I currently have columns running in 3 newspapers;
- Tri-Valley Herald : Looking Back
- Valley Times : Do You Remember?
- The Independent : Do You Remember?
The Articles appear in the Herald and Independent on Thursdays,
and the Times on Sundays.
They will also be found on this page each week as well.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.
Anza Expedition was re-enacted 30 years ago
By Barry Schrader.................................March
Dudley Cantua, my Heritage Estates neighbor and longtime friend, brought
me a new book recently detailing the adventures of the Anza expedition that
explored the East Bay, including the Tri-Valley, in April 1776. Its title
is A Guide to the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.
Dudley, a seventh generation Californian and prominent in Los Californianos,
played a role in the 200th anniversary observance of that expedition on
April 4, 1976 when he served as the official greeter to the Anza Re-enactment
riders as they entered our valley.
Coincidentally occurring during our nations Bicentennial, this
retracing of the Spanish explorers trail was given considerable funding
and media attention 30 years ago this month. The Alameda County Bicentennial
Commission, headed by Marie Cronin of Dublin, had the Anza party military
outfits reproduced, including the leather shields, coats, and leggings.
The re-enacters, led by prominent equestrian George Cardinet of Concord,
followed the original route as closely as possible, considering all the
freeways and high rises that have gotten in the way since 1776.
Concentrating only on the Livermore Valley part of the route, I can
relate some of the details from the diary of Father Font, who was part of
the 20-person expedition, as well as from the more recent publications from
1976 and 2006. Their exploration of the Bay Area began at Monterey on March
23, 1776 with Anza, Font and 11 soldiers, plus muleteers and servants (local
Indians). The trek ended back where it began on April 8.
After following SF Bay up to Contra Costa County, passing through what
is today Fremont, Oakland, Berkeley and then down this way from Oakley and
Brentwood, they came upon the Livermore Valley near Patterson Pass and Midway
roads then to Tesla Road and on south. On the night of April 4 they camped
in the Livermore Valley, the exact location still a mystery. In his diary
Father Font wrote: We came to some bare hills
. From the top
of them we saw at our right a spacious valley (Livermore) formed by the
hills we were crossing
. We descended from the top of the hills (now
Patterson Pass) . We continued through them for about two leagues (five
miles) to the southwest and entered other hills
.Having traveled through
them some two leagues to the south-southwest we halted on a small elevation
near a canada in which a little water was found.
Back in 1976 local historian and Anza scholar Janet Newton drove out
Tesla Road where she thought they may have crossed that part of the valley.
There it was decided to place the Anza monument (11 miles out Tesla from
the former library on South Livermore Avenue). Then the Tri-Valley Exchange
Club constructed the square cement block with the two plaques embedded on
top. The official Anza plaque remains, but the smaller Exchange marker has
been pried out and stolen by vandals. The night of April 4 Boy Scout Troop
999 from Livermore camped nearby on the property of the late Gatzmer Wagoner,
within sight of the old town of Tesla. The scouts took part in greeting
the Anza party riders the next day and helped dedicate the monument. Then
the horses and riders were shuttled into Livermore for a second ceremony
at the old library where another monument and plaque remain today, directly
behind the (later) burial site of the citys Millennium Time Capsule,
not far from the Livermore Peace Monument.
Now heres the latest twist to the mystery surrounding the April
4, 1776 camp location (known as Campsite 102). Longtime valley ranch family
member Henrietta Greer called to say she may have the answer to the camp
location. So Dick Finn and I accompanied her up Flinn Road to property she
and her late husband Tom once owned, now the Paul and Sheila (Cardoza) Fagliano
Ranch. In the early 1960s the late Dr. Chesley Bush, head of the Arroyo
Sanitarium and a student of Anza history, came to the Greers ranch
for a visit and declared This has got to be the location of Anzas
camp. He had studied the Font diary in Spanish housed at the Bancroft
library and said by the detailed description of the site, which included
some poplar trees and natural springs, it looked like the same place, since
there are no springs similar to that spot in the surrounding hills. Fagliano
showed us where the four springs were now routed into a large pipe buried
vertically 20 feet into the ground near his house. And the poplar trees
are still there.
This mystery has to be turned over to an outside expert, so National
Park Service ranger Margaret Styles is a likely candidate. She spent five
years as the ranger in charge of Tao House, the Eugene ONeill National
Historic Site, and is now assigned to the Juan Bautista de Anza National
Historic Trail office headquartered in Oakland.
Some people ask why the Anza trail is important in our history. I quote
the Anza Trail guidebook author Greg Smestad who wrote: It allows
one to realize that California was settled long before the Gold Rush (1849)
and even before the United States was an independent country...there was
the Spanish empire that sought to extend her settled possessions beyond
her northern-most frontier. This was the reason for the expeditions of Anza,
who was serving his king, Carlos III of Spain. Many races were represented
by the people Anza brought to California in 1775-1776: Spanish born in Spain,
Spanish born in the New World, Indian, Indian-Hispanic mixtures and African-Hispanic
mixtures. These people obviously believed that the new land in California
would bring them new and better opportunities.
* * *
A postscript to the last three columns on Midway School: The Lammersville
School, now restored and relocated in a park in Tracy (you can see it on
the right along the freeway as you drive east), is a twin to Midway, built
around the same time and using the same blueprints evidently, but Lammersville
is about two feet larger on each side. Also, thanks to Ann Freismans
son, Mike Schofield of Livermore, who came up with several old photos of
the school and its students taken when his mother taught there from 1938
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551