1772-03-22: Father Juan Crespi named the San Benito River

The naming of the San Benito River by Padre Juan Crespi, March 21, 1772:


The Beginnings of San Francisco: Zoeth Skinner Eldredge, 1912, pp. 39-42
CHAPTER II. Exploration of the Bay of San Francisco, 1770-1775

"Portolá established the presidio and mission of San Cárlos Borromeo de Monterey, June 3, 1770, and dispatched a messenger to the City of Mexico to the Marques de Croix, Viceroy of New Spain, announcing the addition of a new province to the realms of His Most Catholic Majesty, Don Cárlos III. For more than two hundred years Spain had claimed the Pacific coast of North America up to forty-two degrees but had done nothing to maintain her right by settlement. Now, in the foundation of Monterey, Alta California was brought under the flag of Spain and all nations were notified that she would protect her land from invasion and insult. The news of Portolá's success was received with joy and steps were at once taken to found on the shores of the great bay so recently discovered an establishment which, it was thought, would develop into a great commercial city. Portolá had been ordered to establish three missions: one at San Diego, one at Monterey, and one at some intermediate point, to be named for the good doctor serafico, San Buenaventura. It was now resolved to found five more missions in the new province and the guardian of the college of San Fernando was asked to furnish ten additional missionaries. The five missions proposed were San Gabriel, San Luis Obispo, San Antonio, San Francisco, and Santa Clara.

"On November 12, 1770, the viceroy instructed Don Pedro Fages, comandante of California (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_Fages), to explore the port of San Francisco for the purpose of establishing a presidio and mission there, since a place so important ought not to remain exposed to foreign occupation. This order was received by Fages some six months later. Fages had but nineteen men at Monterey, while at San Diego, Rivera had twenty-two. This was the entire military force in California. Two missions: San Diego and Monterey, had been founded, but the establishment of San Buenaventura had been delayed by lack of troops. Rivera was ordered to send a portion of his force to Fages in order that the latter might make the reconnaissance of San Francisco, but the Indians at San Diego were manifesting a hostile disposition and Rivera would not divide his force. So it was not until March 1772 that Fages found himself able to obey the order to explore the port of San Francisco.[1] On the 22d (sic) of March 1772, Fages left the presidio of Monterey with a guard of twelve soldiers, Father Juan Crespi, two servants, and a pack train, and taking a northeasterly course camped the first night on the bank of the Salinas river. The next morning they crossed the plains of Santa Delfina (Salinas valley), passed over the Gavilan mountains by the cañon of Gavilan creek, and descended into the San Benito valley, camping on the bank of the Arroyo de San Benito on the 21st, the day of St. Benedict*, giving the stream the name it now bears. The beautiful valley they called San Pascual Baílon. The next day they crossed the Pájaro river and entered the San Bernardino valley, naming it for Saint Bernardine of Siena, and camped for the night on an arroyo which they called Las Llagas de Nuestro Padre San Francisco—The Wounds of Our Father St. Francis. Ancient San Bernardino is now a part of the Santa Clara valley, but the Arroyo de Las Llagas still retains the name Fages gave it. The next day they passed into the upper Santa Clara valley, then called the Llano de Los Robles—the Plain of the Oaks—and keeping to the right of the great estero camped on an arroyo near the southeastern point of the bay. On Wednesday March 25th, they camped on San Leandro creek, called by them San Salvador de Horta. Thursday the 26th they were on the site of Alameda, then covered with a forest of oaks, and called the San Antonio creek, Arroyo del Bosque—Creek of the Grove. Looking across to the Golden Gate they named it La Bocana de la Ensenada de los Farallones—The Entrance to the Gulf of the Farallones. On Friday they looked from the Berkeley hills through the Golden Gate to the broad Pacific. The next two days they followed the shore of San Pablo bay, hoping to get to the high sierra they saw to the north of La Bocana and reach Point Reyes near which, they believed, was the real port they were seeking. This they could not do because of an estero, quarter of a league wide, deep, and impassable without boats. To the mountain of the north (Tamalpais) they gave the name La Sierra de Nuestro Padre San Francisco, as it seemed to be the guardian of his port. On the opposite bank of that estero we call Carquines strait, they saw many rancherias whose Indians called to them, and seeing that the strangers were passing on, crossed the strait on their tule rafts and presented the travelers with their wild eatables.

* Benedict of Nursia, founder of the Benedictine order

Published in: on March 22, 1772 at 7:58 pm  Leave a Comment