The Discovery and Early Explorations of Baja California - San Diego History Center | San Diego, California | Our city, our history (2023)

The San Diego Journal of History
January 1965, Band 11, Number 1
Ray Brandes, editor

Von James R. Moriarty

The discovery and exploration of the Gulf of California was a byproduct of the personal and economic factors that motivated the adventurous Spanish soldiers of the 16th century. Expeditions led and financed by men like Cortés and Mendoza obtained information that was closely guarded. The policies of the Spanish Crown during this period allowed little or no disclosure of the information gleaned from these discoveries, and this political attitude was inevitably reflected in the lower echelons of the New World government. The resulting machinations gave rise to continual envy and rivalry among the leading figures leading the expeditions. Therefore, information about the new country and the results of the individual opening attempts were not exchanged, which explains the noticeable confusion and disorder in the records.

The discovery of the Gulf of California and the events that led to that discovery come from information that Hernán Cortés obtained by interviewing Aztec noblemen in Mexico City. By the end of 1519 he had accumulated enough knowledge of the gold-producing regions in the Tehuantepec Gulf area to be interested in ordering the occupation of that area.

Under Montezuma, a messenger system maintained established routes through the area, which was loosely controlled by the central government of the Aztec Empire. In the summer of 1520 a party sent by Cortés and led by some of these messengers reached the Pacific at the mouth of the Balsas River in Oaxaca. After a series of punitive expeditions, both Colima and Zacátula were occupied in 1524, and some expeditions explored as far north as the Río Grande de Jalisco. Later, around 1530, Acapulco was colonized. In 1530 Cortés returned to Spain.

Nuño de Guzmán's arrival on the Pacific coast during Cortés's absence prompted further exploration north along the coast. On June 5, 1530, Guzmán reached the Río Grande in Nayarit in the north and a week later discovered the Río San Pedro near Tuxpan. Nuño de Guzmán was apparently susceptible to the rumors and mythologies prevalent among the conquistadors of the time. We know from his expedition reports that he expected to find the kingdom of the Amazons just north of the San Pedro River in Astatlán. He was probably influenced in this incredible anticipation by a publication by Garcí Ordónez de Montalvo entitled Las Sergas de Esplandian (The Heroic Deeds of Esplandian), first printed in 1510. This novel arose from De Montalvo Gaul's translation of Amadis. In the story, Esplandián, son of Amadis, lives many strange adventures, including meeting the Amazons.

None of this would matter if the de Montalvo story weren't the first time the name "California" had appeared in print. As de Montalvo's story was extremely popular and saw many editions throughout the fifteenth century, it was familiar to any educated Spaniard of the day. It should be noted that the name California appears in many places in the book, for example, Sergas, ch. 157:

Know that to the right of India, very close to the earthly paradise, there is an island called California, which was populated by black women without a single man among them. because they were used to living in the way of the Amazons. . . On this island called California there are many griffins because of the wildness of the land and the vast amount of game there. . . Now, at the time when these great men of the pagans sailed (against Constantinople) in those great fleets of which I have spoken to you, in that land of California there reigned a queen of great body, very beautiful, in the flower of her age. . years... .

In his memoirs, Captain Bernal Díaz del Castillo also used the name California. He wrote: "Cortés sailed again from Santa Cruz and discovered the California coast."

These two references form the oldest documentation of the name California. However, it is likely that it was a common name among conquistadors before 1530. At this point it should be noted that the origin of the name California was disputed among many people. The possible theories about its origin range from the absurd to the gymnastics of highly complex language. As an example, one theory was based on interpreting the word California in Latin ashot oven, which means "hot oven". There is no recorded instance of Cort4s naming it based on a Latin derivation. Another theory is that the name is based on an Indian word meaning "a high hill", but the researcher has not been able to prove this in any of the known Indian dialects. Perhaps most fantastic is the suggestion that California is named after a priest, Father "Cal y Fornia"; However, no documents containing any reference to this imaginary holy man have ever been found. The solution to the problem was given by the Reverend Edward Everett Hale. Reverend Hale discussed the origin of the name California in a paper he read before the American Antiquarian Society in Boston on April 30, 1862. It is interesting that he based his conclusions on the novel.The Sergas de Esplandiandiscussed above.1

During Nuño de Guzmán's raids north of Acapulco, Cortés was returning from Spain, where he had received an unfavorable reception at court. Cortés now realized that several men as capable as himself were seriously challenging his rights to exclusive control of the northern parts of Mexico. In order to advance his own position more quickly and ensure he reached unknown territory before his rivals, he took a new approach, this time by sea. In the years 1530-32 he began to collect material and funds and to hire personnel for the exploration of the seas.

In 1532, Cortés had equipped two ships thatSao Miguelis inSaint Mark. He put the two under the command of Captain Diego Hurtado de Mendoza. The ships left the port of Acapulco and headed north towards the port of Jalisco. When Mendoza wanted to enter this port to obtain drinking water, he was prevented from doing so by Cortés' enemy, Nuño de Guzmán. The expedition continued along the coast with little water. Part of the crew mutinied and as a consequence Mendoza was forced to hand over one of the ships to the mutineers, with which they intended to return to New Spain. The ship carrying the mutineers turned south and soon had to dock on the beach to fetch water. As the Indians in this area were subject to the usual Spanish mistreatment (probably from patrols sent by de Guzmán for the purpose of exploitation and enslavement), they attacked the mutineers, killing all but two. The two surviving crewmen apparently fought their way out and made it safely to one of de Guzmán's outposts. Meanwhile, Hurtado de Mendoza continued further north, perhaps reaching Sinaloa just beyond the Río del Fuerte. He was never heard from again and it is likely that he and his men were killed by Indians somewhere in this area.

Cortés sent two more ships with the order: "Avenge the dead, find and help the living (if any) and learn the secret and end of this coast." The ships were commanded by Captain Diego de Becerra and Hernando de Grijalva. Shortly after their departure, the ships parted ways, Becerra tacking north as ordered and Grijalva tacking south. Del Castillo describes Becerra as an arrogant man with an authoritarian temperament. Apparently Grijalva couldn't take it. Becerra was killed by his own crew; Consequently, there is now no positive information about the extent of his exploration to the north. It is known that on December 10, 1533, shortly after the ships set sail from somewhere off the coast of Colima, the pilot Fuerte An Ximénez de Bertandona led a mutiny against Captain Becerra. The mutineers led by Ximénez wounded most of the officers and killed the captain. The pilot then took command of the vehicle and landed. He ordered the crew to remove the wounded, leaving them in the care of three Franciscan friars who were part of the ship's original staff. Under the command of Ximénez, the mutineers sailed in a northwesterly direction. There are no reliable sources of information about what happened next. We know that the ship probably returned to its home port in the early months of 1534 with only a few surviving crew members. Cortés questioned them carefully, but it is not recorded what punishment they received, if any.

The survivors told a very moving story about the discovery of a new land. After dropping off the wounded, they said, they sailed northwest.2According to the story, after a few days of good sailing, the ship sighted a strange shore, and they followed it, landing here and there, until they came to a good port. Here they anchored and explored the area for a few days. This port was probably north of Cabo Pulmo on the Baja California peninsula. The sailors told about the discovery of pearls, but how it happened was not recorded. They may have contacted local Indians and traded in pearls. They further reported that the Indians became angry and killed Ximénez and most of the mutineers. The few survivors then set sail and returned to a port on the mainland, where they disembarked on the coast of Nueva Galicia. There, Governor De Guzmán immediately confiscated the ship. De Guzmán suggested using it for a voyage of discovery. Cortés immediately searched thePublic(the official court of the Crown in Mexico City) to force De Guzmán to return the ship. The Audiencia prohibited Guzmán from voyages of discovery and Cortés recovered the ship from him.

In April 1535, presumably based on reports of the ill-fated Ximénez expedition, Cortés sailed directly to the southeastern tip of the Baja California peninsula. (See Fig. 1) In Puerto de la Paz* (Santa Cruz, as he called it) he tried to establish a colony. From here he sent out a series of overland expeditions, one of which may have reached the west side of the peninsula around the 25th parallel.o. The expedition had been in Baja for several months when Francisco de Ulloa arrived in La Paz or Santa Cruz with letters from Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza to Cortés. When the Audiencia ruled against Nuño De Guzmán's new trip, it also prohibited Cortés from making a trip. The recalcitrant Cortés ignored this decision and established a colony in La Paz. The letters are believed to have been orders for Cortés to return and answer the charges.

Everything went wrong in the La Paz neighborhood. The deal fell through from the start. The biggest problem was logistics. To save the situation, several trips were made through the Gulf. These were mainly oriented towards the acquisition of supplies and the transport of settlers to La Paz. The dangers of such a journey were great. On the second voyage, one ship was wrecked and another, commanded by Hernando de Grijalva, was unable to return to Baja. When the pilot of Cortés' ship was killed during a storm, Cortés took the helm and managed to get the ship to La Paz. On his return he found twenty-three starving colonists and the survivors cursing his name. With the remaining ship he returned to the mainland for relief. By 1536 it was clear to all that the colony was a failure, and Cortés was no doubt glad to be recalled. After receiving the letters, he put Ulloa in command of the colony and rushed to Acapulco. It was not long before Ulloa returned with what was left of the colony.

As late as 1536, the frontiers of exploration remained virtually where they were after the Ximénez discoveries. The year 1536 brought to the historical stage one of the most dramatic and remarkable achievements of the Conquest. From what is now northern Sonora came the Spaniard Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and his companions. The story told by these men rekindled the enthusiasm to continue exploring the north. It is an epic survival drama. Cabeza de Vaca and his companions traveled most of what is now the southwestern United States and northern Mexico on a six-year pilgrimage. Cortés met these vagabonds, honored them, and gave them clothing, shelter, and money. He no doubt listened to their stories with great interest. De Vaca and his companions spoke of large communities in the lands to the north and northeast, with cities and wealth that he found hard to believe. Cortés and the others had good reason to believe these stories. By this time they had already been informed of the wonders discovered during the conquest of Peru. However, before the government accepted the claims, it required the submission and documentation of a variety of information: proposals and priority documents. Men like Cortés resented this bureaucratic obstacle to the Spanish colonial regime.

At the end of 1538, Cortés began to prepare ships for a new expedition. In the spring of 1539, Viceroy Mendoza sent Fray Marcos de Nice north to explore the regions beyond the city of Culiacón, presumably to confirm de Vaca's story. At the same time, Cortés had three ships ready in the port of Acapulco. Francisco de Ulloa, a friend and lieutenant of Cortés, received command and set sail from Acapulco on July 8, 1539. Thus, Ulloa had the honor of discovering the Gulf of California.

Although there is no record of the expedition's purpose or instructions for Ulloa, it is likely that the mission was intended to survey the continent's coastline as far north-west as possible while searching for a safe and easy route to Asia. The Santa Cruz (La Paz Port) area was initially ignored by everyone, probably because it was only meant to be an island off the coast.3(Ver Abb. 2).

Francisco Ulloa's travelogue remains with us and is a wonderful story in its own right. With the three ships in the convoy, he sailed northwest parallel to the coast in fair weather. The ships of the Invincible Armada were the Santa Águeda, thetrinidad, It's inSt Thomas, 120 tons, 35 tons and 20 tons respectively. The crossing to the north of the port of Acapulco was carried out at full steam and with good winds in the first week. The coast along the way was familiar to the travelers, some of them having made the trip north from Acapulco many times. The weather remained fine until July 16, when a violent storm came in from the northwest. Within a few hours most of the main gear was removed from the three ships and the expedition was seriously threatened. Morning found her severely disabled. with the seams ofSt ThomasHaving jumped below the waterline, he lay deep in the water. Ulloa sent the ships' crews to work, salvaging as many sails and ropes as possible that had been passed through the planks but were still attached to the rigging and floating above the ships. He put on the jury's outfit and headed for Puerto de Santiago de la Buena Esperanza-a small port in the Port of Manzanillo.

The small fleet arrived there on Sunday, July 27. 26 days were spent in port refitting and running the ships aground. On August 23, the expedition left port and, sailing well, headed north along the coast. Four days later, about fifteen miles4another storm broke north of the Três Marias Islands. The ships were far from land and when the storm came, Ulloa tried to keep the ships together. EITHERSt Thomasit began to take on water again and the crew feared that it would sink. Ulloa greeted them with words of encouragement and tried to keep them from abandoning the small boat and her irreplaceable supplies. He ordered them to plan towards the port of La Paz (Santa Cruz).

No doubt Ulloa realized that with a ship so damaged he could never hold them together during the storm. When ordering theSt Thomasat the rendezvous in La Paz, he offered the ship's crew their best chance of survival. Left to his own devices, the captain of theSt Thomashe would probably have tried to take the ship to El Guayaval on the west coast of Mexico near Astatlán where the storm would surely have wrecked the ship on that inhospitable coast.

He realized that he had done all he couldSt ThomasUlloa prepared the two remaining ships for the storm. He brought both ships upwind, landed during the storm and in the morning headed west-northwest towards La Paz, in doing so the admiral demonstrated a good command of the best principles of navigation. The following day, the two ships approached the latitude of La Paz, the crossing was relatively calm and on August 31 they sighted the islands of Cerralbo and Espírito Santo. EITHERSt Thomashe was not at the rendezvous and Ulloa, opting to wait, sent parties ashore to investigate Cortés's old camp. Scouting parties were sent out to see if it was possible to contact the residents. Smoke was observed near the old camp, but the ground crew discovered only ruins. Apparently, the Indians burned everything to take revenge for the abuses during previous occupations. Ulloa remained in port until September 10. He apparently decided that the captain of theSt Thomashe had disobeyed his orders, because after this brief stay he set sail again, crossing the Gulf and two days later arriving at the mouth of the San Juan and San Pablo River (Sinaloa River). He states in his record that he was searched in this neighborhood.St Thomas. It seems likely that this location was an alternate rendezvous point.

Ulloa's actions at this time seem to indicate that he had no information about the overland expeditions that took place between 1533 and 1539. In fact, Ulloa must have been aware of the advances of Nuño de Guzmán, which extended some distance to the north. from Culiacon. It is likely that his loyalty to Cortés led him to ignore Guzmán's claims. Upon disembarking he had the expedition's registrar Pedro de Palencia make the following statements in the presence of witnesses:

I, Pedro de Palencia, Notary of this Armada, truly attest to all those in whose eyes these gifts come (that God our Lord honors and preserves from evil), that on September 10, 1539, the The magnificent Mr. Francisco de Ulloa, lieutenant governor and captain of this fleet of the most famous Mr. Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca, came from the San Pedro and San Pablo river, which is located at the 26th parallel 1.2 degrees on the coast of this New Spain , to the north of Caliacán, and asked me, the said notary, to testify that in the said Cape San Pedro and San Pablo he made his exploration with this fleet for the famous Mr. Marqués del Vallo in the name of the Emperor, our Master and King of Castile.

Present as witnesses were the Venerable Father of the Order of San Francisco, Fray Pedro de Ariche; and Francisco Preciado and Pedro de Busto and Martín de Espinoza belonging to this fleet.

Done on the day, month and year mentioned above.

And I, Pedro de Palencia, notary of this fleet, attest to what happened in my presence and finally I have this my notary point here to attest to the truth.

Pedro de Palencia, notary public.

Martin von Spinoza. Francisco Preciado.

It should be noted that the above statement is not an act of possession. It seems to indicate that Ulloa recognizes this area as the northernmost under Nuño de Guzmán. As mentioned above, he either was unaware of Guzmán's expeditions north of here in 1533, or he refused to acknowledge them. With his testimony, he indicated that he intended to begin the voyage of discovery at the mouth of the Sinaloa River.

At this point, the expedition had been on the trail for about three months. Ulloa left the estuary and sailed off the chart into the pristine waters of the Gulf of California.

In these enlightened days, when every child has a pretty good idea of ​​the general location of the land masses on this planet, it is difficult to adjust to the conceptions of geography of Francisco Ulloa's time. These early explorers brought with them an incredible amount of superstitions and historical errors, some of which date back to the ancient Greeks. His idea of ​​the size of the globe can be traced back directly to a mathematical error made by Ptolemy and the mistake of Portuguese navigators in calculating the distance between the Cape of Good Hope and Malacca. In 1524, the cartographer Schöner calculated Mexico City as 50odue to those old miscalculations west of its true longitude. Until an accurate marine chronometer was developed, longitude determination would remain the most serious navigational problem. It is interesting to note that as late as 1740, when Lord Anson undertook his famous expedition, there were only three accurate chronometers in England, and although Anson tried hard to get one, he could not. The value of a stopwatch is that it allows the mariner to calculate the length of the stopwatch by looking at the time differences between two fixed time locations. Unfortunately, chronometers that would be useful at sea had not yet been invented in the 15th century. Early explorers determined their longitudinal differences in two ways: first, by observing lunar eclipses at different locations; and second, the method used by Ulloa to calculate the distances and headings that were shipwrecked. Consequently, since the path assumed an already incorrect length, his subsequent calculations only perpetuated the error.

The Latitude location was a bit less of an issue. Ulloa's navigation error when leaving the mouth of the Sinaloa River was greater by one and a half degrees of latitude; but the error of latitude from him when he reached the inlet at the head of the Gulf of California was about two degrees. For distances he used the Spanish league, which was generally 17.5 leagues per degree. But Ulloa, who may prefer round numbers, seems to have spent twenty leagues on that measure. With no real standards set during this period, seafarers often developed arbitrary standards for their own voyages. (See Fig. 3).

There is little evidence of the use of navigational instruments in most of these early newspapers, since sailors were rarely writers in those days. However, Ulloa did mention the sailor's use of the astrolabe. This was a circular metal implement, about six inches in diameter, and highly graduated in circumference. At a central point an allidade, or aiming rule, was attached. The instrument hung freely from a swivel thumb rest. It fulfilled a single function: that of measuring altitude. A much simpler instrument was the crossbar. (Figure 4). This instrument was first described by the Jewish scholar Levi ben Gerson in the 14th century. It served the same purpose as the astrolabe. The sailors' astrolabe appears to have been invented around 1535. The astronomical astrolabe was extremely large and heavy, and although it had been used at sea before, it was far from practical for use on board ships.

When the Ulloa expedition was about eight miles from the Sinaloa River, the crew noticed a change in the color of the water. When they tested the water, they found that it was much less salty than normal seawater. As they got closer to the coast, they discovered a large river which they named Río de Nuestra Señora (Rio Fuerte). Residents of the area marked the ship with smoke, but Ulloa probably knew that the Indians of that region had killed Hurtado and his crew and therefore refused to go ashore. Instead he proceeded some sixteen leagues beyond the mouth of the river and came to a large bay; but he found the water so shallow (from a fathom to a fathom and a half deep) that he could not approach it more than two miles. At this point, he put a ship's boat overboard to survey the area near the coast. Ulloa described that the bay has three main estuaries and said that he called them Los Esteros de la Cruz. It must have been the bay south of the Rio Mayo estuary. Today it has relatively deep water just offshore and appears to be navigable on charts. There is evidence that the Río Mayo carried more water and sediment during this period than it does today.

On September 19, after advancing about twenty-five miles beyond the Mayo River, the party discovered another large river. Again a discoloration of the water was observed and the boats headed for the port of Guaymas. This area was called Puerto de las Puertos. A landing was made and several Indian camps were discovered. The country was described as very poor. Ulloa took possession of the Spanish crown in the name of Cortés. As the weather was fair and the wind favourable, he soon set sail again the same day. Ulloa describes the sea as very shallow along its route from the Sinaloa River to Guaymas, stating that it averaged eight to fifteen fathoms. Seventeen miles later he noticed a small island that was probably Ilha Vela Pedro Nolasco. Approaching from the southeast and jutting out from the coast, he saw Shark Island. He no doubt noticed that the sea was getting shallower as they turned north and he accordingly headed northwest, passing Tiburon on the starboard side. From his account, he seems to have thought that Tiburon was part of the mainland. He describes San Estöban Island on the port side and San Lorenzo Island as small islands at the entrance to a strait. He called Calle San Miguel. He describes the strait as being very deep and bounded on the port side by a large uninhabited island about twelve miles long and four miles wide (Guardian Angel Island). The ships continued due north about thirty miles, and approached some tall, sharp crags, which were very white in color, probably from deposits of bird-droppings, and because they shone so brightly in the sun he called them The Diamonds. the diamonds). This was probably San Jorge Island.

Four or five miles beyond San Jorge Island they found fresh water again. Accidentally reaching the creek at the head of the Gulf of California, the expedition had seen evidence of the Colorado River for the first time. Here, in the words of Ulloa himself, is the first description of the upper reaches of the Gulf of California:

Four or five miles behind them (Isla San Jorge) we began to find white water, like river water, and navigating through that water we saw land to the southwest, eight or nine miles from us. Thinking it was an island we went there to see and find out what it was. The closer we got to it, the shallower we got, to the point where we were four or five fathoms out and the sea turned all red and turned to mud. As the water we were in was shallow and murky, we dropped anchor to find a way to get closer to this land. We did not find him, nor could we approach him when we were more than two miles away. So that same day, when it was already late, we went back to the mainland to see if we could find deep water between this and this other land to follow.

We found a channel two miles from the mainland, eight fathoms deep, in which its two tides ran in sequence every twenty-four hours, high and low, without diminishing one iota, and with such a strong current that it was a marvel. It was dry at low tide, and at high tide it covered more than two miles between us and the mainland. We got anchored in this channel because it was too late to go on and see what this thing was and where it ended up the next day.

The next day, Monday, September 28, we wanted to continue, but at dawn, at low tide, we saw all the sea that we would have to cross, between land and land surrounded by shoals, and behind us we saw between one land and another. many mountain peaks, the bases of which we could not see due to the curvature of the earth. As we could not continue for these reasons, I landed on a nearby sandbar and took possession for the lordship of it. This done, we left this channel with the tide, and proceeded to the South-West, bypassing the land which we saw there, to continue our journey on the other side.

This bay and the reddish sea are 34o. We call it Ancón de San Andrés and Mar Bermeje because it is that color and we arrived on San Andrés day. It is 104 miles from El Puerto de los Puertos. The character of the land, this land that runs down to the sea, is poor. It may be because sixty miles beyond El Puerto de los Puertos there is very high ground, all stone, steep rocks, devoid of vegetation or greenery. The sea on these coasts is quite deep. The rest of the country, as far as Ancón de San Andrés and Mar Bermeje, is very flat land, all sand, and the sea is shallow a mile or two from the coast. In all those 104 leagues we have not seen a human being, not a trace of anyone. I don't think such a land can be inhabited. We embarked from Ancón de San Andrés and Mar Bermeje on Sunday, September 28, and we left from the southeast to circumnavigate the country, in which sense we had to find a way to the other side to continue our journey.

The navigation error in latitude when the expedition reached the head of the Gulf of California was 1.75obis 2,25o. The first was noted in the captain's log, and Palencia noted the second in hislaw of possession. Considering the hardships seafarers faced during this period, these numbers are quite remarkable. In a way, they demonstrate Ulloa's excellent skills as a sailor.

The decision to continue the expedition and continue along the south facing coast was undoubtedly a difficult decision. One of the main objectives of the voyages was undoubtedly the discovery of the strait between the "Island of California" and the mainland. The legendary "Anian Road" would be a gateway to wealth and fame. It was believed that it would open up a short and safe route to Cathay for their explorers and that they would, of course, greatly benefit from knowing its location. Hubert Howe Bancroft says, "Without this influence, it can almost be doubted that the Spanish occupation would have spread to Colima on the Pacific or Pánuco on the Atlantic in the late 16th or even the 17th century." Cortés himself affirms in one of his first letters to the King: "Your Majesty can be sure that, knowing how much the discovery of this great mystery of a strait holds in your heart, I will postpone all interests and projects on my part. , some of great importance, for the realization of this great effort”.

As early as 1524, the cartographer Johann Schöner created a largely imaginary globe showing Asia and the Americas united, according to Spanish information. Shortly after Columbus's initial discoveries, questions arose about the New World's connection to Asia. One view that they were separate was based on differences between what was known about Asia and Columbus's descriptions of the lands and peoples he had seen in the New World. Another faction noted that the northern Cathay lands were unexplored and that the great wealth beginning to flow out of Mexico compared favorably with Marco Polo's descriptions of Cathay. This latter point of view naturally prevailed, and with its general acceptance the basis for realistic exploration ceased.

Marco Polo described in his diary a great river that ran through the richest and most populated area of ​​Cathay. Surely Francisco de Ulloa must have been looking for this river. We will never know what influenced his decision to continue following the coast and stop trying to reach Colorado. The mere failure to carry out a thorough investigation only added substance to the mystery of the Anian Strait. For many years, geographers and cartographers persisted in plotting an imaginary course for the Colorado River and naming it the Coromara River, after Marco Polo's name for his river in China. As late as 1692, the geographer and cartographer Planicus used this legendary name on his map. Surely this is an excellent demonstration of the human capacity to ignore the facts when the dream is so much more attractive.

The travelers continued on a new course, generally heading south and east. After about thirty-six miles, what appeared to be smoke was sighted on land. This was taken as some kind of signal, and as the scouts were anxious to establish contact with the inhabitants of the area, the position of the signal was carefully noted and the ships headed directly for it. They traveled another four miles overnight and in the morning reached a large bay with a high sandy bay at its mouth (Baía de San Luis Gonzáles) and anchored there. A small boat was launched and Captain Ulloa, with some crew members, went to the place where the smoke had been sighted. As they neared the spot, they observed another sign rising high in the air. When they investigated, they were very surprised to find that it was not smoke and there were no people causing it. What they observed was a plume of dust caused by fine material being carried by the wind across a tall sand dune at the mouth of the bay. They spent a day exploring the bay, and since the land was extremely dry and arid, they weren't too surprised that no evidence of human habitation was found. Obsidian outcrops were observed, and Ulloa stated that it was the same material with which the natives of the Mexico City area made knives. The bay was of good depth, with a clean entrance and a clear bottom. It was called El Puerto de Los Lobos because thousands of sea lions were observed. That day, October 2, there were no significant incidents and they returned to the ship.

When the lookout dropped anchor that night, he saw a fire on the shore. At dawn the small boat returned to the beach with a landing party. When they approached the place where the light had appeared, the party found an old man and a young man with three or four children. As the young man prepared to defend the party with bow and arrow, the Spanish withdrew, landing slightly out of sight on the shoreline, circling inland and attempting to attack them from behind. The sailors managed to go unnoticed by a lasso that was behind the small group of Indians. They grabbed the old man, but the rest managed to escape. Ulloa describes her naked, with very short hair. Apparently, the Spanish brought an Indian from Santa Cruz (La Paz region). He talked to the old man, but they could not understand each other. Bolton states that Cortés returned to New Spain with two or three Indians captured in the La Paz area to train them as interpreters. Whether the interpreter employed here was one of these is not clear from Ulloa's report. However, it seems likely that this was the case. His inability to communicate with the old man is understandable. The Indians of La Paz spoke a dialect very different from that of the Cochimes who lived in the Puerto de Los Lobos area.

The Spanish found a small shelter in which the group lived and described it as woven grass without a roof. Apparently, the group was fishing and set up a makeshift camp. Nothing was found except fish. There were some braided lines and large hawksbill hooks that had been bent by heating them over a fire. Other books were made by attaching spines to small wooden posts. No pottery was seen. Drinking water was transported in containers made of sealed bladders. A raft was found and described as consisting of three bundles of tubes, each separately tied and then joined at the ends to form a boat-shaped raft, wider at the beam and moored securely at the bow and tail. Stern. Two small crude oars and a pole about three feet long were used to propel it. The old man's belongings were returned to him and he received some gifts and he was released. The shore party returned to the ship.

Ulloa apparently gave orders to the commander of thetrinidadthe night before, October 2, that the ships would leave at dawn. There was no opportunity to report thattrinidadon the light seen on the beach during the night, and accordingly weighed anchor on the morning of the 3rd and headed south. Ulloa thought that he was returning when he saw that his ship had not followed it, but it was not. He decided to continue the next day. He weighed anchor and hugged the shore, moving slowly so as not to lose it. On the third day thetrinidadwas sighted and Ulloa came over and ordered the crew not to be so careless in future.

Ten miles from El Puerto de Los Lobos they reached the island of Ángel de La Guarda. To the west of the island they anchored in a large bay (probably the Bay of Los Angeles). He received the name of San Marcos for the holy day, October 7. Its latitude was recorded at 30 1/2o, while in reality there are about 28o55′. Ulloa described it as twenty miles south of El Puerto de Los Lobos. While waiting for a favorable wind before continuing, they saw two coastal fires. They lowered the small boat and rowed out to where one of the fires had been seen. There they saw two Indians; tall men, naked and armed with bows and arrows. When the Spanish were sighted, the Indians took cover and apparently prepared for battle. The Spaniard hesitated. This gave the women and children who lived in two pens on high ground near the shoreline time to escape. When the families were safe, the two men also withdrew. The Spaniards examined the houses and observed the footprints of ten or twelve people. There was little of interest to find and no food. A small ceramic bowl was found and recognized to be similar to the pottery found at Santa Cruz. From this it was assumed that they were the same type of people who occupied the region of La Paz. Examination of the land near the camp showed that it was quite similar to the land they saw when they were coming down from Ancon.

The wind was contrary during the day and it was not until Wednesday, October 8, that they managed to move south again. Some eighteen miles to the south they anchored between the island of San Marcos and the mainland on Sunday, October 12. At dawn they saw a man on a reed raft approaching the ship. He watched them for a while, just out of the beast's reach, then called to some unseen companions on the beach. He quickly returned to shore and landed. Soon after he appeared with four other Indians, each on a raft, and they all turned about half their original distance and sat talking and looking at the Spanish ships. The Santa Cruz Indians did not understand their language. They tried to catch the most talkative Indian, because the Spaniards considered him the most important. He launched himself into a boat, but when he got close he dove into the water and swam and dove every time the men tried to reach him. He went on like this for over half an hour, wearing the damned sailors to the oars. Seemingly good-natured, he dodged all attempts to catch him.

Finally, the tired crew of the boat had to return to the ship. Some of the Indian's nimble companions rowed their rafts toward him and carried him ashore.

Eight to ten people were seen during the day, only two or three of whom appeared to be armed with bows and arrows. The ship was anchored all day, and the Indians were watched day and night on the 12th. The channel between the island and the mainland was called Pasaie de Belen (Bethlehem Passage). That's because the Indian they were trying to capture said the word "Belen!" he yelled he. several times to his companions. Uloa wrote:

Seeing that these people and those we had seen before were all of the same type and that this land and the Bay of Santa Cruz were also one, judging from the appearance of the people and the trend of the land and its appearance, and finds that We were so close to it, thinking that there probably couldn't be anything more important between it and our location, and we moved away from it in a southwesterly direction, weaving in and out as the obligatory shoreline. We weighed in from Pasaje de Belén on October 13 and arrived at the port and bay of Santa Cruz on the 19th of the same month.

This completed the first circumnavigation of the Gulf of California. Of course, the trip did not end with the return to Santa Cruz. Ulloa and his ships continued through the tip of Cabo San Lucas and to the island of Cedros. At Cedros, Ulloa sent a ship to report and then presumably sailed north to what would later become known as Bahía Sebastián Vizcaíno, where he and the ship are said to have disappeared. New evidence that has emerged in the last forty years makes this unlikely. The first strong indication is that among the hundreds of manuscripts of Spanish service records in Mexico before 1550, none known to this author designate Ulloa as lost. In fact, many of them were taken from men like Francisco de Terrazas, the expedition's inspector. He sure would have stayed with Ulloa. and he traveled north with the captain after the other ship returned. His report (unfortunately only the extract, the original has been lost) is dated when he returned. Also inLetters and other documents of Hernán Cortés, page 22, is a document drawn up in the form of an interrogation in Madrid in 1543, about the daughter of a certain Cordero. This Lamb was one of Cortés's pilots in his expeditions to Santa Cruz. Cortés claims that Ulloa kidnapped the girl (presumably without violence) and that if anyone wanted information about her they would have to get it from Francisco de Ulloa. It seems unlikely that Cortés was unaware of the death of his lieutenant, and the document's 1543 date implies that Ulloa was still alive and that Cortés knew it. A second clue is found in Diego de Homem's map of 1559. Some of the names appear in reverse order of dating (based on the saint's days), indicating an expedition north of Cedros, but it is not recorded in the records. known documents. Reading from the north, the holiday-based place names are July 12, July 15, July 22, and July 26.oo 33oand when he returned in July, he could have given those names as they appear on the map of humanity. The human must have obtained this information from the maps that Ulloa made and kept after his return.

Preciado's account of the return to Santa Cruz paralleled Ulloa's and confirmed the Spanish belief in an entrance to the Pacific at the entrance to the Gulf of California:

And it seemed that we were approaching the port of Santa Cruz, which saddened us, because we always hoped to find somewhere in this country an outlet for the Rilaine ocean, and that same port was the same outlet, and also the one on that coast. to said port of Santa Cruz, and that we had made a great mistake by not seeking the secret, whether it was a road or a river that we had left unexplored at the bottom of that great sea or Golf.

Men intoxicated by greed and a thirst for glory were driven to further explore the vast unknown continent. Some left with the cross and the gospel, but each in their own way shaped the course of history in the Western Hemisphere.


1. For a more detailed account of the California naming controversies, see Nellie Van de Grift Sanchez,California and Californians, Bd. 1, S. 55-67.

2. Ximénez may have decided to explore further, perhaps hoping to make a discovery of sufficient importance for his mutinous and murderous behavior to be tolerated.

3. It is more likely that this was the ultimate goal of the voyage rather than a narrower desire for immediate benefit from the discovery of the mineral wealth of Sete Cidades.

4. A league was equivalent to about 3.4 nautical miles.


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A special thanks to Ms. Eleonore Parker, Ms. Bernadine Miller, Ms. Norma Moriarty, Sr. F. Holland and many other kind and helpful people who gave their time and encouragement to complete this work.

Special thanks to the director of the Mystic Seaport Museum and to Mr. LS Martel for the use of the photographs. More thanks to Dr. Russell Raitt and the Publications Committee of the University of California, and the Friends of the San Diego Library. The author is especially grateful to Ms. Phyrne Russell for her kindness in final editing and preparation of the manuscript.

The culmination of this manuscript represents around five years of research, specifically the review of Francisco Ulloa's diaries. The author wanted her work Mrs. Margaret M. Gregg (1902-1963) for her motherly love, care and concern for her son-in-law during these last precious days of her life. The completion of the job is a small tribute to her tireless encouragement and her silent urge that she stop procrastinating and get the job done.

James R MoriartyHe is currently an Associate Specialist in Oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. A 1952 graduate of San Diego State College, he had previously attended Wayne University in Detroit. As a professional archaeologist, his interests are strong in prehistory and history. Mister. Moriarty has published in Pacific Discovery, American Antiquity, and American Indigenous.

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