In 1769, Spain decided to occupy Alta California. The Spanish authorities feared the Russians coming down from Alaska in the north might take California for themselves. The English were showing interest as well. To protect its claim, Spain organized an expedition to occupy the area.
Don Gaspar Portolá headed the expedition, but the most renowned member of the group was Padre (now Saint) Junípero Serra. Portolá’s objective was to claim the land in Alta California for the Spanish Crown, and Father Serra would establish three missions, one at the Bay of San Diego, one at the Bay of Monterey, and the third at San Buena Ventura, halfway between the two. Soldiers were recruited to protect the expedition. One of those soldiers was Juan Francisco Reyes.