Questions tagged [california]

Questions about, or related to, the state of California in the United States.

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30
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1answer
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When was this photo of Mission Dolores *actually* taken?

While researching another question concerning the cemetery at Mission Dolores, I came across an image which gives a date of 1856, in Wikipedia. The image shows the mission in a state of disrepair, ...
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What were the indigenous populations of California before American settlement began to peak?

When studying Native American history, California's indigenous peoples are always noted as being far more diverse than the rest of the nation. While the number of distinct languages is generally given,...
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Were any California presidios conquered?

During the Spanish and Mexican eras in California, there were five presidios in the region: San Diego, Santa Barbara, Monterey, San Francisco, and Sonoma. Were any of these ever conquered, taken over,...
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What happened to University College of San Francisco?

In 1859, the Reverend George Burrowes founded University College in San Francisco. Confusingly, it was also known as City College. Burrowes advertised the school in the Daily Alta California newspaper....
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Why is Baja California often shown as an island on maps between 1500 and 1700?

Several maps done in the 16th & 17th Centuries show a huge island off the western coast of America. At its lower end, it looks a lot like baja california, but it is clearly an island, as opposed ...
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Did Japanese castaways land in Spanish California?

George Lensen's "The Russian Push Toward Japan" says on p. 261: In 1815 the transport Pavel under the command of Navigator's Apprentice Srednii left Okhotsk with six Japanese castaways, three of ...
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515 views

Did Britain look into taking California?

The Spanish colonized California in part to forestall the expansion of other empires. The territory was in danger of invasion throughout the Spanish and Mexican eras (1769-1846). Visitors and ...
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Were there any Russians in the 1849 Gold Rush?

A gold rush always brings new arrivals from many directions. Had any of the miners and businesspeople of the 1849 California Gold Rush come from Russia?
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Origin of San Francisco's water lots off Candlestick Point

There are about fifty blocks full of surveyed and zoned "water lots" in South Basin, southeastern San Francisco -- property which is presently part of the San Francisco Bay. See these blocks on Zillow;...
8
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Was California's request for a Mexico border fence from the Pacific Ocean to the Colorado River acted upon?

In the 1965 California legislative session, a joint resolution (chapter 132, No. 44) was passed imploring the president and congress to build an: animal-proof fence from the Pacific Ocean to the ...
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Why didn't Russia seize California when it could? [closed]

Spanish colonies in the Californias, created in part to forestall Russian expansion, were militarily weak. The military had only a few hundred men in the whole territory, and no ships at all. It was ...
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Has any place exhumed more dead bodies than San Francisco?

San Francisco's cemeteries of the 1800s relied upon burial fees for maintenance, and so fell into disrepair when they filled up. Simultaneously, land became more expensive and public health fears ...
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When did mature redwood trees become possible to harvest?

The Coast Redwood and the Giant Sequoia are related, massive, long-living softwood trees growing on the west coast of North America. Their wood is straight, resistant to pests, and easily splittable, ...
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Why Californian Indian leader Estanislao was named after Polish martyr?

Researching for Polish people dealing with Indians during 19th century, I've found out about Estanislao, one of Yokuts' leaders, who led different groups of Californian Indian rebels against Mexican ...
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640 views

What was the main food source in old California?

What was the main food source in California during the Spanish and Mexican periods? I'm expecting it was either corn or wheat, but I don't know which.
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Why was California admitted as one big state rather than split up?

In this answer, Mark points out that when California was admitted to the Union as a free state, that changed the balance between free and slave states, leading to the Compromise of 1850. Why indeed, ...
6
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Does any of John Sutter's tin money survive?

John Sutter was a Swiss settler and investor in the late Mexican era of California. I have only seen secondary sources on the matter, but apparently his colony New Helvetia had bespoke coinage: ... ...
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242 views

Did California mission priests administer, not merely call for, corporal punishment?

California missions were staffed by a Franciscan priest or two, and a half a dozen soldiers. The former addressed spiritual and administrative concerns and the latter established physical security for ...
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129 views

What were the largest newspapers in mid-1800s California?

I'm reading about current events in 1850s and 1860s California and want to check several newspapers' reporting on the same events. Which newspapers? In addition to the paper local to wherever ...
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509 views

Father-Presidents of the California Missions

During the Spanish Colonial period, the California missions were run by a priest with the title of Father-President (padre-presidente). I'm trying to find more information about this office, ...
6
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1answer
171 views

Who erected Luis Argüello's tombstone?

Luis Argüello was California's first Mexican governor. He died in 1830 and was buried next to San Francisco's Mission Dolores. His grave marker doesn't appear contemporary with his death, though. I ...
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Did anyone in Alta California pay in cash?

In the Spanish and Mexican eras, California was an economy very cut off from its mother countries. Most trade was by bartering goods [Josiah Belden by Doyce Nunis, Jr., 1962]. Is there evidence of ...
6
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336 views

Did Anza find evidence of a Japanese wreck?

Through the age of sail Japanese sea drifters involuntarily crossed the Pacific. The sengokubune ship which tended to lose its rudder in storms and drift nearly endlessly. Several made it to North ...
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What sort of signage did ballrooms require?

Manufactured goods in early California had to be imported. In 1842 the prominent merchant Thomas Larkin wrote to John Paty in Hawaii: "Sir, I wish you would purchase in Oahu for me the following ...
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How did an honor society get named as if it were a Chinese gang?

Honor societies and fraternities are a fixture in U.S. colleges. Most often they use Greek letters for their names, and some have names in English. However, the men's honor society of Santa Cruz High ...
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When was unleaded gasoline introduced in California?

When did unleaded gasoline become available for sale (as an option, not mandatory) in California? That is, suppose you were a driver a few decades ago, who wanted to drive without pumping lead into ...
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514 views

What is the Balboa Park in San Francisco named after?

Although I would think San Francisco's Balboa Park is named after Núñez de Balboa who is the first European to see the Pacific Ocean I cannot find any historic evidence in Internet. In this document(...
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Who was the first foreigner to be naturalized as a Mexican citizen in Alta California?

The earliest example I have is Jose Antonio Bolcof of Russia, who became a Mexican about 1833. Who beat him? cf. Who was the first foreigner to be naturalized as a Mexican citizen?: several Texans ...
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329 views

Did anyone find gold in California before 1848?

Is there any documentation or evidence of anyone finding gold in California before the discovery at Sutter's Mill in 1848?
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Were any Californios able to hold on to their ranchos?

Despite the clarity of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on this topic, Mexican land grants in Alta California were subject to drawn-out legal battles in the American period. Most Californios lost their ...
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1answer
209 views

Was anyone in Spanish or Mexican California tried for homosexuality?

In "So Far From Home" (Farris, ed.) a Russian visitor to California describes seeing trangendered natives, as Cabeza de Vaca also did three centuries earlier in what is now Texas. The military and ...
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91 views

Who cataloged the ships that visited Alta California?

I know I have seen a reference to a comprehensive list of ships that visted Alta California in the Spanish and Mexican eras, but I need help finding it again. Here is an incomplete list without any ...
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How many people lived in the Mexican territories annexed by the US?

What was the population of the areas annexed by the US from Mexico in the 1840s? Basically, "Texas," "California" and the area in between?
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Convict stowaways crossing the Pacific in 1796

According to H.H. Bancroft's "History of California", in 1796, English convicts stowed away on the Otter in Botany Bay, and were forced ashore in California at gunpoint. Governor Borica was ordered by ...
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Did the US try to buy California before Guadalupe Hidalgo?

With regard to Mexican California in the 1840s, Hague and Langum's Thomas O. Larkin says, on page 10: The United States had long been interested in California and had more than once attempted to ...
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How were native laborers on California ranchos treated?

The ranchos established during the Mexican period of California history relied on the labor of native Americans. Unlike the Mission properties, ranchos did not attempt to prevent workers from escaping ...
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1answer
247 views

Which trade ship did not return to California from China?

The Baltic German captain Otto von Kotzebue wrote (from "California Through Russian Eyes", Gibson, ed.): An attempt was even made to launch, at the Californios' own risk, trade with China, but it ...
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1answer
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Which Irishman worked at Mission Santa Cruz?

Kirill Khlebnikov was a Russian business agent who made several visits to Alta California. His "Travel Notes" from 1820 describe negotiations to buy grain from the Franciscan priest in charge of ...
4
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1answer
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Was the 1852 Richard/Bolcoff divorce the first one in California?

Annick Foucrier's "Sailors, Carpenters, Vineyardists" describes a divorce taking place in Santa Cruz shortly after California became part of the United States, dissolving the marriage of Maria Lucia ...
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1answer
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How many customs houses were there in 1850 California?

Mexican California's customs house was in Monterey. When the territory became part of the U.S. in 1846, San Francisco was the emergent port city. Despite the territory's political commitment to ...
4
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1answer
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What did the administrators of secularized California missions do?

The Alta California missions built in the Spanish period were initially run by Franciscans, then secularized in the 1830s, becoming regular parish churches. Some lay people officially served to "...
4
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1answer
105 views

Who was the Irishman that betrayed Coronel's gold claim?

Antonio Coronel was a Mexican Californio who like many other Spanish speakers was ejected by Anglos from his claim in the Gold Rush, about April, 1849. Quoting from the published translation of his ...
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1answer
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Imposition of property taxes in California

After California became a U.S. state in 1850, land taxation was one of the factors that bankrupted the Californio ranchers. Apparently, it had not existed in the native, Spanish, nor Mexican periods. ...
4
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1answer
262 views

Who left Fort Ross to defect to Mexico?

Remarks by Kirill Khlebnikov reproduced in "California Through Russian Eyes" by Gibson, p. 332, say that one defector from Fort Ross had headed to Mexico. Who was the unnamed defector?
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Were adobes often built on shellmounds?

Adobe was the principal construction material used in the arid north of Mexico. In wetter parts the adobe was subject to water damage: rain ate away its exposed surfaces and softened the ground on ...
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California rancho budget

This question is a source request for real or estimated annual account ledgers for ranchos in Mexican California. Not much cash was used, so records are sparse. Most goods on the rancho were produced ...
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Death sentences in Spanish California

Ynocente Garcia, in his recollections (the "Garcia Hechos"), described Ignacio Rochin, a man executed for murder in 1795 in Santa Barbara. Garcia continues: "a young orphan ... was also executed with ...
3
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1answer
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Which lame moor was the namesake of Rancho Moro Cojo?

Governors of Mexican Alta California granted ranches to well-connected petitioners. One such piece of land near Elkhorn Slough was called Rancho Moro Cojo (Lame Moor Ranch), granted in 1825 by ...
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1answer
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Was it common to carry a concealed dagger in Spanish California?

Dmitry Zavalishin, a Decembrist, wrote about his 1824 visit to Alta California: The second, Padre José Altamira, was more a politician and soldier than a monk or missionary. He always carried, ...
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1answer
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Earliest evidence of surfing

The WP article on the history of surfing presently describes several historic traditions and a documented episode of Hawaiians surfing in California in 1885. Obviously, being propelled by a wave on a ...