History of San Lorenzo, California


Bibliography: Indian and Pre-Gold Rush Settlement



Atlases and Maps

Beck, W.A.; and Y.D. Haase. 1974. Historical Atlas of California, 3rd printing. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.

Bibliography of Historic Maps

Hayes, Derek. 2007. Historical Atlas of California. University of California Press.


Indian Settlement

In 1776 probably 15,000 to 20,000 indians lived in the nine-county Bay Area. At the time there were two major indian groups in the Bay Area: the Ohlone (or Costanoan) people, numbering about 10,000, and the Coast Miwok, numbering about 3,000 (not to be confused with other Miwoks in the interior of California).

The social and political basis of Bay Area indian life was organized into a few hundred people occupying one or two villages in a well-defined territory that provided game and edible plants. The languages of the indian communities of the Bay Area varied to an extraordinary degree.

The area that would become Alameda County was occupied by Ohlone "tribelets".

Bean, Lowell John, ed. 1994. The Ohlone Past and Present: Native Americans of the San Francisco Bay Region. Ballena Press, Menlo Park, Calif. (Anthropological Papers No. 42).

Bennyhoff, J.A. 1977. Ethnogeography of the Plains Miwok. University of California, Davis (Center for Archaelogical Research at Davis Publication 5).

Bowman, J.N. 1958. "Resident Neophytes of the California Missions." Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly.

Cook, S.F. 1957. "The Aboriginal Population of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties." Anthropological Records, 16(4):131-156. (University of California Publications; reprinted by Coyote Press.)

Galvan, P. Michael. 1967-68. "People of the West, the Ohlone Story." Indian Historian 1(2):9-13.

Hart, J.D. 1978. A Companion to California. Oxford University Press, New York.

Heizer, Robert F., ed. 1974. The Costanoan Indians. De Anza College, Cupertino, Calif. (Local History Studies Vol. 18)

Heizer, Robert F., and M.A. Whipple. 1971. The California Indians: A Source Book, 2d ed. University of California Press.

Heizer, Robert F., and Albert B. Elsasser. 1980. The Natural World of the California Indians. University of California Press (California Natural History Guides: 46)

Kroeber, A.L. 1925. Handbook of the Indians of California. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. (Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 78).

Levy, R. 1978. "Costanoan." In Handbook of North American Indians, W.G. Sturtevant, general ed., Volume 8: California, R.F. Heizer, ed., pp. 485-497. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Margolin, M. 1978. The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the San Francisco - Monterey Bay Area. Heyday Books, Berkeley.

Milliken, R.T. 1995. A Time of Little Choice: The Disintegration of Tribal Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area 1769-1810. Ballena Press, Menlo Park, Calif. (Anthropological Papers No. 43)

Nelson, Nels C. 1909. "Shellmounds of the San Francisco Bay Region." University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 7(4):309-356.

Teixeira, Lauren S. 1997. The Costanoan/Ohlone Indians of the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Area: A Research Guide. Ballena Press, Menlo Park, Calif. (Anthropological Papers No. 46).

Vane, Sylvia Brakke, and Lowell John Bean. California Indians: Primary Resources, A Guide to Manuscripts, Artifacts, Documents, Serials, Music and Illustrations. Ballena Press, Menlo Park, Calif. (Anthropological Papers No. 36).

Wollenberg, Charles. 1985. Golden Gate Metropolis: Perspectives on Bay Area History. Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley. (See chapter 3, "First People.")


Settlement under Spain and Mexico

Non-indian settlement of the Bay Area began with the arrival of Catholic priests and soldiers from Spain in 1775 - 1776 under the leadership of Lt. Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza, who established a series of missions and military camps (presidios). Soldiers who retired and were willing to stay in California were granted large tracts of lands called ranchos.

Anza's mission was to bring colonists to the coastal region of "Alta California" or Upper California (a region of the American continent under Spanish rule that included all of the modern American states of California, Nevada, and Utah, and parts of Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico). His party of 240 settlers, soldiers, and priests traveled 1,800 miles from Sonora, Mexico, to Monterey, California. Once established in Monterey, a smaller group rode north to establish a presidio (military camp) and mission church in San Francisco. The same group explored what is now the East Bay in March and April of 1776, making camp along the San Lorenzo Creek on March 31 (the creek was named Arroyo de la Harina in the diary of the expedition). The most comprehensive collection of historical documents and images of the Anza expedition is found at Web de Anza (maintained by the University of Oregon).

Under Spanish rule Alta California was functionally part of Mexico, which the Spanish also controlled. In fact, many of the "Spanish" settlers were actually natives of Mexico. After Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, California became part of the new Mexican nation, and remained so until the American victory in the war with in 1846. Like Spain, Mexico gave residents vast tracts of land (up to 50,000 acres) to encourage settlement.

The period between 1821 and 1846 is known as the Californio Period. During this time the Spanish-speaking settlers, or Californios, developed a unique culture, economy, and government, and their loyalty was to each other rather than to Mexico. (In this they were much like the English colonial settlers in America, whose interests diverged from England, eventually leading the colonists to armed rebellion against English rule.)

Brown, Alan K. 1994. "The European Contact of 1772 and Some Later Documentation." In Ohlone Past and Present: Native Americans of the San Francisco Bay Region, Lowell John Bean, ed., pp. 1-42, Ballena Press, Menlo Park, Calif. (Anthropological Papers No. 42).

Hendry, G.W.; and J.N. Bowman. 1940. "Spanish and Mexican Adobe and Other Buildings in the Nine San Francisco Bay Counties, 1776 to about 1850." MS on file, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Pitt, Leonard. 1966. The Decline of the Californios: A Social History of the Spanish-Speaking Californians, 1846-1890. University of California Press.

Wollenberg, Charles. 1985. Golden Gate Metropolis: Perspectives on Bay Area History. Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley. (See chapters 4 and 5 covering the Spanish and Mexican periods.)


[Updated October 9, 2017]