Monterey County California Regional Search Engine and Guide

Monterey County History

Spanish Explorers 1602-1770

Monterey Bay
merchant Sebastian Vizcaino discovered Monterey Bay while searching for a port along the California coast for a safe harbor for the Spanish galleons. Vizcaino named the bay in honor of the Viceroy, the Conde de Monterey. Monterey Bay was highly thought of as a sheltered port but it was not until one hundred and sixty eight years later that an outpost was established.

Don Gasper de Portola governor of lower California and Father Junipero Serra headed an expedition one by land and one by sea to occupy the port of Monterery from San Diego on July 14, 1769. The expedition included two soldiers whose families were to become influential and important in Monterey County, Juan Bautista Alvarado and Jose Maria Soberanes. The expedition struggled through the Santa Lucia mountains and it is said they did not recognize Monterey Bay, continued their search to discover San Francisco Bay. Retracing their route back to San Diego they were still unable to locate Monterey Bay.

Spanish-American Outpost
Portola expedition of June 3, 1770 took possession of Monterey and dedicated the Presido de Monterey and the Mission San Carlos de Borromeo.

San Carlos Borromeo

Spanish Missions a Commercial Success

(See all 21 California Missions)

Four of the twenty one California missions were located in Old Monterey County. Father Serra dedicated San Carlos Borromeo and San Antonio de Padua, later father Lasuen (Father Serras successor) dedicated Nuestra Senora de Soledad and San Juan Bautista.
The missions were more than a way to save the souls of the natives. Indians were taught to read and write, tanning, cooking , sewing and agricultural arts. There are some accounts of the indians being mistreated . In 1826 a Captian Beechey visited a mission and stated that the indians who did not want to be converted were typically imprisoned and only released when they showed a readiness to be renounce the religion of their fathers. Indians that managed to escape where tracked down and brought back to the mission and always flogged and an iron clog attached to one of their legs as a prevention for running away again. It is documented that the indians were not highly thought of during this period of time. Indians that did not want to be saved or quartered in the missions were most certainly were mistreated or forced into service in the missions. The missions produced many of the traded goods needed for commerce in early California and became very prosperous and a key factor in economy of old California.


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