California Trails To The Past



Mission Santa Barbara
"Queen of the Missions."

Expeditions from Mexico, Spain, Russia and England visited California from 1540 to 1792. The first permanent settlement was made in 1769 by Spaniards on San Diego Bay. Spanish and Mexican settlers began developing the area along the coast. An American sailing vessel first reached the coast in 1796. In 1839 a Swiss, John Augustus Sutter, established the "Kingdom of New Helvetia" in the Sacramento River Valley. Americans began arriving in large numbers in 1841. Spain controlled California until 1822 when it was turned over to Mexico. In 1848 Mexico ceded California to the United States. "Gold Fever" struck all sections of the United States and every county in Europe when gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill. Population increased from 15,000 to 250,000 in a short time.


California As I Saw It

California Pioneer Project

Cyndi's List - California

The Golden Nugget Library

California State Library

California Historical Society

 Southern California Genealogical Society

Vital Records Information for California

California Town Postmarks

California Spanish Genealogy (pre-1849)

San Joaquin County, California, Public Library Obituary Index, 1850-1991

National Archives and Records Administration

CA Dept. of Corrections Condemned Inmate List


In 1840, Alta California and Baja California were removed from the Diocese of Sonora to form the Diocese of Both Californias. Bishop Francisco Garcia Diego y Moreno, OFM, established his cathedra at Mission Santa Barbara, making the chapel the pro-cathedral of the diocese until 1849. Under Bishop Thaddeus Amat y Brusi, C.M., the chapel again served as a pro-cathedral, for the Diocese of Monterey and then the Diocese of Monterey-Los Angeles, from 1853-1876. It is for this reason that of all the California missions, only the chapel at Mission Santa Barbara has two matching bell towers. At that time, that particular architectural feature was restricted to a cathedral church.


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