Juan Bautista de Anza in Hercules in 1776
 


 

 

 

 Carquinez Strait

 Complete Story

 

 
In 1773, Juan Bautista de Anza, captain of the small Presidio of Tubac in southern Arizona received permission from Antonio María Bucareli y Ursúa, Viceroy of New Spain, to find an overland route from Arizona to northern California. Such a route was needed for supplying the early California missions and presidios by ship.  The king of Spain wanted the Viceroy to initiate a strong colonizing effort in "Alta California" in order to combat recent encroachments by other European powers (most notably England and Russia) and to ensure Spanish control over the recently rediscovered San Francisco harbor.

In January of 1774 Captain Anza, Father Francisco Garcés, a small group of soldiers and servants, and a herd of about 200 cattle and pack animals left Tubac to explore and open the needed supply route to California. Under Captain Anza's leadership this first expedition established formal and friendly relationships with the Yuma tribe at the juncture of the Gila and Colorado Rivers, and elicited the active support of the tribe's chief, Salvador Palma.  On March 22, 1774 Anza and a portion of his expedition arrived at mission San Gabriel (near what is now the city of Los Angeles), having successfully found a route through near waterless deserts and uncharted mountain passes. An overland route to Alta California was now available for use in transporting supplies and colonists to the outermost reaches of northern New Spain.

For his accomplishments, Anza was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and charged by Bucareli to take an expedition of settlers over the newly opened route to establish both a presidio and a mission in the area of San Francisco Bay. Thus, in March of 1775, Juan Bautista de Anza assumed the responsibility of recruiting families and organizing supplies for the first colonizing expedition to northern California. After numerous months spent preparing the newly recruited families for the arduous journey and delays due to Apache raids on the expedition's horses; Anza, a small military escort, and approximately 240 men, women and children left Arizona on October 23, 1775. For nearly five months they traveled by horseback, mule, and on foot; arriving at the Presidio of Monte Rey on March 10, 1776.  In June of 1776, the colonists, led by Anza's second in command Lieutenant José Joaquin Moraga, were given permission to continue their journey to the bay of San Francisco and build there the presidio and mission for which the colonists had left their homeland. His expedition continues, leaving San Francisco, venturing through the East Bay along the ridges and the shoreline.  He was here in Hercules as he traveled north through Rodeo to the Carquinez Strait and onto Martinez and Concord.