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Moraga, José Joaquín Maria

Military Officer, Explorer, and Founder of the Royal Presidio of San Francisco

Entry Author: Br. Guire Cleary, S.S.F

Moraga served as a military officer in the Spanish Army of Mexico and as second in command to Juan Bautista de Anza on Anza's second expedition to the California missions. That great trek, which departed from Tubac --in present-day Arizona-- on September 29, 1775, covered 1500 miles. After Anza left Monterey to return to Mexico, Moraga led the group north to the land below the mouth of San Francisco Bay. There he founded the Mission and Royal Presidio of San Francisco. Moraga remained in San Francisco as the first commander of the Presidio. He is also credited with founding the town of San José de Guadalupe. In 1777, Moraga became godfather and namesake to the first Ohlone Indian to receive baptism, Chamis of Chutchui, who was baptized as Francisco Moraga on June 24 at Mission San Francisco de Asis.

Moraga went on to explore and map portions of the Bay Area with the assistance of members of local tribes of indigenous groups. His attitude toward the indigenous peoples was positive: he described the Ohlone as "affable, generous, and not at all mistrustful." Moraga himself was praised for his humane and lenient treatment of his soldiers.

During his years as military leader in San Francisco, Moraga faced the challenges of hunger, scant supplies, inadequate funding, and unreliable support from the home government. He also had to cope with the unfavorable geography and climate of the Presidio. By all accounts he performed admirably; his life of service has been described as "stainless and honorable". Moraga died in 1785 leaving behind wife María del Pilar de León y Barcelo and son Gabriel Moraga. In an unusual gesture of honor, Moraga's remains were disinterred and moved to the sanctuary of the new mission church of San Francisco de Asís on April 8, 1791. Fray Benito Cambón, builder of the church, noted that the transfer was made "with all the pomp that was possible and becoming to [Moraga's] merits."

Bibliography

Bancroft, Herbert H., History of California. Wallace Herberd, Santa Barbara, 1963.

Early, E. Eugene, The Moragas: Soldiers, Explorers and Founders. Unpublished Master's thesis, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, 1950.

Englehardt, OFM, Zephyrin, San Francisco or Mission Dolores. Franciscan Herald Press, Chicago, 1924.

Langellier, John Phillip and Rosen, Daniel B. El Presidio de San Francisco: A History Under Spain and Mexico, 1776-1846. Arthur H. Clark Co., Spokane, 1996

Milliken, Randall, A Time of Little Choice. Ballena Press, Menlo Park, 1995.

Moraga, José Joaquin, Letter of March 20, 1777 to Viceroy Antonio Bucareli y Ursa. Published at Web De Anza, http://anza.uoregon.edu/moraga

Northrop, Marie, Spanish-Mexican Families of Early California: 1769-1850. Polyanthos Press, New Orleans, 1976.

Libro de Defuntos. Handwritten manuscript in the possession of Mission San Francisco de Asís.

QUICK FACTS

Born: August 22, 1745, Mission Los Santos Angeles de Guevavi, Arizona
Founded the Mission and Royal Presidio of San Francisco
died: July 13, 1785, San Francisco, California

RELATED INFORMATION

> Pedro Benito Cambon
> Mission of San Francisco de Asis

OUTSIDE RESOURCES

+ Presidio of San Francisco
+ CA state Military Museum
+ Explorations and Conquest of Califirnia

 

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