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Juan Bautista de Anza

explorer who negotiated the longest-lasting peace treaty ever signed with the Comanches

Juan Bautista de Anza

Juan Bautista de Anza was born in July 1736, probably at Cuquiarachi, Sonora, Mexico. He was the son of Juan Bautista de Anza, presidial captain, and Maria Rosa Bezerra Nieto. His father was killed by Apaches in May 1740.

Anza joined the Spanish militia at San Ignacio, Sonora, Mexico, in December 1751. He became a cadete in the presidial cavalry in 1754, advanced to Cavalry Lieutenant at Fronteras in 1756, and was made captain of the Tubac, Sonora, Mexico (now Tubac, Arizona) Presidio in December 1759. He became well known for his military abilities while fighting Apaches in the north and Seris in the south, 1766-1773.

In 1773, Anza was given permission to lead an expedition to discover an overland route to Alta (Northern) California. He left Tubac in January 1774, and arrived at Mission San Gabriel (near present-day Los Angeles) on March 22, 1774. Along the way he established friendly relationships with the Yuma living around the junction of the Gila and Colorado rivers (at present-day Yuma, Arizona). Upon returning to Tubac in May 1774, he was rewarded by the King with an advancement to Lieutenant Colonel.

In January 1775, Anza began organizing an expedition to colonize the San Francisco Bay area. In mid-October, he arrived at Tubac with 300 colonizers, a small party of soliders, Father Francisco Palou, and 1,000 head of livestock. The party left Tubac on October 23, 1775, and arrived at the Presidio of Monte Rey (Monterey) on March 10, 1776. Despite a six-month journey that covered approximately 1,000 miles, no lives were lost; in fact, nine women gave birth along the way.

map of Anza's 1775-1776 expedition

Following a brief respite at Monte Rey, Anza and a few of the soldiers started back for Tubac. The remainder of the expedition, under the command of Lieutenant José Joaquin Moraga, was given permission to continue on to the San Francisco Bay. It arrived at present-day San Francisco on September 17, and established Misión San Francisco de Asís.

Anza was made commander of all troops in Sonora upon his return to Mexico City in the fall of 1776, and Governor of New Mexico in 1777.

In 1778, Anza led 500 men on an expedition across New Mexico and Colorado and across the Arkansas River to engage the Comanches, who were at that time under the command of Chief Cuerno Verde. The soldiers cornered the chief near present-day Rye, Colorado, and killed him and several other men. This event prompted the longest-lasting peace treaty ever signed by the Comanches and any of the governments of Spain, Mexico or United States.

In the fall of 1778, Anza led an expedition into Hopi country to try and help save the Hopi from a long-lasting drought. In 1779, he led an expedition to discover a route between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Arizpe, Sonora, then-capital of Privincias Internas. Both of these expeditions were completed successfully.

After spending a few years carrying out his duties as Governor of New Mexico, Anza asked to be released. His request was granted in 1787. He was subsequently made commander of Buenaventura Presidio (previously Fronteras Presidio), commander of troops in Sonora, and then, in the fall of 1788, commander of Tucson Presidio. After conducting a review of troops at Tucson, he returned to his home in Arizpe, where he died suddenly on December 19, 1788. He is buried in a side chapel of Nuestra Senora de Loreto in the cathedral at Arizpe.


Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail
Web de Anza

See Also

Los Angeles
Misión San Francisco de Asís
New Mexico

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This page was last updated on December 19, 2018.