Category Archives: Monterey History

Royal Presidio Chapel of Monterey aka San Carlos Cathedral

(by Gary Carlsen, from a column written for the MoCoGenSo Newsletter from 1997-1999)

The following was Reprinted with permission of Brother John F. O’Brien Archivist Diocese of Monterey:

On the solemn feast of Pentecost, June 3, 1770, a mission and church were established by Fr. Junipero Serra under the title of La Mission de San Carlos Borromeo de Monterey. On this same day Captain Gaspar de Portola took possession of the Port of Monterey in the name of King Carlos III of Spain.

The sword and cross then joined in establishing the Presidio de Monterey on a site beside El Estero, selected by the expedition’s engineer, Miguel Constanso, duly taking possession of Monterey for the Holy Church and Crown of Spain. The church was named La Capilla Real del Presidio de Monterey.

When the Presidio was established a few humble huts were at once erected on the site. These buildings, constituting both the Mission and the Presidio, were arranged to form a square. Eight years later the soldiers built a wall of stone around the Presidio square. It was 12 feet high and four feet thick. Inside were 10 adobe houses each 24 feet long and 21 feet wide. There was also a building 136 feet long and 18 feet wide divided into rooms for soldiers.

The old Presidio and the structures have completely vanished, but the Royal Presidio Chapel still stands. It has been used continuously since its inception as a place of worship, a setting for religious services, baptisms, marriages, and funerals. Continue reading

Monterey History “They Followed Serra” part 7

(by Gary Carlsen, from a column written for the MoCoGenSo Newsletter from 1997-1999)


Professor Granville W. Hough of the South Coast Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution had notified us in early March that the National SAR board had approved the eligibility of descendants of Spanish soldiers who served in California from 1779 to 1783 while Spain was officially at war with England, along with the American colonies. Then in mid-April, he notified us:

“Accepted as members of SAR on 20 March 1998 were two descendants of Alta California soldiers who were in service between 21 June 1779 and 3 September 1783 while Spain was at war with the Great Britain.”

One is Peter David Hill of Cleveland, Ohio, descendant of Jos• Mgximo Alanis. The other is Stephen Darrell Machado of Monrovia. California, descendant of Jos• Manuel Machado.

Professor Hough goes on to say that, “We now invite any male descendant of the 1779-1783 Spanish soldiers to apply for membership in our organization. I will gladly send SAR information and a list of 205 Spanish soldiers we had identified with families to anyone interested. The DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) has not yet taken action. so we can only work with sons or brothers or fathers of any women who are interested. We would be very pleased to do that.”

“I can refer you to a chapter closer to you than our South Coast Chapter, which in Orange and Los Angeles counties. The only advantage with us is that we have done the research which supports membership, and we can tell you the references which are most useful. You can join us and transfer to any chapter you like.”


In addition to the address which Professor Granville W. Hough has furnished us for the South Coast Chapter of the SAR, he has also given us a web site address which will give a great deal of information about the SAR in general.

The chapter has a web site at: http://home.earthli nk.neti-wigglesi which will give you access to a marvelously crafted and interesting set of materials, some of which relates directly to Hispanic history of individuals and organizations. Give yourself plenty of time to take all this in.

If you simply want to access directly the listing of the soldiers of 1779-1783, add to the above address: hispanic.html. A printout of this latter material will be about fifteen pages long. Not only does it list the men who were at the various presidios during the period in which Spain was at war with Britain; but also contains information on the navy at San Blas.

Reprinted from Nocitias para Los Californianos Vol XXX, No 3 July 1998.

Monterey History “They Followed Serra” part 6

(by Gary Carlsen, from a column written for the MoCoGenSo Newsletter from 1997-1999)

Prior to the arrival of Rivera with the first settlers to make the trip form Loreta to Monterey in 1774, four marriages took place at the Royal Presideo Chapel in Monterey, on the 20th of May 1773. Three of Pedro Fages’s 1769 Catalan Volunteers, and one sailor from San Blas all married local indian girls and began the first families of Monterey.

Domingo ARUZ was born about 1740 in Gerona, Cataluna, Spain to Jose ARUZ of Barcelona and Margarita MONTEGUDO of San Julian de Ramis, Spain. Maria Serafina (VERDUGO) was born about 1758 at Achasta Rancheria, Monterey, and was baptized 14 Feb 1773 at the Mission San Carlos de Monterey. Maria Serafina, India, took the name of her godfather, Mariano de la Luz VERDUGO. Four children were born prior to her death, and she was buried 9 Dec 1780 at Mission San Luis Obispo. All four children were born and baptized in Monterey. The first Francisco Joseph was born 17 Sep 1774 and baptized on the 19th. He was buried on 16 Mar 1784 at Mission Santa Barbara. Jose Antonio was born 5 Jul 1776, followed by Domingo Joseph Manuel on 14 Jun 1778, and Maria Antonia on 9 May 1780. On 12 Nov 1782 Domingo remarried Maria Gertrudis CASTELO at Mission San Buenaventura. One child, Martiano Joseph was born to this union on 2 Jul 1783, and he was buried in Santa Barbara on 17 Apr 1797, where the family had settled with two children. Domingo ARUZ was buried at Santa Barbara on 9 Feb 1815. Continue reading

Monterey History “They Followed Serra” part 5

(by Gary Carlsen, from a column written for the MoCoGenSo Newsletter from 1997-1999)

Much has been written about the mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmel which lies in Monterey County, and was the second of the twenty-one missions started by Father Serra. Two other missions also lie in Monterey County, and though not as well portrayed, played an important part in the settling of Alta California.

Mission San Antonio de Padua was the third mission, founded July 14, 1771, and named for St. Anthony. The mission moved to its present site off U. S. Highway 101, 27 miles northwest of Bradley, and 23 miles southwest of King City. The adobe church was completed in 1782, and the present building was begun in 1810. Completed in 1813 the mission was secularized in 1834. and offered for sale in 1845, but there were no takers. The mission was abandoned from 1822 to 1928 and has been restored twice in 1907 and 1948.

Nuestra Senora de la Soledad located one mile west of Highway 101, 3 miles south of the town of Soledad, was the thirteenth mission founded on October 9. 1791 by Fr. Fermin Lasuen. Named for Our Lady of Solitude, the first church of thatched-roofed adobe was completed in 1797. It was enlarged in 1805 and collapsed in 1831. The present chapel was built in 1832, secularized in 1835, and restored in 1854. In 1846 the mission was sold but returned to the Church in 1959.

While making a tour of the missions in 1814 Jose Joaquin de Arrillaga, the first Spanish governor of Alta California died at Soledad and was buried beneath the church floor. When the church was destroyed by a flood, his grave was obliterated and was only recently discovered during excavations prior to the present reconstruction.

Both missions are currently serving as remembrances of time long past, and open to the public. They house many replicas of early mission life, and the way things once were.

Monterey History “They Followed Serra” part 4

(by Gary Carlsen, from a column written for the MoCoGenSo Newsletter from 1997-1999)

On the 21st of February 1775 the first white child born to Spanish parents on the new was frontier was baptized at Mission San Carlos de Monterey. Maria Josefa de la Luz Heredia was born at Monterey on the 13th of the same month to Jose Bernardo and Maria Nicolasa de Elsalde (Lisalde).

Recruited in Sinaloa by Captain Rivera, Jose and his wife had arrived at Monterey the previous November. Both parents were born and married in Sinaloa, and he enlisted in the Monterey Company settling in San Jose in 1791 where he became owner of the Rancho Chupadero in 1795. He served as Rigador at San Jose in 1803, and upon his death in 1805 he was buried at Monterey on the 6th of May. Maria Josefa is the only birth recorded to the couple and following Jose’s death Maria Nicolasa remarried Alejo Miranda on the 27th of April 1810 at Mission Santa Clara, where she died on the 28 March 1818, and was buried the next day.

On the 4th of May 1794 at Mission San Carlos de Monterey, at the age of 19 years, Maria Josefa married Juan Francisco Padilla a soldier of the San Diego Company and natural of Santa Ana, Antigua, Baja California. Juan was the son of Francisco Padillo and Juana Maria Rodriguez, and had served at San Diego since 1782. Continue reading

Monterey History “They Followed Serra” part 3

(by Gary Carlsen, from a column written for the MoCoGenSo Newsletter from 1997-1999)


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. Continue reading

Monterey History “They Followed Serra” part 9

(by Gary Carlsen, from a column written for the MoCoGenSo Newsletter from 1997-1999)


Climbing Rose is Deep Crimson Color

Like a breath form the scented gardens of old Monterey, the lovely crimson Rio Rita rose comes to you with a whisper from the pages of romance.

The only rose ever produced that blooms through the long summer, from frost to frost, and that bursts into blossom on the new years growth, it is fittingly named for the immortal Rio Rita, the Rose of Monterey.

It was on the American occupation of California in 1847 that an obscure young American lieutenant won the heart of Rio Rita, last of a proud Spanish line. Their love flourished secretly, for the daughter of the Dons was not encouraged in an affair with a plebeian Yankee.

During the short months they were together above the blue bay of Monterey they planted a rose whose scarlet blossoms would symbolize the passion of their love as long as it remained.

The dashing Yankee boy went east with his regiment, leaving behind him a promise of return and undying faith in the heart of the lovely Rio Rita

Years passed. Suitors came and went. Word was received that the young lieutenant was a great general with the Union forces in the civil war, but Rio Rita, become a legend of devotion, still tended the rose against the day of her lover’s return.

She lies buried today in the checkered shade above the blue Pacific and on her grave there grows a crimson rose which simple Spanish folks say blossoms perpetually.

The above article by A. J. Elmer appeared in the March 3 1935 San Francisco Examiner. Continue reading

Monterey History “They Followed Serra” part 8

(by Gary Carlsen, from a column written for the MoCoGenSo Newsletter from 1997-1999)

Researching Spanish families in early California can be difficult at best, but the following can be extremely helpful in locating your ancestors.

Once the ancestors family name is located a good staring point is Marie Northrup’s two volumes, Spanish-Mexican Families of Early California, 1769-1850. The families are listed alphabetically by last name, and includes known information on the spouse and children. In many cases the children’s families are also listed. She includes a brief description of military service, taken from Bancroft’s Pioneer Index, at the end of each family.

In addition to Northrup’s volumes Dorothy G Mutnik has put together five volumes, Some Alta California Pioneers and Descendants Division One and Two. Division One consists of three volumes and covers descendants of the Anza expeditions, while Division Two, which is two volumes covers the 1781 Expeditions to settle Los Angeles and establish the Santa Barbara Presidio. Her work was based on mission records, and the families are listed alphabetically by family name, then spouses name. She has included many notes and sites the location of the events occurring within the families. Continue reading

Monterey History “They Followed Serra” part 2

(by Gary Carlsen, from a column written for the MoCoGenSo Newsletter from 1997-1999).

About a mile south of Carmel, on the ocean side of Highway 1, lies a spectacular reserve known today as Point Lobos. This spectacular park was once a part of the Rancho San Jose’ Y Sur Chiquita which extended south to the Little Sur river, and was once owned by Francisco Marcelino Escobar, one of the areas pioneers.

Known by his middle name he was one of five children, born in Tepec Mexico, in 1794 to Francisco Escobar and Louisa Jordon. At age 15, as was the practice of Spanish military families, he joined the Spanish army, and saw his first action as a foot soldier in the Provincial Militia Infantry Regiment of Toluca. He fought with valor at Neuva Galicia, and was wounded in battle and tortured by the Indians. Decorated by General Jose de la Cruz, he was promoted to “Cabo”, and returned to Tepec to recover. Continue reading

Monterey History “They Followed Serra” part 1

(by Gary Carlsen, from a column written for the MoCoGenSo Newsletter from 1997-1999).

From Serra’s landing and first mass at Monterey in 1770, to Anza’s expedition in 1776, Mexico’s independence form Spain in 1822, the raising of the American flag at the Custom House in 1846, and the formation of Monterey County in 1850, much has been written about California’s early history, and it’s first capitol Monterey.

Many articles and books have been written about Juan Bautista Anza’s expedition for the settlement of Alta California in 1776, and most have credited him as leading the first expedition of settlers into Alta. Most readers are unaware that his expedition was really the third into Alta, following the first by Portola, and a little known second expedition two years earlier. Portola’s contained no women or children only soldiers, and craftsman to begin the establishment of the many presidio garrisons. Continue reading