State Military Department
- The California State Military
- Preserving California's Military Heritage
- Californians and the Military
- The Founders of Santa Barbara:
- Who They Were and Whence They
- by Mary Triplett Ayers
- The following article was originally published
in the Summer 2003 issue of La Campana, the quarterly
journal of the Santa Barbara
Trust for Historic Preservation. It is republished with permission
of the author
The fourth expedition for the settlement of Alta California was
that led by Capitan (Captain) don Fernando Xavier de Rivera y
Moncada in 1781. Most of the founders of Santa Barbara were members
of the Rivera y Moncada Expedition.
The Rivera y Moncada Expedition was sent to Alta California with
a four-fold purpose: (1) the founding of the pueblo at Los Angeles,
(2) the founding of the ninth mission at San Buenaventura at
the southern end of the Santa Barbara Channel, and (3) the founding
of the fifth presidio in the middle of the Santa Barbara Channel.
Santa Barbara is the fifth presidio, because Loreto is the first
presidio established in the Californias before San Diego. And,
(4) the expedition was also supposed to found two other missions
in the Santa Barbara Channel, Mission Santa Barbara near the
Presidio in the middle of the Channel and Mission La Purisima
Concepcion at the northern end of the Santa Barbara Channel.
The members of the expedition were recruited in Sonora and Sinaloa
by Rivera from December 1779 to November 1780. Actually, Rivera
went from Loreto, Baja California, to Guaymas, Arizpe, San Miguel
de Horcasitas, and Real de Los Alamos in Sonora and La Villa
del Fuerte, La Villa de Sinaloa, Culiacan, Matzatlan, and Rosario
in Sinaloa. He was authorized to recruit as far south as Guadalajara
if necessary. He was able to recruit almost as many as he needed
in Sonora and Sinaloa.
- The expedition members assembled at the
Real de los Alamos, Sonora, on February 2, 1781. The expedition
split into two groups. In one group were the settlers and their
families accompanied by seventeen soldiers and their wives and
children. It was required that all the soldiers and most of the
pobladores be married. Some of my ancestors that were
members of this expedition were married in the Alamos parish
of La Purisima eleven days before the expedition left. Rivera
had a relatively easy time recruiting the soldiers. People were
more reluctant to enlist as pobladores. Soldiers were
paid more than pobladores.
- This group was under the leadership of
Teniente (Lieutenant) Jose Zuniga. They crossed the Sea
of Cortez or Gulf of California to Loreto, Baja California. They
traveled by lancha, small boats with two sails, north
to the Bahia de San Luis Gonzaga. There, they left their little
ships and walked up the Baja California peninsula and arrived
at Mission San Gabriel August 18, 1781.
- In the First Book of Baptisms of Mission
San Gabriel, it is written, "On 18 August 1781, Teniente
Jose de Zuniga and Ramon Lasso de la Vega arrived here with eleven
pobladores with their families and seventeen soldados
de cuera from Lower California via San Diego."
The other group was the 37 officers and soldiers and their families
who accompanied Rivera and brought the livestock - 931 head of
horses and mules. This group traveled the Anza trail from Alamos
to Guaymas, Pitic (now called Hermosillo), San Miguel de Horcasitas,
Tubac, Yuma, San Pablo, and arrived at San Gabriel July 14, 1781.
In the First Book of Baptisms of Mission San Gabriel, it is written,
"On 14 July 1781, Alferez (Ensign or Second Lieutenant)
Cayetano Limon and Alferez Jose Dario Arguello under the
command of Teniente Diego Gonzalez arrived at the mission
with a troop of thirty married soldiers with their families and
five unmarried soldiers from Sonora via Yuma for the Santa Barbara
Presidio. On September 4, 1781, the pobladores, accompanied
by priests from Mission San Gabriel and an escolta from
Mission San Gabriel, walked eight miles for the founding of the
second pueblo in Alta California, El Pueblo
de Nuestra Sonora la Reina de los Angeles del Rio Porciuncula.
The pobladores were given land for houses and fields to
farm, and the mighty City of the Angels was begun by eleven families
from Sonora and Sinaloa.
Rivera had remained behind with the ailing livestock which ate
and trampled the Indians' food crops. Rivera and the six men
who stayed behind with him were massacred at the Colorado River
by the Yuma, now called Quechan, Indians. The Quechans also killed
most of the inhabitants of the two pueblos on the Colorado. The
effect of this massacre was that Anza's land route to Alta California
The following spring, Fr. Serra and Governor Felipe de Neve accompanied
by soldiers of the Rivera expedition left San Gabriel to accomplish
the second and third purposes of the expedition, the founding
of Mission San Buenaventura and of the Presidio of Santa Barbara.
Capitan Jose Francisco Ortega had been called from the San Diego
Presidio to be Comandante of the new Presidio at Santa
Governor Neve asked Fr. Serra for two friars for San Buenaventura
and Santa Barbara. There being no supernumerary friars in Alta
California, Fr. Serra himself came to San Gabriel from Monterey,
and he summoned Fr. Pedro Benito Cambon, O.F.M. from San Diego.
They did not wish to delay the founding of the new missions,
and they agreed to serve the spiritual needs of the new establishments
until six new missionary recruits arrived.
The day before the group left for San Buenaventura, March 25,
1782, pobladores Jose Fernando Velasco y Lara, Antonio
Mesa, and Luis Quintero, who had been declared unfit for farming
in August of 1781 on their arrival at San Gabriel, were expelled.
Lara and Quintero joined the expedition to found the Presidio
at Santa Barbara. Mesa disappeared. There are no records of him
in the California mission registers.
- Fr. Serra confirmed more than 100 people
at Mission San Gabriel on 22 March 1782, aged two months to fifty
In the First Book of Marriages for Mission San Gabriel, it is
written, "The expedition to found the new Mission of San
Buenaventura and the Presidio of Santa Barbara left San Gabriel
26 March 1782."
They traveled north of San Gabriel and undoubtedly turned west
through the Santa Clara River Valley and not over the Conejo
Grade as the El Camino Real bells along Highway 101 would lead
you to believe. On March 31, 1782, Mission San Buenaventura,
the ninth mission, was founded by Fr. Junipero Serra. This was
to be the last mission Fr. Serra founded. He died in August of
1784, and the tenth mission, Mission Santa Barbara, was not founded
until 1786 by Fr. Fermin Francisco de Lasuen.
The first mission register record for Mission San Buenaventura
is the burial of a three-day-old infant on April 15,1782. He
was Jose Leon Rodriguez, the son of Joaquin Rodriguez, soldier
of the escolta of the mission. The baby had been baptized
privately by his grandfather, Luis Quintero. The priest who wrote
the burial record was Fr. Benito Cambon. Neve was recalled to
San Gabriel with his escort. He returned to San Buenaventura
about the middle of April. He was satisfied with the progress
made at San Buenaventura.
- Leaving Fr. Cambon and a sergeant and
fourteen men as an escolta or guard for the new mission
of San Buenaventura, Governor Felipe de Neve, Capitan Jose Francisco
Ortega, Fr. Junipero Serra, and thirty-six soldiers and their
wives and children walked on to Santa Barbara to found the Presidio
of Santa Barbara.
- On April 21, 1782, the cross was raised,
the flag was raised, and the Presidio of Santa Barbara was founded.
Mass was celebrated under a ramada, and Fr. Serra sang the Alabado.
The ceremonies of blessing dirt, water, and pulling grass were
performed. The natives were friendlier than expected. Yanonali,
their chief, was willing to exchange gifts. There was much strife
and dissension between Fr. Serra and Governor Felipe de Neve.
Serra thought he was founding a mission. Neve intended to found
a presidio. Neve won. In the original registers, you can read
Serra's writing, "esta mision de Santa Barbara,"
and the word "mision" is crossed out and the
word "presidio" written above. It is very clear.
Building of the presidio began at once. Oak was felled for the
shelters and enclosing palisade. The Chumash were hired to work
and were paid in articles of food and clothing.
When it became apparent to Fr. Serra that there was no immediate
prospect of founding Mission Santa Barbara or the third mission
on the Santa Barbara Channel (La Purisima), he wrote to Fr. Fuster
at San Juan Capistrano to replace him at Santa Barbara, and Fr.
Serra returned to Monterey, arriving May 13, 1782. It is not
certain that Fr. Fuster ever came to Santa Barbara and probable
that there was no priest at the presidio after Fr. Serra returned
The first record of baptism in the Santa Barbara Presidio Book
of Baptisms was signed by Fr. Benito Cambon. Numbers 2 to 13
in 1783 were signed by Fr. Vicente Dumetz, O.F.M. who was at
Mission San Buenaventura after Cambon returned to San Diego.
The following is a list of the Santa Barbara Presidio Company
which was written July 1, 1782, just three months after the Presidio's
founding. There were seven officers and fifty soldiers:
Teniente Jose Francisco Ortega
Jose Dario Arguello
Pablo Antonio Cota
Jose Maria Ortega
- Luis Lugo
- Alejo Ruiz
- Luis Pefia
- Jose Gonzales
- Martin Reyes
- Anastacio Maria Feliz
- Francisco Lugo
- Joaquin Higuera
- Ignacio Olivera
- Francisco Paula Garcia
- Jose Miguel Flores
- Jose Lobo
- Ignacio Lugo
- Jose Manuel Valenzuela
- Manuel Orchaga
Jose Esteban Romero
- Francisco Xavier Mejia
- Juan Andres Montiel
- Loreto Salazar
- Ildefonso Dominguez
- Victorino Patino
- Jose Carmen Arana
- Ignacio Maria Ortega
- Mariano Cota
- Tomas Gonzales
- Victorino Feliz
- Agustin Leyva
- Jose Ontiveros
- Francisco Maria Ruiz
- Juan Olivas
- Felipe Gonzales
- Justo Herndndez
- Jose Parra
- Eugenio Valdez
- Guillermo Soto
- Jose Maria Samaniego
- Fructuoso Ruiz Joaquin
- Juan Ignacio Valencia
- Ignacio Rodriguez
- Rosalino Ferndndez
- Vicente Quijada
Juan Ignacio Martinez
- Efigenio Ruiz
A sergeant and fourteen men were left with Fr. Cambon at the
new Mission San Buenaventura. Those men were members of the Santa
Barbara Company but did not come to Santa Barbara on April 21,
1782 for the founding of the presidio.
I can tell you the names of the soldiers whose names appear in
the Mission registers of San Buenaventura during the years 1782
and 1783. These probably are the sergeant and fourteen soldiers
who were left at San Buenaventura in April 1782 with Fr. Benito
Cambon. In 1782 the names in the San Buenaventura records are:
Sargento Pablo Antonio Cota, Josef Manuel Valenzuela,
and Concepcion Quintero (wife of Jose Miguel Flores). In 1783:
Maria Petra Rubio, (wife of Luis Quintero), Pablo Antonio Cota,
Jose Ignacio Valencia, Justo Lorenzo Herndndez, Ciriaca de Leon
(wife of Justo Herndndez), Maria Rita Zamora (wife of Cabo Juan
Ygnacio Valencia), Francisco Lugo, Cabo Alejo Soto, Maria
Rosa Monreal (wife of Efigenio Ruiz), Jose Polanco and his wife
Maria de Jesus Leon, Joaquin Rodriguez, Cabo Alejandro de Sotomayor
and his wife Maria de Concepcion Montiel, Jose Polanco, Maria
Nicolasa Beltran (wife of Jose Lobo), Juana Delgado (wife of
Esteban Romero), Maria Norberta de Jesus Leon (wife of Jose Polanco),
Maria Rosa Lugo (wife of Sargento Pablo Antonio Cota),
and Loreto Salazar. If I have repeated any of the names, it is
because they appear two or three times. It is questionable whether
the above named people were at the founding of the Real Presidio
de Santa Barbara, because their names appear in the 1782
and 1783 Mission San Buenaventura registers.
I have told you who the founders of Santa Barbara were. Now,
I must tell you from whence they came.
I used to think that just as all the pobladores of the
Pueblo of Los Angeles came with the Rivera Expedition, so did
the entire Company for the founding garrison of the Santa Barbara
Presidio. This is not true.
- Five of the officers and seven of the
soldiers on the July 1, 1782 list for the garrison of the Santa
Barbara Presidio came in 1769 with Portola. They were: Teniente
Jose Francisco Ortega, Sargento Pablo Antonio Cota, Sargento
Ignacio Olivera, Cabo Jose Maria Ortega, son of the Lieutenant,
Cabo Alejandro Sotomayor, and soldiers Luis Lugo, Ignacio
Olivera, Ignacio Maria Ortega son of the lieutenant, Luis Pena,
Martin Reyes, Alejo Ruiz, and Francisco Maria Ruiz.
There was one officer recruited by Rivera in 1781. He was Alferez
Jose Dario Arguello. Thirty-nine soldiers of the July 1, 1782
list came with Rivera in 1781. They were: Jose Carmen Arana,
Francisco Calvo, Ildefonso Dominguez, Anastacio Maria Feliz,
Victorino Feliz, Rosalino Ferndndez, Felipe Gonzales and his
sons Jose Gonzales and Tomas Gonzales, Julian Guerrero, Justo
Herndndez, Agustin Leyva, Jose Lobo, Ignacio Lugo, Juan Ignacio
Martinez, Francisco Xavier Mejia, Juan Andres Montiel, Juan Olivas,
Jose Ontiveros, Manuel Orchaga, Jose Parra, Victorino Patino,
Jose Polanco, Vicente Quijada, Ignacio Rodriguez, Joaquin Rodriguez,
Jose Esteban Romero, Efigenio Ruiz, Fructuoso Ruiz, Loreto Salazar,
Jose Maria Samaniego, Guillermo Soto, Eugenio Vdldez, Melecio
Valdez, Juan Ignacio Valencia, Jose Manuel Valenzuela, Jose Velarde,
and Jose Villa.
- I cannot find out when Sargento
Hermengildo Sal came to Santa Barbara. He was born in Valdemora,
Toledo, Spain. He appears in the Monterey records as early as
1775 and later at San Francisco. I haven't found his name in
the early Santa Barbara records.
- Most of these people came from Sonora
and Sinaloa, about fourteen from Sonora and thirty-one from Sinaloa.
The town that furnished the most soldiers for the new Presidio
of Santa Barbara was the Villa de Sinaloa, Sinaloa. Eleven came
from there: Ildefonso Dominguez, Felipe Gonzales, Jose Gonzales,
Martin Reyes, Joaquin Higuera, Jose Lobo, Francisco Lugo, Ignacio
Lugo, Francisco Xavier Mejia, Manuel Orchaga, and Jose Manuel
- Ten soldiers were recruited at Real de
los Alamos, and many of them were born there: Anastacio Maria
Feliz, Juan Ignacio Martinez, Juan Andres Montiel, Victorino
Patino, Vicente Quijada, Joaquin Rodriguez, Loreto Salazar, Jose
Maria Samaniego, Eugenio Valdez (born at Villa del Fuerte, Sinaloa),
Ignacio Rodriguez, and the expelled poblador, Luis Quintero
was recruited there.
Seven were from the Villa del Fuerte, Sinaloa: Rosalino Ferndndez,
Efigenio Ruiz, Fructuoso Ruiz, Melecio Valdez, Alejo Ruiz, Eugenio
Valdez and Cabo Alejandro Sotomayor. (Alejo, Alejandro,
and Alex Sotomayor or Soto are one and the same person.)
- Four were from Real de Cosald, Sinaloa:
Guillermo Soto, Jose Carmen Arana, Francisco Calvo, and Victorino
- Four were from Loreto, Baja California:
Sargento Pablo Antonio Cota, Cabo Jose Maria Ortega,
Mariano Cota, and Francisco Maria Ruiz.
- Two were from Real del Rosario, Sinaloa:
Tomas Gonzales and Juan Olivas.
Two were from San Jose del Cabo, Baja California: Sargento
Ignacio Olivera and Luis Pena.
Three came from Spain: Sargento Hermengildo Sal from Valdemoro,
Toledo, and Francisco Paula Garcia from Puerto Real Obispado
de Cadiz, Andalucia.
- The expelled poblador, Josef Fernando
de Velasco y Lara, was a native of the Port of Cadiz, Andalucia.
Teniente Jose Francisco Ortega was born in Celaya, Guanajuato.
He enlisted in Loreto, and his sons were born there.
Alferez Jose Dario Arguello was born in Queretaro; Luis
Lugo in Palo Blanco, Jurisdiction of Culiacdn, Sinaloa; Jose
Miguel Flores in Juchipila, Zacatecas; Jose Velarde on the Piaxtla
River, Sinaloa; Ignacio Olivera in San Antonio, Baja California;
Jose Esteban Romero in Real de San Antonio de la Huerta, Sonora;
Agustin Leyva in Tepic, Nayarit; Juan Ignacio Valencia in Real
Presidio de Santa Rosa Corodeguachi, Sonora; Jose Ontiveros in
Chametla, Sinaloa; Justo Hernandez in Culiacdn, Sinaloa; Jose
Parra in Amatldn de las Canas, Nayarit; Jose Villa in Horcasitas,
Sonora; Julidn Guerrero in Pueblo del Nombre de Dios; Jose Polanco
in Cocula near Guadalajara, Jalisco; and Ignacio Maria Ortega
in Real de Santa Ana, Baja California.
- I would like to thank Trust Board Member
Paul C. Mills for encouraging me to write this.
hymn of praise sung by early Californios upon arising. Sung by
Fr. Serra at founding of Mission San Buenaventura, because he
could not sing the Te Deum as he did not have a concelebrant
alferez: lowest rank of officer, corresponding to ensign
in U.S. Navy or second lieutenant in U.S. Army
capitan: captain, high military rank, approximately equal
to colonel in U.S. Army
escolta: squadron, escort. Usually a corporal and five
soldiers assigned to guard a mission
lancha: small boat with two sails
sargento: sergeant, highest enlisted rank in Spanish army,
usually one per presidio
soldado de cuera: leather jacket soldier, so-named because
of sleeveless long jacket made of several thicknesses of leather
which could deflect arrows
Bancroft, Hubert Howe. History of California. Wallace
Hebbard. Santa Barbara, 1963.
Baptismal, Confirmation, Marriage, and Burial registers of Missions
San Gabriel, San Buenaventura, and Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara
Mission Archives Library.
Baptismal, Marriage, and Burial registers of El Real Presidio
de Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara Mission Archives Library.
Files of Rudecinda Lo Buglio Historical Society of Southern California.
List of Compania de Santa Barbara July 1, 1782.
Mason, William Marvin. The Census of 1790: A Demographic History
of Colonial California. Ballena Press. Menlo Park, CA, 1998.
Mary Triplett Ayers was born in San Francisco. Her parents, Eldon
L. Triplett and Marguerita Jean Goux, were both born in Santa
Barbara. She graduated with a B.A. in medieval history from Pomona
College in 1958. She had minors in art history and philosophy.
She is a life member of Los Californianos, a member of Los Descendientes
de Santa Barbara, and Los Pobladores. She is an active member
of the Trust and is Co-Chair of the Descendants and Genealogy
Committee and a member of the Research Center Committee. Mary
is a seventh generation Californian. The Canedo Adobe belonged
to her great great grandfather, Jose Maria Canedo. Other Santa
Barbara families she is descended from are Valenzuela, Higuera
y Armenta, Ferndndez, Quintero, and Rubio.
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