk.”

“While you work tell us how the first baby basket was made,” begged Cleeta. The mother nodded; and as she wound and pressed closely the moist chippa, and the cactus needle flew in and out with the creamy kah-hoom or the black tsuwish, she told the story.

“When the mother of all made the basket for the first man child, she used a rainbow for the wood of the back of the basket, with stars woven in each side, and straight lightning down the middle in front. Sunbeams shining on a far-away rain storm formed the fringe in front, where we use strips of buckskin, and the carry straps were brightest sunbeams.”

“Mother, you left out that the baby was wrapped in a soft purple cloud from the mountains,” said Cleeta.

“Yes, in a purple cloud of evening, wrapped so he could not move leg or arm, but would grow straight and beautiful,” said the mother.

For a long while the children watched in silence the patient fingers at their work; then Gesnip asked, “Is it true, mother, that when you were a little child your father and mother and many of your tribe died of hunger?”

“It is true,” replied Macana, sadly, “but who told you?”

“Old Cotopacnic, but I thought it was one of his dreams. Why were you all so hungry?” asked the girl.

“Because the rain failed for three seasons. After a time there was no grass, no acorns, the rabbits and deer died or wandered away, the streams dried up so there were no fish, the ground became so dry that there were no more grubs or worms of any kind, no grasshoppers. There was nothing to eat but roots. Nearly all our tribe died, and many other people, too.”

“How did you live?” asked Payuchi.

“My aunt had married a chief whose home was in a rich valley in the mountains where it is always green. She came down to see my mother, and when she found how hard it was to get food for us all, she took me by the hand and tumbled Sholoc who was smaller than little Nakin, into her great seed basket and took us off to the mountains until times should grow better; but the rains did not come until it was too late. I stayed with her until I married your father. Sholoc became a great hunter, then chief of the people of Santa Catalina, where he became a great fisherman also.”

The children looked grave.

“Do you think such bad seasons can ever come again?” asked Gesnip.

“Who can tell?” replied the mother, with a sigh. “Last year was very bad and there is little rain yet this year. That is why the men offered gifts to Chinigchinich last night.”

“Nobody must take me away from you to keep me from being hungry,” said gentle Cleeta, hiding her face in her mother’s lap.

“If I were Chinigchinich,” said Payuchi, “I would not let so many people die, just because they needed a little more rain. I would not be that kind of a god.”

“Hush, my child,” said the mother, sternly. “He will hear and punish you. If it is our fate, we must bend to it.”

Chapter III

“The Secret of the Strait”


One afternoon in September, in the year 1542, two broad, clumsy ships, each with the flag of Spain flying above her many sails, were beating their way up the coast of southern California. All day the vessels had been wallowing in the choppy seas, driven about by contrary winds. At last the prow of the leading ship was turned toward shore, where there seemed to be an opening that might lead to a good harbor. At the bow of the ship stood the master of the expedition, the tanned, keen-faced captain, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. He was earnestly watching the land before him, which was still some distance away.

“Come hither, Juan,” he called to a sturdy lad, about sixteen, who, with an Indian boy, brought from Mexico as interpreter, was also eagerly looking landward. “Your eyes should be better than mine. Think you there is a harbor beyond that point?”

“It surely seems so to me, sir,” answered the boy; “and Pepe, whose eyes, you know, are keener than ours, says that he can plainly see the entrance.”

“I trust he is right; for this thickening weather promises a storm, and a safe harbor would be a gift of God to us weary ones this night,” said the captain, with a sigh.

Since the fair June day when they had sailed out of the harbor on the west shore of Mexico, they had been following first up the coast line of the Peninsula, then of Upper California. No maps or charts of the region showing where lay good harbors or dangerous rocks, could be found in Cabrillo’s cabin. Instead, there were maps of this South Sea which pictured terrible dangers for mariners–great whirlpools which could suck down whole fleets of vessels, and immense waterfalls, where it was thought the whole ocean poured off the end of the land into space. A brave man was Captain Cabrillo, for, half believing these stories, he yet sailed steadily on, determined, no matter what happened to himself, to do his duty to the king under whose flag he sailed, and to the viceroy of Mexico, whose funds had furnished the expedition.

California has ever been noted for its brave men, but none have been more courageous than this explorer, who was probably the first white man to set his foot upon its soil. As the ship approached land the crew became silent, every eye being turned anxiously to the opening of the passage which appeared before them. The vessel, driven by the stiff breeze, rushed on, almost touching the rock at one point. Then, caught by a favorable current, it swept into mid-channel, where it moved rapidly forward, until at length it rode safely in the harbor now known as San Diego Bay.

“It is a good port and well inclosed,” said Juan Cabrillo, with great satisfaction, gazing out upon the broad sheet of quiet water. “We will name it for our good San Miguel, to whom our prayers for a safe anchorage were offered this morning.” Then, when the two ships were riding at anchor, the commander ordered out the boats.

“We will see what kind of people these are, dodging behind the bushes yonder,” said he. As the Spaniards drew near shore they could see many fleeing figures.

“What a pity they are so afraid,” said Cabrillo. “If we are to learn anything of the country, we must teach them that we mean them no harm.”

“Master,” said Pepe, “there are three of them hiding behind those bushes.”

“Is it so, lad? Then go you up to them. They will not fear you.” So the Indian boy walked slowly forward, holding out his hands with his palms upward, which not only let the natives see that he was unarmed, but in the sign language meant peace and friendship. As he drew near to them an old man and two younger ones, dressed in scanty shirts of rabbit-skins, came from their hiding places and began to talk to Pepe, but, though they also were Indians, they did not speak his language. Some of their words were evidently similar to his, and by these and the help of signs he partly understood what they said. Presently he returned to the group on shore.

“They say there are Spaniards back in the country a few days’ journey from here.”

“Spaniards? That is impossible,” returned Cabrillo.

“They say that they are bearded, wear clothes like yours, and have white faces,” answered the boy, simply.

“They must be mistaken, or perhaps you did not understand them fully,” said the master. “At another time we will question them further. Now, give them this present of beads and hurry back, for it is late.”

That night some of the men from the ships went on shore to fish. While they were drawing their nets, the Indians stole up softly and discharged their arrows, wounding three. The boy Juan had the most serious injury, an arrow being so deeply embedded in his shoulder that it could not be removed until they reached the ship. There the padre, who, like most priests of that day, knew something of surgery, drew it out, and bound up the shoulder in soothing balsams.

On the second day of their stay in port the wind began to blow from the southwest; the waves grew rough, and Cabrillo ordered the ships to be made ready for the tempest, which soon became violent. Meantime, Juan lay suffering in his hammock, which swung backward and forward with the motion of the ship. Suddenly he heard a step beside him and felt a cool hand on his forehead.

“How goes it, lad?” said Cabrillo, for it was the master himself. “You are suffering in a good cause. Have courage; you will soon be well. Remember, you have helped to discover a harbor, the like of which is seldom found. This storm is a severe one. I can hear the surf booming on the farther shore, yet our ship shows no strain on the anchor. Good harbor though it is, I am sorely disappointed, as I had hoped it was the entrance to the strait, the strait that seems a phantom flying before us as we go, drawing us onward to we know not what.” The sadness of the captain’s voice troubled Juan.

“Master,” he asked earnestly, “what is the strait? I hear of it often, yet no one can tell me what it is, or where it lies.”

“Because no one knows,” answered the captain, rising. “I am needed on deck, but I will send old Tomas to tell you its strange story.”

“The secret of the strait,” said old Tomas, as he seated himself beside Juan, “has led many men to gallant deeds and also many a man to a gallant death. Always, since as a lad I first went to sea, the merchants of many lands have been seeking a safe and speedy way of reaching the Indies, where are found such foods, spices, and jewels as one sees nowhere else in the world.

“My father and grandfather used to travel with caravans overland to and from India. There are several routes, each controlled by some one of the great Italian cities, but all have somewhere to cross the desert, where the trains are often robbed by wild tribes. Sometimes, as they come nearer home, they are held by the Turks for heavy tribute, with such loss that the merchants have been forced to turn to the sea in hopes that a better way might be found. It was while searching for this route that Columbus discovered the new world, and when the news of his success was brought back to Europe there was great rejoicing, because it was thought that he had reached some part of India. Magellan’s voyage, however, destroyed these hopes. He sailed for months down the eastern shore of the new land, and discovered, far away to the south, a strait through which he reached the great South Sea, but then he still sailed on for nearly a year before he came to the Spice Islands and Asia.

“Now every one believes that somewhere through this land to the north of us there is a wide, deep sea passage from the North Sea [Atlantic] to the South Sea [Pacific], by which ships may speedily reach India. This passage is called the Strait of Anian.

“The great captain, Hernando Cortez, the conqueror of New Spain [Mexico] spent many years and a large fortune seeking for this water way. Four different expeditions he sent out to explore this coast: most of them at his own cost. In the second one his pilot, Jiminez, led a mutiny, murdered his captain, and afterward discovered, accidentally, the southern point of this land we are now exploring. But it was not the good fortune of the noble Cortez to discover the strait. Our captain is the next to take up the search, and may God send him success.”

After a stay of nearly a week in the bay of San Diego, Cabrillo continued his voyage up the coast, sailing by day, anchoring at night. He touched at an island which he named San Salvador, but which we know as Santa Catalina. Here, by his kind and generous treatment, he won the friendship of the natives. From this beautiful spot, he sailed, one Sunday morning, to the mainland. Entering the Bay of San Pedro, he found it enveloped in smoke.

“It seems a fair port,” said the commander, “but go no farther inland. Drop anchor while we can see our way. We may well call this the Bay of Smokes.” The fires, they found, had been started by the Indians to drive the rabbits from shelter, so they could be the more easily killed.

Sailing on, the ships anchored off a thickly settled valley, where the town of Ventura now lies. Here, on October 12, 1542, Cabrillo and his company went on shore and took solemn possession of the land in the name of the king of Spain and the viceroy of Mexico. Here, and along the channel, the people were better-looking, more comfortably lodged and clothed, than those farther south. They also had good canoes, which the natives of the lower coast did not possess. Pushing on, the explorer saw and noted the channel islands and rounded Point Conception. From here he was driven back by contrary winds, and toward nightfall of a stormy day found himself near the little island now named San Miguel.

“We will call it La Posesion and take it for our own,” said Cabrillo, “for, if we can but make it, there seems to be a good harbor here.” The storm, however, grew more severe. The sea rose until occasionally the waves swept over the smaller ship, which was without a deck. Here occurred a most unhappy accident. Something about the ship, a spar probably, loosened by the storm, fell and struck the brave commander, breaking his arm. Although severely injured, he would not have the wounds dressed until, after a long period of anxiety, the two ships entered in safety the little harbor of San Miguel.

Here, stormbound, they remained for a week. When they ventured forth, they again met with high winds and bad weather. Cabrillo, who in spite of discouragements never forgot his search for the strait, pushed close inshore and kept much of the time on deck looking for some signs of a river or passage. One morning at daybreak, after a rough night, they found themselves drifting in an open bay.

“It is a fine roadstead,” said Cabrillo, coming on deck, as the sun rose over the pine-covered hills. “Were it smaller, it would be a welcome harbor. We will name it from those majestic trees La Bahia de Pinos, and yonder long projection we will call the Cabo de Pinos.” That bay is now called Monterey, but the cape still bears the name given it by this first explorer.

Anchoring in forty-five fathoms of water, they tried to go on shore, in order to take possession of the land, but the sea was so rough that they could not launch their boats. The next day they discovered and named some mountains which they called Sierra Nevada, and, sailing on, went as far north as about 401. But this winter voyage was made at a great sacrifice. The exposure and hardships, following the wound he had received, were too much for even the hardy sailor Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. After weeks of struggle with storms, the ships were forced back to their old shelter at San Miguel. Here Christmas week was spent, but a sad holiday it was to the explorers, for their brave leader lay dying. Nobly had he done his duty up to the last.

“Juan,” he said, to his young attendant, on Christmas Eve, “how gladly the bells will be ringing in Lisbon to-night. I seem to hear them now. They drive out all other sounds. Call Ferrelo and let no one else come but the padre.” Very soon Juan returned with Cabrillo’s first assistant, the pilot, Ferrelo, a brave navigator and a just man.

“Ferrelo,” said Cabrillo, faintly, “Death calls me, and the duty I lay down you must take up. I command you to push the expedition northward at all hazards, and to keep such records as are necessary in order that fitting account of our voyage shall be given to the world. Will you promise me to do this?”

“I will, my master,” said Ferrelo, simply. “To the best of my ability will I take up your work.”

“Always looking for the strait, Ferrelo?”

“Always, senor.”

On the 3d of January, 1543, the brave man died and was buried in the sands of Cuyler Harbor on San Miguel Island. His men called the island Juan Rodriguez. This name was afterwards dropped, but California should see to it that the island is rechristened in honor of the great sailor who sleeps there.

Ferrelo later succeeded in sailing as far north as Cape Mendocino and perhaps as far as 42i, but, though he kept as close to the shore as possible, he failed to discover the great bay whose waters, spreading like a sheet of silver over sixty miles of country, lay hidden just behind the Golden Gate. Near the Oregon line he was driven back by storms, and returned to Mexico, where he published a full account of the voyage.


In the town of Offenburg, Germany, there is a statue of a man standing on the deck of a ship, leaning against an anchor, his right hand grasping a map of America, his left, a cluster of bulbous roots. On the pedestal is the inscription, “Sir Francis Drake, the introducer of potatoes into Europe in the year of our Lord 1586.”

While it is doubtful whether this honor really belongs to Drake, an Englishman, seeing the statue, would be inclined to say, “Is this all that Germany has to tell of the great captain who led our navy against the Spanish Armada; the first Englishman to sail around the world; the most daring explorer, clever naval commander, expert seaman, brave soldier, loyal friend, and gallant enemy of his time?” A Spaniard, on the contrary, might well exclaim, “Why did Germany erect a statue to this terrible man whom our poets call Dragontea [Dragon], this greatest of all pirates, this terror of the sea?” All this, and more, might be said of one man, who began life as a ship’s boy.

At the time Drake first went to sea, England and Spain were by no means friendly. Henry the Eighth of England had ill-treated his wife, who was a Spanish princess. In addition he had drawn the English people away from the Church of Rome. These things were most displeasing to Spain, but there was still another reason for disagreement. The interests of the two countries were opposed commercially, and this was the most important cause of contention.

Spain claimed by right of discovery, and gift of the Pope of Rome, all the land in the new world except Brazil (which belonged to Portugal), and held that no explorers or tradesmen, other than her own, had any rights on her waters or in her ports. English seamen denied much of this claim, and so frequent were the disputes arising upon the subject that the English sailors adopted as a maxim, “No peace beyond the line,” meaning the line which was, by the Pope’s decree, the eastern boundary of the Spanish claim.

The favorite prey of the British mariners was the treasure ships carrying to Spain the precious cargoes of gold and silver from the rich mines of the new world. With the far richer ships of the Philippine and Indian trade, sailing on unknown waters, they had not, up to Drake’s time, been able to interfere.

Drake, when a very young man, had joined a trading expedition to Mexico. While there the English were attacked by the Spanish in what the former considered a most treacherous manner. Drake’s brother and many of his comrades were killed, and their goods taken. After the battle he solemnly vowed to be revenged, and so thoroughly did he carry out his resolution that he was for years the terror of the Spanish seamen, and, by many of the superstitious common sailors, believed to be Satan himself come to earth in human form.

Shortly after this unfortunate expedition Drake engaged in a marauding voyage to Panama, where he captured rich stores of gold and silver and precious stones. He gained such renown for his bravery and seamanship that upon coming home he found himself famous.

Queen Elizabeth knew that Spain was opposed to her and her religion, and was not in her heart displeased when her brave seamen got the better of their Spanish rivals. She received Drake privately, and help was offered him secretly from people who stood high in the government. With this encouragement he resolved to embark on a most hazardous and daring adventure. While in Panama he had seen, from a “high and goodlie tree” on a mountain side, the great Pacific, and was immediately filled with a desire to sail on its waters and explore its shores. He therefore determined to cross the Atlantic, pass through the Strait of Magellan, up the Pacific, and to plunder the Spanish towns along the coast of South and Central America, until he should reach the region traversed by the richly laden Spanish ships coming from India and the Philippines. It is said that the queen herself put a thousand crowns into this venture. One thing is certain, that he received sufficient help to fit out five small vessels, with one hundred and sixty-four men. With these he sailed from Falmouth, England, in December of 1577. With the exception of perhaps one or two of the rich men who had helped him, no one, not even his men, knew of his plans.

After a long and interesting voyage in which one vessel was lost and the others, though he did not know it, had deserted him, he found himself with but one ship beating his way up the coast of Lower California. This was his flagship Pelican, which he had rechristened the Golden Hind. It was then so laden with rich booty, that it was like a hawk which had stolen too heavy a chicken, driven this way and that by the winds, scarcely able to reach its nest.

In addition to a good store of Chile wines and foods of various kinds, there were packed away in the hold of the Golden Hind, twenty-five thousand pesos of gold, eight thousand pounds of English money, and a great cross of gold with “emeralds near as large as a man’s finger.” From one vessel Drake had taken one hundred-weight of silver; from a messenger of the mines, who was sleeping beside a spring on the Peruvian coast, thirteen bars of solid silver; off the backs of a train of little gray llamas, the camels of the Andes, eight hundred pounds of silver; and besides all these were large quantities of gold and silver that were not recorded in the ship’s list, and stores of pearls, diamonds, emeralds, silks, and porcelain.

The last prize taken was the Spanish treasure ship Cacafuegos. Drake had transferred its cargo and crew to his own vessel and, for a time, manned it with some of his men. Its noble commander, St. John de Anton, who had been wounded in the attack, received every possible attention on the English vessel, and in the report which he afterwards made to the viceroy of Mexico, he told of the perfect order and discipline maintained on the Golden Hind, and of the luxury which surrounded its commander, who was treated with great reverence by his men.

Before sailing on to the northward, Drake restored St. John and his crew to their vessel. Then, because he feared that they might fall into the hands of his fleet (having no suspicion that the other captains had returned home), he gave the Spaniards the following letter, which shows the great Englishman to have been more honorable than he is oftentimes represented:–

“To Master Weinter and the Masters of the Other Ships of my Fleet:

“If it pleaseth God that you should chance to meet with this ship of St. John de Anton, I pray you use him well according to my promise given him. If you want to use anything that is in the ship, I pray you pay him double value for it, which I will satisfy again. And command your men not to do any harm and what agreement we have made, at my return unto England, I will, by God’s help, perform, although I am in doubt that this letter will ever come to your hand, notwithstanding I am the man I have promised to be.

“Beseeching God, the Saviour of the world, to have us all in his keeping, to whom I give all honor, praise, and glory,

“Your sorrowful captain, whose heart is heavy for you,

“Francis Drake.”

How to get home was the problem which this daring man had now to solve. There was no possibility of returning by the way he had come. He well knew that the news of his departure had reached Spain, and that her war ships would be waiting for him, not only at the eastern entrance of the Strait of Magellan, but at the Isthmus and in the Caribbean Sea.

If by sailing northward he could find the Strait of Anian, then his homeward journey would be safe and short; but if he could not find that illusive body of water, then there was left to him but the Pacific for a highway. However, this did not daunt him, as he felt that what the Portuguese Magellan had done, Drake the Englishman could do.

Keeping well out from shore, the Golden Hind now sailed northward for nearly two months. Drake passed just west of the Farallon Islands, never dreaming of the great harbor which lay so short a distance on the other side. He traveled as far north as latitude 42i or possibly 43i, and perhaps he even landed at one point, but he failed to find the strait. According to Fletcher, the priest of the Church of England who kept a journal of the expedition, they were finally forced by the extreme cold to turn southward. “Here,” says Fletcher, “it pleased God on this 17th day of June, 1579, to send us, in latitude 38i, a convenient fit harbor.” This is now supposed to be Drakes Bay, which lies thirty miles northwest of San Francisco, in Marin county.

“In this bay we anchored, and the people of the country having their houses close to the waterside showed themselves unto us and sent presents to our general. He, in return, courteously treated them and liberally bestowed upon them things necessary to cover their nakedness.

“Their houses are digged around about with earth and have for the brim of that circle, clefts of wood set upon the ground and joined closely together at the top like the spire of a steeple, which by reason of this closeness are very warm. The men go naked, but the women make themselves loose garments knit about the middle, while over their shoulders they wear the skin of a deer.”

These people brought presents and seemed to want to offer sacrifices to the strangers as gods, but Drake, hastily calling his men together, held divine services, “To which, especially the prayers and music,” says Fletcher, “they were most attentive and seemed to be greatly affected.” The Bible used by Drake in this service is still to be seen in Nut Hall House, Devonshire, England.

Presently a messenger came, saying that the king wished to visit them if they would assure him of their peaceful intentions. Drake sent him presents, then marched his force into a kind of fort he had had made in which to place such parts of the cargo as it was necessary to remove in order to careen the ship for repairing. The coming of the chief is thus described:–

“He came in princely majesty. In the fore-front was a man of goodly personage who bore the scepter whereon was hung two crowns with chains of marvelous length. The crowns were made of knit-work wrought with feathers of divers colors, the chains being made of bony substances.

“Next came the king with his guard, all well clothed in connie skins, then the naked common people with faces painted, each bearing some presents. After ceremonies consisting of speeches and dances, they offered one of the crowns to Drake, who, accepting in the name of Elizabeth, allowed it to be placed on his head.”

While the men were busy cleaning and repairing the ship, the commander and his officers made excursions into the interior, visiting many Indian towns and passing through wide plains where vast herds of deer, often one thousand or more, all large and fat, were feeding on the rich grasses. They also saw great numbers of what they called connies, which, from their description, must have been ground squirrels, or else some variety of animal now extinct. The country Drake named New Albion, partly from its white cliffs, which resembled those of his native land, and partly in belief that it would be easier to lay claim to the country if it bore one of the names applied to England.

“When the time came for our departure,” continued Fletcher in his journal, “our general set up a monument of our being here, so also, of her majesty’s right and title to the land: namely a plate nailed upon a fair great post, whereon was engraved her majesty’s name, the day and year of our arrival, with the giving up of the province and people into her majesty’s hands, together with her highness’ picture and arms in a sixpence under the plate, whereunder was also written the name of our general.”

Fletcher seemed not to know of Cabrillo’s voyage, for he claimed that no one had ever discovered land in this region, or for many degrees to the south; while in fact Ferrelo with Cabrillo’s ships had sailed as far north as latitude 42i, although we have no reason to think that he landed in a higher latitude than that of Point Conception and San Miguel Island.

Once again solemn religious services were held by the Englishmen on the hospitable soil that had been their home for over a month. Then they went on board the ship, accompanied to the shore by the grieving Indians, who would not be comforted when they saw their new friends forsaking them. It was near the last of July in 1579 that Captain Drake with his brave men began his wonderful homeward voyage.

It was a triumphant return they made in September, a year later. Crowds flocked to see the famous ship and its gallant commander.

Some of the queen’s statesmen strongly disapproved of Drake’s attack upon Spanish towns and vessels, and felt he should be arrested and tried for piracy; but the common people cheered him wherever he went, and as a crowning honor, in the luxurious cabin of his good ship Golden Hind, he was visited by the great Elizabeth herself. When the banquet was over, at the queen’s command, he bent his knee before her, and this sovereign, who, though a woman, dearly loved such courage and daring as he had displayed, tapped him on the shoulder and bade him arise “Sir Francis Drake.”

Galli and Carmenon

In 1584 Francisco Galli, commanding a Philippine ship, returning to Mexico by way of Japan, sighted the coast of California in latitude 37i 30′. He saw, as he reported, “a high and fair land with no snow and many trees, and in the sea, drifts of roots, reeds, and leaves.” Some of the latter he gathered and cooked with meat for his men, who were no doubt suffering from scurvy.

Galli wrote of the point where he first saw the coast as Cape Mendocino, which would seem to imply that the point had been discovered and named at some previous time, of which, however, there is no record.

In 1595 Sebastian Carmenon, commanding the ship San Agustin, coming from the Philippines, was given royal orders to make some explorations on the coast of California, probably to find a suitable harbor for Manila vessels. In doing so he was so unfortunate as to run his vessel ashore behind Point Reyes, and to lighten her was obliged to leave behind a portion of his cargo, consisting of wax and silks in boxes. There is only the briefest record of this voyage, and no report of any discoveries.


Almost sixty years after the voyage of Cabrillo, came a royal order from the king of Spain to the viceroy of Mexico which, translated from the Spanish, ran something like this:–

“Go, search the northern coast of the Californias, until you find a good and sufficient harbor wherein my Manila galleons may anchor safe and protected, and where may be founded a town that my scurvy-stricken sailors may find the fresh food necessary for their relief. Furthermore, spare no expense.”

The destruction of Spanish shipping by Drake and other English seamen who followed his example, had caused great anxiety to the Spaniards and was partly the reason for this order.

“Send for Don Sebastian,” said the viceroy. “He is a brave gentleman and good sailor. He shall carry out the order of the king.” But it took time to fit out such an expedition, and it was not until an afternoon in May, 1602, that Don Sebastian Vizcaino, on his flagship, the San Diego, sailed out of the harbor of Acapulco into the broad Pacific. Closely following him were his other ships, the San Thomas and Tres Reyes.

There had been solemn services at the cathedral that afternoon. Officers and men had taken of the holy communion; and now their wives and children stood on the island at the entrance of the harbor, watching the white sails as they grew fainter and fainter and at last disappeared in the haze of the coming night.

Then the watchers returned to their lonely homes with heavy hearts, for in those days few came back who sailed out on the great South Sea. Storms, battles with the natives, and scurvy made sad havoc among the sailors.

Early in November Vizcaino entered “a famous port,” which he named San Diego, finding it, as Padre Ascension’s journal says, “beautiful and very grand, and all parts of it very convenient shelter from the winds.” After leaving San Diego, the next anchoring place was the island named by Vizcaino for Santa Catalina, on whose feast day his ships entered the pretty little harbor of Avalon.

The Spaniards were greatly pleased with the island and also with the people, whom they described as being a large-figured, light-complexioned race; all, men, women, and children, being well clothed in sealskins. They had large dwellings, many towns, and fine canoes. What struck Padre Ascension most strongly was their temple, of which he says: “There was in the temple a large level court, and about this a circle surrounded by feather work of different colors taken from various birds which I understand had been sacrificed to their idols. Within this circle was the figure of a demon painted in color after the manner of the Indians of New Spain. On its sides were figures of the sun and moon.

“It so fell out that when our soldiers came up from the ships to view the temple, there were in the circle two immense ravens, far larger than ordinary. When the men arrived, they flew away to some rocks that were near by, and the soldiers seeing how large they were, raised their arquebuses and killed them both. Then did the Indians begin to weep and make great lamentation. I understand that the devil was accustomed to speak to them, through these birds, for which they showed great respect.”

There were in the island quantities of edible roots of a variety of the yucca called gicamas, and many little bulbs which the Spanish called “papas pequenos” (little potatoes). These, the padre said, the Indians took in their canoes over to the mainland, thus making their living by barter. This certainly must have been the beginning of commerce on the coast.

Vizcaino entered and named the Bay of San Pedro. To the channel islands he also gave the names which they now bear. Sailing on, he discovered a river which he named “Carmelo,” in honor of the Carmelite friars who accompanied him. The same day the fleet rounded the long cape called “Point Pinos” and came to anchor in the bay formed by its projection. From here the San Tomas was sent to Mexico to carry the sick, of whom there were many, and to bring back fresh supplies. The men who remained were at once set to work. Some supplied the two ships with wood and water; others built a chapel of brush near the beach, under a large oak at the roots of which flowed a spring of delicious water. In this chapel mass was said and the Te Deum chanted. For over one hundred and fifty years this oak was known, both in New Spain and at the court of the king, as the “Oak of Vizcaino, in the Bay of Monterey.” From here Vizcaino wrote to the king of Spain as follows:–

“Among the ports of greater consideration which I have discovered is one in 30i north latitude which I called Monterey, as I wrote to your majesty in December. It is all that can be desired for commodiousness and as a station for ships making the voyage from the Philippines, sailing whence they make a landfall on this coast. It is sheltered from all winds and in the immediate vicinity are pines from which masts of any desired size could be obtained, as well as live oak, white oak, and other woods. There is a variety of game, great and small. The land has a genial climate and the waters are good. It is thickly settled by a people whom I find to be of gentle disposition, and whom I believe can be brought within the fold of the Holy Gospel and subjugation to your majesty.”

This enthusiastic praise of the harbor of Monterey by a man who was familiar with the port of San Diego, caused much trouble later, as will be seen in the study of the founding of the missions.

Not waiting for the return of the San Tomas, Vizcaino with his two ships soon sailed northward, and reached a point in about latitude 42i, which was probably the northern limit reached by Cabrillo’s ships and only a little lower than the farthest explorations of Drake. Although Vizcaino was looking for harbors, he yet passed twice outside the Bay of San Francisco, the finest on the coast, without discovering it. After his return to Mexico, Vizcaino endeavored to raise an expedition to found a settlement at Monterey, even going to Spain to press the matter; but other schemes were demanding the king’s attention, and he would give neither thought nor money to affairs in the new world; and so, thoroughly disheartened Vizcaino returned to Mexico.

From this time for over one hundred and fifty years there is no record of explorations along this coast, either by vessels from Mexico or by those coming from the Philippines. California seemed again forgotten.

This is the story of the few voyages made to the coast of California previous to its settlement. The first, under Cabrillo, was sent out by the viceroy Mendoza, who hoped to gain fame and riches by the discovery of the Strait of Anian, and by finding wealthy countries and cities which were supposed to exist in the great northwest, about which much was imagined but nothing known.

Drake planned his voyage largely in pursuit of his revenge upon Spain, partly for the plunder which he hoped to obtain from the Spanish towns and vessels along the Pacific coast of America, and partly because of his desire to explore the Pacific Ocean.

Vizcaino also was expected to search for the strait, but he was especially sent out to find a good harbor and place for settlement on the California coast. This was intended in a great measure for the benefit of the Philippine trade, but also to aid in holding the country for Spain.

Chapter IV

The Cross of Santa Fe

The kings highway which led up from Vera Cruz, the chief port of the eastern coast of Mexico, to the capital city of New Spain had in the eighteenth century more history connected with it than any other road in the new world. Over it had passed Montezuma with all the splendor of his pagan court. On it, too, had marched and counter marched his grim conqueror, the great Cortez. Through its white dust had traveled an almost endless procession of mules and slaves, carrying the treasures of the mines of Mexico and the rich imports of Manila and India on toward Spain.

Over this road there was journeying, one winter day in the year 1749, a traveler of more importance to the history of the state of California than any one who had gone before. He was no great soldier or king, only a priest in the brownish gray cloak of the order of St. Francis. He was slight in figure, and limped painfully from a sore on his leg, caused, it is supposed, by the bite of some poisonous reptile. The chance companions who traveled with him begged him to stop and rest beside a stream, but he would not. Then, as he grew more weary, they entreated him to seek shelter in a ranch house near by and give up his journey.

“Speak not to me thus. I am determined to continue. I seem to hear voices of unconverted thousands calling me,” was all the answer he gave. So on foot, with no luggage but his prayer book, he limped out of sight –the humble Spanish priest, Junipero Serra.

While only a schoolboy, young Serra had been more interested in the Indian inhabitants of the new world than in boyish pleasure. As he grew older it became his greatest desire to go to them as a missionary. At eighteen he became a priest; but it was not until his thirty-sixth year that he gained the opportunity of which he had so long dreamed, when, in company with a body of missionaries, among whom were his boyhood friends, Francisco Palou and Juan Crespi, he landed at Vera Cruz.

He was too impatient to begin his new work, to wait for the government escort which was coming to meet them. So he started out on foot, with only such companions as he might pick up by the way, to make the long journey to the city of Mexico.

Sixteen years later, attended by a gay company of gentlemen and ladies, there traveled over this road one of Spain’s wisest statesmen, Jose de Galvez, whom the king had sent out to look after affairs in the new world. Flourishing settlements were by this time scattered over a large portion of Mexico, and even in the peninsula of Lower California there were a number of missions. It was almost a hundred years before this time that two Catholic priests of the Society of Jesus had asked permission to found mission settlements among the Indians of this peninsula.

“You may found the missions if you like, but do not look to us for money to help you,” was the answer returned by the officers of the government. So the two Jesuit priests set about collecting funds for the work.

They were eloquent men, and the people who heard them preach became so interested in the Indians that they were glad to give. And so, little by little, this fund grew. As the good work went on, greater gifts poured in. Whole fortunes were left them, and finally they had a very large sum carefully invested in the city of Mexico. This was known as the Pius Fund. From it was taken all the money needed for the founding of the missions of Lower California; and, many years later, the expenses of founding the twenty-one missions of Upper California came from the same source. This fund became the subject of a long dispute between Mexico and the United States, of which an account is given in Chapter XI.

In 1767 all the Jesuit priests in New Spain were called back to Europe, and a large portion of their wealth and missions on the peninsula were given over to the order of St. Francis, with Junipero Serra at their head. It was Galvez’s duty to superintend this change, and while he was on his way to the peninsula for that purpose he was overtaken by an order from the king of Spain to occupy and fortify the ports of San Diego and Monterey. The Spanish government had the description of these ports furnished by Vizcaino in his account of his explorations in Upper and Lower California over one hundred and sixty years before.

The articles of the king’s order were: first, to establish the Catholic faith; second, to extend Spanish dominion; third, to check the ambitious schemes of a foreign power; and lastly, to carry out a plan formed by Philip the Third, as long ago as 1603, for the establishment of a town on the California coast where there was a harbor suitable for ships of the Manila trade.

Galvez at once proceeded to organize four expeditions for the settlement of Upper California, two by land, two by sea. Captain Portola, governor of the peninsula, was put in command, with good leaders under him. Still, Galvez was not satisfied.

“This is all very well,” he said; “these men will obey my orders, but they do not care much whether this land is settled or not, and if discouragements arise, back they will come, and I shall have the whole thing to do over again. I must find some one who is interested in the work, some one who will not find anything impossible. I think I shall send for that lame, pale-faced priest, with the beautiful eyes, who has taken up the work of these missions so eagerly.”

“So you think we can make the venture a success?” asked Galvez, after he had talked over his plans with Junipero.

“Surely,” said Padre Serra, his eyes shining, his whole face glowing with enthusiasm. “It is God’s work to carry the cross of the holy faith [Santa Fe] into the wilderness, and He will go with us; can you not hear the heathen calling us to bring them the blessed Gospel? I can see that I have lived all my life for this glorious day.”

Then they went to work, the priest and the king’s counselor–down on the wharf, even working with their own hands, packing away the cargo.

“Hurry! Hurry!” said Galvez. The word was passed along, and in a short time the four expeditions were ready.

Many were the trials and discouragements of the various parties. Scurvy was so severe among the sailors that one ship lost all its crew save two men, and there were a number of deaths on another ship; while a third vessel which started later was never heard from. Padre Junipero, who accompanied the second land party, under the charge of Governor Portola, became so ill from the wound on his leg that the commander urged him to return; but he would not. Calling a muleteer who was busy after the day’s march, doctoring the sores on his animals, he said:–

“Come, my son, and cure my sores also.”

“Padre,” exclaimed the man, shocked at the idea, “I am no surgeon; I doctor only my beasts.”

“Think then that I am a beast, my child,” said the padre, “and treat me accordingly.”

The man obeyed. Gathering some leaves of the malva, or cheese plant, he bruised them a little, heated them on the stones of the camp fire, and spreading them with warm tallow, applied them to the wound. The next morning the leg was so much better that the cure was thought to be a miracle. Still the padre was very weak; and there was great rejoicing in the party when at last they looked down from a height on San Diego Bay, with the two ships–the San Carlos and the San Antonio–riding at anchor, white tents on the beach, and soldiers grouped about. Salutes were fired by the newcomers and returned by the soldiers and ships, and very soon the four expeditions were reunited.

On the next day, Sunday, solemn thanksgiving services were held. Then for fourteen days all were busy attending to the sick, making ready for the departure of the ship San Antonio, which was to be sent back for supplies, and packing up food and other necessities for the journey to Monterey. The San Antonio sailed on the 9th of July, 1769, and five days later Governor Portola and two thirds of the well portion of the company started overland to Monterey.

Meantime Padre Junipero had been impatiently awaiting an opportunity to begin his great work–the conversion of the heathen. He had written back in his own peculiar way to his friend Padre Palou, whom he left in charge of the missions of Lower California.

“Long Live Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, This to Fray Francisco Palou.

“My dear friend and Sir:–

“I, thanks be to God, arrived day before yesterday at this, in truth, beautiful, and with reason famous, port of San Diego. We find Gentiles [the name given to the wild Indians] here in great numbers. They seem to lead temperate lives on various seeds and on fish which they catch from their rafts of tule which are formed like a canoe.”

The second day after the departure of Portola and his party, Sunday, July 16, Padre Serra felt that the glorious moment for which he had so long prayed had at length arrived. The mission bells were unpacked and hung on a tree, and a neophyte, or converted Indian, whom he had brought with him from the peninsula, was appointed to ring them. As the sweet tones sounded on the clear air, all the party who were able gathered about the padre, who stood lifting the cross of Christ on high. All joined in solemnly chanting a hymn, and a sermon was preached. Then with more chanting, the tolling of, the bells, and the firing of muskets, was concluded the ceremony of the founding of the first of the California missions, that of San Diego.

Portola and his men, in spite of many discouragements, traveled steadily northward for nearly two months until at last, one October morning, they saw what they thought to be Point Pinos, the name given by Cabrillo to the pine-covered cape to the south of Monterey Bay. They were right in thinking this Point Pinos, but the sad part is that when they climbed a hill and looked down on the bay they had come so far to find, they failed to recognize it.

They tramped wearily over the sun-dried hills that bordered it, and walked on its sandy beach, but could not believe the wide, open roadstead, encircled by bare brown heights, could be the well-inclosed port lying at the foot of hills richly green, so warmly described by Vizcaino in his winter voyage. It was a great disappointment, for this was the latitude in which they had expected to find Monterey. After talking it over, they decided they must be still too far south, so they tramped on for many days.

On the last day of October, those of the party who were well enough, climbed a high hill–(Point San Pedro on the west coast of the peninsula)–and were rewarded by a glorious view. On their left the great ocean stretched away to the horizon line, its waves breaking in high-tossed foam on the rocky shore beneath them. Before them they saw an open bay, or roadstead, lying between the point on which they stood, and one extending into the sea far to the northwest. Upon looking at their map of Vizcaino’s voyage, they rightly decided that this farther projection was Point Reyes; the little bay sheltered by the curve of its arm was the one named on the map St. Francis, and now known as Drakes Bay. Well out to sea they discovered a group of rocky islands which they called Farallones; but not a man who stood on the height dreamed that only a short distance to the right up the rocky coast there lay a bay so immense and so perfectly inclosed that it would ever be one of the wonders of the land they were exploring.

On account of the sick of the party, among whom were the commander and his lieutenant, it was decided to travel no further, but to camp here while Sergeant Ortega was dispatched to follow the coast line to Point Reyes and explore the little bay it inclosed.

With a few men and three days’ provisions consisting of small cakes made of bran and water, which was the only food they had left, this brave Spanish officer marched away, little imagining the honor which was soon to be his. Leading this expedition, he was the first white man to explore the peninsula where now stands the guardian city of the western coast, and we must wonder what were his thoughts when, pushing his way up some brush-covered heights, he came out suddenly upon the great bay