Brief by Central Staff
Anza Day – October 1997 – Colorado Central Magazine
If you missed Anza Day on Aug. 22 in Poncha Springs, you missed some fine presentations, although you probably stayed drier than the 120 or so people who came.
Anza Day celebrates the first recorded visit to Central Colorado. It was a military campaign against the Jupe Comanche led in August of 1779 by Juan Bautista de Anza, then governor of the Spanish Province of Nuevo Mexico. Anza, with 800 men and 2,500 horses, camped at the site of Saguache on Aug. 24, crossed Poncha Pass, and camped at the site of Poncha Springs on Aug. 27.
That was only a part of his overall career, though; his best-known accomplishment came on the West Coast, when he established a land route from Sonora and founded San Francisco in 1776.
Don Garate, interpretive ranger at Tumacacori National Historical Park in Arizona, appeared in full Anza costume, and delighted the audience, especially when he picked up his guitar. Portraying Anza, he talked about how his father, who had the same name, was killed by Apache when he was only three, leaving him to be raised by monks before he entered military service.
Garate, we learned afterward, has been working for the past six years on a three-volume biography of Anza, and figures it will be another three years before it’s ready for a publisher.
He happened to be in the right place at the right time, for our purposes anyway. Garate is familiar with Anza’s Mexican and California journeys, but not those in New Mexico and Colorado, so he was visiting Ron Kessler of Monte Vista (who also spoke) to retrace Anza’s route here at the same time of year that Anza passed through 218 years ago.
We’ll try to get him to come back some year, assuming we’re still in the Anza Day business.
Patricia Nelson Limerick, professor of history at the University of Colorado and a sometimes controversial “New West” historian, had us so entranced and so busy laughing that we almost forgot about the rain.
Somewhere she ran across what sounds like a truly dreadful book, The Genius of Sitting Bull: 13 Heroic Strategies for Today’s Business Leaders, by Emmett C. Murphy and Michael Snell.
It offers bizspeak drivel like “Different situations require different types of communication.” To do this, Sitting Bull and Sam Walton, the modern leader cited in the book, “developed a vision platform of where they wanted the group to be. They then compared reality with the vision and identified discrepancies and opportunities. Through this process they were able to address the multilevel needs of their people for tactical, expert, referent, legitimate, and spiritual communication. Each was able to learn as they communicated and evolve their vision as they moved forward.”
Patty used that as the springboard to “13 Ways You Can Ruin Your Career by Following the Example of Juan Bautista de Anza.” Some ways:
Bad Timing. Anza had the misfortune to found San Francisco in 1776, when American historians’ atttention was focused elsewhere.
Don’t Complain. Anza’s journal is matter-of-fact about, say, getting snowed on in August. Better to be like John Charles Frémont, whose journal made every fording of a creek into a major adventure.
Don’t Visit Arvada. Its historical society has been crowing lately because gold was discovered in Ralston Creek there in 1850, as opposed to Denver’s Cherry Creek claim of 1858, and thus, they say “Colorado history began here.” Since Anza never ventured into Arvada, he’s apparently not part of history.
Be Competent. Anza’s bureaucratic superiors weren’t, and since his efficiency and ability made them look bad, they did everything they could to squelch him.
It was a great talk, both informative and entertaining, and since there was room enough under the roof in the Poncha town park to keep us dry, the weather was manageable.