Feasts at the Fort

John Sutter’s wilderness trading post attracted a number of adventurers. By August 1840 he could boast that he had 20 men in his employ, at a time when his settlement was hardly more than a way-station. He arranged fur trapping brigades, and hired clerks, cooks, blacksmiths, and other tradesmen.  Over the years 1839 – 1849, the cooks at Sutter’s Fort included William Daylor, John Continue reading Feasts at the Fort

The Rise of Sutter’s Fort

John Sutter landed along the banks of the American River in August 1839, accompanied by a small, but loyal crew of Hawaiians and Germans he hired during his sojourn in the Islands.  The first order of business was to construct shelter. About a mile south of the river landing place, on a knoll that rose above the flat valley floor, the Hawaiian workmen constructed a Continue reading The Rise of Sutter’s Fort

Christmas in Mexican California

Secularization of the California missions (taking control away from the Catholic Church in favor of private ownership) began in 1834, after the Mexican government decided that they could no longer afford to support the mission system. At Christmastime, however, the centuries-long, deeply ingrained and much beloved Continue reading Christmas in Mexican California

General Mariano Vallejo

Long before the United States acquired California from Mexico, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo was already an important man. Born in Monterey to an aristocratic Spanish family 15 years before Mexico achieved its independence from Spain and assumed control of California, he was educated by tutors and maintained a love of Continue reading General Mariano Vallejo

Mexico Acquires California

Mexican flagMexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821—in general (though the specifics were different) for much the same political and economic reasons our Thirteen Colonies declared their independence from England in 1776. The new Republic of Mexico acquired Spain’s former conquests extending from coastal Continue reading Mexico Acquires California