13th Annual International Conference Report
by Joe Myers
The 13th annual conference is now history. It was held the 2nd weekend in March, 2008 (6th through the 9th) at the Presidio de Santa Barbara, California, to celebrate the life and times of Juan Bautista de Anza.
On Thursday evening, the board hosted attendees from CA, AZ, NM, CO… with cheese, veggies and fruit and some soft drinks and wine from 6 to 8 P.M. at the Presidio. Wonderful entertainment was provided by Elizabeth Hvolboll and Luis Moreno, singing “early” California songs in the chapel. My favorite was their version of the Alabado that father Font said he sang each morning in 1775-76 to get the expedition under way. Lift your heart in joy and exalt Him…..
The actual meeting began Friday morning with a welcome by the outgoing president and meeting coordinator Linda Rushton. She announced there were sign up sheets for the dinners (on your own) for the two nights and then briefed us about the tours and activities coming up, as well as the board meeting to be held at the hotel Saturday morning at 8 A.M.
Jarrell Jackman, executive director of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation for 28 years then welcomed the group. He had a surprise announcement – we were all invited to their Old Archeological Site for an event in the evening (at the Casa de la Guerra) to celebrate the Sacred Steps: Pilgrimage on the Camino De Santiago. People from around the world that had walked some or all the pilgrimage route in Spain were in Santa Barbara and there was a reception from 4:30 to 6:30 pm. The event was sponsored by the Xunta de
Galicia, Spain and its Office of Tourism and hosted by the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.
Joe Myers, Durango CO, opened the presentation part of the session with a series of slides about the history of the historians of Anza and especially their comments about the expedition route in 1775-6, from Bancroft in 1886 to Bolton in 1930. The emphasis was on the areas they disagreed on – when they wrote about where the expedition actually traveled.
G. Donald Kucera, Tucson AZ, presented on two separate activities. He had been at San Xavier del Bac south of Tucson in 1775-6 during the bicentennial celebrations and had taken a series of slides, capturing the mounted soldiers in costume, along with Anza (that role had been played by Yginio Aguirre in his late 60’s and now still going strong at age 98). The group were re-enacting Anza and the expedition and they rode their horses at select places in Arizona before reaching Yuma and turning the “mailbag and documents” over to the California group.
Don had also attended the first meeting held in Tucson by the first National Park Service trail director, Meredith Kaplan, back in the 1990s and became a 15+ year volunteer, working on the Anza Trail in Pima County in Arizona. Pima County currently has a very aggressive program funded by contributions and bonds and it is being run by the county; there is trail being built as this material is being written. He explained the status of the trail in Arizona including efforts in another very active county is the southern most, Santa Cruz. They have a very dedicated group actually building trail themselves.
Ron Quinn, California, gave a presentation about the ship lost during the Portola expedition in 1769. Many history buffs remember the ship that was called the San Jose. It had been sent with supplies for the expedition and just disappeared. Ron noted three ships had been sent; the 1st ship with supplies took 110 days to reach San Diego and nearly everyone aboard was deathly ill or dead. The 2nd ship made it from San Blas in only 55 days and the people on board were generally ill but still alive. The 3rd ship never arrived and it has been a mystery for over 200 years.
Ron described the situation where a Hungarian named Paul Schomaker did some excavations on Santa Catalina in the 1870s and Mara Daily recently found some records about what was actually on the ship and is guessing the lost ship made it to Santa Catalina, based on some items described by Paul. Ron said he attended a talk by Mara and had permission to describe in general terms what was leading Mara on her search. There
will certainly be more coming out on this fascinating topic.
Stan Bond, superintendent of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, gave us an update on the current activities of his small staff of 2+ people. It was hard to believe they have so many things going on but Stan said he was adding a part time person in the Santa Barbara area (I think her name is Sally); she is apparently being borrowed part time from her current job to help coordinate some trail activities. In addition to a number of displays they are coordinating in different locations in AZ and CA (paintings by Rickman were commissioned about 7 years ago and will be part of the displays), they are working on a documentary with Larry Marshall in AZ that will be 10-15 minutes long and can be distributed at no cost to class rooms. Stan also explained a couple of joint projects with Mexico, plus a program he termed teacher-ranger-teacher where four teachers can be hired to work as seasonal employees at a site in CA and then return to the classroom. He noted they also have money for a Historic Resources Study that Lee Davis was helping with but he said Lee has been ill. Many of you remember Lee from past Anza Conferences and we all wish a speedy recovery for her. Stan has plans to hire an additional person in Oakland to help coordinate the activities of some 200 volunteers. He said over 10,000 hours were logged last year by the volunteers.
Lunch was on our own and attendees scattered into the nearby cafes in Santa Barbara. What a neat place for a meeting.
After the lunch break, Vie Obern, dressed in Spanish Colonial costume, presented her slides on the same topic that Don Kucera had shown earlier, except her slides were on the California portion of the 1976 bicentennial re-enactment. She said she participated and the group rode horses in California from Ventura to San Francisco. This means the group actually covered about 400 miles of the 1200 miles in the United States. The horsemen in Arizona only rode horses in a few locations and did not attempt to ride the 320 miles of trail in Arizona (it didn’t exist as a trail then but was only a gleam in the eye of some of the people). Vie said the person playing the role of Anza changed in California – county by county. She had many pictures and very interesting comments about their expedition of 1976.
At some point in the afternoon Meredith Kaplan (former superintendent of the Anza trail and now retired) dropped by for a portion of the meeting. I didn’t have a chance to meet her but perhaps she was there for the Sacred Steps gathering. She was well known to most of our society members; many had a chance to say hello to her and commented later it was wonderful to see her again.
Vladimir Guerrero was our key note speaker. He recently published a book about four key individuals, Anza, father Garces, the Native American leader Palma and the accidental guide Sebastian entitled The Anza Trail and the Settling of California. Vladimir focused his talk on race, caste and language in early Spanish California. He explained that caste implied a group of people with the same rank, economic status, morals, race, etc. and was easy to identify. Unlike genes which can’t be altered, a person could change caste status.
An example he gave was that a “Mestizo” (50:50 mixture of Spanish and Native American) in Sonora could be an “Espanol” in Monterey, CA. There was for me at least a little confusion about crossover with some titles and terms like Gente de Razon. The talk was very interesting and thought provoking; it prompted a lot of questions and discussion.
Next Mike Imwalle, the presidio archeologist, made a presentation about the presidio and explained the background for the tour the following day. He noted he had been working on the site for 21 years. He presented a great deal of detail about their reconstruction/preservation efforts and his talk could only have been given by a person extremely knowledgeable and with hands-on experience in the trenches. It was amusing to hear him tell how padres and soldiers, but mostly the Chumash Indians, built the chapel in about 5 years and today they have already taken some 30 years to restore it. What an outstanding effort though. I learned the best adobe comes from 60% sand, the rest equal parts of silt and clay.
Dinner was again on our own, at another nearby and excellent Santa Barbara restaurant, Playa Azul Cafe.
The next day was filled with additional activities. Our board met at 8 A.M. The new officers are Joe Myers (president), Lou Fullen (vice president), Sharon Myers (treasurer) and Ron Quinn (secretary). Officers normally serve two year terms and Sharon has helped for about a year now, since Phil Valdez resigned as treasurer just before the 12th annual conference. If you are reading this Phil, we hope you finish teaching and your further education efforts soon and become active again. If any other reader is interested in a role on the board, please contact one of the above members.
At 10 A.M. we were back at the Presidio and went on a two hour tour led by Mike Imwalle. We got to see many items of interest, including lead musket balls and even an iron one which they uncovered at the site (I haven’t given up trying to find an iron musket ball at the battle between Anza and the Comanche leader Cuerno Verde in CO in 1779). The tour through the different buildings with Mike’s explanation was extremely interesting, as well as the area with their books and maps. After lunch, it was back to the Presidio for another
treat. In the early afternoon, Mike Hardwick arranged for a group of presidio soldiers (Los Soldados) to march up with drum and bugle playing (same soldier) and they conducted a flag raising/musket firing ceremony, plus they were in full uniform. It was a scene right out of 200 years ago.
Later in the afternoon we all went to the Santa Barbara Mission a few miles away and had another tour. The mission is another “must see” for anyone traveling along the coast. Dinner that evening was all together at a Chinese Restaurant and the conference ended with several of the group going to a local hot spot for ice cream. Many thanks again to Linda Rushton for all her work. Stella Cardoza and Ron Quinn started the ball rolling in Santa Barbara, and they assisted Linda when needed. I thought it was an outstanding event.
We missed board member Lou Fullen and Margie from Texas; Lou had to cancel at the last minute due to a medical issue. We also missed our modern day Anza, Don Garate. I did see that the paper he presented at Yuma two years ago is now in print in The Journal of AZ History, summer 2007, entitled: Wenceslao (Three-Fingered Jack) Loustaunau: Blacksmith with a Cause.
I hope I will be forgiven if I left someone out or misconstrued information. I want to thank once again the staff at the Presidio and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.