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Spanish expectations for women were by and large those that crossed national and cultural lines: westering women were to be pious, pure, domestic, and modest, whether they were English, French, or Spanish-Mexican.
The women who accompanied Anza were primarily from the lower classes of Mexican society.
One of them, however, was not from that social stratum.
Maria Feliciana Arballo was born into a wealthy family in Spain and was only twenty years old when she and her mestizo husband signed on to travel with Anza.
In part, the journey to California would have helped them to escape the rigid class society in established parts of the Spanish empire that denigrated her husband on the basis of color and race.
Created: December 2001 Last Updated: March 29, 2019 In this essay Pam Van Ee contrasts the experiences of various women who left their homes to put down roots in California during the last quarter of the eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century.
She discusses women who were part of Juan Bautista de Anza's overland expeditions in 1774-75 from the Spanish provinces of Sinaloa and Sonora in what is now Mexico to the San Francisco Bay area; women who lived in California when it was under Spanish (1769-1821) and Mexican (1822-46) control; and women who were drawn to the area following the discovery of gold in 1848.
The picture that comes to mind for most Anglo-Americans when women are discussed in the context of historical travels to California is that of the overland wagon trains moving westward, peopled by sturdy and daring pioneers who arrived in California after the discovery of gold in 1848.
A few might also mention that some of the women came by ship, interrupting their voyage with an arduous trek—on foot or by mule—across the Isthmus of Panama, all the while with small children in tow.
Between 17, twenty missions, four presidios (forts), and three civil communities known as pueblos were built, stretching from San Diego to just north of San Francisco.
From the beginning, families were sent to these outposts for the express purpose of increasing the population of Spanish citizens.