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Conquests and Historical Identities in California, 1769-1936

Conquests and Historical Identities in California, 1769-1936

Lisbeth Haas
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 284
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  • Book Info
    Conquests and Historical Identities in California, 1769-1936
    Book Description:

    Spanning the period between Spanish colonization and the early twentieth century, this well-argued and convincing study examines the histories of Spanish and American conquests, and of ethnicity, race, and community in southern California. Lisbeth Haas draws on a diverse body of source materials (mission and court archives, oral histories, Spanish language plays, census and tax records) to build a new picture of rural society and social change. A borderlands and Chicano history, Haas's work provides a richly textured study of events that took place in and around San Juan Capistrano and Santa Ana in present-day Orange County. She provides a vivid sense of how and why the past acquires meaning in the lives that make up the historical identities she discusses. The voices of Juaneño and Luiseño Indians, Californios, and Mexicans are heard along the shifting faultlines of economic, social, and political change. This is one of the first truly multiethnic histories of California and of the West. It makes clear that issues of multiculturalism and ethnicity are not recent manifestations in California—they have characterized social and cultural relationships there since the late eighteenth century.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-91844-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    In 1889 a young woman, Modesta Avila, was brought to trial in Orange County Superior Court, accused of placing an obstruction on the tracks of the Santa Fe railroad, which had recently been laid some fifteen feet from the doorstep of her home in San Juan Capistrano, a former mission and Mexican pueblo. The obstruction was simply a heavy fence post laid across one rail and another one hammered into the ground between the tracks, with a paper stuck to it that read: “This land belongs to me. And if the railroad wants to run here, they will have to...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Indio and Juaneño, De Razón and California
    (pp. 13-44)

    In 1775 on the site that would soon become Mission San Juan Capistrano, soldiers and a Spanish lieutenant constructed, raised, and venerated a large cross; then the missionary Father Lasuén prepared an altar and said the Catholic mass. By this ceremony the Spaniards declared formal possession of the land of the Acâgchemem for the Spanish crown. The site chosen for the mass, significantly, was one that symbolized the independence of the Acâgchemem from surrounding Indian peoples. It was here that they had named themselves, thus defining their autonomy from the Pubuiem, and that they had declared their territorial sovereignty from...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Rural Society, 1840–1880
    (pp. 45-88)

    Few Indians received legal title to the land they inhabited. Moreover, the governor rarely recognized Indian land rights when granting ranchos. Hence, the protests former neophytes made against granting the rural lands of San Juan Capistrano to Californios went unheeded, and most of the former Acâgchemem territory was incorporated into California ranchos by 1841, when San Juan Mission was formed into a pueblo.¹

    The 1841 petition of Juan Abila and Concepción Abila de Sánchez, a brother and sister, illustrates the lack of attention given to Indian land claims in this process of dividing the former mission into ranchos.² When applying...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Village Society, Ethnic Communities, and Memory
    (pp. 89-137)

    I began this book with the story of Modesta Avila, who had placed an obstruction on the Santa Fe Railroad tracks after they were laid near her doorstep in San Juan Capistrano. Avila not only defiantly reported her actions to those men in Santa Ana who represented the new legal authority and economic order, but she later held a dance to celebrate receiving the money from the railroad. I argued that Avila, who was born in 1867, in the midst of the American conquest, was motivated by her generation’s experience of land loss. Now I would like to expand that...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Regional Culture
    (pp. 138-164)

    Colonial and Mexican regional history continued to be meaningful in the collective memory of residents of San Juan and persons of Juaneño and California background elsewhere in Orange County. This foundation for historical culture was strengthened after 1900 when immigration expanded the kinds of live performance offered. The ideas about history, society, race, and national identity presented in a vast array of theatrical genres and in cinema constituted a shared body of knowledge that connected local populations to a larger and international Spanish-language culture.

    Plays and other live performances portrayed a world distinct from that embodied in English-language productions, one...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Racial and Ethnic Identities and the Politics of Space
    (pp. 165-208)

    Events in the American town of Santa Ana provide a detailed and nuanced understanding of the early-twentieth-century experience of Mexicans, Californios, and Indians. Founded in 1869 on the former Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana (see chapter 2), this town was where Modesta Avila went to report her defiance of the railroad, and, hence, of the new economic and legal order. Santa Ana was the business and financial center where decisions were made that transformed the countryside. It was also the heart of American society in Orange County.

    English-speaking migrants of American birth and American parentage constituted the overwhelming majority of...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 209-212)

    Two conquests of the rural society around San Juan Capistrano, one originating in Spanish colonial times and the other the result of war, the United States’ territorial expansion, and the simultaneous capitalist transformation of the countryside, produced new landscapes but were unable to obliterate memory of the past. Pablo Tac left a record of Luiseño and Quechnajuichom identities. Modesta Avila symbolically protested Californios’ loss of land and wealth. Luis Olivos discovered in Mexico, and in Mexican films, a sense of his own history that had been misrepresented in the schools he attended in Santa Ana during his youth. Each acted...

  12. APPENDIX 1 A Note on Quantitative Method: The Federal Manuscript Census, 1860–191O
    (pp. 213-221)
  13. APPENDIX 2 Property Value by Group, Santa Ana and San Juan, 1860 and 1870
    (pp. 222-222)
  14. APPENDIX 3 Household Composition by Group, Santa Ana and San Juan, 1860–1880
    (pp. 223-224)
  15. APPENDIX 4 Employment by Select Occupation and Group, Orange County, 1900–191O
    (pp. 225-225)
  16. APPENDIX 5 Indices of Barrio Formation in Santa Ana: Logan, Artesia, and Delhi Barrios, 1916–1947
    (pp. 226-226)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 227-258)
  18. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 259-270)
  19. Index
    (pp. 271-283)