Juan Bautista de Anza made an exploratory expedition to Alta California in 1774, then was sent again to take colonist families with him. As the expedition moved north, he recruited them in Culiacán, Guasave, and Horcasitas, which were among the only principal towns of the internal northwest (today's Sinaloa and Sonora).

The trip across the desert is reasonably well documented with three diaries surviving (those of Anza, Font, and Garcés, all of which are published at "Web de Anza"). However, those diaries all begin much farther north. The main part of the expedition got going after its stop in October of 1775 at the Presidio of Tubac, today in Arizona.

So when in 1775 was Anza's recruitment stop in Culiacán? I can accept circumstantial evidence or a range of possible dates.

1 Answer 1


According to the book Bandido: The Life and Times of Tiburcio Vasquez By John Boessenecker (2012, p. 4), Anza started recruiting in Culiacán on March 28, 1775.

I have the impression that he was only there for a few days at most. This page from the US National Park Service also mentions that Anza was at Culiacán in March, but then says:

He continued recruiting in the villages of Sinaloa and El Fuerte in the Province of Sinaloa, and Álamos, in Sonora in March, April, and May. The expedition spent the summer in Horcasitas, the capital of Sonora at that time, so Anza could train his new recruits for the difficult crossing of the Apache country that lay ahead of them.

Looking in to this some more, I've found some contradictory information. Unfortunately this too is unsourced, but it comes from Portraits of Basques in the New World edited by Richard W. Etulain and Jeronima Echeverria (p.52).

Lieutenant Colonel Anza arrived in Culiacan, Sinaloa, from Mexico City with a large mule train laden with supplies and began recruiting families on March 25, 1775.

If you want to try and sort out the real story, here is a bibliography all about Anza which should be helpful.

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    Nice work, Brian. I wish Boessenecker had given his source for that, but it looks like the information does exist! Sep 21, 2019 at 6:01

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