Questions tagged [california]

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

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Did the United States colonize California?

Upper California was a province of Mexico from the 1820s to the 1840s (sometimes unified with Lower California). Near the end of this period it was overrun with Anglo-American men that lived apart ...
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Why did Thomas Larkin write his biographical sketches?

Thomas Larkin, wealthy merchant of Monterey, California in the 1840s, was the consul of the United States. He was also a secret agent for President Buchanan who sent to Washington 78 microbiographies ...
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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. ...
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Who was the first retailer in Monterey, California?

There were no businesses in the Spanish presidio at Monterey. Trade goods from the missions and passing ships came through, but there wasn't much to buy. Outside the fort, what was the first fixed-...
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When was the last bull & bear fight in California?

In 1700s and 1800s California, a popular form of entertainment was a fight to the death between a bull and a grizzly bear, either tied together or tied to a post. (This practice may have been Horace ...
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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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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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For who or what was Cojo Creek named?

Cojo Creek (Cañada del cojo) is the boundary between the Rancho Punta de la Concepción and the Rancho Nuestra Señora del Refugio. The anchorage at the mouth of this creek was a prime smuggling spot in ...
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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 ...
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Who accompanied Canónigo Fernández to Mexico City in 1822?

After Iturbide became President of an independent Mexico, the Canónigo Don Agustín Fernández de San Vicente was sent to Alta California to support the transition from Spanish rule and to relieve the ...
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Who were the members of Hartnell's _Compañía Extranjera_?

In 1832, William Hartnell convened a posse of fifty immigrants to "help keep the peace" in California (according to "The Lives of William Hartnell" by Dakin). The group was called "La Compañía ...
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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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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 "...
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Who was the Gold Rush memoirist James G. Ward?

The historian Richard Pierce quoted in his citation-free "Biographical Dictionary" from certain "recollections of California in 1848" (presumably not a work title) by one James G. Ward. The ...
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“Ridiculous” military haircut in Spanish California

According to the reminiscences of José Maria Amador, as translated by Gregorio Mora-Torres in "Californio Voices", around 1820 recruits at the Monterey Presidio received an unusual haircut: After ...
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California land cases to the US Supreme Court

After the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in the early 1850s, the U.S. Congress created a land commission to review claims of land ownership predating California's accession. Hundreds of claims were ...
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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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How did the Russian-American Company respond to employee desertion?

The Russian-American Company (head office: St. Petersburg) monopolized transit and commerce with the Russian American colonies and outposts. Almost the only people carried on Company voyages were ...
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62 views

In Alta California, who worked at the Ranchos del Rey?

In Spanish Alta California, most agricultural production was under the management and on the lands of the Franciscan Missions, operated with native labor. Each of the four presidios (forts) was also ...
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How cheap were sailing ships in Gold Rush California?

Many ships were abandoned in San Francisco during the California Gold Rush as their crews and passengers headed straight for the gold areas. Some became semi-permanent buildings and some became ...
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How many cattle were slaughtered in Alta California?

Spanish and Mexican Alta California was a primarily cattle-based economy. The wealth of ranchers was measured in the size of their herd. Beef, manteca, and leather were used liberally, and hide and ...
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What was the first school in Santa Cruz, California? [closed]

Schools were established in and around Santa Cruz, California, as it became more populous in the mid-1800s. Which school, public or private, in or near the city, was first?
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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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Who was the Englishman working in 1818 at Mission San Carlos?

Vasili Golovnin wrote in "Around the World on the Kamchatka": In the morning many of our officers and I went to the San Carlos Mission which is about five miles from Monterey on a small river and ...
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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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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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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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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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Who was the Irish interpreter in Monterey in 1822?

Kirill Khlebnikov was a Russian business agent who made several visits to Alta California. His "Travel Notes" from 1822 describe Khlebnikov's visit to Governor Sola in Monterey, who sent for "the ...
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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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Did Anza record exactly who came along on his expedition?

The first Anza Expedition of 1775 brought some of the first Spanish-speaking colonists into Alta California. At least one baby was born en route. Did Anza or anyone else in his party write down ...
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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 ...
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147 views

From which Russian-American Company ship did Osip Volkov defect to Mexico?

Several books and articles indicate that Osip Volkov defected from a Russian ship at Monterey around 1815, midway through the Mexican War of Independence. Naturalized as Jose Antonio Bolcof, he served ...
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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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How much did Spanish California officials earn?

It is my understanding that in Alta California, priests and natives in Missions earned no cash salary, but Spanish army officials would have. From the governor down to a junior soldier, what did they ...
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101 views

How many women lived in Spanish Californian presidios?

The Spanish presidios in the Californias were military outposts, unlike the religious missions or the civilian pueblos. Their residents were not exclusively soldiers, though; at least prisoners and ...
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Who was arrested at El Cojo with Eliot de Castro?

According to Bancroft's "History of California" II:274, Spanish authorities acting on Governor Sola's orders detained Eliot de Castro, working for the Russian-American Company, along with "an American ...
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143 views

Etymology of Pine Street in San Francisco

In San Francisco, California, what is Pine Street named after? Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymologies_of_place_names_in_San_Francisco and other internet sources about SF street naming do ...
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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, ...
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Did the University of California and University of Geneva award honorary degrees to Inazo Nitobe?

According to Inazo Nitobe (author of "Bushido: The Soul of Japan") timelines written in Japanese, he was awarded honorary degrees from "University of California" (Kariforunia Daigaku, カリフォルニア大学) in ...
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Gregório Amúrrio: dates of birth and death

Gregório Amúrrio was a Franciscan missionary in California during the late 1700s. He was one of the five original missionaries to Alta California, and the co-founder of Mission San Juan Capistrano. ...
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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, ...
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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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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 ...