People and events of interest in the history of California, especially Southern California and Orange County.
By the month
- 1510 Spanish writer Garci Ordóñez de Montalvo describes the fabulous island of California, kingdom of the Amazon Queen Calafia, in his prose romance Las Sergas de Espandián (The Deeds of Esplandián).
- 1513 Vasco Núñez de Balboa discovers the Pacific Ocean.
- 1519 Ferdinand Magellan sails from Spain seeking a westward route to China and Japan.
- 1533 Spanish explorers sailing westward from Mexico, land on the peninsula of Baja California. They believe it to be an island, and it became known as California.
- 1539 Francisco de Ulloa discovers the mouth of the Colorado River and proves Baja California is not an island.
- 1540 Expedition led by Hernando de Alarcón explores hundreds of miles up the Colorado River. Alarcón or Melchor Díaz becoms the first European to set foot in Alta California.
- 1542 Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo sets sail from La Navidad in Mexico to explore the coast of Alta California.
- 1543 Death of Cabrillo on San Miguel Island. Bartolomé Ferrer takes over leadership of the expedition and travels as far north as 42°N latitude, the current-day border between California and Oregon.
- 1577 Sir Francis Drake sails from Plymouth, England, with five ships.
- 1579 Drake’s sole remaining ship, The Golden Hinde, enters Drake’s Bay on the Point Reyes Peninsula for rest and repair. Drake claims the land as Nova Albion (New England) for the British Crown.
- 1580 Drake returns to Plymouth, England, via the Moluccas, the Celebes, Java, and the Cape of Good Hope.
- 1584 Francisco de Gali discovers the best route from the Philippines to New Spain takes the Japanese current eastward to Cape Mendocino, then south along the California coast. Two hundred days!
- 1595 Sebastián Rodriguez Cermeño anchors in Drake’s Bay and formally claims the land for Spain. His ship is later run aground at Point Reyes by a sudden storm. The remaining crew members sail to Acapulco in a boat built from salvage.
- 1602 Sebastián Vizcaíno sails from Acapulco with three ships for San Diego Bay. The expedition eventually reaches Monterey Bay but misses the entrance to San Francisco Bay.
- 1768 José de Gálvez expels Jesuits from Baja California. Franciscans led by Father Junípero Serra replace them. Gaspar de Portolá appointed governor of Baja and Alta California.
- 1769 Joint naval and land expeditions led by Portolá and Serra set out for San Diego. Forces meet in San Diego amid much hardship, death, and loss. Portolá and Father Juan Crespí continue to Monterey Bay by boat. A scouting party led by Sgt. José Ortega Discovers San Francisco Bay. Founding of Mission San Diego de Alcalá by Father Serra.
- 1770 Portolá returns to San Diego. Relief supplies arrive. Founding of Mission San Carlos Borromeo at Monterey Bay.
- 1774 Juan Bautista de Anza and Francisco Garcés leave Tubac presidio in Arizona. The party arrives at Mission San Gabriel two and a half months later.
- 1775 San Carlos, commanded by Juan Manuel de Ayala, sails through the Golden Gate into San Francisco Bay.
- 1776 De Anza party arrives on the San Francisco peninsula. Lt. José Joaquín Moraga establishes the San Francisco presidio. Founding of Mission San Francisco de Asís.1777 Founding of Pueblo San José de Guadalupe on southern edge of San Francisco Bay.
- 1781 Founding of pueblo Nuestra Señora La Reina de los Angeles.
- 1821 Mexico breaks away from Spain, taking California with it.
- 1834 Secularization of California Missions.
Authorization of land grants for Ranchos Santa Gertrudes, Los Coyotes, Las Bolsas, Los Alamitos, Los Cerritos to members of the Nieto family.
- 1841 Marriage of Abel Stearns to Arbadia Bandini.
- 1842 Abel Stearns buys Rancho Los Alamitos from Governor José Figueroa, about 28,000 acres.
- 1846 Life in California Before the Conquest, a memoir by Alfred Robinson, is published.
- 1851 renowned landscape photographer Carleton E. Watkins arrives in California. According to the Smithsonian, he learned photographic techniques while pretending to be a portrait photographer after the shop’s actual photographer quit suddenly. Mt. Watkins in Yosemite is named after him.
- 1932 Knott’s Berry Farm opens.
- 1973 Orange County Historical Commission is established. A notable accomplishment: establishment and oversight of the Orange County Archives.