Timetable of Old Spanish Days

1782: King Carlos wished to establish a fortress to protect the new colony from foreign aggression. A wooden cross is raised on the site of the future Presidio de Santa Barbara (near present-day intersection of Canon Perdido and Santa Barbara streets) and blessed by Padre Junipero Serra. Lt. Jose Maria Ortega, first comandante, erects stockade to house the families of 36 soldiers, 70 officers, and nine Chumash Indians. Presidio will be the last of four built in New Spain (the others are in San Diego, Monterey, and San Francisco).

1783: Presidio construction begins.

1784: Padre Junipero Serra dies in Monterey. Captain Felipe de Goycoechea becomes second comandante.

1786: Soldiers move into unfinished presidio. Fr. Ferm-n Lasuen, presidente of the California missions, blesses mission site on December 4, Saint Barbara’s feast day.

1792: Presidio construction completed. First non-Spanish European visitor, George Vancouver, comes to Santa Barbara in first of three voyages to explore California.

1802: Raimundo Carrillo becomes third comandante.

1806: Dams, aqueducts, and reservoirs are built in Mission and Rattlesnake canyons to serve mission.

1810: Revolution begins in Mexico. Spain stops sending supplies and money to Santa Barbara. Presidio inhabitants must beg for provisions from now-prosperous mission.

1812: Tremendous earthquake destroys mission and presidio. Tidal wave washes through estuary over lower Eastside as far north as present-day Anapamu Street.

1815: Jose de la Guerra becomes fourth comandante of the presidio. The presidio restoration is complete, and a pueblo, or town, gradually builds up around it. Monterey is the capital of Alta California, but Santa Barbara is considered an important settlement on the Pacific Coast, and several gubernatorial proclamations are made here.

1817: Adobe is built for Domingo Carrillo, third son of Raimundo, which stands today on Santa Barbara Street behind the Historical Society Museum.

1818: Hippolyte de Bouchard, a French pirate, attacks and sacks Monterey and the Refugio ranch. Santa Barbara prepares for attack by hiding valuables and sending women to safety over the mountains, but Bouchard decides not to land.

1819: Construction begins on Jose de la Guerra’s casa on the plaza. It takes seven years to complete.

1822: Mexico wins revolution; Alta California becomes a territory of the new nation.

Reprinted from The Independent story archives. First published August 2, 1989.

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