This weeks installment of the historical Santa Barbara blog series is a place i should have done at the beginning of the series, The beautiful city of Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara is located in the southern half of California ( in the United States). The history of Santa Barbara is a long, and at some points dark, but i will try and sum it up in 400 word or less.
Our story begins in Spain 1542, when they decided to send a Portuguese explorer named João Cabrilho, leading a Spanish expedition to what now is Goleta, but on the return voyage João Cabrilho dies from gangrene in a wound from a battle with the native people (Chumash). Around 60 years later in 1602, the Spanish return, the maritime explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno finally gives this southern California colony the name of “Santa Barbara.” After surviving a harsh storm Sebastián Vizcaíno was so gracious he had a fantastic feast on the eve of December 3. A little over 160 years after Sebastián Vizcaíno’s voyage and over 200 years after João Cabrilho’s voyage, another explorer named Gaspar De Portolà led an expodition through Santa Barbara and noted his encounters with the native people (Syuxtun) saying they were friendly and kind. 13 years after Gaspar De Portolà landed in Santa Barbara, another Spanish explorer of name of Don Felipe de Neve came with a wave of soldiers and force build the Santa Barbara mission.
We skip 1822, the Spanish’s colonial rule came to an end after a brutal loss in the Mexican War of Independence Santa Barbara, became a territory of independent Mexico. One of the earliest notable events in the Mexican period in Santa Barbara was the February 1824 Indian rebellion. The Indians especially resented the poor and scapegoating treatment given them by the soldiers stationed at the Presidio, who were resentful of being unpaid by the new government. In 1846 war between the United States and mexico broke out for the western states. On January 13 1847 the Treaty of Cahuenga was signed giving the United States the California territory.
*fun fact: Santa Barbara was the center of the U.S. silent film industry from 1910 to 1922, before anyone associated the name “Hollywood” with movies. The Flying A Studios, a division of the American Film Company, covered two city blocks centered at State and Mission streets, and was at the time the largest movie studio in the world.