Anza and Rivera Expeditions

and the 250-year Connection

to Álamos and Sonora

    The 21st Annual International Conference of the Anza Society was held here in Álamos March 3 - 6, 2016.  The Álamos History Association hosted the event, presented evidence of the importance of Alamos to the Anza expedition, and of the large number of “Álamenses” in the 1775 Anza expedition which led to the founding of San Francisco.  Álamos was also involved in the 1781 Rivera Expedition which led to the founding of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, and  during the Anza conference Association members were proud to show the cultural heritage and beauty of Álamos to the conference participants. 

    During the three-day conference Anza Society members heard presentations by Álamos History Association President Jim Toevs, Vice President Steve McKelvy, and members Joan Powell and Katherine Callingham on different aspects of Álamos’ history.  The Anza group was welcomed by Axel Omar Salas, the president of the Municipio of Álamos, who in addition presented information on the historical importance of this community.  They also heard a lecture by Álamos historian Juan Carlos Holguín Balderrama on the historical importance of Álamos in the 18th Century.

    During the three-day event the group traveled to the community of La Aduana, where Juan Carlos Holguín also talked about the history of the church and mines there, and conference members also visited the Álamos Museum where discussions are underway to display a wall map of the Anza trail from its start in Culiacan, Sin., to the American border.


   Stella Cardoza, President of the Anza Society (above left), presents certificates to Álamos History Association members (from left) Steve McKelvy, Joan Powell, Jim Toevs, and Katherine Callingham, all participating in a panel discussion.  Joan Powell (right) has provided research which shows that at least 89 people of Álamos descent were residing in California in 1790.  More information on Joan’s work can be found on this website under the title “Álamos and the Settlement of Northern California.”

Axel Omar Salas, (below left) el presidente municipal de Álamos, talked about the importance of Álamos in northern Mexico during the opening day of the conference.  He was later (below right) presented a certificate by  Stella Cardoza, President of the Anza Society.

Naomi Torres, National Park Service Superintendent of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, addressed the Anza Conference members with an evening presentataion May 4, with the trail marked in red on the projection behind her.

conference photos© Joan Powell and Marta Reents


Hale Sargant Talks about about the Anza Trail

October 31, 2013

    Hale Sargent, shown above addressing the History Association meeting of October 31, 2013, and with Tony Estrada at el Museo Costumbriste de Sonora, was invited to Álamos to discuss the Anza Trail and the role of Álamos in the Anza expedition.   As director of the Anza Trail with the U.S. National Parks Service, Hale traced the route of the 1775 journey by Juan Bautista de Anza and 250 soldiers and settlers from Culiacán, Sin., to San Francisco, with a stay an unconfirmed stay in Álamos to recruit addfitional expedition members.  In original research conducted by Álamos History Association member Joan Powell, it has been concluded that 30 members of the Álamos community were members of that expedition.

    After Hale’s visit in 2013, the Álamos History Association began its research of the Anza expedition, and Joan Powell’s research is outlined on another page of this website (“Álamos and the Settlement of Alta California”).  In 2014 AHA President Jim Toevs and members Steve McKelvy attended the bi-annual Anza Society meeting in Banámichi, Sonora, and invited Anza Society members to meet in Álamos in 2016. Currently Álamos History Association member Jim Toevs is the President of the Anza Society, and the 2019 meeting will again be in Álamos March 7 = 10, 2019.

        Álamos played an important role in the 1775 expedition of Juan Bautista de Anza, which led to the founding of the presidio and the settlement of San Francisco, CA, and also with the Fernando de Rivera expedition of 1781 which led to the establishment of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.  While the Anza expedition began in Culican, Sinaloa, and not Álamos, the group of 250 soldiers and settlers most likely went through Álamos due to the number of people in the group who were from Álamos—including two soldiers.  The Rivera expedition assembled in Álamos in 1781 and spent  a length of time in the community, enabling 12 soldiers to marry—eight with Álamos women—before leaving.

     Álamos History Association member Joan Powell investigated both the Anza and Rivera expeditions, and her detailed work was presented to the History Assocation and at the Anza Society Conference of 2016. An essay relating to her research can be found on this website under the title “Álamos and the Settlement of Alta California.

    Cuttently Steve McKelvy, chair of the Anza committee of our Association, is developing a video presentation (with illustrator Dan Clancy and writer Michael Greene) related to these expeditions and others.  He has met with representatives of the Cultural Institute of Sonora on presenting the video at the Festival Alfonso Ortiz Tirado in January, 2019, and it will also be presented at the Anza Society at their conference here in Álamos in March, 2019.  The video will be shown in el Museo Costumbriste de Sonora in Álamos, and will educate both young and old about the expeditions of which Álamos is involved.  The presentation will be portable, allowing it to travel to schools and other museums.

    While the History Association is not directly involved with Steve’s work, the History Association promotes and encourages all historical research and educational projects relating to Álamos and Sonora.


Anza Society Conference

Álamos, Son., Mexico

March 3 - 6, 2016