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Toil to those
that rich harvest Death quickly put his sickle. who had never toiled, toil, the hardest toil, often at once beneath a torrid, blazing sun, and in an icy stream; congestion, typhus, fevers in whatever form most fatal; and the rot of scurvy; drunkenness and violence, despair, suicide and madness; the desolate cabin; houseless starvation amid snows; all these bring back again upon you in a frightful picture, many a death scene of those days. There fell the Pioneers who perished from the van of those who first heaved back the bolts that barred the vaulted hills, and poured the millions of the treasures of California upon the World!
Wan and emaciated from the door of the tent or cabin where you saw him expire; bloody and mangled from the gambling saloon where you saw him murdered, or the roadside where you found him lying; the corpse you bore to the woods and buried him beneath the trees. But you cannot tell to-day which pine sings the requiem of the Pioneer.
And some have fallen in battle beneath our Country's flag. And longings still unsatisfied led some to renew their adventurous career upon foreign soils. Combatting for strangers whose quarrels they espoused, they fell amid the jungles of the Tropics and fatted that rank soil there with right precious blood. Or upon the sands of an accursed waste, were bound and slaughtered by inhuman men who lured them with promises and repaid their coming with a most cruel assasination. In the filthy purlieus of a Mexican village swine fed upon all that murder left of honored gentlemen; until the very Indian, with a touch of pity, heaped up the sand upon the festering dead, and gave slight sepulture to our lost Pioneers.
Though from the first some there were who found in California all they sought, and as they lived so died surrounded by their children and their new made friends, and were buried in church-yards with holy rites: and although those more lately stricken, repose in well fenced grounds, guarded by SOCIETY they planted, and whose ripening power they have witnessed; and are gathered to a sacred stillness, where we too may hope that we shall be received when full soon we sink to our eternal rest; alas! far different the death and burial of full many a Pioneer!
In deeds of loftiest daring of individual man, encounters fierce and rudest shocks, too often has parted the spirit of the Pioneer, and left his mortal body to nature and the elements ! Thus wilds are conquered! and to civilization new realms are won!
Upon his life and death let them reflect who would deny to the Pioneer the full measure of the rights of freemen.
For us, we behold the river or the rock, the mountain's peak, the plain whatever spot from which his eyes took their last look of earth. There as he lies, one gentle light shining athwart the gathering darkness, still holds his gaze. Guided by that light, we will re-visit the distant home of the dying Pioneer. In imagination we will there revive the faded recollections of the intrepid boy, who in years long past disappeared in the wilderness and the West, and for a life-time has been accounted dead. We will renew, whilst we console, the grief of the aged father and mother. To the fresh sorrows of the faithful wife we pledge the sympathy and love of brothers. To the sons and daughters of our friends we stretch forth our hands in benedictions on their heads. To ancient friends we too are friends ; until with our praises, and the eventful story of his life, we make to live again in his old peaceful home, him who died so wildly. What though, to mournful questioning, we cannot point their graves? They have a monument, behold the State. And their inscription, it is written on our hearts.
Thus, as is meet, we honor our dead Pioneers; with severe yet pleasing recollections, grateful fancies, and tears not unmanly. With an effort-we turn from ourselves to our country.
Of populous christian countries, Upper California is among the newest. Her whole history is embraced within the life time of men now living. Just ninety-one years have passed since man of European origin first planted his footsteps within the limits of what is now our State, with purpose of permanent inhabitation. Hence all the inhabitants of California have been but Pioneers.
Cortez about the year 1537 fitted out several small vessels at his port of Tehauntepec, sailed north and to the head of the Gulf of California. It is said that his vessels were provided with everything requisite for planting a colony in the newly discovered region, and transported four-hundred Spaniards and three-hundred negro slaves which he had assembled for that purpose; and that he imagined by that coast and sea to discover another New Spain. But sands and rocks and sterile mountains-a parched and thorny waste-vanquished the Conqueror of Mexico. He was glad to escape with his life, and never crossed the line which marks our southern boundary. Here we may note a very remarkable event which happened in the same year that Cortez was making his fruitless attempt. Four persons, Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, Castillo, Dorantes, and a negro named Estevancio arrived at Culiacan on the Gulf of California from the peninsula of Florida. They were the sole survivors of three hundred Spaniards who landed with Pamfilo Narvaez on the coast of Florida for the conquest of that country in the year 1527. They had wandered ten years among the savages and had finally found their way across the continent. The same Nunez was afterwards appointed to conduct the discovery of the Rio de la Plata and the first conquests of Paraguay, says our authority, the learned Jesuit Father Miguel Venegas
The viceroy Mendoza, soon after the failure of Cortez, despatched another expedition, by sea and land, in the same direction, but accomplished still less-and again in 1542 the same viceroy sent out Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a courageous Portuguese, with two ships to survey the outward or western coast of California. In the latitude of 32 degrees he made a cape which was called, by himself I suppose, cape Engaño (Deceit); in 33 degrees that of la Cruz, and that of Galera in 36, and opposite the last he met with two large islands where they informed him that at some distance there was a nation who wore clothes; in 37 degrees and a half he had sight of some hills covered with trees, which he called San Martin, as he did also the cape running into the sea at the end of these eminences. Beyond this to 40 degrees the coast lies N. E., and S. W., and
about the 40th degree he saw two mountains covered with now, and betwixt them a large cape which in honor of the viceroy he called Mendocino. This headland, therefore according to Venegas was christened 318 years ago. Cabrillo continued his voyage to the north in mid-winter and reached the 44th degree of latitude on the 10th of March 1543. From this point he was compelled by want of provisions and the bad condition of his ships to return, and on the 14th of April he entered the harbor of Natividad from which he had sailed.
In 1578, at mid-summer, Sir Francis Drake landed upon this coast only a few miles northward from this Bay of San Francisco, at a bay which still bears his name. Sir Walter Raleigh had not yet sailed on his first voyage to Virginia. It will be interesting to know how things looked in this country at that time. After telling us how the natives mistook them for Gods and worshipped them and offered sacrifices to them much against their will, and how he took possession of the country in the name of Queen Elizabeth, the narrative goes on: "Our neces"saire business being ended, our General with his companie trav"ailed up into the countrey to their villiages, where we found "heardes of deere by 1000 in a companie being most large and "fat of bodie. We found the whole countrey to be a warren "of a strange kinde of connies, their bodies in bigness as be "the Barbarie connies, their heads as the heads of ours, the "feet of a Want (mole) and the taile of a rat, being of great "length; under her chinne on either side a bagge, into the "which she gathered her meate, when she hath filled her bellie "abroad. The people do eat their bodies and make great ac"compt of their skinnes, for their King's coat was made out of "them. Our General called this countrey Nova Albion, and "that for two causes: the one in respect of the white bankes "and cliffes which lie toward the sea; and the other because "it might have some affinitie with our country in name, which "sometime was so called."
"There is no part of earth here to be taken up, wherein there is "not a reasonable quantitie of gold or silver."
Every one will at once recognize the burrowing squirrel that still survives to plague the farmer, and who it will be
seen is a very ancient inhabitant of the fields he molests: and no one but will dwell upon the words in which he speaks of the gold and silver abounding in this country. Were they but a happy guess in a gold-mad age, a miracle of sagacity, or a veritable prophecy? Before he sailed away: "our General 66 set up a monument of our being there, as also of her Majestie's right and title to the same, viz: a plate nailed upon a faire great poste, whereupon was ingraven her Majestie's name, the "day and yeare of our arrival there, with the free giving up of the province and people into her Majestie's hands, together with her highness' picture and arms, in a piece of five pence of current English money under the plate whereunder was also written the name of our General."
These mementoes of his visit and the first recorded landing of the white man upon our shores, I think have never fallen into the possession of any antiquary. And it would also appear that Sir Francis Drake knew nothing of Cabrillo's voyage, for he says: "It seemeth that the Spaniards hitherto had "never been in this part of the country, neither did discover "the lande by many degrees to the southward of this place."
There were other expeditions to Lower California and the Western Coast, after the time of Cortez and Cabrillo, but they all proved fruitless until the Count de Monterey, Viceroy of New Spain, by order of the King sent out Sebastian Viscayno. He sailed from Acapulco on the 5th day of May 1602 with two large vessels and a tender, as Captain-general of the voyage, with Toribio Gomez a consummate seaman who had served many years in cruising his Majesty's ships, as Admiral; and three bare footed Carmelites, Father Andrew de la Assumpcion, Father Antonio de la Ascension and Father Tomas de Aguino, also accompanied him. And that Viscayno might not lack for counsellors the Viceroy appointed Captain Alonzo Estevan Peguero, a person of great valor and long experience who had served in Flanders; and Captain Gaspar de Alorçon, a native of Bretagne, distinguished for his prudence and courage; and for sea affairs, he appointed pilots and masters of ships; likewise Capt. Geronimo Martin who went as cosmographer, in order to make draughts of the countries