Stories of Early California

Stories of Early California

These are invaluable sources of information about life in California during the nineteenth century from the unique perspectives of the people who lived during that time,” writes Rose Marie Beebe, SCU professor of modern languages and literatures, of the new book California Voices: The Oral Memoirs of José María Amador and Lorenzo Asisara (University of North Texas Press, 2005, $29.95) which was translated and edited by Gregorio Mora-Torres ’76.

For the first time, Mora-Torres’s book publishes stories told by two men in the early 1870s, both in English translation and in the original Spanish. At that time, Hubert H. Bancroft sent research assistants across California to record the memoirs of early residents. Amador, then 83, shared his life story, including his days as a 49er during the Gold Rush and the reconnoitering expeditions that his company took into the interior of California, where they encountered local indigenous populations. He also invited a friend, Asisara, a former neophyte from Mission Santa Cruz, to share the story of his life during the mission days. Bancroft used the stories told by the two in his writing, but the stories themselves were never published until now.

Gregorio Mora-Torres earned his bachelor’s degree in history from SCU, and his Ph.D. in Latin American history from the University of California, Irvine. He teaches in the department of Mexican American Studies at San Jose State University.

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