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Prince Felipe, now Spanish King Felipe VI, with Santa Barbara Presidio Soldados in 2014

Welcome to The Presidio Alliance: Preserving The History of North America’s Spanish Presidios

Founded officially in 2018 at its first event at the Santa Barbara Martime Museum where Spanish Ambassador Javier Vallaure received the Governor Felipe de Neve Award, The Presidio Alliance is creating this website to help visitors find answers to questions researchers might ask about Spanish Presidios of North America, to exchange research currently published or in preparation, and promote special events concerning Spanish 18th century settlements.

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The Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum is a re-creation of the Tucson Presidio built in 1775.

About the Alliance

Mission: The Presidio Alliance will network nationally and internationally in liaison with other organizations to support accurate research and the exchange of ideas related to the history of the Presidios and other Spanish settlements and sites in North America.

Statement of Purpose: The Presidio Alliance is an informal open network of scholars and interested parties launched under the 501c3 “Friends of El Camino Real de California” project established in 2015. “Friends of El Camino Real de California” was the road that connected Presidios in California, and the Missions. California contains the first focus area with four Presidios and their story, but this network will include emerging research on Presidios in states of Arizona, New Mexico, Mississippi, Texas, Florida and other Spanish Presidio sites across America and in Northern Mexico.

Vision: To increase the knowledge and understanding of the role of the Spanish Presidios, how they were built, and the important contributions, legacies and communities created through multicultural exchange and expanding worldwide trade.

  • Tell the evolving story of settlement and at Presidios as political, social cultural centers and communities which built early California in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

  • Track current research for collaborative analysis on all topics related to Presidios built in North America and create links for further research by scholars.

  • Connect researchers through symposia and meetings and guide them to information they are seeking about the Spanish Presidios, their location, governance, accomplishments in building settlements and communities— including the Maritime and Native American stories.
Tubac (Arizona) Presidio

Typical Uniform of a Spanish Colonial Soldier of the late 1700's (New Mexico History Museum)

Typical Accoutrements of a Mounted Leather Jacket Soldier including an Adarga (Leather Shield)

Member of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Color Guard Carrying a Spanish Pennon

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Research emphasis will be on, but not limited to:

  1. People: Biographies of key people in Presidio history and social studies of founders and their families.

  2. Military history, with special attention to arms and armaments of the period

  3. Architecture of the Presidios and other non-religious sites

  4. Soldier and Indian Relations

  5. Relations between the Military and the Missions
La Bahia Presidio, Goliad, Texas

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Defining the term Presidio

As Spanish Colonial scholar Dr. Jack Williams has written: the term “Presidio” originally derives from the Roman word for a frontier fortification “praesidium.” In fact, Dr. Jarrell Jackman while teaching in Europe used to take his students to a rebuilt Roman praesidium near Frankfurt called “Saalburg.” Presidios in the New World, especially in northern New Spain could be combined with missions or towns, as initially happened in San Diego and Monterey, California. Presidios were not always fortified, but for the purposes of the Presidio Alliance emphasis will be placed on garrisoned forts in North America between 1750 and 1820; this includes areas of modern day Northern Mexico.

Why Presidios are Important

In the history of Spanish colonization the Missions have often received more attention, especially in recent decades and especially in California. The Alliance hopes to reverse this trend with emphasis on the lasting and important impacts of Presidios on the Southwest and Southern United States regions. It was at presidios that migrations of people from Europe and Mexico came to settle. Presidio sites have evolved into major urban centers in San Francisco, San Diego, Tucson, and San Antonio, as well as fostering communities in Monterey, Santa Barbara, and Santa Fe. This movement of people and their cultures melded together with native populations to form a unique society that has become part of the American Cultural and Social Fabric.

How the Alliance Works

Goal #1 To hold a yearly symposium for all interested in Spanish Presidio research and collect information, list new resources, and explore Presidios as community sites that result in a major impact on the social, political fabric of the United States. Activity: 2020 Symposium on the occasion of 250th anniversary of the Spanish settlement of Alta California.

Goal #2 Acknowledge and promote new scholarship and lifetime achievements of scholars in Presidio research and restoration. Activity: Awards and Recognition

Goal #3 Create a virtual community of interest that supports each other’s research on preservation or restoration of Presidio sites, genealogy, and arts.

Goal #4 Promote and support the Annual Spanish Soldado Re enactors Rendezvous.

Goal #5 Support ongoing preservation restoration at presidio sites.

Who can Participate?

Anyone interested in Presidio history during the Spanish period.

Activity: Support continued restoration and preservation of sites.
Statue of Spanish California Governor Felipe de Neve
(at Los Angeles Plaza)

Artist conception of two women at the San Diego Presidio, circa 1810 (Courtesy of Jack Williams)

San Diego Presidio (Courtesy of Jack Williams)

Cardero Drawing of the Monterey Presidio 1790s

Artist conception of the San Francisco Presidio, 1790s (Courtesy of National Park Service)

Santa Barbara Presidio by Russell Ruiz

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Topics of Interest

Areas of Common Interest:
Collected in 2017 at a meeting of the California Mission Foundation in Santa Clara, California participants identified the following topics of interest:

  • Collecting and integrating “timelines” and historic events
  • Communications between Presidios and Mexico
  • Ranching history, cattle, sheep, and land use
  • Key people and biographies of early settlers, native tribes, and joint accomplishments
  • Agricultural and environmental education
  • Archeology, as it reveals ethnicity and daily life
  • Architecture and building trades, e.g. guidebook to building fortresses (Vitruvius)
  • Arts and Crafts in early California Presidios
  • African- Mexican contact with Presidios—members of the military
  • Music and instruments (organs, flutes, etc.)
  • Religion and Chapels for worship
  • Trade and exchange between Presidios (Otters, interior trade other than coastal)
  • Presidio Role in Pacific Rim trade
  • Transfers of personnel between sites
  • Positive Relations with tribes
  • Maps of trails and travel patterns
  • Military history (e.g. coastal defense)
  • Multi- ethnic and diverse tribal Languages
  • Spanish Involvement in American Revolution
  • “Ethnic brew” idea--- Santa Barbara –1790 census reveals only one soldier was born in Spain
  • Classification of Creole people – inquisition records
  • Jews and Conversos in Spanish Presidios
  • Finances and currency
  • Gardens and horticulture at the Presidios
18th Century Spanish Flag

Plaque Honoring First Spanish Soldiers to Arrive in Alta, CA
(Serra Museum)
With Dr. Jackman is Retired US Naval Commander Don Urquidez, a descendant of Presidio Soldier Mariano Verdugo

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Convener of the Alliance

Dr. Jackman is the Executive Director Emeritus and former CEO of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, and El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Park in California. He has been involved directly in research, and historic preservation for over 35 years. He holds the honor of Commander, Royal Order of Isabel la Católica by the King of Spain. In 2016, Dr. Jackman was named the CSPRA Honorary California State Park Ranger.

To contact Dr. Jackman, send him an email at jarrell.jackman@icloud.com.

TUNE IN TO THE RADIO 2ND FRIDAY OF THE MONTH FROM 9 TO 10 AM to follow this history this year and next – Listen to the Baron Ron Herron, Dr. Jarrell Jackman and special guests focus on the history dating from 1769 to 1820, including announcements of special celebrations of Spanish Settlement in California, Statewide events and regional meetings.

Access online AM Radio 1290 – https://radio.securenetsystems.net/cwa/index.cfm?stationCallSign=KZSB
Dr. Jarrell Jackman

Dr. Jackman receiving medal
knighting him as a commander
in the Royal Order of Isabel la Católica