Diary of Gaspar de Portola

Diary of Gaspar de Portola During the California Expedition of 1769-1770

edited by Donald Eugene Smith and Frederick J Teggart

University of California Berkeley California October 1909

 

 

 

On the way north from San Diego looking for Monterey August 1769

 

The 14th, we proceeded for three hours and came out on the Santa Barbara Channel where we found a town of 30 or more houses and about 300 natives. Immediately upon seeing us they sent out three canoes to fish and made us a present of many fish. These canoes, though narrow, are 8 yards in length, well-made, and constructed of boards.

 

The 15th, we proceeded for two hours along the seashore. We halted near a town of eight houses. No water or pasture.

 

The 16th, we proceeded for three hours, the whole time along the beach, and have halted in a place where there is little pasture. In this place there is a town which has 30 or more houses made of rushes; the town has more than 300 inhabitants. There have come to our camp some natives from the islands off the coast. In the town there are seven canoes, well-built, 8 yards in length and one in with and, in lieu of nails, they fasten the boards with cords and pay them well with tar. They made us a present of many fish.

 

The 17th, we proceeded for two hours; a good road. We halted on the beach. Here there was a town which had 38 houses and about 300 inhabitants with seven very fine canoes of wood. Much pasture and water.

 

The 18th of August, we proceeded for five hours along the seashore. We halted in a town which had 40 or more houses inhabited by over 500 natives; they made us a present of many fish and we made them a suitable return. This town had 10 canoes. Besides this one there were in the vicinity to other towns, ruined and deserted, the inhabitants having mutually exterminated each other.

 

The 19th of August, we proceeded for four hours. During this day’s march we had correction we have come upon the seven towns – the smallest having 20, the largest, more than 80 houses – in which we have seen about 800 natives. Much pasture and water, and many trees. They made us a present of much food, and entertained us greatly with music and dancing.

 

The 21st of August, we proceeded for three hours, the whole time beside the ocean, and halted opposite to towns of about 60 houses each, inhabited by about 800 natives. They came to the camp with their chiefs and made us a present of many fish. Much pasture and water, with very many trees. These two places also have very many canoes. These towns, we saw, were not in a flourishing condition; although the inhabitants appeared to be docile, they did not what wish us to pass through their towns, which we attributed to the fact that we gave them no glass beads. These natives live in a more civilized manner than the others as many of them sleep in bedsteads. In all these towns they have cemeteries, in which poles are raised over the graves with the distinction that for the chiefs they raise a higher pole, and if it is the grave of a woman, they hang baskets or wooden bowls on the pole, if that of a man, the hair sacrificed by his relatives. All these towns are ruled over by three or four chiefs and one chief rules over them all. Every chief has two wives while other men have one. Here we rested for one day.

 

The 23rd of August, we proceeded for four hours and a half, part of the way along the beach. We halted in a town of 80 houses and the number of natives that we saw was about 400. Much running water and pasture. They made us a present of great quantities of fish, and the first thing they entreat, all along the channel, is that they be permitted to dance; this we conceded so as to not displease them.

 

The 24th of August, we proceeded for three hours and a half; although the road was fairly level, there were many gorges made by the flow of the water from the mountains. We have halted in a town which is composed of 50 houses inhabited by more than 300 natives. They made us a present of many fish. We had much pasture and water.

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