32 votes
Accepted

When was this photo of Mission Dolores *actually* taken?

Congratulations on your first question, justCal! The cropped version of the Mission Dolores photograph was published in George Robinson Fardon's famous 1856 album. I have the cheap Dover edition. As ...
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  • 27.3k
26 votes
Accepted

What were the indigenous populations of California before American settlement began to peak?

The government has some good resources for research like this site for the Yokut tribe. This map from Berkeley, not only outlines each culture but puts them into a super class based on language.
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  • 2,315
16 votes

Were any California presidios conquered?

Yes: The presidio of Monterey was destroyed by the Argentine-sponsored privateer Hippolyte Bouchard in 1818. The presidio of San Francisco capitulated to the pro-Spanish forces of Joaquin Solís in ...
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  • 27.3k
16 votes
Accepted

How was the 1849 "Proclamation to the People of California" announcing the formation of a Constitution communicated to the people?

Territory Governor Riley, who had summoned the constitutional convention, had 1,000 English and 250 Spanish copied printed "post-haste" and distributed around the state. In addition, many of ...
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14 votes

When was unleaded gasoline introduced in California?

First, to be clear, lead is an additive and doesn't occur naturally in gasoline. It was in 1921 that General Motors discovered that adding lead (in the form of lead tetraethyl or TEL) to gasoline is a ...
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  • 17.5k
14 votes

Was California named after a Moorish ruler called Queen Calafia?

No, that doesn't seem a likely explanation, not after 750 years of reconquista. The answer is for now: we don't know. From Wikipedia: Spanish explorers in the 16th century, when they first ...
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  • 17.8k
13 votes
Accepted

Were there any Russians in the 1849 Gold Rush?

Yes, there were. The Russian-American Company sent a party of prospectors comprised of four Russians and six Tlingit indians led by a Lt P.P. Doroshin: Doroshin and 10 RAC employees sailed to ...
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  • 34.2k
12 votes

How was the 1849 "Proclamation to the People of California" announcing the formation of a Constitution communicated to the people?

It was published at least twice in the newspaper Alta California, on November 1 and November 8. It may have appeared in other newspapers as well, but this was what I was able to find with a quick ...
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  • 17.5k
11 votes
Accepted

Why was California admitted as one big state rather than split up?

California could not be broken up at the time as it only contained about 90,000 residents and the minimum resident requirement to become a state was at the time 60,000. so to split it up into 3 states ...
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  • 829
11 votes
Accepted

Has any place exhumed more dead bodies than San Francisco?

The Catacombs of Paris contain the remains of more than 6 million people, and much like the San Francisco situation the catacombs were established to alleviate overflowing cemeteries throughout Paris. ...
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  • 3,863
11 votes
Accepted

Was merchant Hugh McCulloch the first Scotsman to set foot in California?

No. In 1814 a Scotsman by the name of John Cameron jumped ship. He later changed his name to Gilroy. Here's some info from the city of Gilroy California web page. John Cameron was born in a southern ...
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  • 34.2k
10 votes

What is the Balboa Park in San Francisco named after?

According to the The San Francisco call., October 10, 1910, pg 3, the park is named after Núñez de Balboa. It states that at the park's dedication... House and Park Praised ...Prof. George Barron,...
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  • 18.1k
10 votes

When did mature redwood trees become possible to harvest?

Though there may have been logging smaller trees earlier, It appears that the first well documented felling of one of the giant trees may have been in 1853: On Monday, 27 June, 1853, a giant ...
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  • 34.2k
8 votes
Accepted

Why didn't Russia seize California when it could?

It was horribly too far away. One thing is stablishing some minor settlements and trade activities, and a very different one is conducting a military expedition. Siberia was not developed to support ...
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  • 12.1k
8 votes
Accepted

Did Japanese castaways land in Spanish California?

This study, Japanese Wrecks stranded and picked up adrift in the North Pacific Ocean by Charles Wolcott Brooks, presented before the California Academy of Sciences in 1875, published in 1876, lists ...
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  • 34.2k
7 votes
Accepted

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

According to pg 317 of the Book California Through Russian Eyes, by James R Gibson, ...while hunting sea otters from the Ilmena, he either jumped ship or was captured by a Spanish patrol. The ...
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  • 34.2k
7 votes

What was the main food source in old California?

As Ben Crowell observed above, while the missions produced grain and legumes, the rancho economy was extremely focused on cattle production. Californios were rich in products made from leather, tallow,...
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  • 27.3k
7 votes
Accepted

Which Irishman worked at Mission Santa Cruz?

This was probably referring to John Mulligan, who is referred to in this discussion of the population at Branciforte, adjacent to the mission of Santa Cruz: The total population of Spanish or mixed ...
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7 votes
Accepted

Did Britain look into taking California?

I've done a search of the catalogue of the National Archives for material that might suggest British interest in taking California during the time-frame (1769-1846). [The Discovery search engine ...
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  • 76.4k
7 votes

Did Britain look into taking California?

To add to the accepted answer, here is some additional information perhaps indirectly related to the question. This plaque in San Francisco, California Historical Landmark No. 819, includes the phrase ...
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  • 554
7 votes

Who were the earliest Californian university students?

One of the first students to be sent away for education may have been the son of José de la Guerra y Noriega, Juan José Noriega, who was sent to Liverpool, England for education in 1825. When he ...
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  • 554
7 votes
Accepted

What happened to University College of San Francisco?

I have managed to locate online copies of the San Francisco Journal of George Burrowes, 1858-1875 (Edited by Charles A. Anderson, and with a biographical sketch by Clifford M. Drury), which might now ...
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  • 76.4k
7 votes
Accepted

Does any of John Sutter's tin money survive?

Normally it is difficult to provide evidence that something doesn't exist. I can offer this article on another website, Society of Private and Pioneer Numismatics, concerning early coins used in ...
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  • 34.2k
6 votes

How many people lived in the Mexican territories annexed by the US?

In an article on the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, PBS offers the following estimate: At the time of the treaty, approximately 80,000 Mexicans lived in the ceded territory, which comprised only ...
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  • 31k
6 votes

Was Pablo Vicente de Solá married?

Yes. In California Through Russian Eyes, 1806–1848, on page 158, there is a discussion of a celebration being held in honor of the Tsar's birthday. Entertainment in the form of dancing and singing ...
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  • 34.2k
6 votes
Accepted

How were native laborers on California ranchos treated?

To make the answer short not very well. Their treatment under the ranchos was pretty much the same as their treatment under the Missions. The articles mentioned they were paid in goods and alcohol, ...
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  • 6,221
6 votes
Accepted

Was it common to carry a concealed dagger in Spanish California?

I found independent confirmation of this tradition in the 1848 diary of James C. Ward, which was serialized in The Argonaut in 1878. He described "the riding-dress usually worn here" as including "...
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  • 27.3k
6 votes

Origin of San Francisco's water lots off Candlestick Point

Presumably this had to do with the Save the Bay movement that started in the early sixties. This movement was a backlash against the filling that had happened up unto that point: While Reber’s ...
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6 votes
Accepted

When did mature redwood trees become possible to harvest?

Auguste Duhaut-Cilly visited Fort Ross in 1828. He made a famous drawing of the fort and wrote: We went with Mr. Shelekhov to view his timber production.... Mr. Shelekhov showed me the trunk of one ...
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  • 27.3k
6 votes
Accepted

Which lame moor was the namesake of Rancho Moro Cojo?

The book Historic Spots in California: Fifth Edition claims the term moro was used to indicate anything black, and that tradition says that a lame black horse gave the name to this particular ...
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