California was a remote and wild land when the first European explorers and missionaries arrived in the middle of the 16th century. It remained so for almost three hundred years, until that day in 1848 when John Marshall discovered gold at Sutter's mill near Sacramento, setting off the California Gold Rush.
Relying on the letters, journals, official reports, and proclamations of those early Hispanic visitors and settlers, professors Rose Marie Beebe and Robert Senkewicz have built a compelling recreation of pre-Gold Rush California in their book, "Lands of Promise and Despair: Chronicles of Early California, 1535-1846."
Professors of Spanish and history respectively at Santa Clara University, Beebe and Senkewicz will present this rare vision of Early California to the University of California, Santa Barbara History Associates Monday, Oct. 7 in the Fleischmann Auditorium of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2559 Puesta Del Sol Road in Santa Barbara. The 7:30 p.m. program follows a 6:30 p.m. reception. Tickets are $7 for History Associates members and $10 for all others. Advance registration is required and can be made by calling the UCSB Office of Community Relations at 893-4388.
Beebe is president of the California Mission Studies Association. She and Senkewicz are co-editors of that organization's newsletter and co-translators, editors, and annotators of "The History of Alta California" by Antonio Maria Osio. They are currently working on editions of the collected letters of Francisco Palou, Vicente Sarria and Estaban Tapis, three of the Franciscan presidents of the California missions.