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San Diego, California


Historic ship - Star of India

California's Indian and Spanish Heritage
Humans have been living in San Diego for at least 50,000 years. About 6,000 years ago, the La Jollan Indians arrived on the scene. These Indians were displaced by the Kumeyaay, a desert people that originated in Arizona.

The mission system required the enslaving of Kumeyaay under the guise of religious conversion. In 1821, the Mexican War of Independence came to a close, and distant Alta California reeled in disbelief. The Spanish flag continued to fly for some time over the Presidio. Slowly at first, the soldiers began to cut off the scarlet ribbons on their uniforms that symbolized the King's soldiers. They then began to take up homesteads in present day Old Town.

Men Climbing rigging of the star of India

Spanish and old Mission lands were broken up by the government in Mexico City and given to relatives and to faithful public servants. This started the famous California Ranchos period of history. These people became known as Californios, and for the most part the living was good. Land was cheap and cattle foraged unmolested. Grand fiestas that would last for days included vaqueros proving their horsemanship and woman in bright silk dressed dancing fandangos.

The Californios did not hold any strong allegiance with far off Mexico City. As the United States began to grow many of the Californios thought it wise to have a Yankee son-in-law. Mexican rule of California came to an abrupt end on July 7, 1846. The United States Marines landed at Monterey, meeting virtually no resistance the American flag was raised over the city within the hour. This was true across the state. Stephen Kerny leader of the famed "Army of the West" had come overland for the fight. He was very disappointed when he came upon famed mountainman Kit Carson on his way to Washington D.C. to report on California's Annexation. On this news, Kerny sent 1400 of his men back. He continued on into California with only 100 men, and he forced Carson into guiding him. On December 5, 1846 this company of tired soldiers looked forward to an end to their march and a warm welcome into San Diego less than a day away.

Much to their chagrin they were met at San Pasqual by an uprising of more than 100 Californios on horseback. The whip like lariats and 8' long lances being their weapons of choice. The initial confrontation left the unprepared Americans with 18 dead and many more wounded and dying. As night fell things had turned desperate. Kit Carson, an unnamed Kumeyaay, and Lieutenant Edward Beale set off in a desperate attempt to get reinforcements from San Diego. To avoid detection of the constant circling Californios they took off their shoes. They were nearly caught by one of the circling Californios whose horse literally walked over them. They lost their shoes during this incident. As the dawn approached, Kearny order a last meal of mule meat in preparation for their final stand. Much to their amazement they could hear a column of 215 American soldiers and marines arriving from their forced march from San Diego. With their feet extremely cut-up, Carson and crew had gotten the message through.

When the smoke cleared, 22 Americans and 11 Mexicans had died in the only real battle associated with the taking of California from Mexico.

One preserve's fight to protect nature come hell or highways

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