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Old Spanish Trail:

OST Expedition Chronology


November 6 -- Antonio Armijo and 60 men leave from Abiquiú, New Mexico, for California and arrive there after 86 days of travel. They took trade blankets and serapes to trade for 100 horses and mules and followed a route across Northern Arizona and Southern Utah, arriving at San Gabriel, California on January 30, 1830.


José Antonio Chávez de Vaca leads an expedition in 1830 to California but is denied entrance to Los Angeles by authorities.

Gregorio Montoya arrives in California from New Mexico in 1830.

Wolfskill and Yount and 20 trappers leave New Mexico in September 1830 and arrive in California in February 1831. They apparently followed portions of the route of Domínguez and Escalante on their way to California.

April 25 -- Antonio Armijo returns to New Mexico.

June 30 -- Alberto Gilber of Belen buys horses in northern California to take back to New Mexico.


March 31 -- California official complains of horse thieves from New Mexico.

April 23 -- Antonio Santi-Estevan and 30 men from New Mexico trade wool for livestock in California. The exact route of this trip is unclear.

May 6 -- Franco de Fouri, Bautista Saint-German, Bautista Guerra, Zacarias Ham, Luís Burton, Samuel Shields, Zebedia Branch, and Juan Lober arrive in California. Hafen and Hafen list these individuals as being with Wolkskill and Yount.


Friar Cabot of Mission San Miguel reports that New Mexicans traded wool for horses in California; he also claimed that Mission San Miguel had 108 horses and mules stolen and that at the Rancho of Asunción had reported four colts and a mule stolen.

August 13 -- Santiago Martín goes to California from New Mexico with 15 men. Hipolito Espinosa (later a settler of Agua Mansa) is with the party. No documentation found for other caravans during this year.


Juan de Jesus “Chino Pando” Villalpando leads an expedition from New Mexico to California by way of the Animas River Route on the “Camino de Nuevo Mexico” or “Road to New Mexico.” Californio Antonio Avila and five men inspect returning New Mexicans’ herds of sheep, horses and mules bound for New Mexico.

February 2 -- Felipe Lugo and 12 men try to catch up with New Mexicans who had stolen animals from California. They were traveling on the “Camino de Nuevo Mexico” or the “Road to New Mexico.”

February 26 -- Jesus Uzeta, Perfecto Archuleta, and Tomás Salazar from New Mexico steal 430 animals from California and were reported bound for New Mexico.

October 27 -- José Avieta and 125 men with serapes leave New Mexico for California arriving in Los Angeles on December 24,1833.


Jacob Leese and nine men leave California with 450 horses and mules, lose all but 27 animals to Indians, and return to California. A few days earlier, a party of 19 traders encountered Indians while returning from California to New Mexico and five were killed.

January 21 -- José Avieta and 124 men from New Mexico arrive in California and trade 1,654 serapes, 341 blankets, 171 bedspreads, and other items such as wool for horses in California. They refused to pay the alcabala, a tax on trade, manifesting a copy of the Decreto de 1830, which they claimed exempted them from the charge. Some of his men went as far north as San José, where they are thought to have been stealing horses.


A December 2, 1837, Sandwich Islands Gazette story refers to New Mexicans in California “for a number of years past.” This may indicate that New Mexicans continued coming to California during 1835-1836.


William Pope and Isaac Slover travel to California by way of the North Branch with wagons.

January 16 -- Party of 30 men led by Jean Baptiste Chalifoux enters California from New Mexico arriving at San Gabriel. Chalifoux steals 1,400 to 1,500 California mules and horses and returns to New Mexico.

April -- José María Chávez and his brother Julian Chávez with family members and several others escape New Mexico by way of Utah to California. They had been singled out for execution for siding with Governor Albino Perez who was slain in the New Mexico Rebellion of 1837. A year later, on

October 17 to February 1838 -- John Wolfskill and 33 people travel from New Mexico to California.

December 2 -- The Sandwich Islands Gazette carries a story on New Mexican caravans in California and reports that they had come there “for a number of years past.” The story deals with how New Mexicans rendezvous in the Tulares and influence Indians to raid California for mules and horses so that they can trade them to New Mexicans.


José Antonio García leaves Abiquiú in 1838 for California. He later returned to New Mexico (see entry for 1842).

Thirty New Mexicans enter Los Angeles with John Wolfskill expedition.

February 6 -- Caravan of traders from New Mexico is restricted in trading and doing any business south of San Fernando.

March 24 -- José María Chávez and his New Mexicans, known by the Californios as the “Yegueros,” found themselves on the rebel side of a California rebellion at the Battle of San Buenaventura, an old mission site, and were captured by government forces under General José Castro. They were later released. José María returned to New Mexico and continued trading in the Utah country into the 1850s; and, Julian remained in California settling Chávez Ravine in Los Angeles, site of the modern Dodger Stadium (see 1840).

September 22 -- Lorenzo Trujillo, José Antonio García, Hipolito Espinosa, Diego Lobato, Antonio Lobato, Santiago Martínez and Manuelita Renaga (who gives birth to a son, Apolinario, at Resting Springs) leave New Mexico, bound for California. These eight individuals are the first settlers of the San Bernardino area.


José Antonio Salazar and several New Mexicans and two Canadians travel in party of 75 men to California. José Antonio Salazar’s expedition returns to New Mexico on April 14, 1839, with an estimated 2,500 animals. Some of Salazar’s men desert the expedition and remain in California as settlers. Michael White was either with this party or on the return trip with Tomás Salazar in 1840. White’s party went to Taos. Tomás Salazar is in California with an expedition from New Mexico (See 1840).

May 16 -- Various New Mexicans petition Governor Manuel Armijo in Santa Fe for passports to go to California. Passports were granted. Many New Mexicans migrate to California.

July 11 -- One New Mexican trader presents his passport in Santa Barbara, California—possibly this person was from the group of petitioners for passports in Santa Fe.

December 21 -- 75 New Mexicans arrive in California and settle near Rancho de San José. This group was probably the one that petitioned for passports in Santa Fe.


Manuel Martínez and Sismos petition to stay in California.

Julian Chávez, who had been in California, decides to remain in California as a citizen of Los Angeles. He later works for Abel Stearns as a right-hand man (see 1837).

February 21-- Californios report that New Mexicans had stolen horses from California.

April 4 -- Californios report that New Mexicans leaving Los Angeles had passed through Puerta del Cajón on their way back to New Mexico.

April 4 -- 75 men depart California for New Mexico.

April 14 -- The Tomás Salazar expedition leaves California and returns to New Mexico with herds of horses and mules (see 1839 and 1843).

May 15 -- Chaguanosos steal 1,000 animals from San Luis Obispo. The Chaguanosos, including Anglo and French trappers and Utes, were associated with New Mexican traders who stole or enticed other people to steal for them. That month this group stole some 3,000 horses.


Rowland-Workman party, including immigrants, travel to California. Caravans were used for trade and immigration after 1841 (Lawrence 1930:30). Among the travelers is J. Manuel Vaca, who founded Vacaville, California. It is reported that a party of 200 New Mexicans and 60 or more North Americans arrived in Los Angeles in November.

February -- Joseph Walker arrives in California from New Mexico with a party of 14 men, intending to stay two months and purchase horses.

February 10 -- Californio officials report at least two and possibly more expeditions reaching California from New Mexico.

August 11 -- John Rowland given safe conduct to go to California from New Mexico.

September 6 -- Francisco Estevan Vigil and a party of traders and other travelers depart New Mexico and arrive in Los Angeles in November (see 1847).

September 6 -- California detachment tracks New Mexican “thieves” to the Río San Pascual, possibly the Sevier River.

November -- Commander of Santa Barbara Presidio reportedly braces for the arrival of New Mexico traders.

November 30 -- A caravan from New Mexico arrives in California with 134 people on the expedition.


The main colonizing party from Abiquiú New Mexico for Agua Mansa arrives. Many of them settled at Politana, which earlier had been founded by Hipolito Espinosa. Santiago Martínez leads 19 families to California. This group is associated with Francisco Estevan Quintana, who planned to settle in San Bernardino area. These families eventually settled San Luis Obispo.

José Antonio García returns to California for trade in 1842 (See 1838).

John Rowland returns to New Mexico with 300 “stolen” animals. Rowland is in Santa Fe in July 1842. Official California records indicated that the Rowland party was inspected and had three horses confiscated.

February 10 -- Juan Bandini recovers stolen horses from New Mexican traders.

February 12 -- Francisco Estevan Quintana returns to New Mexico to get his family. He returns with them and settles near San Luis Obispo.

April 16 -- Francisco Estevan Vigil party leaves Los Angeles for New Mexico with 194 New Mexicans and purchases 4,150 animals. After being inspected by Californio officials, they depart Cajon on April 21 with 4,141 animals. Nine were confiscated.

June 3 -- California officials inspect incoming caravan from New Mexico for woolen goods for trade for horses “as has been done on other occasions.”


James P. Beckwourth from Missouri leaves New Mexico with a caravan of 40 mules to California by way of Utah sometime in 1843. He arrives in California in January 1844. Beckwourth’s exact route is not known. The next year Beckwourth will return from California with 1,800 horses.

January 15 -– John Rowland arrives from New Mexico with a considerable number of New Mexicans. Possibly 10 families from New Mexico arrive in California with this expedition. That same year, Rowland and B. D. Wilson leave California bound for New Mexico; they cross the Grand and Green rivers above their confluence.

March 6 -- 24 people leave California for New Mexico with 252 animals.

November 30 -- A company of men from California is given permission to leave California and trade in New Mexico.

December -- Tomás Salazar and 170 men arrive in Los Angeles from New Mexico with woolen goods. The group is comprised of 165 men and 10 families from New Mexico. They brought serapes and woolen goods to trade and returned to New Mexico in April 1844 (see 1839 and 1840).


Five families arrive in Agua Mansa from New Mexico.

La Placita, near Agua Mansa, is established by New Mexicans led by Lorenzo Trujillo. Original name of the site was La Placita de los Trujillos.

Jim Waters, Indian trader, uses the Old Spanish Trail to go to California and returns with pack mules and abalone shell.

January 2 -- New Mexican caravan returns to New Mexico from California.

January 11 -- Californios report that a New Mexican caravan, possibly Beckwourth’s, arrives in California.

April 21 -- John C. Frémont reports meeting New Mexicans, particularly Andres Fuentes and a small party, along the Mojave River.

November 10 -- Luís Robidoux is granted a passport to go to California with traders, and the caravan departs from the Luís López settlement.


October 21 --New Mexicans at Agua Mansa prepare to defend against Utes.


Miles Goodyear takes pack train of hides from northern Utah south to Old Spanish Trail and then on to California. This likely occurred in late 1846 or early 1847. Goodyear learned about the trail from fellow mountain men/horse thieves such as Bill Williams and Joseph Walker.

March -- California officials report that 1,000 head of horses have been stolen and taken through Cajon by “los Yutas” in the previous three months. Another report says that Utes travel among New Mexicans.

July 3 -- Californios report on New Mexicans living in California.


Kit Carson and Lieutenant George D. Brewerton carry messages about the United States-Mexico War using the Old Spanish Trail during this year and the next year.

November -- Porter Rockwell goes south from Salt Lake City to Old Spanish Trail with directions from Miles Goodyear. Jefferson Hunt is a member. This shows direct influence of mountain men in beginning of Mormon Route.

December -- Miles and Andrew Goodyear travel same route to California to trade for horses.

December -- New Mexican caravan of 209-225 men led by Francisco Estevan Vigil arrive in Los Angeles (See 1841 and 1848). Juan Ignacio Martínez, Rowland’s brother-in-law, was on the expedition. (John Hussey indicates that the expedition was comprised of 212 travelers, including 60 boys, and departed from New Mexico with 150 mules carrying blankets and other goods.) They return in April 1848.


February -- Hunt and other Mormons return to Utah from California on Old Spanish Trail in an attempt to supply Salt Lake City.

March -- Members of the Mormon battalion are led by Rockwell from California to Utah.

April -- Miles Goodyear leaves California with horses. Note: Goodyear was inspected at Cajon Pass on April 23, 1848. He had 231 animals and four men. Probably meeting illegal traders beyond the Cajon inspection point, Goodyear acquired and drove an estimated 4,000 animals over the Old Spanish Trail to Utah. Eventually, Goodyear drove his horses all the way to Missouri—over Old Santa Fe Trail—but found that the end of the Mexican War had released many horses onto the market, increasing the supply and depressing prices. In addition, the war and increased Indian hostilities held down immigration and demand for stock during 1847 and 1848. In 1849, Goodyear drives the herd of horses to Sutter’s Mill in California for trade to Gold Rush forty-niners. The Goodyear situation demonstrates the decline of the Old Spanish Trail trade.

April -- The Frenchman named Le Tard leaves Cajon with 231 horses, going westward to New Mexico.

April -- Francisco Estevan Vigil leaves California for New Mexico with 4,628 animals (see 1847).

July 4 -- Choteau leaves California and arrives in Santa Fe on August 15. Pratt uses Choteau Route in reverse to get to California.


John G. Nichols leaves U.S. over a “northern route,” gets to Salt Lake City, travels down Mormon Road, picks up the “Santa Fe Road” to the Mojave, and gets to San Bernardino-Agua Mansa area and on to Los Angeles.


September -- The guide, Tomás Chacón, and 50 men leave Abiquiú for California.


California Census of 1852 records population of 224,435.


The E. F. Beale party follows the Santa Fe Trail and Old Spanish Trail from Missouri to California and go back on the same route.

Also see:
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