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Thomas Knight, within sight of whose farm Portola turned eastward to go the last three miles to his camp on the shores of the bay. Mr. Knight is the oldest resident of San Mateo County, having lived in the Portola Valley since 1853.
Mr. Halsey L. Rixford throws a great light on the history of Gaspar de Portola. Some ingenious individuals have gone so far as to say that this Portola is a myth, and that he did little else than convoy the Fathers of the Church in their quest in the north. It is shown by Mr. Rixford that Portola was more than a simple policeman to the militant brotherhood, and that he was a mighty man of enterprise and withal, gifted with a fine imagination. To Mr. Rixford, the Overland readers, and the public are generally indebted to Prof. Geo. Davidson for many of the facts given, but it is to Mr. Halsey that we are indebted for rendering them available in popular form.-EDITOR OVERLAND MONTHLY,
F SAN FRANCISCO wishes a mission, let his port be discovered, and one will be founded." So replied the Visitador General Galvez to Padre Junipero Serra in the year 1768, when the latter, consulting him in regard to the three establishments projected for California, asked why there was not "a mission for Nuestro Padre San Francisco?" San Diego, San Buenaventura and San Carlos were the names assigned to the missions, the site of the last being the shore of Monterey Bay. Gaspar de Portola, the first Governor of California, commanded the expedition sent in 1769 from San Blas, Mexico, to found these northernmost havens of refuge for the followers of the Spanish Church and State. Searching for Monterey Bay in the location ascribed to it in 1602 by the discoverer Vizcaino, the Portola party found no harbor
as sheltered as they had been led to expect. "Therefore," says Father Francisco Palou, "they went forty leagues farther and came upon the Puerto de San Francisco. Nuestro Padre. *** In view of this, what have we to say why Nuestro Padre should not wish a mission in his port ?" The first sight of the bay was had on November 1, 1769.
The inception of Portola's trip may be directly attributed to over a century and a half of buccaneering ravages on Spanish commerce in the Pacific by Sir Francis Drake, "master thiefe of the unknowne world," Cavendish, Dampier, Anson and others, to the seizure of Manila in 1762, and the preparations for a scientific expedition under James Cook in 1767, all of which combined in prompting Charles III of Spain to issue a proclamation. directing that efficient measures be taken
Here one may imagine the brown cowled priest and the dragoon stalking ghostily and looking into the village of Portola just beyond.
to protect the coast of California against invasion by "a foreign nation whose aims are no wise favorable to the Monarchy." Galvez, the Visitador General, left the City of Mexico April 9, 1768, for San Blas, to arrange for the setting forth of two expeditions-one by sea, the other by land. The mail boats "San Carlos" and "San Antonio" sailed from the Gulf of California, and Portola led the land party up the peninsula. It is over seven hundred miles long. For weeks he and his men toiled over the weary wastes in a body until they reached Velicata. From here forty men of the California Company and thirty Indians were to accompany the expedition to San Diego, where was to be the first of the missions of the Franciscans, that blazed the way for the settlement of California. Large herds of cattle and mules were gathered; provisions were brought from the neighboring mission of Santa Maria. On March 24th, Don Fernando Rivera y Moncada started with a scouting party, and, reduced to a ration of two tortillas a day, they made San Diego on May 14th. Governor Portola
left Velicata the following day. In his company was the Most Reverend Father Fray Junipero Serra, President of the Missions of California, and called "The Venerable."
When Portola reached San Diego fortyfive days later, with one hundred and sixty-three mules laden with provisions, he found the crews of the vessels in a deplorable state. Scurvy, induced by a diet. consisting largely of dried and salt meat, had run riot in the little ships, and of a complement of ninety sailors, conscripts and Indians, only sixteen men remained fit for duty two weeks after landing. The Governor proposed to load and man the San Carlos, but her skipper refused to undertake the voyage to Monterey because he had hardly any seamen. Portola despatched the San Antonio to report to the Visitador General, in the hope that more men and food would be sent to equip the ships while he was on the way northward. No vessel, however, reached Monterey until the following year.
Portola had arrived June 29th. July 9th he sent the San Antonio south. By July 14th he was again pressing forward. In the meantime, el comandante had informed himself of the situation, planned the further movements of the vessels and the land expedition, and assisted at the establishment of the Mission San Diego de Alcala. All took part in adoring the Holy Cross, the spot of its erection was dedicated to the glory of God, the fathers said mass and the assemblage joined in the prayers, and Portola, striding over the ground with drawn sword in hand, slashed trees, earth, grass and the salt water to show that he took possession of the country by the authority vested in him by Pope, King and Viceroy.
Taking one hundred packages of provisions-leaving the rest for the men at the mission and trusting to the San Carlos for relief-the newly possessed Governor set out with his notable company. It included Captain Don Fernando Rivera y Moncada, Don Miguel Costanso, an engineer of the army, Lieutenant Don Pedro Fages, Sergeant Jose Francisco de Ortega, Padres Juan Crespi and Francisco Gomez, seven "soladados voluntarios de la Compania franca de Cataluna," twenty-seven "soldados de Cuera" (garrison soldiers,
wearing short leathern jackets), seven packers, fifteen Christian Indians from Baja California, and two servants respectively to the first and second commanders -making, with the Governor, a total of sixty-five men. Enough horses and mules were taken to furnish the expedition with relays the number is unrecorded. In the lead was Portola; about him were the spiritual and temporal officers-except Captain Rivera, commanding the rear guard-and following close were six of the Catalonian Volunteers, with Indians carrying picks, shovels, crowbars and axes to hew a path through the thickets and scratch a trail over the virgin mountains. Next came the pack train in four divisions with muleteers and garrison soldiers in each band. Comprised in the rear guard. were the rest of the troops and friendly Indians, in charge of the relays of animals.
It took the plucky pioneers two months and a half to traverse the two hundred leagues-nearly six hundred miles-from San Diego to the vicinity of Vizcaino's port, the dominating landmark of which was the Point of Pines. They bore in mind the Puerto of San Diego, also named by Vizcaino. The port they sought was an equally "famous" puerto according to the discoverer; therefore, it must be a notable harbor, instead of an open bay, or roadstead; indeed, he said it was "sheltered from all winds," and on the immediate coast there are pines from which masts of any desired size can be obtained." The discoverer had placed Monterey Bay in latitude 37 deg.; this parallel runs a few miles north of the modern city of Santa Cruz. Such a discrepancy Engineer Costanso could attribute to the antiquated instruments in use in Vizcaino's time. But Father Crespi was in general correct, except for the size of the trees, in his description written to Father Palou after the return to San Diego: "Point Pinos, according to my observations, is in latitude 36 deg. 42 min. Where this point of pines begins (on the south) there is a small bay *** and from there the Point of the Pines extends, and not as the narrative says; and I can assure your Reverence that I did not see one on the whole point which would serve for yards or masts for these vessels; and the said point
The entrance to Crespi Wood, so named in honor of the priest who accompanied Portola and left a record of the expedition. In this wood was the residence of N. C. Carnall, who named the Portola Valley.
ending where it does, there begins a great gulf of twenty leagues at least." This was Monterey Bay.
Can we blame the good father and his companions for half-suspecting that the "famous" port was a fiction of Vizcaino's brain, when the discoverer's charts lay hidden and the searchers had to rely on a narrative which bristled with stories of a large native population using flax, hemp and cotton? Of animals "as large as wolves, and shaped like a stag, with a skin resembling that of a pelican, a long neck, and horns on the head as large as those of a stag; their tail is a yard in length and half a yard in breadth, and their hoofs cloven like that of an ox?" Of the trend of the coast line north of latitude 42 deg. toward Japan and China, which were not far away?
After spending the first week of October hunting in the neighborhood of Point Pinos for Monterey Bay, Portola made. his momentous decision to look further north. Many of the travelers were ill,