Don Francisco Sanchez A Man of Integrity

By Shirley Drye

D_Francisco_Sanchez1.jpgThe first haif of the nineteenth century witnessed three significant changes in the fabric of California life: Mexican independence from Spain; secularization of the missions with the ascendancy of the Spanish Dons under Mexican rule; and the conquest of California by the United States. Each of these events profoundly affected the quality of life in California. In Northern California the focus of action was the San Francisco Bay Area.

Born onto this volatile stage in the Northern California of 1805 was Francisco M. Sanchez. Grandson of a soldier of the Anza Expedition (which established the San Francisco Presidio) and son of a noted Indian fighter and civic-minded citizen, Francisco inherited a tradition of ambition and independence tempered by a sense of loyalty and duty.

Francisco's grandfather was Jose Antonio Sanchez. According to Zoeth Skinner Eldredge, Jose Antonio was born in Mexico in the city of Sinaloa in 1751. Eldredge lists him as one of the soldiers (a corporal) of Anza's expedition, and one of the founders and first settlers of the city of San Francisco. Citing the Spanish Archives of California, Eldredge notes that:

Jose Antonio Sanchez ... brought his wife Maria ( los Dolores Morales and two children: Maria Josefa, age seven, and Jose Antonio, age two .... Sanchez was a man of some education and wrote a beautiful hand ... 1

The Spanish government generously provisioned Anza's expedition, and the men selected to go meet relatively high standards of physical and mental wellbeing imposed by the Spanish king:

... in the instructions of the viceroy to Captain Rivera it was ordered that the head of each family desiring to emigrate to California should be a hale country laborer, without blemish, physical or moral. Recruits for the presidios, selected with even greater care, were to be of not less than eighteen nor more than thirty years of age, at least [five and one-half feet] in height and of healthy color and good presence, without marks of any kind on body or face .... 2

The then viceroy, Bucareli, requested that wives and children accompany the expedition members as an impetus to permanent settlement at San Francisco an increasingly important site as Northern California' was under scrutiny by other expansionist nations. 3

The historical record has been muddied by more than one writer's suggestion that the recruits of Anza's party were of the lowest sort, for whom any change would be for the better. The evidence suggests otherwise. The fact that the In-member Anza party arrived in Monterey in 1776 with the loss of only one life (and that a woman in childbirth the first night out), having travelled from Sonora, Mexico, on an overland trail of some hardship, is a tribute to the hardiness of this group of settlers. Their prosperity in California suggests that ambition, perhaps as well as poverty, was a motivating force behind individual decisions to make the trek.

The new settlers were detained in Monterey for a time, and when a portion of them finally did depart for San Francisco, two corporals are included in the group,4 but no names are given for them. One secondary source, without citing his evidence, suggests that Jose Antonio Sanchez I was part of that contingent. Frank M. Stanger, in his book, History of San Mateo County, speaking of Jose Antonio Sanchez II, says:

Jose Sanchez ... literally since babyhood had served the San Francisco garrison; he and the presidio had been babes together, for he was one of the small children who rode a mule with the Anza party from Sonora to San Francisco in 1776 .... 5

Bancroft's Register of Pioneer Inhabitants of California 1542-1848, provides the following relatively late due:

Sanchez (Jose Antonio), nat. of Sinaloa, soldier of the S.F. compo from 1791, corp. 1805, sergt. from 1806, brevet alferez from 20 ... 6

Francisco Sanchez
It is apparent that the person referred to here is Jose Antonio Sanchez II, since his father was born in 1751 and was already a soldier with the Anza party in 1776.

The party which arrived in San Francisco in June of 1776 consisted of 13 soldiers and their families, seven settlers and their families, servants, muleteers, vacqueros, and 200 cattle, plus provisions. The settlers lived initially in field tents, adding tule hut structures for shelter when the arrival of the supply ship San Carlos was delayed for almost two months. With the arrival of the San Carlos on August 18, work began on the site selected for the presidio itself, and formal possession took place on September 17, 1776. The presidio, built in the shape of a square with an open plaza in the center, had accommodations for the families in houses built along the interior walls. 7

Jose Antonio Sanchez I disappears from the pages of history with his second marriage in 1793 at the Mission Santa Clara, where mission records list him as a widower. 8

Jose Antonio Sanchez the younger married Maria Ana Josefa Soto (1783- ? ) at Mission Santa Clara on September 1, 1796. She was a daughter of Ynacio de Soto (1749-1807) by his first wife, Maria Barbara Espinosa (abt. 1760-1797). A native of Sinaloa, Mexico, Soto came with the Anza expedition and served as a soldier at the San Francisco Presidio until moving to San Jose in 1785. 9

In 1805 Jose Antonio Sanchez II received his appointment as a squad leader with the rank of corporal. His appointment papers, signed by Jose Arguello, Captain and Commandante of the San Francisco Presidio, describe Jose thusly: "Besides being able to read and write, he possesses the required ability for this position." The order is dated June 16, 1805.10 One and one-half years later, on November 27, 1806, Jose Antonio Sanchez II was promoted to sergeant. Twenty years later, on December 23, 1826, after Mexico had won its independence from Spain, he was promoted to second lieutenant and, on consideration of his merits, was on October 31, 1831, promoted to first lieutenant and assigned to Monterey as commandante, where he remained until his retirement in 1836.

It is interesting to note that Bancroft's pioneer register says of Jose that "[he] was a good man of known honesty and valor, but very ignorant and unfit for promotion. "11 Elsewhere he is recorded as being a courageous and effective Indian fighter, 12 and his record of promotions attests to his ambition. His literacy is specifically noted in his promotion orders to corporal early in his career. Perhaps his valor as a soldier outweighed his limitations as a scholar, but Bancroft's harsh assessment is not supported by the record.

Francisco Sanchez, second son of Jose Antonio Sanchez II and Maria Ana Josefa Soto, was born on April. 13, 1805, in the San Jose home of his maternal grandparents. His childhood years were spent in the open air of the Peninsula, for his father was a soldier of the San Francisco Presidio, where the family made their home.13

Though his father and grandfather were born in Mexico, Francisco Sanchez can be figuratively termed a third-generation Californian, reaping the full benefits of a life-enhancing setting - a healthful climate conducive to outdoor pursuits, simple, nourishing food, and a family life with its share of dignity and ceremony accompanied by a warmth of affection that awakened the admiration of visitors. These early Californians were often referred to as the "Singing People" because of their love of life, poetry, and music, and their happy hospitable, and generous natures.

Myrtle M. McKittrick's Vallejo, Son of California provides a glimpse of the homelife of these native Californians. Vallejo, born in Monterey in 1808, was a peer of Francisco Sanchez's, though their paths did not cross until 20 years had passed. McKittrick says that:

At home, obedience and respect were the two watchwords of conduct ... home training was intensely practical .... The settlers themselves were obliged to learn trades '" [quoting Vallejo) 'so that an educated young gentleman was well skilled in many arts and handicrafts. He could ride, of course, as well as the best cowboy of the Southwest, and with more grace; and he could throw the lasso ... expertly. He could also make soap, pottery, and bricks, burn lime, tan hides, cut out and put together a pair of shoes, make candles ... and do a great number of things that belong to different trades.' The acquisition of these skills must have filled many a crowded hour for Mariano and his brothers.14

The adult lives of Francisco Sanchez and his brothers suggest that this same training process was very likely a part of their early years. Formal education began around the age of seven. While Nelli Sanchez tells us that the friars at the missions took no part in public instruction,15 concern of the families for the education of their sons is clearly evident. Stanger, in his brief biographical sketch of Francisco Sanchez, relates that:

Francisco Sanchez was born in San Jose, where his' grandparents lived, but spent his childhood divided between his parents home in San Francisco and in San Jose with his mother's parents. At a very early age, he was able to ride a horse well and travelled the route between his two homes frequently. Considering the meager opportunities available to young boys at that time, he acquired a better than average education. 16

It is interesting to note that, while no record exists of a school in the village of Verba Buena (San Francisco) at this time, education was a matter of concern to the citizens of San Jose:

We do not know just how early the pueblo provided for the education of its children. An interesting agreement of 1811 has come down, a contract between the inhabitants (of San Jose) and Rafael Villavicencio, who was to receive eighteen reales a year ... from each head of a family, in return for teaching 'the youth the Christian doctrine and to read and write.'17

In 1812 Francisco Sanchez was seven. He may well have resided in San Jose for the purpose of schooling. Stanger's reference to Francisco's education and the frequency with which he travelled the route between his two homes has the sound of a schoolboy returning home for the weekend. This inference is, however, neither explained nor verified. A copy of one document in Francisco's handwriting remains in the archives of the San Mateo County Historical Museum (document No. 70-18). It is a letter advising one of his sisters on a business matter. An articulate and sensitive letter, it exhibits a clear and beautiful handwriting. His activities as an official of San Francisco during his adult years (extending into the American period) also offer evidence of his schooling.

The outbreak of revolt in Mexico against Spain in 1810 cut off the government support that had regularly come to California. The Mexican struggle for independence lasted more than ten years. In California the transfer of authority from Spanish to Mexican officials occurred early in 1822. The end of Spanish government and its paternalism meant an ever-increasing dependence in California upon the wealth of the missions. It is in this period that the Rancho Buri Buri comes into prominence in the records of San Francisco.

The rancho appears to have been the booty in a growing tug-of-war waged between religious and secular authorities. Under Spain, Rancho Burl Buri had first been utilized by the mission, but was later made the King's Ranch when it was deemed necessary to increase the provisions reaching the presidio. The ranch did not prosper under the operation of the presidio and control again reverted to the mission. However, under the new Mexican government of 1822 it was once again removed from mission management, and became the National Ranch. In the following five years the number of cattle on the rancho steadily diminished. By 1827 the last of the government's cattle were disposed of, or had disappeared. That same year the 14,639-acre rancho was made a provisional land grant to Jose Antonio Sanchez II.

By the time six years had elapsed Sanchez had 2000 head of cattle, 250 horses, and fields of wheat, com and vegetables. He gained full title to the Rancho Burl Buri in 1835.

It is interesting to speculate on what made a successful soldier a good rancher. There is no record of where Sanchez got his stock, or with how many he began. No doubt the remarkable fecundity of California that produced Sanchez's abundant herds (and also his ten healthy sons and daughters) and an environment that necessitated extreme self reliance contributed to his success.

Jose Antonio Sanchez received his final army promotion (to first lieutenant) on October 31, 1831, and was assigned to the Monterey Presidio, where he remained until his retirement in 1836. Though the record is silent, Rancho Buri Buri, with its cattle ranching, farming, and burgeoning hides and tallow business must have been operated by Francisco and his brothers while their father was stationed in Monterey.

On June 22, 1843, at the age of 68, Jose Antonio Sanchez died. His burial on consecrated ground was delayed for a time due to troubles with the mission fathers. 18
Born under the Spanish flag, Francisco Sanchez had attained manhood by the time Mexico had become independent of Spain in 1822, and he participated in swearing allegiance to the new republic. In 1824, at the age of 19, he became a soldier of the San Francisco Company, and is recorded as a soldier in 1825. Under the new regime he became an elector and secretary of the newly organized municipal government of San Francisco, a post he held from 1827 until 1838.19

In 1833, at the age of 28, Francisco Sanchez married sixteen-year-old Maria Florencia Teodora Higuera. Teodora, as she was called, was born November 6, 1817, and baptized at the Mission Dolores on November 9. Her father was Francisco Xavier Higuera of San Jose, and her mother was Maria Teresa Villela, who was baptized February 20, 1796, at Mission San Carlos de Monterey. Maria Teresa Villela's parents are listed in the book, Spanish-Mexican Families of Early California 1769-1850 as follows:

Parents: Juan Manuel Marcos Villela (came with Anza in 1776) and Viridiana Maria Carrillo (Indian of Mission San Carlos de Monterey, daughter of Juan Christosomo Carrillo, an Indian whose godfather had been Corporal Mariano Cabrillo).20

Maria Florencia Teodora Higuera Sanchez was one-quarter native Californian.

Francisco could have taken his bride to the Rancho Buri Buri to live. His four brothers built their homes there.21 Cavanaugh, who interiewed remaining members of the Sanchez family, says that there were many ranch houses located on the rancho.22 Francisco's involvement in San Francisco's muni,cipal affairs casts some doubt on the possibility he lived at Buri Buri. It is true, however, that his older brother, Jose de la Cruz, was equally involved in San Francisco affairs and did live at the rancho. An article by J. N. Bowman on determination of the Birthdays of Urban Communities contains this intriguing line:

Probably in the 1810's or 1820's, houses were erected at Polin Spring south east of the presidio, and Francisco Sanchez had a house between the two.23

Francisco and Teodora's first child, Luisa, was born in 1834. Others followed in rapid succession until they had ten offspring, six boys and four girls: Luisa, Luis, Rosalia, Jenovina, Thomas, Cipriano, Chano, Francisco, Dolores, and Pedro.

In addition to his duties as secretary to the San Francisco municipal government, Francisco was in 1837 grantee of town lots and received himself numerous lots in the heart of Yerba Buena, as San Francisco was then called.24 All these he sold within a short time. Beginning in 1842 when he was 37 years old, Francisco was three times Alcalde (mayor) of San Francisco.25 In tribute to that service, Francisco's picture hangs in the San Francisco Hall of Mayors at City Hall. Additionally, Francisco conducted the 1842 census (the first taken) and was justice of the peace in 1843.

Francisco Sanchez's civic duties seem to have been performed concurrently with his military duties. Eldredge says that Francisco served in the presidial company and was appointed captain of the militia company organized in 1837 for the defense of San Francisco.26 In his capacity as captain of the port Francisco was called upon to put down a mutiny which occurred on board a ship lying in port. John Henry Brown, in his Early Days of San Francisco, says that "Captain Sanchez killed one of the mutineers, by running his sword right through his body, pinning them to the deck. After this affair he was unwilling to hold the position any longer."27

Presidio records indicate that Francisco was nominally commandante of San Francisco from 1837 until the end of the Mexican rule.28 Few military duties were performed by Sanchez or others, since Vallejo had moved the main force to Sonoma in 1835 when he was made commandante of the northern frontier. 29

Relations between the mission fathers and the Mexican government deteriorated rapidly during the first decade of Mexican rule, and in the mid 1830's the missions were reduced to parish-church status. With secularization, most of the mission lands either passed into the hands of nearby ranchers as land grants (as was the case with Francisco's father), or were sold or given away. Francisco Sanchez was the third and successful applicant for the Rancho San Pedro, 8926 acres lying between his father's Buri Buri Rancho on the east, the Pacific Ocean on the west, Edgemar on the north, and San Pedro Point and Montara Mountain on the south (the approximate boundaries of the present day city of Pacifica).

A portion of a map of the ranchos of San Mateo County, showing both Rancho San Pedro and the adjacent Rancho Buri Buri.

The plaque affixed to the Sanchez Adobe recognizing its importance as an historic site and designating it a Cahjornia Historical Landmark.

The location on Rancho San Pedro that Francisco chose for his home had been the site of the OhIone Indian village of Pruristac and of the Mission Dolores support farm, or assistencia, which had, for about ten years preceding 1792, provided substantially all the foodstuffs for the Mission Dolores and its population. From 1792 until Francisco received his grant it had been a part of the mission cattle ranching operation. Francisco built his adobe home on the site of the mission outpost quadrangle, about a mile east of the ocean and adjacent to San Pedro Creek. He located the adobe on a portion of the outpost foundation, and may have used extant adobe brick in its construction.
Francisco received the Rancho San Pedro as a reward for his service as commandante of the San Francisco Presidio. The grant was confirmed on January 26, 1839 by Governor Juan B. Alvarado. Testifying in a land case in 1854 Francisco said: "I have lived on the same ranch since 1839, in the present dwelling house since 1846."30 Stanger indicates that Francisco resided in a temporary structure while the two-story, six-room adobe was under construction. The house was completed in 1846 and is still standing today with its original adobe walls and upper flooring. The adobe was purchased in the late 1940's and restored in 1953 by the County of San Mateo.

Francisco's activities in the municipal government of San Francisco and on behalf of the presidio make it questionable whether he actually moved his family to the rancho before 1846. His ownership of a house at the presidio and his ties to Rancho Buri Buri leave open the question of actual family residence during the eight years after he received his land grant and before the house was completed. It is not unlikely that he actually was resident in both San Francisco and Rancho San Pedro. Certainly his ranching activities were prosperous, and his civic and military duties in those days may not have been too demanding, though the historic record indicates that Francisco was conscientious in all his undertakings.

In 1838 Francisco was involved in the growing hostilities between Mexico and California. Under General Vallejo's command, Francisco, as captain of the San Francisco militia, organized a force of some 30 men whom he moved as far south as Monterey to support Vallejo's efforts to wrest California from Mexico. During that year he maintained his troop of soldiers ready to move on Vallejo's orders, but he did not engage in any hostilities.

When General Castro convened a junta on April 2, 1846, to gain a consensus from the Californios regarding their eventual destiny, Sanchez was one of the party who accompanied Vallejo to the junta in Monterey. Those attending spoke variously in favor of an independent California, or annexation to France, England, or the United States. Francisco spoke for annexation to the United States. Finally Vallejo made his famous speech also favoring annexation. Realizing they were outnumbered, Vallejo and his party left Monterey, depriving the junta of a quorum, defeating schemes for European intervention and, by their absence, promoting American intervention.

The United States had for some time been covetously eyeing California. An ambush of American soldiers on the Mexican border provided the incident necessary for a declaration of war. War was declared on Mexico on May 13, 1846, and on July 9 Commander John B. Montgomery landed in San Francisco and raised the American flag. Francisco Sanchez, then commandante of San Francisco, had sent all his available militiamen south to Castro. With no force to oppose the American commander, Sanchez avoided the humiliation of a surrender by withdrawing to his rancho.31

With the declaration of war on Mexico, the safety of American citizens residing within California and the need for military provisions became an immediate concern of the American forces occupying California. Commissions were granted and companies of militia quickly recruited. These recruits and their summarily commissioned officers were referred to as the "volunteers." Among those volunteers receiving commissions was a San Jose resident and former Mexican national Charles M. Weber. When General Montgomery needed someone in San Jose to keep the American flag flying (it had been repeatedly cut down), he appointed Weber to this task and also asked him to take charge of all arms found in possession of Californians residing in the towns of San Jose and Santa Clara and their vicinities. With no legal authority, Weber immediately began confIscating Iivestock.32 Weber swept the prosperous ranchos on the San Francisco Peninsula, his gangs ravaging every rancho between San Jose and Yerba Buena.33

Believing that Weber was violating the American proclamations regarding the treatment of Mexican nationals, the rancheros petitioned Montgomery for Weber's removal from his official position. Montgomery responded that the American's behavior was in accord with the proclamations and was above reproach. He questioned the Californios' behavior in light of the United States' generous treatment of them, and refused to remove Weber.34

Weber and the gangs of volunteers were not alone in their confiscation of livestock. The American alcalde in San Francisco, Washington Bartlett, who also procured stock from the rancheros, precipitated the event that imprinted the name of Francisco Sanchez in the annals of California history.

Francisco had quietly retired to his rancho during the months following Montgomery's entry into San Francisco. He had philosophically accepted and even supported the United States occupation of California, and was initially cooperative with their "requests" for provisions and stock. The requisitioning, however, deteriorated into little more than looting.

A letter from Washington Bartlett to Montgomery, dated November 5, 1846, informs Montgomery that "the Sanchez family in its different branches have abundant cattle - and if it shall meet with your approval I can have fifty or one hundred head driven in and herded between the Town and the Presidio and then all that are used can be paid for."35 A second letter describes Sanchez's reaction to Bartlett's request:

... I arrived about three P.M., found him (Sanchez) at home and very friendly indeed, I informed him of the object of my visit, and your determination to have the public service, and the town regularly supplied with fresh provisions; he said he was willing to do all he could - but he had but one man on his farm or in his employ, and that was his own vacquero - that his indians had left him - besides he had a large stock of cattle and sheep which must suffer great loss if he should lose the few horses he now has; and that while the volunteers were about the country his horses were not safe even if he had your passport for them, as they would take them and be off before he could complain .. , 36

By December the Mexican rancheros were fed up. About December 15 Bartlett rode once again to obtain cattle, accompanied by a party of six. According to Bartlett's own account, Francisco Sanchez, his brother Ysidro, and others overpowered them and took them hostage. Noteworthy in his account of the event is Bartlett's admission that "[to] the credit of Sanchez I must say, that he saw his success so complete, that he ordered his men not to fire a shot so soon as I was secured by him - and they did not fire, but disarmed my men as before related."37

In her account of the events preceding the Battle of Santa Clara in her book of the same name, Dorothy Regnery relates that the Californios took their American hostages initially to Francisco's Rancho San Pedro on the coast; later moving south to the vicinity of San Jose, stopping in Half Moon Bay at the Guyerrero, Vasquez, and Miramontez ranches, spending the night of Sunday, December 20, at the Copinger ranch in present-day Woodside, and visiting the ranch of Francisco Sanchez' father-in·law, where Milpitas now stands. Throughout the travels they avoided San Jose, and gathered reinforcements from local rancheros. Their band eventually numbered about 100.38

The Mexican population of southern California had been more aggressive in their response to American occupation of California. In the minds of Americans the action of the rancheros was an extension of the war in the south. However, Regnery notes that "there is no evidence to link the protest with the southern revolt or with Mexican sympathizers in the Middle Department."39 She quotes Monterey Alcalde Walter Colton's estimation of the Northern Californios as "with few exceptions, men of the better stamp - men who had a permanent interest in the soil, and who had refused to join the more rash spirits at the south."40

Three weeks after Bartlett's capture, a party of about 100 men with a field cannon set out from San Francisco under the command of Captain Ward Marston of the U. S. Marines. On the morning of January 2, 1847, the American forces engaged the Californios in battle near the Santa Clara mission. The indecisive encounter ended with Sanchez and his group retreating to the Santa Cruz mountains. Stanger's account of the day's events concludes with Sanchez sending to Marston "a messenger under a flag of truce, offering surrender under certain conditions, this opening negotiations."41 According to Dorothy Regnery, the rancheros asked to talk with the American leaders, but there was no offer to surrender and no suggestion of an armistice. She says that "if Marston had refused to meet the rancheros, they could have dispersed quietly in the darkness, grown stronger, and caused more problems for the Americans. "42

On Sunday morning, January 3, a party that included Marston and British Consul Forbes rode out from the mission and met Francisco, Jose de la Cruz Sanchez (his brother), Domingo Feliz, and Bartlett. Francisco, who had assumed the leadership of the rancheros at their request in order to extricate them from what could only be a losing proposition, told the Americans that:

(the) rancheros were not in arms against the American flag, they were not carrying any flag, and they were not associated with any Mexican group. The rancheros were objecting to their properties being taken without proper considerations, and they feared for their own and their families' safety. The complaints were illustrated with actual examples. They considered Weber, a Mexican citizen, to be the principal culprit of the misdeeds. They wished he were dead, but they would be satisfied if the Americans would revoke his authority.43

Marston agreed to carry their grievances to Commander Hull and proposed that an armistice be declared between the two parties while they awaited a reply. Francisco permitted Bartlett to return to Santa Clara with Forbes, to remain there until the annistice was ended or the affair concluded. During the armistice the rancheros moved freely in and out of the mission.

On Wednesday, January 6, the courier returned with instructions for Captain Marston concerning terms of the surrender. The terms dictated that the Califomios were to surrender unconditionally.

Upon learning of these terms, Francisco Sanchez's initial response was "mas vale morir" (better to die). Upon further negotiations, including consultation with other members of his group. Sanchez as spokesman agreed to cease. hostilities.

Dorothy Regnery describes the surrender as:

a formal treaty ceremony . . . held late Thursday afternoon, 7 January 1847. There were present at least 175 American Servicemen, enlistees, and volunteers, of whom more than 100 were mounted on horses. There were about 100 mounted Californios. And there were over 100 spectators.

The Battle of Santa Clara
The American force drew up in formation west of the mission at the same place the negotiations had been conducted .... The Californios rode double file from their camp across the plain and formed a single line facing the American force. Upon command the rancheros dismounted in unison, and with solemnity Francisco Sanchez presented his saber to Marston.44

Mas vale morir. How intense Francisco's feelings must have been. It must have seemed that their self sacrificing labor had gone for naught, they had surrendered their arms and gained nothing.

Was that truly the case? Francisco was not imprisoned. No roster of names of the protesting rancheros was compiled. Their branded horses were returned to them. No one was required to sign a parole promising to fulfill certain conditions in exchange for release. No treaty as such was signed. They went home free men. They were required to surrender all arms and munitions and release all hostages.

Frank Stanger concludes his description of the event with the suggestion that Sanchez was possibly given unofficial assurance by responsible persons that the United States would guarantee protection of property. If such was the case, Francisco would have obtained his goal of protecting the rancheros' property:

The conclusion that this was Sanchez' whole purpose in the affair and that such was the way it was concluded seems reasonable. Sanchez could have had no other sensible reason for precipitating such an action. Certainly no level-headed Californian thought it possible to prevent the American conquest, and there was no other possible advantage to be gained. Tempermental patriots might have resisted . . . or men who loved popularity might have resorted to such action for the effect on their own people. But Francisco Sanchez was neither hot headed nor political minded. He had held positions of public trust in San Francisco .... He was quiet, friendly rather than otherwise toward Americans, and interested primarily in his family and his property. The further fact that his prisoners were well treated and that no other depredations were committed also emphasizes this conclusion.45

The Mexican War ended shortly after the Battle of Santa Clara, and justice was, inevitably, served. In an official report dated March 15, 1847, General Stephen W. Kearny assured his superiors that "the Californians are now quiet, and I shall endeavor to keep them so by mild and gentle treatment. . . . they have been most cruelly and shamefully abused by our own people - by the volunteers .... Had they not resisted they would have been unworthy of the name of men. "46

Over the next 14 years little is heard of Francisco Sanchez. Regnery notes that he served as Supervisor from the 2nd district of San Francisco County in 1850. The County of San Mateo was created in 1856, and Rancho San Pedro fell within its boundaries. In 1862 Sanchez stood for the position of county supervisor, the first Californio to run for office. Though his candidacy was endorsed by the county's only newspaper, he was defeated.47

In 1853 Francisco's claim to Rancho San Pedro was officially recognized by the United States Land Commission. Stanger suggests that Francisco may have wanted to show a little independence in dealing with the new government. Land claimants usually submitted complete records of their petitions for grants, reports of investigations, correspondence, title, and witnesses to give personal testimony. Francisco's only submitted evidence was his Mexican title grant and a map with rather indefinite boundaries. Francisco was, however, somewhat more of a personage than most of his neighbors, and was one of the wealthiest men in the community. He had held positions of public trust in San Francisco and at the presidio, and he offered the only resistance in Northern California to the American invasion. Thus, he was well known to the Americans as a leader and person of integrity and, in Stanger's words, he may have felt, with traditional Castilian dignity, that the title, together with his word of honor, ought to be sufficient. And they were. No question was raised about the validity of his title and the Land Commission was generous in assigning his boundaries.48 The Land Commission's action, however, with respect to Rancho San Pedro was atypical; the reasons for their generosity are unclear. Several possible motives present themselves. First, the Commission was surely aware of Francisco's ability to galvanize the Spanish Dons to action. Second, Francisco Sanchez had an admirable record of public service. But public service was the rule rather than the exception with many of the Dons whose treatment at the hands of the Commission destroyed their estates (as was true in the cases of General Vallejo and Francisco's own brother, Jose de la Cruz Sanchez). A third possible motive for the Commission's upholding Francisco Sanchez's entire claim was the location of Rancho San Pedro on the distant and relatively inaccessible coastside, seemingly fog shrouded, barren of trees; and battered by winter storms.

Not much is known of life at Rancho San Pedro. Francisco's children grew up and married mainly to other Spanish landgrant families. Luisa, Francisco's oldest child, married Arciano Mirarnontez. Stanger says:

For many years, the adobe was the home of the Sanchez family. It was the scene of many brilliant social gatherings. Among the famous guests, who once enjoyed its hospitality, were General John C. Fremont, W.C. Ralston and Henry Meigs. During California's Mexican regime, Sanchez played host to many leaders of the day including Juan B. Alvarado.49

Fancisco Sanchez headstone at Mission Doleres Cemetery

On September 8, 1862, Francisco Sanchez died at age 57 from injuries received in a fall from a horse.50 He is buried in the Mission Dolores cemetery in San Francisco, where his grave can be visited today.

Before his death Sanchez deeded his place in trust to be used by his wife during her life, half of it to be completely hers and the other half to be divided at her death among their children.51 The San Mateo County Assessment Rolls of 1862-63, under Assessment of Property for the Fiscal Year Ending 1863, list Francisco's holdings as:

Two leagues of land with improvements known as the San Pedro Ranch thereon bounded on the North by the De Haro Rancho, West by the Pacific Ocean, South by James Denniston's Rancho, on the East by the Buri Buri Rancho.

Personal Property: two yoke oxen, 65 mares and colts wild, 25 tame Spanish horses, 300 head cattle, 60 head sheep, two old wagons and one carriage.

Number of acres; 8,896. Value of Land and improvements; $44,480.00

The Assessment Rolls of 1864 show the same listing under the estate of Francisco Sanchez, the only public evidence of his death. The value has increased to $46,730.00, and the record indicates a total tax bill of $1247.69.

In an article entitled ''Richest Men in San Mateo County" in the September 26, 1862 issue of the San Maeo County Gazette, Francisco Sanchez is listed as being worth $47,690.00 and paying taxes of $1177.95. Only one individual is listed as having a value in excess of Francisco's.
The Sanchez Adobe
Three larger figures are listed either as partnerships or companies.

Americans, in their dealings with Francisco Sanchez, always showed a high regard for his personal integrity.52 Brown described him as "an honorable, noble, and high minded man [who] would scorn to do anything mean or contemptible."53 He managed his personal affairs with wisdom enough to have left his estate intact.

The matrix of history through which Francisco Sanchez lived out his destiny is rich and varied. His and his family's role in that history is one of the drama and adventure: the founding and settling of a great metropolis, the adventure and excitement of soldiering and exploring, the building of a family dynasty, immediate participation in Democracy, and upholding a sense of decency and honor to the end, Francisco Sanchez served loyally under three flags: Spanish, Mexican, and American. His was the type of life and the kind of era that Americans glory in dramatizing, yet Francisco Sanchez has remained in the back waters of contemporary American history, unnoticed and unsung.

The United States entered California as conquerors, and it is axiomatic that conquerors do not lionize the conquered, particularly those who challenge them as did Francisco and his compadres in the Battle of Santa Clara. The invader's diminishing of the subject people persists over time. Today, if one inquires about early San Francisco history, the City Historian presents one with a starting date of 1846, the year of United States entry into California. In dismissing the Sanchez family and the other landgrant families of Spanish California we do them a disservice, and we impoverish our heritage as Californians.

Bancroft, Hubert Howe. Register of Pioneer Inhabitants of California 1542·1848. Los Angeles: Dawson's Book Shop, 1964.
The Works of Hubert Howe Ban· croft, History of California, Vols. 1-5 (facsimile of first American Edition, vols. 18·22). Santa Barbara: Wallace Hebberd, 1970.
Beechey, Frederik William. Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Beering's Strait. Reprint of 1831 London edition. New York: De Capo Press, 1968.
Bowman, J. N. "Determination of the Birthdays of Urban Communities," California Historical Society Quarterly, 27 (March 1948).
Brown, John Henry. Early Days of San Francisco.
Oakland: Biobooks, 1949.
Cloud, Roy W. History of San Mateo County, California, vol. 1. Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1928.


1, Zoeth Skinner Eldredge, The Beginnings of San Francisco from the Expedition of Anza, 1774 to the City Charter of April I5, 1850 (New York: John C. Rankin, 1912), p. 298.

2 Nellie Van De Grift Sanchez, Spanish Arcadia (San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago: Powell Publishing Co., 1929), p. 236.

3 Zephyrin Englehardt, San Francisco or Mission Dolores (Chicilgo: Franciscan Herald Press, 1924),
pp. 4-6.

4 Ibid, pp. 44-45

5 Frank M. Stanger, History of San Mateo County (San Mateo, California: San Mateo Times, 1938), p.40.

6 Hubert Howe Bancroft, Register of Pioneer Inhabitants of California. 1542-1848 (Los Angeles: Dawson's
Book Shop, 1964), p.710.

7 The Presidio of San Francisco 1776-1976. A Collection of Historical Source Materials (San Francisco: Presidio of San Francisco Museum Archives, 1976), p. 25.

8 Marie E. Northrup, Spanish-Mexican Families of Early California, 1769-1850 (New Orleans: Polyanthos, Inc.), vol. 1, p. 158.

9 Ibid, pp. 304-306

10 Commission of Jose Antonio Sanchez II, 1805 archival display on Sanchez family, Millbrae Public Library, Millbrae, California.

11 Bancroft, Register of Pioneer Inhabitants, p. 710.

12 Fredrik William Beechey. Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Beering's Strait (New York: De Capo Press, 1969; reprint of London edition, 1831), PP. 25ff.

13 Bancroft,register of Pioneer Inhabitants, p. 710

14 Myrtle M. McKittrick, Vallejo, Son of Califomia (Portland: Binfort and Mort, 1944), p. 5.

15 Sanchez, Spanish Arcadio, p. 222.

16 Frank hi Stanger, "History of Don Francisco Sanchez," unpublished biographical sketch written for the dedication of the restored Sanchez Adobe. 1953, Sanchez Adobe Historic Site Archives, Pacifica, California. Stanger is in error here. Sanchez's maternal grandparents were both dead by the time he would have started school. (Northrup, Spanish-Mexican Faml1ies; vol. I, p. 304.) Perhaps Sanchez stayed with other maternal relatives in San Jose.

17 Oscar Osburn Winther, "The Story of San Jose, ITl7·1&59;~ California's First Pueblo - Part I," Califomia Historical Socie~ Quarterly 14 (March 1935): 14.

18 Roscoe D. Wyatt" Days of the Dons (Redwood City. California: San Mateo County Title Co., 1949),
p. 31.

19 Hubert Howe Bancroft. The· Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of California (Santa Barbara: Wallace Hebberd, 1970) vol. 2, p. 605.

20 Northrup, Spanish-Mexacan Families, p. 158.

21 Stanger, History of San Mateo County, p. 85.

22 Mildred Cavanaugh, "Buri Suri Rancho," unpublished student monograph, 1937, p. 3, San Mateo County Historical Association archives.

23 J. N. Bowman, "Determination of the Birthday of Urban Communities," California Historical Society Quarterly 27 (March 1948): 59.

24 Bancroft, History of California, vol. 4, p. 669.

25 Frank M. Stanger, "Francisco Sanchez," La Peninsula 7 (May 1953): 6.

26 Eldredge, The Beginnings of San Francisco, pp. 503·504; Bancroft, Register of Pioneer Inhabitants,
p. 710.

27 Jolm Henry Brown, Early Days of San Francisco (Oakland: Biobooks, 1949), p. 19.

28 Bancroft, History of California, vol. 5, p. 669

29 Eldredge, The Beginnings of San Francisco, p.722.

30 Stanger, History of San Mateo County, p. 58.

31 Eldredge, The Beginnings of San Francisco, pp. 540-541.

32 Dorothy F. Regnery, The Battle of Santa Clara (San Jose,
California: Smith and McKay Printing Co., 1978), p. 24.

33 Ibid, pp. 28-29.

34 Ibid, p. 24.

35 Transcript of material preceding Verba Buena Alcalde Washington Bartlett's capture by Francisco Sanchez, November 5, 6, and 18, 1846, document number 1341, San Mateo County Historical Association archives.

36 Ibid

37 Regnery, Battle of Santa Clara, p. 63, citing Bartlett's account of his capture to Commander Hull, written January 7. 1847.

38 Ibid, p. 67.

39 Ibid, p. 66.

40 Ibid.

41 Stanger, History of San Mateo County, p. 80.

42 Regnery, Battle of Santa Clara, p. 97.

43 Ibid.

44 Ibid, pp. 114-115

45 Stanger, History of San Mateo County, p. 80