(by Gary Carlsen, from a column written for the MoCoGenSo Newsletter from 1997-1999)
STORY OF AN OLD KINGS SOLDIER OF MONTEREY
By Alexander S. Taylor
Si Senor, my name is FELIPE SANTIAGO GARCIA, the son of my father of the same name; my mother’s name was Petra Alcantara Lugo Rincon, both of La Villa de Sinaloa—my father was one of the Compania de Cuera recruited in said Villa by Captain Fernando Rivera y Moncada in 1773 for “Los Establecimientos de Monterey”—as Alta California was then called.
I was born at the Royal Presidio of Monterey and baptized by Padre Francisco Dumetz, on the 8th of December 1782—which makes me 71 years old this April 1854. I remember hearing much when I was a boy about Padre Junipero and Captain Moncada, and many of those old people now dead and gone, years upon years ago.
When I was young the Presidio was thatched with straw and also the church; but they were both built better afterwards; the Presidio was torn down long ago, but the (presidio) church is still standing. I remember well Don Esteban Martinez, Captain of the King’s Frigate; he was tall, handsome, redfaced man. Don Juan Matute with Don Juan Bodega y Cuadra about 1793, arrived with a great many vessels at Monterey, and there came with them “Maquina”, an Indian Chief of Nootka with a son and daughter, who were all baptized by the Padre at Carmel and afterwards married Indian women. Gregoria Tapia and Jose Tapia of Santa Cruz are his grandsons. The son of Maquina died there on the Rancho Carnedero de las Pozas.
About the time that Bodega and Matute’s fleet was here, there came in, a King’s Galleon from Manila, with many of the people sick of the scurvy, but the old Padres and Soldiers soon cured them.
About this time came to Monterey Capt. Vancouver in the King of England’s ship and he and Capt. Bodega were great friends; the English Captain was very kind to us boys and the people made much of his sailors, and how many “ballies” and “mucho, mucho alegre” they made on their ships, and among the officers ashore.
My mother had 20 children, 9 boys and 11 girls, 5 of whom are still living in California. Don Pedro Fages my father’s old Capitan was a curious man; very hot tempered and despotic, but a brave and courageous man, very tall and stout, a Catalan. He was fond of us boys and girls and often let us put our hands in his pickets for nuts and raisins. He was a first-rate horseman and very fond of all kind of mechanic work. The soldiers used to call him the “Old Bear”–he was so rough. He used to have a great quarrel with his wife Dona Eulalia–a beautiful lady from La Antiqua Espana, and she would not live with him for a long while, until Padre Fermin de Lasuen made up their quarrel, and she finally left California with her husband.
It was the old Sargento Distinguido, Don Ygnacio Vallejo, dead years ago, who built the Presidio and Presidio Church at Monterey, which was finished in 1792. The Sergeant was a powerful man and so cunning he could turn his hand to any kind of work, and the Indians did anything for him and he taught them how to do much work for the Padres in everything.
When I was a boy of 17 (1799) Don Diego Borica was the Gobernador and I enlisted as a soldier in the King’s Company at Monterey, and I served many years with Sergt. Vallejo. The people did not like the governor much – he was so stiff and formal with us Californios – his wife was very beautiful, and they had a muchacha of 16 who was “muy hermosa” – we like them very much but not Don Diego. They all left for Mexico when I was still young. Old Don Joaquin Arrillaga, the new Governor was a very humane officer and very kind to the people – he died in California. Governor Jose Arguello and his wife Dona Maria Ygnacia Moraga, were much liked by the people; they died in Lower California I believe.
In the year 1807 I went to the Buena Vista lake, as we called it, as a soldier in a Company of Cavalry of 25 men, under Alferez Don Gabriel Moraga. Each of us had 8 horses and they made a big Caballada. Miguel Espinosa was our Sergeant and we had to keep constant watch that the Indians did not steal our horses. “They were everywhere:” “muchos-muchos-y en todas partes, onde quiera.”
We went from Monterey to Mission San Miguel, and from there to the Laguna we called Buena Vista in one day and a half, and we went after the runaway Neophytes and to bring in others for the Padres to make Christians, but did not get any. We went away into the snowy mountains, or near where the snow was, and the Indians stole one half of our horses, and killed two of our men. Where we went into the mountains and there was a Portezuelo called by our Captain – “Salinas de Cortez” – which had great quantities of nitre, “Quisas” Tequesquite.
We crossed the San Joaquin River several times and everywhere there were Indians, and the Captain made up his mind to go back by way of Mission San Jose, where we arrived in good order. While I was there the soldiers went over to Mission Dolores, and we saw at Yerba Buena a big Russian ship with a Russian General on board; it was when Senor Arrillaga was governor, who got to California while we were away.
I went several times to the Tulares and to the Sacramento, both on horseback and once, in a boat. On all the rivers we saw many beavers; bears were everywhere and very dangerous. Elk and Antelope, and Deer used to run before us in “bandadas”, and we found plenty of mustangs, wild horses in 1807, and afterwards many others with the mission brands, and lots and lots of mission cattle, “muy cimarrones.”
I knew Governor Vicente Sola very well and was a soldier still. Before the governor gave up to the revolutionary government, my time was up and I was waiting for my certificate of discharge. I asked him for my papers and he did not like it, and we had a big quarrel; he called me a Picaro, and I said, “No Senor Governador, I am an honest soldier, y un hombre de bien-” so I got my papers after all.
I had served “El Rey” since I was a boy and he had always treated me well, and I would not serve any other. Many of my companions did the same. When the Mexican officers came to Monterey, the people did not like them at all, and we used to say they were no better than the Presidio Cooks. For years and years afterwards everything was in revolution and the country went to ruin, and the people in Santa Barbara made fun of the Capitanes, “asi, asi.”
“Quien del pais ensendio el pasto-Castro,
Quien roba hasta hacer viejo-Vallejo,
Quien la Aduana ha destrozado-Alverado,
Y para vivir sosegados,
Deben de ser fusilados,
Castro, Vallejo y Alvarados.”
Si Senor, I am an old man now, but I was once a young one; yes, and I had three wives, all Montereyanas; the last one – let me see, I don’t remember. Ah, yes her name was Isabel. I have 9 children by them, 5 of whom are living, 3 girls and 2 boys, and I live round about with them. Yes sir, I am a white man, as my father and mother were before me. But some of my father’s companions married Indian women of the missions, which others of them did not like, but white women in those early days, were very scarce.
(The old man was tall and erect, with a good, jolly, clear, fresh countenance, and he had learned to take life after old-soldier fashion; many is the time we have seen him pass our house, with his serape on his back bound for Point Almejas, to look for fish and abalones. He always carried an honorable name. We have seen several of the ancient native born soldiers of California who swore by “El Rey” as they termed it, and never would serve under “La Nacion Mejicana:, and the most fervent of Catholics.)
Personal account given to Alexander S. Taylor in1854 titled “STORY OF AN OLD KING’S SOLDIER OF MONTEREY”. Taken from “GARCIA HECHOS and OTHER GARCIA PAPERS” By Antonio Isaac Bonilla.
Mission San Carlos Baptism records show Feilpe Santiago Garcia was the seventh child born to Felipe Garcia and Petra Lugo on the 4th day of December 1781. Following his enlistment in the Spanish army he served at Monterey until 1808, and then Mission Dolores in San Francisco, where on 8 July 1813 mission records show he married Marias Ygnacia and indian girl who had been baptized at the Mission San Jose. The first of five children, Maria Francisca Xavier, was born there in 1815, and by 1818 Felipe had been sent to Mission Santa Clara where a second daughter Maria Gracia de Jesus was born.
Felipe appears to have been reassigned to the Mission at San Juan Bautista about 1821, as mission records there show a daughter, Concordia Clara, born to him and Maria Ygnasia, in 1822. A fourth child, Clara Constancia, died at the Mission San Carlos in 1828, but a record of her birth has not been located. She may be the same child born in 1822 at San Juan Bautista. The 1836 Garrison Census for Monterey shows one son Jose de Jesus, age 14, born at Monterey, but again his birth has not been located. Mission San Carlos marriage records show another daughter Maria Concepcion marrying in 1842 to Jose Maria Madariaga. Maria Yglacia death was recorded at Mission Santa Clara on 27 November 1823.
Mission San Carlos marriage records show Felipe married the widow of Juan Bautista Cantua, Francisca Jacinta Hernandez, at Monterey on 4 June 1824. Mission records show four more children were born of this marriage, three at San Juan Bautista, and one at Monterey prior to Jacintas death which was recorded at Mission San Juan Bautista in 1838. Maria Antonia Dominga was born in 1825, followed by Manuel Esteban in 1826, Maria Encarnacion in 1829, and Felipe in 1831.
Felipe’s third marriage has never been located, as has a record of his death. He does appear living with his son Felipe in Monterey in the 1860 U.S. Census, but does not appear in the 1870 Census.
MoCoGenSo member Carolyn Carlsen is a direct descendant of Felipe Santiago Garcia and Fancisca Jacinta Hernadez. She was born in Monterey and baptized at the same location as Felipe, her fourth great grandfather, and married at the same location as Felipe and Jacinta. In August of 1996 her grandson Nicholas Cody Mascarello became the ninth generation of this family to be baptized at this same location.