Ferdinand Konscak

From Academic Kids

Ferdinand Konščak (Ferdinand Consag in Hungarian) (December 2, 1703 - September 10, 1759) was a missionary, explorer, and cartographer.



Konščak was born in Varaždin, Croatia, and attended primary and secondary school in his native city. At sixteen he finished the expected grades and was admitted to the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Trencin, Slovakia, where he stayed for two years. He was then sent to Leoben in Styria to study classics, stylistics, and rhetoric. Later he studied philosophy in Graz and in 1725 - 1726 he lectured on the Elements of Grammar at the Jesuit Academy in Zagreb in Croatia. In 1726 - 1727 he taught classical studies at a secondary school in Buda in Hungary. In 1728 Konščak published a collection of poems titled Nagadia versibus latinus, which is kept at Budapest, Hungary. From 1727 to 1729 he studied theology at the University of Graz.


In 1729, Konščak left for Cádiz in Spain, then went to North America, where he was active as a missionary on New Spain's Baja California peninsula (today part of Mexico), from 1732 to the end of his life. His headquarters was in San Ignacio. From 1748 he acted as the superior of the mission and later, in 1758, inspector of all missions in California. Konščakspoke various dialects of local Indians, in particular a very difficult dialect of Cochinin Indians. He mounted three expeditions (in 1746, 1751, 1753 systematically exploring the unknown areas of the peninsula.


In 1752 Konščak's proved Baja California to be a peninsula and not an island, settling a disputed question that had raged for more than two centuries. The second expedition comprised a journey by land across the peninsula to the Pacific Ocean, across the shore to the north. The third one was a journey through the interior of the peninsula and to the north, up to the 30th degree of northern latitude. During his expeditions he recorded data concerning the terrain, natural resources, and native inhabitants. Konščak directed and oversaw the building of new missions, aqueducts, embankments, drainage channels, and the first silver mines.

Konščak died in San Ignacio, Baja California.


On the basis of the data obtained, he made a precise map of Baja California (1748) and a map of the Gulf of California (around 1750).

His maps of the regions explored were popular at the time frequently copied and used. Denis Diderot and D'Alembert used some of them within the French encyclopedia where his name is cited as "P. Consaqua". Also Alexander von Humboldt used them in his work "Carte generale... de la Nouvelle Espagne", (Paris, 1804). The same is case with Arrowsmith in his book "Map of America" published in London in 1805.

His diaries, after his death translated and reprinted into many languages, were published during his lifetime by Villa-Senor y Sanchez, Ortega-Balthasar and Venegas-Buriel.

The 1761 copy of his manuscript on California is held in The British Museum. His Carta del P. Fernando Consag de la Compania de Jesus, Visistaro de las Misiones de Californias are kept at:

Seven copies of maps are published by Ernest J. Burrus in his work La obra cartografica in Madrid in 1967.

In 2000 Croatian researcher Zorić proved Konščak to be the author of important work named Addiciones a las noticias contemidas en la Description compnediosa de lo descuviert y conocido de la California.


There is an archipelago on the north of the California bay named Consag Rocks,(Consag Rocas or Roca de Consag, near San Felipe). Konščak discovered many water springs so that even today there are exist shops and other facilities in California bearing his name like "Licores Konsag", (Liquor Store and Market, "Konsaqua" (purified water). Single part of many peoples names today in Mexico is simply - Gonzaga

Explorer's life is described by outstanding American historian Peter Masten Dunne in his monography Black Robes in Lower California, published in Los Angeles in 1952.

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