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Juan Bautista de Anza Bezerra Nieto

Juan Bautista de Anza Bezerra Nieto (July 1736 - December 19, 1788) was a Novo-Spanish explorer and Governor of New Mexico for the Spanish Empire.


'Juan Bautista de Anza' was born in Fronterasmarker, Sonoramarker (near Arizpemarker) into a military family on the northern frontier of New Spain. He was the son of Juan Bautista de Anza I. In 1752 he enlisted in the army at the Presidio of Fronteras. He advanced rapidly and was a captain by 1760. He married in 1761. His wife was the daughter of Spanish mine owner Perez de Serrano. They had no children. His military duties mainly consisted of forays against hostile Native Americans such as the Apache during the course of which he explored much of what is now Arizonamarker.

.In 1772 he proposed an expedition to Alta Californiamarker to the Viceroy of New Spain. This was approved by the King of Spain and on January 8, 1774 with 3 padres, 20 soldiers, 11 servants, 35 mules, 65 cattle, and 140 horses he set forth from Tubacmarker south of present day Tucson, Arizonamarker. The expedition took a southern route along the Rio Altar (Sonora y Sinaloa, New Spain) then paralleled the modern Mexico/California border and crossed the Colorado Rivermarker at its confluence with the Gila River in the domain of the Yuma tribe with which he established good relations. He reached Mission San Gabriel Arcangelmarker near the California coast on March 22, 1774 and Monterey, Californiamarker, Alta California's Capital April 19. He returned to Tubac by late May, 1774. This expedition was closely watched by Viceroy and King and on October 2, 1774 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel and ordered to lead a group of colonists to Alta Californiamarker. The Spanish were desirous of reinforcing their presence in Northern California as a buffer against Russian advances from the north, and possibly establish a harbor that would give shelter to Spanish ships. The expedition got under way in October, 1775 and arrived at Mission San Gabriel in January, 1776 the colonists having suffered greatly from the winter weather en route.

He continued on to Monterey, Californiamarker with the colonists. Having fulfilled his mission from the Viceroy, he continued on with Father Pedro Font and a party of twelve others exploring north and found the first overland route to San Francisco Baymarker. In de Anza's diary on March 25, 1776, he states that he "arrived at the arroyo of San Joseph Cupertino, which is useful only for travelers. Here we halted for the night, having come eight leagues in seven and a half hours. From this place we have seen at our right the estuary which runs from the port of San Francisco." Pressing on, de Anza located the sites for the Presidio of San Franciscomarker and Mission San Francisco de Asismarker in present day San Francisco, Californiamarker on March 28, 1776. He did not establish the settlement; it was established later by José Joaquín Moraga. While returning to Monterey, he located the original sites for Mission Santa Clara de Asismarker and the town of San José de Guadalupe (modern day San Josemarker, CAmarker), but again did not establish either settlement.

On his return from this successful expedition he journeyed to Mexico Citymarker with the chief of the Quechan (Yuma) tribe who requested the establishment of a mission. Shortly thereafter, on August 24, 1777, Anza was appointed Governor of the Province of New Mexico.

He led a punitive expedition against the Comanche who had been repeatedly raiding Taosmarker in 1779. With his Ute and Apache allies and about 800 soldiers he went north through the San Luis Valley, entering the plainsmarker at what is now Manitou Springs, Coloradomarker. He surprised a small force of Comanche near present day Colorado Springsmarker. Chasing them south down Fountain Creek, he crossed the Arkansas Rivermarker near present day Pueblo, Coloradomarker. He found the main body of Comanche, returning from a raid on New Mexico, on Greenhorn Creek and inflicted a decisive defeat, killing Cuerno Verde, the chief (for whom Greenhorn Creek is named) and many other leaders of the Comanche.directly

In late 1779, Anza and his party found a route from Santa Femarker to Sonoramarker. His various local military expeditions against hostile tribes were successful, but the Yuma tribe which he had establish peace with rebelled and he fell out of favor with the military commander of the northern frontier, the frontier-general. In 1783 Anza lead a campaign against the Comanche on the eastern plainsmarker and by 1784 they were suing for peace. The last of the Comanche chiefs eventually acceded and a formal treaty was concluded on 28 February 1786 at Pecos Pueblomarker. This paved the way for traders and the development of the Comanchero trade.

Anza stayed on as governor of New Mexico until 1787 when he returned to Sonoramarker. He was appointed commander of the Presidio of Tucson in 1788 but died before he could take office. He died and was buried in Arizpe, Sonora and was survived by his wife.

Anza was buried in the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Arispe. In 1963 he was disinterred and reburied in a marble mausoleum with the participation of delegations from the University of California and San Francisco.'


The town of Anza, Californiamarker is named after Juan Bautista de Anza. The small town of roughly 7,000 people lies on highway 371 in the mountains above Palm Springsmarker. A building named the Juan de Anza Housemarker in San Juan Bautista, Californiamarker is a National Historic Landmark, but was not constructed until circa 1830, and its connection is unclear. De Anza is also the namesake of several streets, schools, and organizations in California, including De Anza Boulevards in San Mateomarker and Cupertinomarker respectively, De Anza Collegemarker in Cupertino, De Anza High Schoolmarker in Richmondmarker, Juan De Anza K-5 in the Wiseburn Elementary School District, Hawthornemarker, De Anza Middle School in Venturamarker, De Anza Hotelmarker in San Josemarker, and Juan Bautista De Anza Community Park in Calabasasmarker. De Anza Park and De Anza Middle School in Ontario, Ca. There is also Anza Street in San Francisco. Lake Anzamarker inside Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley, California is named in his honor. A trail that runs through Southern California is named after De Anza, marking the original expedition route to discover Alta Californiamarker. This trail is marked on local trail maps. In the San Gabriel Valley, it occurs on the Puente Hills just north of Whittier, Californiamarker. Even today descendants of Juan Bautista de Anza live in Mexico city.


Further reading

  • Anza and the Northwest Frontier of New Spain, J. N. Bowman and R. F. Heizer, Southwest Museum Papers Number Twenty, Highland Park, Los Angeles, California, 1967, Hardback, 182 pages.
  • Anza and Cuerno Verde, Decisive Battle, Wilfred Martinez

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