Remixing El Presidio

June 4, 2008

The Quad/Transitional Area

Filed under: Uncategorized — colleenmorgan @ 6:06 pm


A love affair
On April 8, 1806 the Russian ship Juno, on a desperate mission to obtain food, entered the bay of San Francisco carrying the Chamberlain Nikolai Petrovich Rezanov (Iverson 2). For four weeks the Russian ship stayed in the harbor, in an attempt to trade with the residents of el Presidio. These efforts were aided by Maria de la Concepcion Marcela Arguello, the eldest daughter of the Comandancia Arguello. During their time together Rezanov fell deeply in love with Concepcion, proposed to her and she accepted (Iverson 3). When Rezanov asked the Comandancia for Concepcion’s hand in marriage, a bigger issue was at play Rezanov was Russian Orthodox while Concepcion was Roman Catholic, the union was to be a “mixed marriage” and while the betrothal was allowed, permission from the pope was required for a wedding to take place. So, Rezanov left and promised to return in two years with permission to wed and Concepcion promised to marry him and no one else (Iverson 4). Once back in Russia he was urged to return to St. Petersburg, in the midst of winter he travelled by sleigh and fell ill multiple times, the last time however he fell off of his horse suffered a fatal injury to his head (Iverson 4). It is unknown exactly when Concepcion found out about the death of her love, and although urged by others she kept her vow and never married. The tragic tale of Rezanov and Concepcion has become one of the most beautiful love stories in the history of San Francisco.
Megan Ballock

Works Cited
Iverson, E. 1998 The Romance of Nikolai Rezanov and Concepcion Arguello: A Literary Legend and Its Effect on California History. The Limestone Press, Fairbanks, AK.

Social Interactions
Once the colony was established at Fort Ross and trade with el Presidio de San Francisco became a regular activity. And as an increasing number of European visitors sailed through the mouth of San Francisco Bay the settlers needed to escape from the monotony of colonial life. They also needed to prove to incoming ships that they were still apart of the civilized European community, and the quadrangle of el Presidio de San Francisco represented the face of this new thriving community (Voss 66). A welcomed break was often found through, “social events between the two settlements foster[ing] friendships, alliances, and romance among the colonial communities” (Voss 201). While it is difficult to envision what these social interactions would look like, we do know that they included dinner parties, dances (fandangos) and the infamous bull-and-bear fights. Traditionally these fights would include a bull, representing Spain, and a bear, representing Russia, in a fight to the death. The colonists would send hunting parties out to retrieve a California Grizzly Bear from the north and a traditional Spanish Bull from a southern ranchero (Blind 2008). Although extremely friendly towards one another there was always small scale underlying territorial hostilities between these two forts (Voss 66). Nevertheless they found a way to happily co-exist.

Megan Ballock

Works Cited

Blind, Eric. Personal Interview. May 27 2008.
Voss, B. 2008 The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis, Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

The Materialization of Trade
Once the Spanish-American war broke out el Presidio de San Francisco became increasingly isolated from Spain. It was actually recommended that el Presidio de San Francisco should be closed, however it was allowed to remain open without the help that it had once received (Voss 64). The ships that the people once relied upon were no longer appearing and the colonists had to find other means for manufactured goods. Luckily, this was coupled with the increasing interaction from European maritime expeditions, including science and expansion missions, which created a foundation for the new economy of el Presidio to be based more on trade than political sovereignty. El Presidio, became especially dependant on the Russian colony of Fort Ross for access to manufactured goods, while the Russians desperately needed agricultural products (Voss 201). This mutually beneficial relationship sparked a bond between the two colonies that elevated Russia to a most-favored-nation status amongst the early colonist. Although, a friendship was beginning to flourish on the coasts of California it is important to note that back in their native lands these countries were progressively more hostile towards one another. In fact, the primary function of el Presidio de San Francisco was to “forestall the maritime invasions of European forces” (Blind et al. 136). This notion seemingly goes away when you realize the excitement a citizen of el Presidio would have received when they saw white sails on the horizon. Hoping for a variety of things, from news to manufactured goods, wine and even chocolate. One could assume that instead of bunkering down into the safety of their fort, they would have run out to welcome visitors with open arms.
Megan Ballock

Works cited
Blind, E., B. Voss, S. Osborn and L. Barker 2004 El Presidio de San Francisco: At the edge of empire. Historical Archaeology Newsletter 38(3): 135-149.
Voss, B. 2008 The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis, Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

El Presidio de San Francisco

Gwendolyn Blair

When the Spanish claimed el Presidio de San Francisco and decided to construct a fort, the First Quadrangle, depicting the first enabling of the fort. At each subsequent renovation of the fort, was indicative of each Quadrangle. There were three Quadrangles performed at el Presidio.

The occupation of el Presidio, 1776 to 1780 by Spain, is the site of the current Pershing Square, and is where the personal quarters of Commandant Jose Moraga resided. Commandant Moraga arrived with plans in hand to begin the construction of el Presidio’s initial Quadrangle. The flag of Spain, during their occupation of el Presidio, remained northwest corner of the Commandant’s home (Voss 2008:182). The northern-most corner is presently marked with a corner stone depicting where the end of the fort was built and the flagpole looks to be at least three meters inside the fort to the north side of the Commandant’s dwelling.

There are plans are to excavate this area, in the near future, to accommodate new and progressive activities at el Presidio de San Francisco.

Bibliography
National Park Service. “Outpost of an Empire” Posted sign commemorating the northern- corner of el Presidio.

Voss, Barbara (2008). The Archaeology of Ethnogenisis, Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco. University Press.

Spanish Occupation
Gwendolyn Blair

When the Spanish claimed el Presidio de San Francisco, the fort depicted as the First Quadrangle was constructed in 1776. In 1792, Commander Hermenegildo Sal designed and began reconstruction of the Second Quadrangle of the fort (Voss 2008:183). The construction of the Second Quadrangle was during the years 1792 to 1815. Sal’s plans for the reconstruction of el Presidio were set forth.

The occupation of el Presidio, 1776 to 1821, by Spain, is the site of the current Pershing Square. This area was where the personal quarters of each serving commandant of el Presidio de San Francisco resided.

The northwest corner is presently marked depicting where the end of the fort was built, at the northern-most corner. The flagpole appears stationary at least three meters inside the fort, on the north side of the commandant’s home (NPS 2008).
Each year several celebrations are held in honor of a vast number of cultural aspects of el Presidio. Festivals are held annually to celebrate the past of Native American, Spanish and Mexican histories. Over the years, el Presidio has represented the historical atmosphere, of these cultures that initially contributed to American society.

Currently, there are plans to excavate this area, for archaeological research and remediate this area for new and progressive activities at el Presidio (THM:2003, 6, 24).

Bibliography

The Main Parade. July, 2003. Environmental Assessment Report.

National Park Service. “Outpost of an Empire” Posted sign commemorating the northern- corner of el Presidio.

Voss, Barbara (2008). The Archaeology of Ethnogenisis, Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco. University Press.

The Presidio
Gwendolyn Blair

When the Spanish claimed San Francisco, a fort was constructed and progressively remodeled through two Quadrangles. The Third Quadrangle , began construction in 1815 and ended in 1821, under the command of el Capitan Luis Argüello (Voss:2008, 187). The Third Quadrangle was the final and last reconstruction of el Presidio de San Francisco that included a physical expansion of buildings and perimeter of the fort.

The Officers’ Club adobe walls were replaced (Voss 2008: 182). However, the borders of el Presidio at the north, west and eastern wings were expanded. The commandant’s, sergeant’s and soldiers’ quarters, clothing warehouse, guard room, jail cells and soldiers barracks were a vital part of the 1815 expansion. Apartments were also a part of this expansive construction, to accommodate the growing population of el Presidio (Voss 2008: 195-6). The flag of Spain remained posted at the northwest corner approximately three meters from and in alignment with the commander’s residence (Voss 2008:71). Also, the “expansion of the quadrangle’s plaza … [was] asserting collective Californio identity in place of the ethnic/racial markers … “(Voss 2008:196)

The present plans are to excavate certain footage of this area, making way for new and progressive activities at el Presidio, while maintaining el Presidio’s quaint and simple atmosphere.

Bibliography
National Park Service. “Outpost of an Empire” Posted sign commemorating the northern- corner of el Presidio.

Voss, Barbara (2008). The Archaeology of Ethnogenisis, Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco. University Press.

Imagining a Different Landscape

As the first Spanish settlers of 1776 approached the top of the hill overlooking their future destination for el Presidio in San Francisco, they experienced a much different landscape than the one you see today. Imagine sand colored hills with no trees, and vegetation consisting of sand dunes and grass lands. Many of the plants that were native to the area at the time of Spanish occupation have been lost to grazing cattle that were imported by the Spanish; grazing cattle were a common thing to witness during their time. It was nothing like the Presidio that you experience today, full of well established trees and landscaped yards. None of the trees that exist in the Presidio in the present are native to this land and they have all been transplanted from other locations. Since the Spanish time of rule over el Presidio de San Francisco many transformations of the landscape have taken place. When the Spanish controlled el Presidio de San Francisco their infrastructure was a U shaped quadrangle and was located in the space just in front of the present Main Post that is now a parking lot. When the United States took over the Presidio after a short occupation by Mexico, they removed most of the quadrangle, and erected many new structures, such as barracks, houses, an infirmary, and structures for entertainment. The United States Military also implemented a beautification project with the help of children and boy scouts they changed the look of the Presidio with trees and plants. It is important to think about these transformations when enjoying the scenic beauty of the Presidio today.

Jonathan Holm

References
Langelier, J.P. and Rosen D.B. 1992, El Presidio de San Francisco: A History Under Spain and Mexico, 1776-1846

A New Way of Life

When the Spanish settlers began their journey in 1776, they were traveling to a new place that they had never experienced before. They didn’t know what to expect, and began only with an idea of how they would survive in their new destination. They came across new land that looked as though it would be manageable to survive in, and it was a very strategic location for Spanish control over the San Francisco Bay, and that place was the el Presidio in San Francisco. They set up their quadrangle on their newly found land, and during that time they had to adapt to many new circumstances in order to survive. The Spanish settlers of el Presidio “were responsible for “enforcing colonial rules and regulations.” (Voss 47). But the regulations were manipulated by the settlers and new cultural paths were followed in el Presidio de San Francisco in order to survive. A whole new community emerged because the Spanish settlers could not rely solely on their mother country for support to survive. So new relationships emerged and a less harsh racial perspective was adopted by the Spanish settlers. Relationships with the surrounding native villages were forged so that the Spanish settlers could achieve in acclimating the natives to their way of life. Once this was achieved the settlers had the work force they needed to achieve their goals. The emigrants of the el Presidio also built relationships with the Russians of Fort Ross so that they could trade with them, to get supplies that they were lacking. So new relationships were created that would not have happened in their mother country, and a new community was created that operated as a separate entity. (Voss 2008)

Jonathan Holm

References:
Voss, B. 2008 The Archaeology of Ethnogenisis, Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco, University of California Press, Berkeley CA.

Forced to Change

Who are these strange people coming to our land with unsavory weapons and foreign animals that are eating all of our vegetation that we rely on….
What were the Native Californians thinking when the Spanish settlers came to their land and began to settle and force them into assimilation? This is what happened to the Native Californians surrounding the San Francisco el Presidio. Upon the Spanish arrival a process of change for the Native Californians had begun and their way of life was forever altered by colonial rule. “In only one year, the Yelamu district was transformed from a network of interconnected native communities to a landscape dominated by colonial institutions.” (Voss 53). The Spanish did not stop there they repeated this process of colonial influence until all the Native Californians of el Presidio region had been changed to work for and help support the Spanish cause. (Voss 54). The Native Californians were able to self sustain themselves for survival before the Spanish arrived, and when the Spanish began to settle the Native Californians were forced to adapt to survive. This created a whole new community for the Native Californians that they were not previously use to, and many new tasks and jobs were necessary for the Native Californians to perform in order to receive supplies to keep themselves and their families sustained. There were also many Native Californians that were “coerced to join and remain at the missions” (Voss 59). If the Native Californians joined the mission by choice it was irreversible and they would be considered neophytes. However, neophytes were never considered full members of the society instead they were looked upon as children and laborers (Voss 60).

Jonathan Holm

References:

Voss, B 2008 The Archaeology of Ethnogenisis, Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco, University of California Press, Berkeley CA.

Native Californian Labor in El Presidio
Not long after El Presidio’s establishment in 1776, the fort outgrew its labor source and needed to recruit outside workers. At the same time, Franciscan missions were springing up to convert Natives to both Christianity and to the colonial way of life. Yet another one of the missions’ other functions was to help with the running of El Presidio by producing material artisan goods and helping with tasks like construction (Voss 2008, 59). Mostly, the newly converted Natives, called neophytes, were contracted to work either on agricultural projects or in El Presidio on more laborious tasks like building the fort’s adobe walls. Many Natives also learned European crafts like blacksmithing, masonry, and weaving (Allen et. al.1995:7).
Although many Native laborers willingly worked for a wage of food or European material goods, many of them did not work voluntarily (Voss 2008:78). When El Presidio needed more laborers around the year 1790, the colonizers began contracting labor from the local Natives’ villages. Many of the natives who had been living in villages ran away shortly after they had been taken to the Presidio because they did not want to leave their homes to work on the colonizers’ fort. In addition to this unwilling labor source, El Presidio soldiers had enacted a series of military campaigns into villages to capture Native Californians who did not convert to Christianity. Between 1782 and 1826, about 200 or more Natives were captured in military campaigns and forced to work on El Presidio (Voss 2008:80-81). These native workers often worked in shackles to keep them from escaping.

Briana Robertori

Works Cited:
Voss, Barbara 2008 The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis: Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Barker, Leo R., Allen, Rebecca, Costello, Julia G. 1995 The Archaeology of Spanish and Mexican Alta California. Historical Archaeology 3:3-21.

Gender Roles and Honor on El Presidio
During Spain’s colonial occupation of El Presidio, perceptions of gender and gender roles were very different than the perceptions of modern Californian culture. Because life on El Presidio was heavily influenced by the Christian church, colonial policy strictly regulated colonists’ sexuality (Voss 2008:95). Christianity’s notion of original sin implied that women were considered inferior to men; when a woman got married, her husband had spiritual and material control over her (Voss, 2008:95). Sex and gender were also defined by secular values of gender and honor. According to Barbara Voss, an archaeologist who studied and dug at the Presidio, “men amassed honor through extramarital sexual conquests…their female sex partners and assault victims lost honor and shamed themselves and their families” (Voss 2008:95). El Presidio had a very hierarchical culture that was defined by a stratification of racial identities. Therefore, when a man sexually assaulted a woman, he gained more honor and his social status improved, but the woman and her family were disgraced. As a result, male and older female relatives kept watch over a colonial woman’s sexuality. However, Native Californian women frequently did not have this element of outside control over their sexualities, and the colonists therefore frequently sexually assaulted Native women. In 1834 Moraga, a leader at El Presidio, decreed that Native women should do their chores “outside the doorway, in plain view, without being permitted to go inside” the houses (Voss 2008:78). According to Voss, cleaning hides or milling grain would have been done inside. This National Park Service image of El Presidio in 1792 includes an image of people who are probably Native female laborers cleaning a hide outside and in plain view, although this may not have been the custom at the time.

Briana Robertori

Works Cited:
Voss, Barbara 2008 The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis: Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Spanish iron Griddles and sugar cakes

Racial Structure
When Anza and 193 Spanish colonialists established El Presidio de San Francisco, the voyagers were already an ethnically mixed group (Voss 2008:86). In the initial sistema de castas, the class system, there were a number of racial terms that traced a person’s lineage. Each term carried with it an implied social status within the social hierarchy, for example a mulato is person with a Spanish mother and “negro” father and a mestizo is a person with a Spanish and an “indian” parent (Voss 2008:86). According to a roster of El Presidio’s first residents, only 39 percent of the colonizers identified themselves as español; of the other 61 percent, 31 percent were mestizo, 18 percent were mulato, and 12 percent were indio (Voss 2008:89). Despite this clear delineation, El Presidio culture actually permitted a degree of racial mobility. In a 1776 census report, 3 people regarded themselves as mestizo, but in 1782 these same people regarded themselves as español. This example of upward mobility represents the fact that it was a cultural tendency for residents to reestablishing themselves in higher castas throughout their lifetimes. When El Presidio was first established, a sistema de castas dictated a person’s social identity within a racially stratified cultural hierarchy. Yet, switching races to move up within the hierarchy was so common that notions of status were ultimately replaced by a separation of the population into two groups: personas de razón and Indian. These groups were not defined racially. Instead, they were defined by factors like legitimacy of birth, economic means, and social practices like occupation, dress, speech, mannerisms, diet, material possessions (Voss 2008:85). This picture of some sugar cakes represents how food consumption, among other social practices, was one of the factors that played into the definition of social status.

Briana Robertori

Works Cited:
Voss, Barbara 2008 The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis: Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco. University of California Press, Berkeley.

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Household Ceramics, Tableware

Tableware ceramics recovered from El Presidio de San Francisco offer some indications of how food products are being consumed by the Spanish colonists and their families during the late 18th century. Items for serving meals to people, such as cups, bowls, plates and platters are all examples of tableware. The preference for certain materials used to craft tableware items and their more robust aesthetic compositions could be interpreted as the dining activities being a shared, social setting. This creates a sharp contrast to the items found which are being associated with the more utilitarian, private aspect of food preparation (Deagan 1983).

Tableware ceramics found from this period are all imported. Mexico, which was part of the Spanish Empire at the time, was a primary importer of tableware goods to El Presidio. To a lesser extent, tableware items from China, France and Britain are also present in the assemblage. Economic and ethnic status is considered to be tied to where the ceramics are imported from, with Spanish majolica, Chinese, and English ceramics ranking the highest. (Voss 2008, 210).

Status was also associated to these items based on their overall condition. As noted in portraits of Spanish life, lower and upper class would possess ceramic tableware items of the same higher quality material. The primary difference between the two, however, would be in the better condition of the higher-status family tableware items versus the chipped and damaged condition of a tableware items from a lower-status family (Loren 1999:150-155).

I see tableware affecting social status and social identity both from an internal and external element. From an internal perspective, meals are taking place in a group setting among family members. The presence of this tableware plays a part in reinforcing the family group identity, and it can define how the family is seeing itself in relation to the rest of the community. Externally, these meals are sometimes shared among families. The internal elements are raised to a more public level through the heightened social experience, reinforcing a sense of community while at the same time playing a part in how that community is defined.

Works Cited

Deagan, K. 1983. Spanish St. Augustine: The Archaeology of a Colonial Creole Community, ed. K Deagan, 99-124. New York: Academic Press.

Loren, D.D. 1999. “Creating Social Distinction: Articulating Colonial Policies and Practices along the 18th Century Louisiana/Texas Frontier.” PhD diss., Department of Anthropology, State University of New York, Binghamton.

Voss, Barbara. 2008. The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis: Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco. Berkeley: University of California Press.

– Michael Rutledge
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Food Preparation

The practice of food preparation at the El Presidio de San Francisco is a departure from the institutional lifestyle present in day-to-day compound life during the later part of the 18th century. During the early periods of El Presidio life, maintaining organized labor is among the highest priorities. While many aspects of life here are highly socialized, such as day-to-day activities and even the dining habits, artifacts recovered from the Building 13 midden offer some insights as to how meal preparation at the compound can be seen as less labor intensive activity and a less social component of Spanish colonists’ interactions with food.

Many food preparation vessels recovered from the site can be cataloged as hollowware, best utilized for the creation of liquid-based meals such as stew, soups, and gruels. Liquid-based meals are chosen mostly due to the low maintenance required during their preparation. Because labor is a high priority, food preparation activities are most likely being modified to require the least amount of effort. Cooking with hollowware allows those who must prepare the food more time for other activities around the compound (Voss 2008, 249).

Another interesting aspect of the cooking vessels found at El Presidio de San Francisco is the surprisingly low number of flat ceramic cooking vessels known as comales. These griddles are commonly used for tortilla cooking and the heating of dry foods. This scarcity is curious, as documentary evidence has shown tortillas to be a staple in the diet of military personnel and their families at El Presidio. Yet material evidence taken from a residential dig site offers little support to back up this claim (Voss 2008, 248). The amount of time and effort required to make tortillas from scratch, when taken into consideration with the benefits of food preparation via hollowware, offer some support to the idea that food preparation is being tied to how labor is being organized.

Works Cited:

Voss, Barbara. 2008. The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis: Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco. Berkeley: University of California Press.

– Mike Rutledge

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Processing Cattle

Beef was a centerpiece of the Spanish diet at El Presidio. So much so, that a thousand head of cattle were brought along with the Spanish military colonists when the expedition made its way to the San Francisco Bay. Details of herd composition beyond the basic head counts are few but examination of faunal materials can provide more insights.

Estimations of cattle age have been taken using evidence from Building 13’s midden deposit. Analysis has shown that these animals were probably aged between seven to ten months and thirty months at the time of their death. This information can only be used as a guideline however, due to the limited sample size and variation between modern-day cattle and those raised here in the 18th century. The age of the cattle in the sample, though, indicates that these cattle are not being kept around for prolonged periods of time. If a larger sample base produces similar results, it could suggest that these cattle are being kept predominately for slaughtering and not for other goods they may produce, such as diary (Voss 2008, 313). Continuing research is required to reinforce this line of thinking as well, as future midden discoveries could uncover a larger sample base and perhaps remains from older cattle to further support the possible existence of diary food processes.

Further evidence of cattle being raised mostly for slaughter is the patterns found on a number of the mammal bones. These blade-cut markings reflect a style of butchering that is distinctly Spanish, in which the meat was manually stripped from the bones after the muscle attachment points and tendons had been severed (Voss 2008, 313). There is some difficulty, however, in recognizing whether these marks are made by the Spanish or by local Native Americans who are being taught the technique. It is possible the slaughter practices are being passed on, blending Spanish lifestyles into local native populations.

Works Cited:

Voss, Barbara. 2008. The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis: Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco. Berkeley: University of California Press.

-Mike Rutledge

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