Daughters of the American Revolution Unveil Anza Marker in Morgan Hill
by Sally Holcombe, CSSDAR State Historian
The California State Society Daughters of the American Revolution (CSSDAR) has commemorated the Anza Expedition with a new marker at the expedition’s historic campsite #92 in Morgan Hill, Calif.
Juan Bautista de Anza is not only important because he brought families to Alta California; he also has a connection to the American Revolution.
After his return from Alta California, Anza became Governor of New Mexico. It was in this capacity that he served as the collection point for taxes and donations sent to the King of Spain. Spain entered the American Revolution on the side of the colonists in 1781. Much of the wealth coming from Anza was used to purchase guns and ammunition in support of the American Revolution. As a result, women who can prove that they descend from families that paid those taxes to the King of Spain are eligible for DAR membership.
CSSDAR unveiled its Anza marker at a dedication ceremony March 28, 2015. Wallace Memorial Company of Salinas fabricated the marker. Cooperation between the Wallace Memorial Company, the City of Morgan Hill, and Woodlands Estates Mobile Home Park was required to access the site and successfully set the marker. Approximately 150 people attended the ceremony.
On March 24, 1776, Anza and 12 of his most trusted soldiers traveled from what is still called Natividad (a site on the Old Stage Road east of Salinas) to campsite #92. This site is well documented in the diaries kept by Anza and Father Pedro Font. Both described Arroyo de las Llagas (“creek of the blisters!”) as well as the native people who were living there peacefully at the time.
Anza’s expedition of 1775-1776 is important because it brought Spanish colonial families into Alta California. Prior to this expedition, the only non-Native settlers living in Alta California were soldiers and priests. The families that traveled with Anza from Sonora stayed in California and prospered, creating an era of plenty that was California’s Spanish Colonial period.
CSSDAR State Historian Sally Holcombe was the Mistress of Ceremonies for the event. The presentation and retiring of the Colors was conducted by the Marines Recruiting Station Color Guard from Gilroy. Those who brought greetings included State Regent Carol Oakley Jackson; Corresponding Secretary General and Honorary State Regent Karon Jarrard; the Honorable Paul Bernal (Anza Expedition descendant, Superior Court Justice, and Official Historian for the City of San Jose); the Honorable Marilyn Librers (Mayor Pro Tempore, City of Morgan Hill); and Kathy Sullivan (President, Morgan Hill Historical Society).
The first guest speaker was Greg Bernal-Mendoza Smestad, Ph.D., an Anza Expedition descendant and author of A Guide to the Juan Bautista de Anza National Trail. Dr. Smestad spoke about the expedition itself and the Native peoples whose lives were changed by the Spanish colonization. Speaking after Dr. Smestad about the legacy of the expedition was Martha Vallejo-McGettigan (member, Presidio Chapter, NSDAR, San Francisco; an Anza Expedition descendant; and the 2015 recipient of the DAR History Award Medal at the 117th CSSDAR State Conference in Burbank).
The dedication ceremony was conducted by CSSDAR State Regent Carol Oakley Jackson and State Chaplain Dallas Love. Helping to unveil the monument, carved from Mt. Rushmore granite, were Judge Paul Bernal; Rubén Mendoza, Ph.D. (an Anza Expedition descendant and Professor of Social and Behavioral Studies, California State University, Monterey Bay); State Regent Carol Jackson and Naomi Torres, Superintendent of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.
Since parking at the site was limited, attendees were shuttled to and from the site by private shuttle service, and by the Morgan Hill School District transportation system. A reception was held after the ceremony at Villa Mira Monte, former home of Hiram Morgan Hill and his wife; and now the headquarters for the Morgan Hill Historical Society.
About the DAR
The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution is a charitable service organization (501[c]). Any woman 18 years and older who can document her bloodline lineage back to someone who aided in the American Revolution is eligible for membership. This is true regardless of race, culture, religion or political persuasion.
The DAR mission is threefold. Each state society and chapter is different in the projects it undertakes, but each focuses its activities around these three tenets:
- Historic Preservation - among other things, restoration of historic buildings, marking of historic sites, care of historic cemeteries, commemoration of important historic events, collection/preservation of documents and artifacts, support for historic museum collections, gathering and recording of genealogical information.
- Education - particularly in the areas of American History, citizenship, literacy. The DAR published the first citizenship manual in 1919. It was originally written in 19 languages.
- Patriotism - respect for the Flag of the United States and the institutions of American government; support of our Constitution; service to our military personnel, veterans and military families; community service.
Unveiling a New Anza Trail Marker
Color Guard from the Marines Recruiting Station, Gilroy, CA
Anza Expedition descendants
The DAR Monument Commemorating Anza Expedition Campsite 92 in Morgan Hill, CA