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Anza’s 1779 Comanche Campaign, by Ron Kessler

Review by Ed Quillen

History – January 1995 – Colorado Central Magazine

Anza’s 1779 Comanche Campaign
Diary of Governor Juan Bautista de Anza
by Ronald E. Kessler
No ISBN, published by the author,
1026 South County Road E, Monte Vista CO 81144

THE UTES, as well as their ancestors, friends, and enemies, ventured through Central Colorado for centuries. But they didn’t write anything down, so the first recorded tour was in 1779.

That’s when Juan Bautista de Anza, governor of the Spanish province of New Mexico, ventured north from Santa Fé over Poncha Pass, then across South Park.

This is a reprint of the Alfred B. Thomas translation of Anza’s journal. Kessler has added a brief biography of Anza, as well as some maps, a glossary, and a bibliography.

Anza’s journal is a diary detailing each day’s travel and activities. After each entry, Kessler provides his own exposition and explanation, tying Anza’s sightings to modern maps and landmarks in an effort to reconstruct the precise route.

Like many self-published labors of love, this could have used an editor to improve the typography and clear up locutions like “Southpark” instead of “South Park.”

Those are minor complaints, though. Thanks to Kessler, Anza’s journal, once hard to find, is now generally available in convenient and affordable form, letting us travel back in time to see our landscape through the eyes of a conquistador.

— E.Q.