Yerba Buena

January 30th Celebrates Yerba Buena

Today on Days to Remember we celebrate how on January 30th 1847 the town called Yerba Buena, was renamed as San Francisco.

The earliest archaeological evidence of human habitation of the territory of the city of San Francisco dates to 3000 BC. Native Americans who settled in this region found the bay to be a small natural resource for hunting and gathering their provisions and for the establishment of many small villages.

Yerba Buena was the original named by a Mexican settlement that would later become San Francisco, California.

Do you know what Yerba Buena stand’s for?

After the Native American Indians, around the 1800s there was a plant along the landscape that early Mexican Settlers called, “Yerba Buena,” which means the good herb.

Who actually discovered San Francisco?

Seven years later, on March 28, 1776, the Spanish established the Presidio of San Francisco, followed by a mission, Mission San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores), established by the Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza.

Another four legged explorer was also known in San Francisco, were two stray dogs named Bummer and Lazarus, became local celebrities in San Francisco area, and became explorers of different type of settlement.

Where there are large cities you can expect see rats, but in 1860 one day when a fruit stand was cleaning out an upper gallery, the men flushed out a huge number of rats.

Bummer and Lazarus were right there to help with the clean-out, clearing the area of a reported 400 rats. Another time they were said to have killed 85 rats in 20 minutes.

An article in that newspaper in 1861 said that Bummer would go along the street, looking for “an acquaintance or a lunch-eater,” and he persuasively bummed handouts, thereby earning his name.

Lazarus arrived under duress. He was described as a yellow-black cur, with long legs, smooth fur, and a weak chin. The dog was emaciated and being chased by a much larger street dog.

Bummer saw that the little dog was being threatened and stepped in to protect him. The big dog backed down, but by this time Lazarus had suffered a bad bite on the leg. San Franciscans who stopped to observe the dogs didn’t think the smaller dog would make it.

The cur dog gained the name “Lazarus” because those who had observed the fight couldn’t believe he lived it was as if he had risen from the dead. (In the Gospel of John, Jesus restores Lazarus to life four days after he died.)

In the mid-nineteenth century, Bummer and Lazarus were not unique in western towns. As the population of communities grew, so did the presence of stray animals.

In Los Angeles in the 1840s, dogs actually outnumbered people by two to one. San Francisco’s problem was less severe but there was still a high population of wandering dogs.

Not to wander away from today’s story, as we remember how on January 30th 1847 the town called Yerba Buena became San Francisco.

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell


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