The Californios

A History, 1769–1890


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About the Book

Before the Gold Rush of 1848–1858, Alta (Upper) California was an isolated cattle frontier—and home to a colorful group of Spanish-speaking, non-indigenous people known as Californios. Profiting from the forced labor of large numbers of local Indians, they carved out an almost feudal way of life, raising cattle along the California coast and valleys. Visitors described them as a good-looking, vibrant, improvident people. Many traces of their culture remain in California.
Yet their prosperity rested entirely on undisputed ownership of large ranches. As they lost control of these in the wake of the Mexican War, they lost their high status and many were reduced to subsistence-level jobs or fell into abject poverty. Drawing on firsthand contemporary accounts, the authors chronicle the rise and fall of Californio men and women.

About the Author(s)

Hunt Janin is an American writer living in southwestern France. He has written numerous nonfiction and scholarly books on a range of subjects, including medieval history and cross-cultural studies.
Ursula Carlson is a professor emerita at Western Nevada College, Carson City, Nevada.

Bibliographic Details

Hunt Janin and Ursula Carlson
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 211
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6303-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2946-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface: Alta California and the Californios 1

Introduction: Californios Under Three Flags 5

 1. Taking Possession of Alta California: The Portolá Expedition 13

 2. The Naval Department of San Blas 17

 3. Missions and Missionaries 20

 4. Ranchos 25

 5. Presidios and Soldiers 41

 6. Pueblos and Their Inhabitants 46

 7. A Pirate Attack on Monterey 50

 8. The Old Spanish Trail 54

 9. Californio Men and Californio Women 60

10. Foreigners in Alta California 73

11. Governing the Californios 82

12. Californios in the U.S.-Mexican War of 1846–1848 94

13. Land Titles 99

14. Kaleidoscope of Californio Events 107

15. Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo 116

16. The Eclipse of the Old Californio Order: From Rancho to Barrio 124

17. Opinions on the Californios and Their Works 144

18. Three Young Californio Women 153

Conclusion: Six Calamities of Californio Life 158

Annotated Chronology, 1510–1890 161

Appendix 1: Notes on California Ports, 1769–1850 166

Appendix 2: Rancho Camulos 171

Appendix 3: Jo Mora on the Nuqueo 173

Appendix 4: An Interview with the Californio Bandit Tiburcio Vasquez (1835–1875) 175

Appendix 5: A Recipe for Puchero, a Californio Meat Stew 178

Chapter Notes 181

Bibliography 191

Index 199

Book Reviews & Awards

“Students and teachers at all levels will be served to learn about the history of fellow citizens who have ties to Mexico and Latin America, a populace that may account for one in four US residents by 2050. Thus, by writing about the Californios—the name of the people from Spain and Mexico who colonized California between 1769 and 1848—Janin and Carlson deserve praise for informing readers that Spanish speakers and their descendants have long lived in the US…recommended”—Choice