The 1775-1776 Anza Expedition
On October 23, 1775, 39-year-old Juan Bautista de Anza and a carefully assembled team of 240 settlers, cowboys, Indian guides, and mule packers embarked on a dangerous journey. In a feat that would be daunting even today, the small colonizing expedition led by Anza-the charismatic captain of the Presidio of Tubac in Sonora (now Southern Arizona) ventured 1200 miles to the north to found a mission and presidio at the port of San Francisco. The Viceroy of New Spain chose Anza for the treacherous trek at a time when Spain struggled to secure its outposts in northern California from Russian and English exploration and colonization. Existing land and sea routes from Mexico had proven dangerous and difficult, leaving the Spanish in search of a new overland route for moving settlers, livestock and supplies up from Sonora.
Anza charted the route, carved through bone-dry deserts and mountain passes, during his first exploratory expedition in 1774. Not only did he succeed in finding a safe and predictable route to San Francisco, but he forged friendly ties with the Yuma or Quechan people, at the confluence of the Gila and Colorado rivers- a relations that would prove invaluable in the 1775 colonizing expedition.
Today we can join Anza and the settlers on their epic journey, retracing their steps along the route now memorialized as the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. Whether you choose to experience Arizona's section of the trail from the front seat of your car, on horseback , aboard a bicycle, or by foot review the National Park Service Arizona Guide to some of the most striking historic landmarks and vistas along the way.
Review the National Park Service JUBA flyer for additional information.
Anza - Little Known Facts
by Don Garate
Four Yuma (Quechan) Indians, including Chief Palma, accompanied Juan Bautista de Anza to Mexico City to report the successful colonizing expedition to Alta California. They stayed there from November 1776 through February 1777. While there, the four Yumas attended catechism and were baptized in the national cathedral on February 13th. Word did not arrive in the new world at that time, but while they were there, King Carlos III appointed Anza governor of New Mexico. The appointment was handed down in Spain on February 9th and notice was sent to the viceroy of New Spain the next day. Mail service across the Atlantic was slow, however, and Anza did not learn of his appointment until July, long after he and the Yumas were back home.
But did you know that during the nearly four months that he and the four Indians were in Mexico City, they stayed with Anza's nephew and his wife, Juan Jose Tato and Josefa Sirila Guero? Born at Basochuca, Sonora in 1749 to Anza's oldest full sister, Margarita, and her husband, Manuel Tato, Juan Jose had recently completed his schooling to become a lawyer and had set up practice in Mexico City. He had married Josefa the previous June while Anza was returning from California. Now she was pregnant with their first child, but Uncle Juan would leave Mexico City before the birth of his great niece. Maria Josefa Ygnacia Eustacia Joachina Tato was born on March 31st, 1777 in Mexico City while Anza and the four Yumas were just one day out of Durango on their return trip to Sonora. Uncle Juan and Maria Josefa probably never met during his lifetime.
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