San Juan Bautista

San Juan Bautista (English: Saint John the Baptist) is a city in San Benito County, California, United States. The population was 1,549 at the 2000 census. The city of San Juan Bautista was named after Mission San Juan Bautista. San Juan is primarily an agricultural town.

The Juan Bautista de Anza House, the General José Castro house, and the San Juan Bautista Plaza Historic District are National Historic Landmarks. El Teatro Campesino is based in San Juan Bautista.

Geography

San Juan Bautista is located at 36°50′39″N 121°32′14″W / 36.844301°N 121.537232°W / 36.844301; -121.537232[1], adjacent to the San Andreas Fault.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.7 square miles (1.8 km²), all of it land.

History

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area around San Juan Bautista was populated by the Mutsunes, a branch of the Ohlone indians. The Mutsunes lived in villages composed of thatched huts made of willow and grass, and as they lived the simple hunter-gatherer lifestyle common to California indians, left little mark on the land. Today, the Mutsunes are extinct, with the last full-blooded native, Ascención Solórzano, dying in 1930.

In 1797, the Spanish Franciscan priest fray Fermín de Lasuén founded Mission San Juan Bautista to facilitate the conversion of the native people to Catholicism; in the process, he claimed the land for the Spanish Empire. Lasuén chose the site because of the area’s fertile cropland, steady water supply, and sizable indian population. At its height, the Mission had over 1200 neophytes living within its walls. The mission churchyard holds the remains of about 4500 indians. Construction of the current mission church began in 1803, and has served the community continuously since 1812. The mission was located on the Camino Real, a “royal highway” which connected the California missions and which remained well-used until the 19th century.

In 1821, Mexico revolted against Spain, winning independence for itself, and making California a province of the newly independent Mexico. By 1834, a town known as San Juan de Castro has sprouted up around the mission. It drew its name from the town’s prominent alcalde José Tiburcio Castro. In 1834 the mission was secularized, and Castro appointed executor of the property. Accordingly, he divided and auctioned off the former mission properties. His son, José Antonio Castro, build the Castro Adobe on the south side of the Plaza Mayor in 1840; however, Castro’s frequent involvement in government kept him from spending much time there. Castro was a key member of the overthrow of governors Nicolás Gutiérrez in 1836 and Manuel Micheltorena in 1844.

After defeating Micheltorena and his ill-equipped “Cholo” army, José Antonio Castro was appointed Comandante General of California, in charge of the Mexican Army‘s operations in California. From San Juan Bautista, Castro ordered the army against potential foreign incursions; he soon became preoccupied with the threat posed by the uneducated foreign workers who were entering the country illegally, particularly from the United States, and who refused to adopt Mexican customs or learn Spanish. He kept especially close watch over the movements of John C. Frémont, an American military officer who had been let into California to conduct a survey of the interior. Though given explicit instructions to stay away from costal settlements, Frémont soon broke the agreement by taking his team to Monterey, a potential military target. When Castro told Frémont he would have to leave the country, the situation came close to war when he obstinately refused to leave and instead set up a base on Gavilán Peak, overlooking the town of San Juan. However, fighting was avoided and Frémont, grudgingly, withdrew.

Faced with continuous incursions against it by a foreign power, Castro’s foreboding of an immigrant takeover was soon confirmed when the United States started the Mexican-American War in a bid to seize Mexico’s northern holdings. Frémont returned to California, this time leading the invading US army. After using San Juan as a post for some time, Frémont went south, where he signed the Treaty of Cahuenga ending hostilities between the US and Mexico.

Demographics

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 1,549 people, 567 households, and 388 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,187.0 people per square mile (842.4/km²). There were 615 housing units at an average density of 868.3/sq mi (334.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 62.30% White, 1.36% African American, 1.23% Native American, 2.65% Asian, 0.52% Pacific Islander, 25.24% from other races, and 6.71% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 47.32% of the population.

There were 567 households out of which 36.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.1% were married couples living together, 13.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.4% were non-families. 23.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.24.

General Jose Castro House.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.9% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 29.6% from 25 to 44, 24.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 98.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $43,355, and the median income for a family was $47,656. Males had a median income of $40,089 versus $27,063 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,882. About 12.7% of families and 15.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.2% of those under age 18 and 12.2% of those age 65 or over.

Politics

In the state legislature San Juan Bautista is located in the 12th Senate District, represented by Republican Jeff Denham, and in the 28th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Anna M. Caballero. Federally, San Juan Bautista is located in California’s 17th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +17[3] and is represented by Democrat Sam Farr.