Page:The negro trail blazers of California; a compilation of records from the California archives in the Bancroft library at the University of California (IA negrotrailblaze00beas).pdf/29

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23
OF CALIFORNIA

is given an interesting account of the part Estevanico, the Negro, took in the discovery of the Southwestern part of this continent, which eventually led to the discovery of California, as the following will show:

"Soon after these three Spaniards and the Negro reached Mexico City and told of their strange experiences and the many cities they had passed through during the nine years of travel across the continent, Cortez, who had been deposed as Viceroy of Nueva Espana, but at the same time was given permission by the King of Spain to explore and discover at his own expense, whereupon after hearing of the arrival in Mexico City of these three Spaniards and the Negro and their experiences in exploring, decided to use the power given to him by the King to explore. He then proceeded to build some ships to be used by him in an expedition of discovery, and started out. He sailed into the Gulf of Lower California and hence into the Pacific Ocean, where he discovered the Santa Cruz Islands, which he named "California."

In the meantime Cabeza de Vaca and his party decided to return to Spain. They embarked in separate boats; Cabeza de Vaca and Castillo in one boat, and Dorantes and the Negro in another. A terrible storm drove them back to port. Soon afterward they again set sail, when a more severe storm again overtook them, and Dorantes and the Negro returned to shore. They did not attempt again to leave. Since there was no "Wireless" in those days, Cabeza de Vaca did not know that the boat with Dorantes and the Negro was not following him until he reached Habana, Cuba. After waiting for the boat a reasonable time he sailed for Spain. "Upon his arrival, he was made Governor of a province as a reward for his nine years of hardship while exploring in the interest of the Crown of Castile."

Viceroy Mendoza, the then ruler of Nueva Espana, being anxious to explore in the interest of the King of Spain, hearing that the Negro and Dorantes were still in Mexico City, sent for Dorantes and told him he would fit out the necessary outfit for an expedition of exploring. Dorantes consented, but afterward decided not to undertake the task. He had not forgotten the nine years of exploration with Cabeza de Vaca.

Viceroy Mendoza was not discouraged and determined to send out a party and to that end employed the Negro. His success at this is told in a letter to the King of Spain. It has been translated by Fanny Bandelier and says: "A letter written by the most Honorable Lord Don Antonio de Mendoza, Viceroy of Nueva Espana, to discover the end of the Firmeland of Nuena Espana toward the north. The arrival of Vasquez de Coronado with Friar Marco at Saint Michael of Culiacan with commissions to the governors of those parts to pacify the Indians, and not make slaves of them any more." Mendoza then tells at great length of fitting up an expedition for Dorantes which was given up "and he still had in hand the Negro who returned from the aforesaid voyage who, together with certain Indians born in these parts, whom I sent with Friar Marco de Mica and his companions, a Franciscan Friar because they had long traveled and exercised in these parts and had great experience with the Indians and were men of good affairs and consciences for whom I obtained leave of their Superiors. So they went with Friar Vasquez de Coronado, Governor of Nueva Galicia, unto the city of Saint Michael of Culiaean."

Mendoza, then speaking of Governor Coronado, says: "Because I had likewise advertisement of a certain province called Topria situated in the mountains, I had appointed the Governor Vasquez de Coronado that he should use means to learn the state thereof. He, supposing this to be a matter of great moment, determined himself to go and search it, having agreed with the said Friar that he should return by that part of the mountain to meet with him in a certain valley called Valle de Coracones, being 120 leagues distant from Culiacan." Mendoza closes the letter by saying: "The Governor, traveling in those provinces, found great scarcity of victuals there and the mountains so scraggy that he was forced to return home to Saint Michael. So that as well as in the choosing of the entrance as in not being able to find the way it seemed unto all means that God would shut up the gate to all those which, by strength of human force, have gone about to attempt this enterprise and hath revealed it to a poor and barefoot Friar and so the Friar began to enter into the land."

Hittell's History of California (p. 69), in speaking of Coronado, says: "Coronado, believing that the approaching winter would seriously embarrass his movements, determined to hasten back. He therefore hurriedly set up a cross with an inscription commemorating his progress thus far and then as rapidly as possible retraced his steps. A few of the people, however, including Father Juan de Padilla, Father Luis de Escabona and a Negro Priest, were so fascinated with the beautiful diversity of river, hill and plains at Quivera that they determined to remain there." Mr. Hittell gives Herrera as his authority. The writer called on this author and asked if his reference referred to the Negro Priest or other members of the party. He frankly said that it referred to the Negro Priest, and because of his interest in the Negro Race he made note of it in his history.