On today's date in 1776, Juan Bautista de Anza, (left) one of the great western explorers of the North American continent in the 18th century, arrived at the future site of San Francisco with 247 colonists.
Juan Bautista de Anza - a Born Soldier
Born into a military family in Fronteras, Sonora, New Spain (Modern day Mexico) in 1736 (near Arizpe), Anza enlisted in the army in 1752 and had risen to teh rank of captain by 1760. His primary duties lay in making Forays into lands in California against Indian tribes such as the Apache. In this area he excelled showing a keen tactical mind in these engagements.
Anza Explores California
In 1772, with a long and difficult expedition northwest to the Pacific Coast, Anza put in place the first successful overland connections between the northern California, and the Mexican State of Sonora. The Mexican Government in Sonora, always eager to expand commerce into new areas was very happy with Anza's work in this domain. So the
Anza's Trail Leads to S.F.
In 1772, Anza proposed taking an expedition to Alta California he won the backing of the Viceroy of New Spain. This plan was endorsed by the King of Spain, Charles III, and on January 8, 1774, with an assortment of over 170 men ranging from servants to padres, to soldiers, moved out on his trek from Tubac, near present day Tuscon, Arizona. He reached Monterrey, CA. in April of 1774. Anza returned to Tubac in
May of 1774 and reorganized his forces. Anza was raised to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and given orders with a slightly more military nature. He was directed to lead a corps of colonists to Alta California. This was not for purely commercial purposes - there had been Russian colonies advancing from the north. A new Spanish port in the area would give safety to Spanish ships. This group moved out on October 23, 1775, arriving at Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in January, 1776, with the colonists having been assaulted by bad winter weather along the way.
Anza Finally Gets There
Anza's diary entry on March 25, 1776, states that he "arrived at the arroyo of San Joseph Cupertino (now Stevens Creek), which is useful only for travelers. Here we halted for the night, having come eight leagues in seven and a half hours. From this place we have seen at our right the estuary which runs from the port of San Francisco." Anza and his men finally arrived at this spot on today's date in 1776. Anza