La Case de Dana Rancho
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Photo: Vaquero rustling cattle for brandingBy Susan L. Friesen, c. April 11, 2006
We took a field trip with other homeschoolers to La Casa de Dana, commonly known as “Dana Adobe” in Nipomo, California.
The adobe was named after a very colorful man, William Goodwin Dana (1797- 1858). Dana, born in 1797 in Boston, grew up to become a Yankee sea captain. At age 18 he joined his uncle at sea, navigating to Canton, China and Calcutta, India. He also later traded with the Mexican “Californios,” those in the Sandwich Islands (now known as Hawaii), and in South America.
After settling on the central coast to hunt sea otters, he met and married a beautiful Mexican senorita, Maria Josefa Carillo. He applied for and was granted Mexican citizenship in 1835. Fortunately, he was able to purchase one of the original Mexican land grants, a rancho totaling more than 37,000 acres in modern-day Nipomo in San Luis Obispo County.
A docent told us that on a quiet day, one could hear the church bells ring more than 20 miles away at Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolusa from the Dana rancho. Back in the 1800’s, the area was sparsely populated. Even grizzly bears roamed the scene.
If you also love history and want to read more about the adobe and Captain Dana, be sure and check-out the material online.
For our homeschool tour, we met with about a dozen other students and moms, and took an individualized tour through the Dana Adobe. Docents dressed in period costume took us around the renovated home and the grounds.
We learned this and more:
About different brands on California ranchos and the California Spanish Missions
How to make homemade flour tortillas. Info about beef jerky. Cornbread preparation. We sampled the tortillas and jerky.
Chumash Rock Art. The girls painted Chumash Indian symbols on ocean rocks.
A tour of the Dana Adobe, including the captain’s quarters, girls’ room, cocina (kitchen), and living room.
A visit to see two miniature burros
Fandango (dance lesson)
I’ll leave you with this interesting factoid about Captain William G. Dana:
In 1828, Captain Dana built a schooner on the coast near Santa Barbara at a place which still bears the name, Goleta, the Spanish word for schooner. This was probably the first seagoing vessel ever launched in California.