John Vonderlin: Did you know you can read historic books online?

Below: Indo on Zoeth S. Eldredge’s book: The March of Portola and the Discovery of the Bay of San Francisco

From John Vonderlin

Email John ([email protected])


Hi June,
   The book by Zoeth S. Eldredge, “The March of Portola and the Discovery of the Bay of San Francisco,” can be read for free at If you use “Portola” in the Search box you will find Mr. Eldredge’s book, and two other books about the 1769 Portola Expedition. One is Miguel Costanso’s diary and the other Vicente Vila’s.  
Here’s the excerpt from when they were on the Coastside.
On the 20th they were at Punta de Ano Nuevo,
and camped at the entrance of the canon of Waddell creek. They
recognized Point Ano Nuevo from the description given by Cabrera Bueno,
and Crespi estimated that it was one league distant from the camp. With
good water and fuel, the command rested here the 21st and 22d. Both
Portola and Rivera were now added to the sick list. Meat and vegetables
had given out and the rations were reduced to five tortillas of bran and
flour per day. Crespi named the camp San Luis Beltran, while the
soldiers called it La Canada de Salud. On the 23d, they again moved
forward, passing Punta de Ano Nuevo and, traveling two leagues, camped
probably on Gazos creek, where was a large Indian rancheria, whose
inhabitants received them kindly. This camp, which was about opposite
Pigeon Point, they named Casa Grande, also San Juan Nepomuceno[27]. The
next jornada was a long one of four leagues, and their camp was on San
Gregoria creek. It began to rain and the command was prostrated by an
epidemic of diarrhoea which spared no one. They now thought they saw
their end, but the contrary appeared to be the case. The diarrhoea
seemed to relieve the scurvy, and the swollen limbs of the sufferers
began to be less painful. They named the camp Vane de los Soldados de
los Cursos, and Crespi applied the name of Santo Domingo to it. Unable
to travel on the 25th and 26th, but resuming the march October 27th,
they pressed forward. The next stop was Purisima creek, two short
leagues distant, but the way was rough, and the pioneers had to make
roads across three arroyos where the descents were steep and difficult
for the transportation of the invalids. On the bank of the stream was an
Indian rancheria, apparently deserted. The Spaniards took possession of
the huts, but soon came running forth with cries of “las pulgas! las
pulgas![28]” They preferred to camp in the open. The soldiers called
the camp Rancheria de las Pulgas, while Crespi named it San Ibon. On the
28th they camped on Pilarcitos creek, site of Spanish town or Half Moon
Bay. They named the camp El Llano de los Ansares – The Plain of the Wild
Geese – and Crespi called it San Simon y San Judas. Every man in the
command was ill; the medicines were nearly gone and the supply of food
very short. They contemplated killing some of the mules. That night it
rained heavily and Portola, who was very ill, decided to rest on the
29th. On Monday, October 30th, they moved forward. Half Moon Bay and
Pillar Point were noted but no names given. Several deep arroyos were
crossed, some of which required the building of bridges to get the
animals over. They proceeded up the shore until a barrier of rock
confronted them and disputed the passage. Here in a rincon (corner)
formed by the sierra and. sheltered from the north wind they camped
while Ortega and his men were sent out to find a passage over the
Montara mountains. A little stream furnished them with water and they
named the camp El Rincon de las Almejas, on account of the mussels and
other shell fish they found on the rocks. Crespi calls it La Punta del
Angel Custodia. The site of the camp is about a mile north of the
Montara fog signal. By noon of the next day, October 31st, the pioneers
had prepared a passage over the bold promontory of Point San Pedro, and
at ten o’clock in the morning the company set out on the trail of the
exploradores and made their painful way to the summit. Here a wondrous
sight met their eyes and quickened their flagging spirits. Before them,
bright and beautiful, was spread a great ensenada, its waters dancing in
the sunlight. Far to the northwest a point reached out into the sea,
rising abruptly before them, high above the ocean. Further to the left,
west-northwest, were seen six or seven white Farallones and finally
along the shore northward they discerned the white cliffs and what
appeared to be the mouth of an inlet. There could be not mistake. The
distant point was the Punta de los Reyes and before them lay the Bahia o
Puerto de San Francisco. The saint had been good to them and with joy in
their hearts they made the steep and difficult descent and camped in the
San Pedro valley[29] at the foot of the Montara mountains. 

Some of the company thought they had left the Port of Monterey behind
but would not believe they had reached the Port of San Francisco. To
settle the matter, the governor ordered Ortega and his men to examine
the country as far as Point Reyes, giving them three days in which to
report, while the command remained in camp in the Vallecito de la Punta
de las Almejas del Angel de la Guarda, as Crespi calls it, combining the
two names of the camp of October 30th and transferring them to the camp
in San Pedro valley.

The next day, Thursday, November 2nd, being All Souls day, after mass
some of the soldiers asked permission to go and hunt for deer. They
climbed the mountains east of the camp and returning after nightfall
reported that they had seen from the top of the mountain an immense
estero or arm of the sea, which thrust itself into the land as far as
the eye could reach, stretching to the southeast; that they had seen
some beautiful plains thickly covered with trees, while the many columns
of smoke rising over them showed that they were well stocked with Indian
villages. This story confirmed them in the belief that they were at the
Port of San Francisco, and that the estero described was that spoken of
by Cabrera Bueno, the mouth of which they imagined they had seen from
the Montara mountains[30]. They were now satisfied that Ortega would be
unable to reach Point Reyes, and that three days was not sufficient time
to go around the head of such an estero. The exploring party returned in
the night of November 3d, discharging their fire-arms as they
approached. They reported that they found themselves obstructed by
immense estuaries which ran extraordinarily far back into the land[31],
but what caused their rejoicing was that they understood from the signs
of the Indians that at two days journey from where they were there was a
port in which a ship was anchored. On this announcement, some thought
that they were at the port of Monterey, and that the supply ship San
Jose or the San Carlos was waiting for them. Crespi says that if they
were not in Monterey, they were certainly in San Francisco.

On Saturday, November 4th, being the day of San Carlos Borromeo, in
whose honor they had come to establish a royal presidio and mission in
the Port of Monterey, and also the day of the king, Don Carlos III (que
Dios guarde), the holy sacrifice of the mass was celebrated “in this
little valley, beach of the Port (without the least doubt) of my father
San Francisco.” The men feasted liberally on the mussels which abounded
on the nearby rocks, and which were pronounced large and good, and, in
better spirits than they had been for some time, they took up their
march at one o’clock in the afternoon. Proceeding a short distance up
the beach, they turned into the mountains on their right, and from the
summit beheld the immense estero o brazo del mar. Then descending into
the Canada de San Andres, they turned to the south and southeast, and
traveling two leagues camped in the canada at the foot of a hill, very
green with low brush, and having a cluster of oaks at its base. The next
two days they traveled down the canada, coasting the estero, which they
could not see for the low hills (lomeria) on their left, noting the
pleasant land with its groves of oak, redwood (palo colorado), and
madrono. They saw the tracks of many deer and also of bears. The Indians
met them with friendly offers of black tamales and atole, which were
gladly received by the half-starved Spaniards. They begged the strangers
to go to their rancherias, but the governor excused himself, saying that
he must go forward, and dismissed them with presents of beads and
trinkets. On the 6th, they reached the end of the canada, which suddenly
turned to the east, and saw that the estero[32] was finished in a
spacious valley. To the canada they gave the name of San Francisco[33].
Traveling a short distance towards the east, they camped on a deep
arroyo, whose waters came down from the sierra and flowed precipitately
into the estero. They were on the San Francisquito creek, near the site
of Stanford University[34].

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