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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

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.

Archive Page

Anza Expedition was re-enacted 30 years ago

By Barry Schrader.................................March 30, 2006

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 nation’s Bicentennial, this retracing of the Spanish explorer’s 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 city’s Millennium Time Capsule, not far from the Livermore Peace Monument.

Now here’s 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 Anza’s 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 O’Neill 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.”

 

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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 Freisman’s 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 to 1942.

 

The columnist can be reached via email at :

Historian2sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551

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