José Velásquez was born
in San Ildefonso de Ostímuri in 1717. San Ildefonso today
is in the southeastern part of modern Sonora. José Velásquez
began his military service at Loreto in January of 1751. In 1768
at the age of 51, Velásquez was promoted to the rank of
corporal. By that time he had served 17 years in Baja California.
According to his service record,
"He remained 10 years on detached
service on the frontier with the heathen Indians of Old California,
during which time he made many journeys to their villages and
into the Sierra in search of recent Christian fugitives. On 4
occasions they made war on him and he came out wounded in one
Corporal Velásquez came to Alta California with Captain Rivera y Moncada in the first land
expedition of 1769. He was with Portolá on the 2nd successful
March to Monterey. He was first to carry mail from Monterey in
Alta California to Todos Santos in Baja. The mail notified the
governor of successful occupation of Monterey. Corporal Velásquez
made a journey of 1440 miles in 49 days to deliver the mail.
In 1771 Corporal Velásquez was promoted to Sergeant. He
became an Alferéz in 1773 and transferred to San
Fernando de Velicatá as military commander of the Escolta
de la Frontera. Velicatá was an important supply depot
for Alta California. While at Velicatá, Alferéz
Velásquez participated in the founding of 3 new missions
and explored new territory on orders from Governor Felipe de Neve.
In 1780 Alferéz Velásquez was posted at the Presidio
of San Diego as second in command under Lieutenant
José Francisco Ortega. In San Diego, Velásquez
was given field assignments related to the founding of Los Angeles.
In 1782 he participated in the Yuma campaign. In 1783 he explored
a southern route to Yuma. Alferéz José Velásquez
died in 1785 at the age of 68 and was buried at Mission San Gabriel.
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