La Cordillera Newsletter, Issue #2

Issue #2 and 12th Annual Anza Society International Conference Report
By Joe Myers
This is the first quarterly newsletter since the 2nd Quarterly Newsletter of the society
October 1, 2006.  That publication began with the statement that this Newsletter will
appear quarterly on the first of January, April, July and October.  In the past, Don Garate
requested that material be submitted to him and then he would be responsible for
publishing the newsletter.  Unfortunately he has been too busy with other duties and
activities, and the newsletter “has fallen through the cracks.”  This belated edition is
provided by the secretary Joe Myers.  The write-up of the 2007 conference in
Hermosillo was submitted to Don on two occasions and then the author of this
newsletter spoke with him at the festivities at Tumacacori in early December, 2007.  Don
suggested I just go ahead and send out the newsletter as he would not have time, so
here it is.  I will attempt to fill up some space about my own activities this past year, so
please bear with me; it is only intended to let the society know there has been some
activity within our organization, just not in the realm of communication.  And
grammarians, please excuse the tendency to jump in and out of the 1st and 3rd person.

Tour of Anza Homeland

You might recall the Basque Country Tour planned for April, 2007.  Don Garate was to
be the Anza Historian; Linda Rushton was helping to coordinate the tour through Terra
Travel.  That tour did not materialize, but a subsequent one did and the actual tour took
place in October.  A group went to Spain, and Don Garate followed up with a very
informative trip report that has now been published in Noticias de Anza, Number 36,
January 2008.  As you know, the Noticias de Anza is the newsletter of the Juan
Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.  Pictures of this trip will be shown at the Santa
Barbara conference in March.

Past Anza World Conferences

Where have we been? The last Society newsletter included a couple of paragraphs
about previous conferences.  It pointed out that the 1st conference was held in 1996 in
Arizpe, Sonora where Anza lies at rest (this should say “in state” but we’re not sure
exactly where he is under the church floor).  The idea of that conference was attributed
to Ron Kessler of Colorado and the article went on to say that Ron, Don Garate and
Ignacio Pesqueira from Arizpe presented the idea to a group of people in Tucson,
Arizona to determine the goals, purposes, themes, etc of the conference.  It was decided
the purpose of the conference would be to celebrate the life and times of Juan Bautista
de Anza, and that it would be held in Arizpe the first year but then go to a different site
each year following.

The conference has since been held in Arizpe (98), Monte Vista, CO (99), San Francisco,
CA (2000), Pueblo, CO (01), Arizpe (02,03), Salida, CO (04), Arizpe (05), Yuma, AZ (06),
and Hermosillo, Sonora (07).

I first learned about the conferences in 2001 and drove from Minnesota to Pueblo,
Colorado to attend that conference.  What I experienced was amazing.  First the
coordinator for that conference (Wilfred Martinez) is a direct descendent of the map
maker for Anza in Sante Fe in the 1770s (Don Bernardo Miera y Pacheco prepared the
map of the Anza campaign against the Comanche in 1779).  Wilfred was quite excited as
he felt he had located the actual battle site where Anza and his army defeated the
Comanche southwest of Pueblo, and he had published a book on the subject.  Wilfred
invited representatives from the Ute Nation (descended from allies of Anza on the
campaign) and representatives from the Comanche Nation (descended from the
enemies of Anza in that battle) to speak and I found the meeting truly interesting.  I
knew that Anza had been governor of New Mexico, but did not know very much about
him at that time.  The meeting was well attended and the field trip by bus took us to the
site in Colorado City previously designated as the battle site, and then the new Burnt
Mill site proposed by Wilfred.  I have gotten to know Wilfred better over the past several
years and am sad to report that his health is not very good; he is suffering from
Parkinson’s.  I try to call him after our conferences and stay in touch, but have been a
little remiss even in this.  Wilfred has taken groups of people with metal detectors to his
proposed Burnt Mill site, and of my estimate of some 1000+ musket balls that were fired,
not one has yet been found.

Ron Kessler is an advocate of a different battle site location right in Greenhorn Park in
Colorado City. Imagine my surprise when I learned that Ron and I grew up in the same
community of Monte Vista and that he also was an author and publisher of a book
about the Anza campaign.  Ron proposed the idea of the first conference and did host
the conference in Monte Vista in 1999, but he has not been very active in the Society
recently.  I hope the low level of activity is temporary and will send a copy of this
newsletter to him.  It would be great have him back in the Society.

Where am I going with all this?  Phil Valdez (8th generation descendent of the courier
for Anza on the California expedition) and I have also become good friends.  I first met
Phil at the Yuma conference and then ran into him on a mule in the Anza Borrego State
Park in California.  Since then, we have taken two trips together in my jeep over the
Anza trail in NM and CO.  The last trip was about a week long last June, in 2007.  Phil
drove over 1,000 miles to my home in Tucson, and then we drove in the jeep to Santa
Fe to begin our adventure of another 600+ miles as far away as Colorado Springs and
then back to Santa Fe.  Day after day we explored the route, going through the
mountains and probing various locations, and ending up eventually in the vicinity of the
battle site in Colorado City.  It is hard to dismiss the Kessler site in Greenhorn Park, as
it is right on the old Taos Trail and at about the right location, but neither Phil or I
thought it had the right “feel” based on what Anza wrote.  We also did not like the “feel”
of Wilfred’s Burnt Mill Site as it is too far from the Taos Trail and also too far for the
journal distances to work after the battle.

I had been in the area before and with rancher approval, searched and ruled out Muddy
Creek.  Phil and I trespassed into Graneros Gorge and eventually ruled it out.  The last
place we wanted to look was Scroogs Arroyo, just north of Kessler’s proposed site.
Within a couple of hours Phil picked up what looked exactly like an old rusted musket
ball.  I recorded the location on my GPS and you can’t imagine our excitement.  We
headed back to Santa Fe and then Tucson with plans to return with metal detectors, etc.
and we were sure the true site had at last been located.

Phil returned to CA, and I went to work lining up an archeologist near Pueblo that is
licensed by the state to investigate sites on public land, Richard Carrillo.  Phil then
drove back to Colorado from CA and I drove over from our residence in Durango, CO
and we met Richard south of Pueblo.  He took one look at the object and said it looked
more like a rock than a musket ball. We tried the metal detector on the object, not a
peep.  If it was made of iron, it did not give a signal on the metal detector. It has since
been analyzed and does have a high iron content.  The analyst thought it was man-
made but possibly slag from the steel mill in nearby Pueblo.  I’m still not sure??

At any rate we went to the proposed new site and scanned the area with metal
detectors.  Nothing!  With tails between our legs, Phil returned to CA and I went back to
Durango.  Over the summer and fall I made several more trips to Scroogs Arroyo (it’s
fairly large) and found NOTHING except more of those little round balls that look like old
musket balls.

We were led to Scroogs Arroyo by the journal of an American traveling in the area in
1822.  Jacob Fowler was camped on the Arkansas River that winter while his boss
went to Taos.  The revolution of course now had Mexico in charge of Santa Fe instead
of Spain, and guides were sent to bring Fowler and his party to Taos over the old Taos
or Trappers Trail (or Indian Ware Road as he called it).  Elliot Coues, the same historian
that gave us the two volume work on Garces, On the Trail of a Spanish Pioneer, Garces
Diary 1775-6, also edited the Fowler journal and made about as many mistakes on camp
locations as Herbert Eugene Bolton said that Coues had made writing the books about
the Garces Diary.

I turned to an ex-student of Bolton for more information about the Taos Trail, as the trail
surely contains the key to where Anza and Cuerno Verde met in their decisive battle.
The former student and at that time professor Alfred Barnaby Thomas published a
couple of books around 1930 including Forgotten Frontiers and After Coronado.  The
first contained a translation of the Anza Comanche Campaign in 1779, and the latter the
translation of the Ulibarri journal regarding an expedition in 1706.  In that translation
Thomas suggested that Ulibarri left Sante Fe and ended up crossing the Arkansas River
just west of Pueblo, Colorado.  If that was true, this was perhaps proof that Wilfred’s
site was on an ancient trail.  After all, Anza did say he was following THE TRAIL and
was hoping he would run into Cuerno Verde returning on the trail.

Unfortunately a close scrutiny of the actual Fowler journal shot down this theory.  In
fact it turned out that Ulibarri never even went near Pueblo.  He was ordered by the
governor in 1706 to go out to a pueblo in Kansas called El Cuartelejo and rescue some
local NM pueblo Indians that fled after the reconquest of 1680 and were now suffering
at the hands of the Apaches more than they had suffered from the Spanish.  So like a
good soldier Ulibarri marched straight out, rounded them up, and then marched straight

The reason for bringing this story up is that in the footnotes at the back of the book, it
was stated by Thomas that the location of El Cuartelo was in Colorado and not in
Kansas, although he said the pueblo had been discovered in Kansas some 30 years
earlier, in 1896.  Amazingly he went on to say that the location had been “divined”
somehow by his former research director Bolton.  Thomas was a graduate student of
Bolton in the 1920s and out of respect for his boss or perhaps out of ignorance, he
pushed this imaginary trail and the fictitious site on an unsuspecting public.  It worked
for over 70 years.  Another student of Bolton, Leroy Hafen, went on to become the
director of the Historical Society in Colorado and for many years continued to foster
this false information. The myth is now well established fact in the minds of many
Coloradoans. Since last summer, I have written several times to the current editor of
the Colorado Historical Magazine trying to get something published about the whole
mess, but have had no luck thus far.

Getting back to Anza and his colonizing expedition, I am presently an “official
volunteer” for the National Historic Trail, attempting to pinpoint all the sites where the
Anza expedition camped in Arizona in 1775.  Bolton of course wrote “the gospel” in his
five volumes about Anza, but after Ulibarri, you can bet I am checking his every word.
Enough rambling for now – but I wanted to convey how much fun it is following in the
footsteps of Anza.

2007 Anza Conference
March 8-11, 2007
Hermosillo, Sonora

A number of Anza fans went down to the 12th Annual World Conference from Arizona
in two vans.  More came in cars and a lunch stop at Elba’s Restaurant was made in
Santa Ana, some 60 miles south of the border and about 100 miles north of Hermosillo.
A most pleasant tour in Santa Ana followed.  We went to the old part of town and with
an escort, visited the church.  It was built in the late 1800’s on the site of the original
mission.  Their collection of very old vestments was shown to us. Local townspeople
turned out with crafts and food and provided a truly relaxing visit.  After this visit to the
church, a tour south of town was taken to their local petroglyphs, some half dozen
miles away.  There was a lot of interest at the site so we were a little late departing for
Hermosillo, arriving there after dark.

The meeting was held in conjunction with the Sociedad Sonorense de Historia, A. C.
and it began about 9 am Friday morning.  Linda Rushton opened the meeting and
welcomed everyone, then introduced the new officers and the board members/advisors
that were present.

Carmen Tonella, executive director of the local society also welcomed the small group
and Dr. Maria del Valle Borrero Silva gave a talk on the history of the region.  It was
interesting to hear her three theories of the name Sonora.  One theory had to do with
the local native name for corn, sonita? Another dated back to Coronado – apparently the
locals learned to call him “senor.”  Another theory had the name tied to mining.

Following is a very brief summary of Dr. Silva’s history.  She described mission and
presidio evolution.  In 1700 there was only one presidio in Sonora and defense rested
on a Flying Company.  Later, through the 1800s the intent was defensive only; focus
was to defend and protect the colonists.  Back in the early 1700s, Fronteras and Janos
existed at the extreme frontiers and Anza’s father arrived at Janos in 1711. Presidio
soldiers were quite different from profession soldiers from Spain.  They had to be jack-
of-all-trades, ranchers, miners, etc.  Obviously economic issues helped drive the system
as a miner might be willing to serve to help protect his interests. This changed in 1730
when enlistments became 10 yrs and soldiers had new duties.  She continued detailing
the changes until Anza Jr. came along.  Violence was increasing and in fact Anza Sr.
died at the hands of the Apaches.  He had asked permission to explore the route to CA
but died before he could do it.  The son grew up in the military and was able to complete
the dream of his father, establishing the colony in California.

Stella Cordoza next talked about Joseph Vicente Feliz Esquer, a soldier in the colonizing
expedition.  Her title: “A Story of Social Advancement on the Northwestern Frontier.  
The Esquer Family, the Journey from Sheep to Silver.”  Stella described how the social
advancement of families was very important and used Esquer as an example of how
that family made the journey from sheep to silver.  Joseph was born in 1740 and
married in 1760.  It was his first cousin Manuela that died on the expedition, the first
night out from Tubac at La Canoa; her son born that night lived nine months before
dying in California.  Esquer lived until 1809 and was buried in Santa Barbara. Stella
began by noting there was a terrible famine and drought in Spain in 1630.  Plague then
hit Seville in the mid-1600’s and the population dropped to half.  It was a difficult life; the
Esquer family lived in the Pyranees (sheep country) and strict inheritance laws dictated
only one son could inherit the farm.  The story of ancestor Juan was then told, how he
left the village, got a certificate for a battle in the 900s, went to Seville, found a job and
customarily “married up.” The father of his wife Maria owned a merchant ship.
Eventually Juan and Maria had ten children and two boys ended up at Veracruz.
Following their story, the saga wound eventually through the silver town Alamos and
one some of the family eventually ended up at Culiacan.  Marrying up again in the mid
1700s  into the Feliz family.  Then more droughts, the Seri uprising, etc. so the brightest
beam of light in a very rugged landscape seemed to be in California.  It eventually
worked out. When the emigrant soldier retired he had some 6,000 acres (Griffith Park in
Los Angeles).  I tried to take notes but found the story so absorbing I often forgot to
keep writing.  If it seems a little sketchy or even incorrect in places, it probably is.

The last speaker in the morning was Lee Davis.  Lee had not planned this talk in
advance but agreed to do it when a local speaker dropped out due to illness.  Lee had
worked with NAMI in Washington D.C.  and provided some background about that
work. She said NAMI is an organization that began in 1989 and that it took 16 yrs to get
to the actual museum.  She outlined the four essential steps in working with Native
American Indians on a project like this.  1st.  How do you do it?  2nd. Whose story is
it?   3rd. What level of sophistication are you after?  4th. Programs with modern themes
have to link to the past.  She learned that the Native Peoples wanted to be brought in at
the beginning and that a one day format worked best.  Reports were used over time to
create maps. She gave examples from books and materials on the current Anza trail to
relate how the process worked.

Don Garate began the afternoon session with a very absorbing talk on Wenceslao
Loustaunau (3-fingered Jack, a 4th generation grandson of Juan Bautista de Anza Sr).
Don said he worked on the subject for publication in the Journal of Arizona History.  He
then passed out a booklet of some 40 pages of text and pictures, so there will be no
attempt to summarize all of the material, other than to say that Don always enthralls an
audience with his multi-faceted stories and this presentation was no exception.  The
gist of the story was that Wenceslao was painted by the media as a really bad guy and
he actually died in the territorial prison in Yuma, but when Don finished I think our jury
would easily have acquitted him and he would certainly go down in our history books
as a much different person.

Stan Bond then presented materials regarding the National Park partnership with
Mexico on the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.  There are some 1200
miles from our border to San Francisco, and another 640 miles south of our border to
Culiacan.  He noted that just in the United States 27 million people live in the counties
the trail passes through and an important facet is that urban people need rural areas for
recreation.  The trail certainly has an opportunity to help here.

His talk described some of the history of the trail including the Bicentennial Ride from
Mexico to San Francisco in 1976; moving though a number of topics to the present.  It
was interesting to see the presentation and learn how far the small team of two full time
employees has traveled on this daunting task.

The final talk was presented by the author of this summary, Joe Myers.  A little history
of the expedition in 1775 from the viewpoint of Font was given.  Excerpts were taken
from his expanded journal regarding each time Anza provided aguardiente to the
colonists, or when they celebrated with a fandango.  Each incident led to a longer tirade
by Font about the evils of alcohol, until the celebration on Christmas Eve, and then he
really blasted Anza.  The history portion was followed by some pictures taken last April
in the Anza-Borrego State Park in California, when Joe visited the site of the Christmas
Eve celebration by riding in to Coyote Canyon on horseback.  A pleasant surprise for
him was that Phil Valdez was there on a mule at the same time.  Phil actually returned
with Vladimer Guerrero (author of “The Anza Trail”) and Vladimer’s wife and they all
slept overnight there Christmas Eve, 2006.  I forgot to ask Phil if they held a fandango.
Their gear was packed in by the local caretaker of the horse camp in the state park,
Richard Overturf, who has become an enthusiast of Anza and has agreed to join our

The meeting ended at this point in the afternoon and then one of two meetings of the
board at Hermosillo was held to discus critical issues.  The first issue concerned the
position of treasurer.  Phil Valdez had been treasurer and an officer of the board but
took on a new teaching commitment; sadly he resigned as treasurer right before the
conference.  Sharon Myers was temporary treasurer before Phil and she agreed to
become the treasurer again until the next meeting in 2008. The main issue before the
board concerned the location and date of the next conference.  Stella Cordoza (society
member) and Ron Quinn (board member) agreed to contact people like Mike Hardwick,
Robert Hoover, etc. that have been at Anza Society meetings in the past and/or are very
active locally in Santa Barbara history to see if the local community there will take on
responsibility to host the conference next March 13 -16.

Dinner Friday evening was at an excellent restaurant.  Outstanding paella at Ole!
Flamenco dancers were supposed to perform but apparently had caught the same
illness that plagued our speaker in the morning. The field trip on Saturday was in
downtown Hermosillo.  We boarded the city trolley at Plaza Zaragoza and had quite a
tour of the downtown, pausing at one point for a group photo at the statue of Anza.
Several stops and tours were included, the last at the Sonora Museum at the old
prison.  Lunch was at the Swiss Haus and then people were free to visit the craft shops
in the afternoon. Dinner at Xochimilco was the highlight of the conference.  A Mariachi
band strolled in and started singing and playing, and asked for requests.  We didn’t
know then, but they were charging $10 US per song, and one of our members knew at
least 30 song titles.  The group performed for probably two hours and then demanded
their money.  No one could believe the bill, and the hat was passed several times before
enough money was collected to be able to leave the restaurant.  The $300 was nearly
as much as our entire budget last year.  It was a great way to end the conference

Next morning the bleary eyed board met early again to finish the agenda and the
discussion on Santa Barbara.  The vans departed for Arizona shortly after 9:30 A.M. and
apparently made it back across the ever increasingly busy border.  The author of this
rambling summary and wife Sharon meandered back through Ures and Fronteras (the
latter town was at or very near Anza’s birthplace but I could not guess where the
presidio was).  Even the crossing at Douglas was congested, taking some 30 – 40
minutes.  It was a very pleasant drive and worth every extra mile.

Attendees as they signed in:  Margie and Lou Fullen; Susan and Philip Felix; Yolanda
Duron; Diana and Bernard Arias; Narrisa Espinoza; Stella and Bob Cardoza; Rosa A
Molina; Rosalie W Byard; Elizabeth Stewart; Jack Carlson; Stanley Bond; Ron Quinn;
Don Garate; Joe and Sharon Myers.  Present but didn’t sign in:  Eduardo Robinson;
Linda Rushton; Lee Davis and any others???  The attendees would like to join in a
THANK YOU to Linda and Eduardo for their trips in advance to Hermosilla and all the
work that went into the conference.  Meals and lodging were top rate, and I think every
one had a great time.