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Adobe  ado·be

A brick or building material of sun-dried earth and straw; a structure made of adobe bricks; a heavy clay used in making adobe bricks. This word came into Spanish from the Arabic, at-tub meaning the brick.

Alcalde - Mayor

Alta California   Al·ta California

Former Spanish & Mexican province (1772-1848) comprising the present state of California-a name used to differentiate Alta or Upper California from Baja or Lower California.

California Pastoral   pas·to·ral

A phrase referring to an idealized view of the rancho period in California during the 1830's and 40's, focusing on images of fine horsemanship, beautiful dancing, and a life of ease.

Californio   Cal·i·for·nio

One of the original Spanish colonists of California or their descendants.

Colonial:    co·lo·nial

Relating to, the period when California was a Spanish colony, part of New Spain or Nueva España, between 1769 and 1821.

De Anza Expedition

Expedition from Mexico led by Juan Bautista de Anza in 1775-1776 to bring families of settlers to California.

Fandango   fan·dan·go

A party with dancing; also: a dance in triple time with instrumental accompaniment from Spain and Mexico; also: music for this dance.

Hacienda   ha·ci·en·da

A large landed estate.

Hide   hide

The skin of an animal, used especially of large heavy skins

Mission   mis·sion

An institution established to convert non-Christian people to Catholicism in early California. These religious settlements were made on the land of the Indian converts. Theoretically the land was held in Spanish law for the Indians converts, to be returned to them when they became fully Spanish, but upon conversion, Native people lost the right to leave without a pass. Because of the hard labor within the missions many people see them as slave-like institutions. Today the word refers to the church buildings that are the only surviving structures of the former mission establishments.

Patents   pat·ent

An official document conferring a right or privilege.

Patriarch   pa·tri·arch

The oldest member or representative of a group.

Presidio   pre·si·dio

A military post or fortified settlement founded when California was under Spanish control.

Pueblo   pueb·lo

Village, town or group of people.


A name used to refer to an Indian settlement. Word used during the Spanish and Mexican periods.

Rancheros   ran·che·ro

Ranchers, inhabitants of a ranch.

Rancho   ran·cho

Ranch for cattle raising.

Rodeos   ro·deo

A public performance featuring bronco riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, and Brahma bull riding; a contest resembling a rodeo.

Squatters   squatter

A person who settles on property without right or title or payment of rent.

Tallow   tal·low

White nearly tasteless solid rendered fat of cattle and sheep used chiefly in soap, candles, and lubricants


During the Mexican and Spanish eras in California, refers to people from the United States.


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