This memorandum can be read in Croatian, courtesy of Andrijana Savicević, at,


[At the time the memo below was written, the author understood that the entire Anza expedition, including walking women and children, had travelled to what became San Francisco. However, the pedestrians were actually left in Monterey, California, and just men on horses made the trip northward, which explains how they got there so fast.]



2010 May 3 

To:      City Council, Town of Los Altos Hills

From: Les Earnest, Secretary, History Committee

Subject: Recommend removal of erroneous historical monuments

On 4/20/2010 the History Committee adopted the following resolution.

The History Committee asks that the Council have the erroneous monuments on Town property on Fremont Road at the intersections with Edith and Miranda Roads removed.

The following considerations led to this recommendation. An expedition led by Juan Bautista de Anza brought the first substantial number of European and Mexican settlers into Northern California in 1776, including many small children. This event is certainly worthy of recognition but it should be done accurately.

Anyone writing a historical account is entitled to provide a personal perspective that emphasizes the role of an entity they represent or even their personal involvement. However fabricating history so as to draw  such attention is unacceptable. The case  under consideration is doubly embarrassing inasmuch as the Town government evidently was drawn into the deception and induced to spend a considerable sum to construct and install erroneous historical monuments. It constitutes a notable failure of the historical review process and steps should be taken to ensure that this kind of distortion is not repeated.

A monument on the corner of Edith Park (Edith & Fremont Roads) says that Juan Bautista de Anza "LED AN EXPEDITION NEAR THIS SITE, THE MISSION BEING TO COLONIZE THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA" as shown below. 


 The plaque on the northeast corner of Fremont and Miranda Roads says that the Anza party "CROSSED THIS AREA IN MARCH 1776 EN ROUTE TO SELECT SITES FOR THE PRESIDIO AND THE MISSION OF SAN FRANCISCO." 


The above monuments apparently were installed around 1976, at the time of the Bicentennial celebrations. Taken together they claim that the Anza expedition went through this segment of Fremont Road on their way north to what became San Francisco. This is confirmed by the second paragraph of the Town History web page at which says, “Following roughly the path of today's Fremont Road, Juan Bautista De Anza passed through what was to become Los Altos Hills while making his journey from Monterey to San Francisco in 1776 to establish the Presidio.”

However it seems odd that the Anza expedition would go into the hills along this route when there was (and is) a relatively flat route going up the Peninsula nearer to the bay. The foothills were covered with scrub brush that was difficult to ride through (manzanita, scrub oak, poison oak, toyon, etc.) whereas the flatlands were relatively easy going. Note that there were about 200 people in the Anza party and over half of them were children age 12 and under. Let us examine the validity of the above claims.

The diaries of both Juan Bautista de Anza and his accompanying priest, Pedro Font, can be seen in both Spanish and English at and Font’s diary is generally the more detailed of the two. Their passage through this area was on March 26, 1776 and Font's entry for that day begins:

Tuesday, March 26.—I said Mass. We set out from the arroyo of San Joseph Cupertino at half past seven in the morning, and at a quarter to four in the afternoon halted at a small and nearly dry arroyo about a short league beyond the arroyo of San Matheo, having traveled some twelve leagues, one to the northwest, another to the north-northwest, then some four to the west-northwest until we crossed the arroyo of San Francisco, and afterward three to the northwest by west and three to the west-northwest. —Twelve leagues.

Given that a league is 3.45 miles, twelve leagues is just over 41 miles, which is a pretty impressive day’s journey. In order to do that their route must have been almost entirely along cleared trails in the flatlands.

Font's diary continues:

On leaving camp, from the top of a hill we had in sight a large part of the southeastern estuary of the port, on whose margins are seen several small inlets and a large stretch of bad, muddy, and salty land this side of the water; but it appears that the estuary extends at times through all that margin and flat. Then we crossed an arroyo called Los Laureles because it had many laurels; and a little afterward, on entering the Bosque Espinoso, we came to an arroyo or ditch with much water in pools, where we stopped for quite a while to find a ford across it. I may note that all the arroyos which are encountered between the valley of San Bernardino and the port rise in the spruce-covered sierra on the south, of which I spoke day before yesterday, and run toward the flat and the estuary.


It makes sense that they would start out by going to a high point to plan a route going up the peninsula. Given that the "arroyo of San Joseph Cupertino" was what we now call Stevens Creek and that they apparently had camped in what we now call Cupertino, their first leg of one league to the northwest (3.45 miles), as reported in the first paragraph, would have taken them approximately to the knoll just north of where northbound I-280 now enters the hills. On the National Park Service map at, shown on the next page, this Historic Site is labeled as "Cupertino Knoll."

After that Font says they traveled "another [league] to the north-northwest," which would have been approximately parallel to Stevens Creek. They then went "some four [leagues] to the west-northwest until we crossed the arroyo of San Francisco." The "arroyo of San Francisco," is now called "San Francisquito Creek." On that basis their route was approximately along the white band shown in the map on the next page, i.e. the current route of El Camino Real.

Further on Font says:

Afterward we reached the arroyo of San Francisco, on whose banks we saw a village. The Indians came out to us on the road, and the commander went with me to the village and gave the women some glass beads, and I counted about twenty-five huts. We crossed the arroyo and found the holy cross which Father Palóu set up on its bank last year. On the arroyo there are various laurels, ash, and other trees, and a few spruce trees which they call redwood, a tree that is certainly beautiful; and I believe that it is very useful for its timber, for it is very straight and tall, as I shall show later on.

That cross reportedly was put near the tall redwood tree called El Palo Alto, which was (and still is) on the banks of San Francisquito Creek, so the white route shown on the map on the next page looks accurate and does not go into the hills after the initial overlook. 

There is a consensus among historians, based on the Font diary, that this was where the Anza party went. You can get a more complete view of the Anza route, evidently based on the same interpretations, by starting up Google Earth and typing "Anza Trail" in the search field. This shows the whole Anza route and allows you to zoom in on any segment. That representation indicates that their route came no closer than about three miles from any part of Los Altos Hills.


However, Florence Fava in her book on "Los Altos Hills, the colorful story" [Gilbert Richards Publications, Woodside, CA, 1976] says on page 8:

The Santa Clara County Bicentennial Committee and the California History Center at De Anza College, Cupertino, concur that the party traveled March 26 from Monte Vista past the present site of St. Joseph's Seminary and Maryknoll Seminary to a point near Freeway #280 at Mora Drive (an unincorporated County area); dropped down across the Los Altos Golf and Country Club property to Magdalena Avenue and Gronwell Court; and next roughly followed the Foothill Expressway to Edith Avenue in downtown Los Altos. From there it traversed Los Altos Hills via Fremont and Arastradero Roads, exiting the Hills at Page Mill Road and the Freeway #280 overpass.

The route described by Fava is not  consistent with Font's diary and makes no sense at all. Why would the Anza party choose to go through the hills when they could see a route through the flatlands? More specifically, why would they go along the modern route of Fremont Road, then take a left turn where it reaches Arastradero Road so that they could then climb over part of Saddle Mountain to reach the I-280/Page Mill Road overpass area, then turn right so as to come out of the mountains just a couple of miles from where they entered?

The author gives no citation as a basis of the above claim nor does she identify who made up the two organizations that supposedly agreed on those claims. I would guess that she was a participant in both and probably formulated the above claims. Fava goes on to say:

A re-enactment of the 1776 Anza trek is destined to be a major feature of the West's observance of the 1976 U.S. American Revolution Bicentennial.

This provides a strong clue to what gave rise to the implausible claims cited above. It appears that in order to justify participation the the 1976 Bicentennial celebrations, Fava fabricated the claim that the Anza party came through Los Altos Hills in 1776. As official Town Historian she then talked city officials into erecting monuments and went on to organize a “reenactment” of this alleged event.  Unfortunately her claims were evidently fraudulent. It is too bad that nobody checked her story at the time and that it was accepted uncritically in spite of the fact that it made no sense.

A short time after getting the Town to erect the monuments, getting her book published, and staging the “reenactment” of the Anza party’s alleged travel through the Hills, Fava picked a public fight with the Los Altos Hills Historical Society, resigned as Town Historian, and took many of the historical artifacts and documents that had been collected and stored in the Town’s Heritage House, claiming that they were her personal property. A bit later she moved out of town.  

It is unfortunate that the Town government accepted Fava's claims uncritically and expended public funds on erecting monuments confirming her fantasy. Those monuments now constitute an ongoing public embarrassment and should be removed.