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

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

• “Assiduously researched and enthusiastically narrated, coauthors Hunt Janin and Ursula Carlson chronicle the rise and fall of the Californio men and women. An absolute must book for western buffs.”—Argunners Magazine