In 1774 an adventurer named Juan Bautista de Anza set off from New Spain (Mexico) with a few soldiers to survey a land route to San Francisco. He made it as far as Monterey, returned home in triumph, and the following year set off again with 245 settlers. The journey took a little longer with such a big train, but the expedition made it safely through and arrived in the Bay Area early in 1776. They probably had no knowledge of the momentous events that were developing on the East Coast of North America that year.
The following year some of the expedition members founded the Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe at the southern end of San Francisco Bay. It was the first city to be founded in California. An Apache Indian who traveled with the De Anza Expedition built a house in the adobe style in the new Pueblo. This became the home of Don Luis Maria Peralta, the city's first civil leader. It dates from 1797.
San José remained a Spanish settlement until the Mexican War. On July 14, 1846, the city was captured by US forces under the command of Captain Thomas Fallon. Fallon stayed on in the area, and later became Mayor of the city. In 1855 he built a fine Victorian mansion just across the road from Peralta's adobe house.
Both buildings have been preserved by the City of San José and are open to the public ($6 for one, $10 for both). They might be small, but you won't find much European history in California that is quite so old.
by Cheryl Morgan
April 9, 2001
From journal Out and about in Downtown San Jose