Frank Baumgardner

Fall, 2013


Freedom, Hope of Immigrants to a New Land

Alta California's "Surveyor General" Jasper O'Farrell arrived from a whaler at Sausalito in October, 1843. Born in Wexford County, Ireland in 1817, he was educated in Dublin at Dublin University where he graduated with a degree in civil engineering about 1840.
Part of a British surveying expedition to South America, he made his way across the Andes to Valparaiso, Chile where he learned Spanish before coming to California.
He surveyed numerous northern and southern California ranchos after fighting in Micheltorena's War in early 1845. Since hard money was hard to come by for rancheros, O'Farrell took payment for his work in cattle and horses. He earned a lnad grant with his work which he traded for Sonoma County's Canada de Jonive. He fell in love with Mary McChristian, an American girl who crossed the Plains in 1845 with her family on the Grigsby-Ide Party. He was nearly lynched for his work on the 1847 Plan of San Francisco, the foremost early map of the city. He also suveyed Sonoma, Benicia and Stockton.

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O'Farrell is early California's most forgotten pioneer. Jasper O'Farrell had surveyed in Chile before arriving in Northern California while a crewman on a whaler in 1843. He surveyed and plotted many southern California ranchos before returning to Northern California in early 1846. Because many of his ranchero clients had little hard money to pay him, they paid him in horses and cattle he had to herd up to the San Francisco Bay Area.
By late 1846 he was recognized by both Americans and Californios as a master civil engineer and surveyor. Commissioned by the San Francisco City Council, he completed the first map of the City. It was the first plan for town destined to become what he envisioned as the "Empire City" of the West Coast.
During the following months O'Farrell also mapped Benicia, Sonoma and Stockton as well as numerous Northern California ranches. He married sixteen year old American woman Mary McChristian, who had immigrated to California over the California Trail with the Grigsby-Ide party. in 1845.

For the complete story see the soon-to-be published, "Blood Will Tell Divvying Up Early California from Col. Juan Bautista de Anza to Jasper O'Farrell."

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A family portrait of the "Californio," pioneer Jasper O'Farrell. Courtesy of his great great granddaughter Janis Miller.

San Francisco Bay, as Fr. Fray Pedro Font who accompanied Captain de Anza in 1777.
One of three maps Fr. Font made of the Bay or what the Spaniards called the "Estero." It is, of course, a 1777 map of the San Francisco Bay Area.

How the San Francisco Bay looked to Captain Portola, 1777
Do you see the image of Snoopy in the south Bay? Some have!!

Captain Portola s full name was Don Juan de la Quadra y Bodega. Source, "FONT'S COMPLETE DIARY A CHRONICLE OF THE FOUNDING OF SAN FRANCISCO," TRANSLATED AND EDITED BY HERBERT EUGENE BOLTON, Professor of American History and Director of the BANCROFT LIBRARY, University of California at Berkeley, 1931, University of California Press, Berkeley, Californa.

A bilingual civil engineer named Jasper O'Farrell landed in Sausalito October 20, 1843.
Despite mapping ranchos and towns throughout Alta California he was destined to become one of California's forgotten pioneers.
"Blood Will Tell Divvying Up Early California from Col. Juan Bautista de Anza to Jasper O'Farrell" was published in March, 2015. It is available at​books or on kindle. Also at Copperfields Books in Sonoma County, California. It was published by CreateSpace, the online self-publishing company based in Charleston, SC.

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Hi, Frank. I very much like the site. Re this post: as a gun owner and daughter of a man who ate every deer he killed, every fish landed, and so on, I must say that there is NO reason for multiple-clip assault weapons in anything that can clearly be called hunting. They destroy human beings in war; we have no "right" to them in peace, at home.

Hi Frank,

I like your site, you have some interesting posts. My site compliments yours, consisting of interesting articles and a free writers yearbook with over 1000 book publishers currently accepting submissions. Keep up the good work.

Regards, Brian.

I like it very much!
-- Susie from Idaho