Posts Tagged With: California

An 1866 Map from the Lopez Adobe Collection

It’s in pretty sorry shape overall, but a scrapbook repurposed to hold an atlas from Augustus Mitchell’s collection of maps from 1866 included one of California, a detail of which is reproduced here, is in the Lopez Adobe collection.

The map shows the Los Angeles region at a crucial time.  The Civil War had just ended and the area was poised to undergo its first boom, as migrants came in larger numbers than before.

It was an opportune time because heavy flooding in 1861-62 (El Niño) followed by two years of severe drought (La Niña–ring a bell?) ravaged the cattle industry and drove land prices down.


The boom really took off in 1867, the year after the appearance of the map, and continued until 1875 when it went bust in a big way.  Of course, San Fernando was created at the end of that period as a railroad town along the line of the Southern Pacific being built north from Los Angeles.

Among the interesting features of the map, which was hand-colored in each printed copy, are that the local counties included Santa Barbara (blue), San Bernardino (pink), Los Angeles (yellow) and San Diego (blue).  Ventura, Riverside and Orange counties were off in the future.

Note, too, that the San Gabriel Mountains are referred to here as the San Bernardinos (now the chain east of Cajon Pass; the San Gabriels were often referred to in this era as the Sierra Madre range).

The dotted lines represent the two main roads in the region.  East from Los Angeles through San Gabriel and San Bernardino was the road leading out towards Arizona.  From the rudimentary harbor at San Pedro to Los Angeles was roughly today’s Interstate 110.  Then from Los Angeles north was San Fernando Road leading up to the San Fernando Mission and then up San Fernando (Newhall) Pas and towards Tejon Pass and the Central Valley.

It’s also interesting to see the San Gabriel River terminating at the Los Angeles River.  This is the channel of what is now the Rio Hondo.  In the winter of 1867-68, which featured torrential rainfall, the San Gabriel changed to its present course.

Most of the Channel Islands, the San Juan Capistrano and San Gabriel missions, Elizabeth Lake and Thompson’s stage stop near it, Santa Susana Pass, Point Fermin and Point Dume, Cajon Pass, and two unfamiliar names to most–“Las Yerbas,” meaning the Yorba Ranch near modern Corona, and Las Flores, or where Camp Pendleton is now–are notable locales.

The Lopez Adobe collection has a great many interesting items and this map is one example!

Categories: California History, Lopez Adobe, Los Angeles maps, Mission San Fernando, Newhall Pass, San Fernando History, San Fernando Pass, San Fernando Road | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gerónimo and Catarina López and the 1850 Federal and 1852 State Censuses

A map of a part of the ex-Mission San Fernando granted to Samuel, an Indian, in 1845.

A map of a part of the ex-Mission San Fernando granted to Samuel, an Indian, in 1845.  The tract was sold to Maria de los Angeles Feliz de Burrows, who then sold the 40 acre section at the top right of the square-shaped parcel to her cousins Gerónimo and Catarina López in 1855 for $160.  Several years later, the couple built an adobe that became the López Station complex where they resided for over 20 years before moving to the Lopez Adobe in 1883.

When California was admitted as the thirty-first state in the American union in September 1850, the federal census for the rest of the country had already been conducted. So, officials in the new state had to scramble to conduct a later version of the census, which was enumerated in the Los Angeles area early in 1851. Unfortunately, there was only one census taker for the entire county, John Evertsen of San Gabriel, and his count was so poorly done that the state decided to take its own census the following year, 1852. The discrepancy was enormous, with Evertsen counting 1,610 persons in the town of Los Angeles and 3,530 in the county while the 1852 enumeration tallied nearly 8,000 persons. Most of the difference appears to be in the couny of native indigenous Indians–Evertsen only counted a couple hundred, while the state count had nearly 4,000!

In any case, Gerónimo López doesn’t appear on either the 1850 or 1852 censuses, but Catarina does. In the 1850 enumeration, taken 17 January 1851, the 17-year old is listed in the household of José (age 36) and Ramona (age 30) López. Yet, her parents are known to have been Pedro, who would have been about 45 years old, and Maria Ignacia Villa, who died at age 36 a few years prior in 1847. The book, Historical Adobes of Los Angeles Countyby John Kielbasa states that Catarina had left the Mission San Fernando in 1847, perhaps because of her mother’s death, and gone to Los Angeles to attend school. She may have still been at school, then in in early 1851 when Evertsen did his count, but it is not clear who José and Ramona López were.

Notably, four of her brothers resided in the household with her, these being Francisco, born about 1834, Pedro (1835), Esteban (1839), and Valentine (1843), this latter being the builder of the López Adobe. Meantime, there were two other young people in the residence, including José Antonio López, age 18, and Augusta López, age 10, but these were not known to have been siblings of Catarina and her four brothers and perhaps were connected to the heads of the household.

There is, however, one more resident to point out: 83-year old Dolores Salgado, who was the grandmother of Catarina. Born in Loreto, Baja California in 1768, María Dolores Salgado married Juan Bautista López (1754-1829) when she was 14 years old in 1782 at Loreto and bore at least a dozen children over the next twenty-seven years, with her youngest surviving child being Pedro, Catarina’s father. It would seem clear that there was some immediate connection between the elderly matriarch, who died in January 1854, and the José López who headed the household and whose residence included several grandchildren of Dolores Salgado López.

When the 1852 state census was conducted just a little more than a year later, Catarina, age 20, was listed along with the same Augusta who appeared with her in the 1850 enumeration, along with a male López whose name appears to be spelled as “Marosa” and whose age was 21 and occupation as “Laborer.” Yet, Catarina was married to Gerónimo in the Fall of 1851, so there is a mystery here that the poorly-recorded and maintained state census records do not explain. Moreover, Kielbasa explained, sensibly, that, after her marriage, Catarina returned to San Fernando with Gerónimo and resided with her father Pedro. The couple began their family with the birth of José Jesús in 1853.

According to Kielbasa, Gerónimo and Catarina purchased 40 acres of land that had been part of a 200-acre tract granted in 1845 to Samuel, a native Indian associated with the mission. In turn, the property passed to Maria de los Angeles Feliz de Burrows, a relation of Gerónimo and Catarina, and she sold the forty acres for $4 an acre. This was to be the location of the adobe that formed the center of López Station, hope to the couple for some twenty years. More on that later!

Categories: Catarina Lopez, Geronimo Lopez, Lopez Adobe, Lopez Station, Maria de los Angeles Feliz de Burrows, Pedro Lopez, San Fernando History | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Find of the Week: Lopez Family China Hutch

This 1949 photograph of a San Fernando civic organizaiton event at the López Adobe shows two daughters of Gerónimo and Catarina López, Ramona Shaug (seated at the far right) and Catarina Millen (seated at the middle and who lived in the house from 1935 to 1961) with some guests in the Adobe's dining room.  At the back left is a china cabinet that is still in the Adobe collection and which will be displayed when the historic house reopens this year.

This 1949 photograph of a San Fernando civic organizaiton event at the López Adobe shows two daughters of Gerónimo and Catarina López, Ramona Shaug (seated at the far right) and Catarina Millen (seated at the middle and who lived in the house from 1935 to 1961) with some guests in the Adobe’s dining room. At the back left is a china cabinet that is still in the Adobe collection and which will be displayed when the historic house reopens this year.

One of the fun aspects of the Lopez Adobe project has been discovering those few items in the collection of furnishings and artifacts that belonged to the family and were in the house in earlier eras. When reviewing for the project some photographs of the house, it was noticed that one of them showed a piece of furniture that is still in the collection.

The photo was dated 1949 and showed two of the surviving children of Gerónimo and Catarina López, Ramona Lopez de Shaug and Catarina Lopez de Millen, dressed in early California costume with some other San Fernando women and sitting at a dining room table set for tea as part of a civic organization event. In the background is a china cabinet that, it so happens, remains with the Adobe today.

On its own, the cabinet doesn’t appear to have a great deal of inherent interest. It is not a high-end piece of furniture, does not have a manufacturer’s label on it, and lacks a compelling story to relate, other than its rather routine function storing and displaying china, glass and other pieces by its owner. If anything, it is one of other furniture and furnishing items that show a middle-class status for those who possessed it and can be looked at that way in context with other pieces in the same room and others in the building. It is true that the Lopez family were not particularly wealthy and would likely best be considered middle class for their time, although their long history in the Los Angeles region generally and the San Fernando area specifically is where the main interest lies.

However, while it is not known how old this piece of furniture is or whether it was brought to the house by one of the daughters, perhaps Kate Millen, who lived in the house from 1935 and 1961, as opposed to being there when Gerónimo and Catarina resided there, it is still great to have something linked to the family and its occupancy of the house. To show the 1949 photo in the dining room and have the cabinet in the same location it occupied more than six decades ago (and, presumably, for much longer before that) is a way to engage the visitor in discussing the Adobe as a not just a museum, but as a family home for over some 80 years. That may be where its place as part of a broader story is best viewed.

Categories: Catarina Lopez de Millen, Find of the Week, Lopez Adobe, Ramona Lopez de Shaug, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gerónimo and Catarina López and the 1836 and 1844 Censuses


This is a detail from pages 27 and 28 of the 1836 census of Los Angeles, as reproduced in the Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly in December 1936. The household is that of María Luisa Cota de Lopez and includes her grandson Gerónimo, listed at the bottom as 6 years of age. Click on the photo to see a larger view in a separate window.

While Gerónimo López was born to Esteban López and María Jacinta del Sacramenta Valdez, her death in 1830 and Esteban’s remarriage to Petra Varelas (also a widower, whose first husband Rafael Rubio was from a family that owned land near Esteban in what later became Boyle Heights) brought what appear to be substantial changes to Gerónimo’s upbringing.

When Los Angeles district officials conducted a census in 1836, Esteban, age 45, was living with 33-year old Peta and her three sons with Rubio and two sons with Esteban–these being Leandro, age 6, and Pablo, age 3, on their future Boyle Heights property. As for Gerónimo, he was in a different household—that of his grandmother Maria Luisa Cota (grandather Claudio Lopez having died a few years prior in 1833.) Luisa Cota, shown as being age 55, resided with her son Tiburcio and his wife Maria de Los Angeles Guillen (whose mother, Eulalia Pérez was the noted llavalera or keeper of the keys at Mission San Gabriel, where Claudio López had been foreman or mayordomo) and four children, another son José María and his wife Concepción Rayales and two children, and 6-year old Gerónimo.

Eight years later, just a few years prior to the Mexican-American War and the conquest of Alta California by invading U. S. military forces, a census was conducted. The 1844 enumeration showed Esteban López and Petra Varelas living with their two sons and two of her Rubio sons. Meanwhile, Luisa Cota, listed as age 67, was living with José María, Concepción and their five children and with Gerónimo, whose age, however, was listed as 12, when he was actually near 15 (ages especially could vary widely on almost any census!)

It is quite clear, then, that Gerónimo López, only a very small child when his mother died and his father remarried, was sent to or taken in by his grandmather Luisa Cota to be raised with her and lived with her for at least eight years and almost certainly longer. As has been noted in an earlier post in this blog, Gerónimo became a messenger to General Andrés Pico during the Mexican-American War when he was starting to emerge into manhood and may have already then left his grandmother’s household to make his way in the world.

In 1851, not long before his father’s death the following year, Gerónimo married his second cousin, Catarina López. Curiously, she could not be located on either the 1836 or 1844 censuses (when she would have been about five and thirteen years of age.)

But, from these two censuses, there are notable members of the families of both Gerónimo and Catarina to mention. Gerónimo’s sister, Concepción, for example, married Ignacio Palomares, who, along with his friend Ricardo Vejar, ran cattle on the Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas (or what became the Beverly Hills area) before obtaining a land grant in 1837 at Rancho San José, in today’s Pomona area. Ricardo Vejar’s uncle, Salvador, incidentally, was married to Josefa López, who was the first cousin to Gerónimo’s father Esteban.

Gerónimo’s brother, José Antonio, was, in 1844, a merchant who lived next door to Americans Samuel Pretice, Jonathan Temple and Temple’s brother Pliny. Jonathan Temple, an arrival of 1828 in Los Angeles, opened the pueblo’s first general store and his younger half-brother, Pliny, became a prominent merchant and banker in subsequent decades. Jonathan Temple’s earlier partner in the store was George Rice, like Temple a native of Massachusetts. Rice married Gerónimo’s sister Catarina and the two moved back to Massachusetts where Catarina died in 1851.

Gerónimo’s brother, Francisco, married Rosario Almenares and they had a daughter, Juana, who was married to Los Angeles City Marshal William C. Warren. He was notorious for being killed by his own deputy constable in 1870 in a daylight gun battle in a Los Angeles street over a reward the two claimed. She then married John Lazzaravich, a Croatian native and merchant who was a founder of Boyle Heights, where the López family had property since the 1830s. Another daughter of Francisco, Sacramenta, married George Cummings, whose 1880s business building in Boyle Heights has just been restored as a hotel for mariachi musicians.

A sister of Gerónimo, Josefa, married Cassiano Carrion and the two settled in what became Boyle Heights, although later their son Saturnino built an adobe house that still stands in San Dimas and is known as the Carrion Adobe, and which is a private residence. The Carrions obtained their property from the Palomares family—they shared the Lopez connection through the sisters, Concepción and Josefa.

On Catarina’s side, a couple of other linkages are worth noting. One of Catarina’s aunts was María de Jesus López, who was married to Tomás Féliz. Through the Feliz family, important connections to land in the eastern San Gabriel Valley were made. In one case, the daughter of Maria de Jesus López and Tomás Féliz was Maria de los Angeles, later married to Charles Burrows. She was able to acquire property near the Mission San Fernando and very close to where Gerónimo and Catarina had their Lopez Station house and stage stop.

Maria de Jesus López de Feliz had a younger daughter, Jacoba, who became the last wife of Antonio del Valle, whose son Ygnacio became the proprietor of the famed Rancho Camulos in the Santa Clara River valley of Ventura County and the del Valle family also owned the Rancho San Francisco, in the present-day Santa Clarita and Piru area, granted to Antonio del Valle, who died in 1841. It is said that Antonio was estranged from his son Ygancio, but offered the land to him in a deathbed letter that was never delivered. Still, Ygnacio took possession of the rancho.

Shortly thereafter, on 9 March 1842, Francisco López, brother of María de Jesus López de Feliz, was riding in San Francisquito Canyon on the ranch and stopped to rest under an oak tree. According to one version of a story, Francisco fell asleep and had a dream about gold. Pulling some nearby wild onions, he noticed gold flakes on them. This constituted the first discovery of gold in California, six years before the much larger and more famous discovery of James Marshall at Sutter’s Mill in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the first people to sell gold dust to the U. S. national mint at Philadelphia from Francisco López’s discovery was Pliny F. Temple, mentioned above, who worked with Gerónimo’s brother, José Antonio, at the Temple general store in Los Angeles. Another prominent Massachusetts merchant, Abel Stearns, also sold gold dust to the mint.

Finally, it has been noted that Catarina’s father, Pedro (1805-1859) was the administrator of the Mission San Fernando in the late Mexican period. As noted above, though, Pedro was not found in the 1836 and 1844 censuses. An upcoming post will trace Gerónimo and Catarina through American-era censuses.

Categories: 1836 Los Angeles District Census, 1842 discovery of gold San Francisquito Canyon, 1844 Los Angeles District Census, Catarina Lopez, Claudio Lopez, Esteban Lopez, Francisco Lopez, Geronimo Lopez, Lopez History, Pedro Lopez, San Fernando History, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Don Gerónimo López: A Pioneer of San Fernando”

The first page of a three-page article in the 1932 annual Historical Society of Southern California publication on Gerónimo López and his recollections of the Treaty of Caheunga ending the Mexican-American War in California on 13 January 1947.

The first page of a three-page article in the 1932 annual Historical Society of Southern California publication on Gerónimo López and his recollections of the Treaty of Caheunga ending the Mexican-American War in California on 13 January 1947.

On 14 March 1921, just over a month before his death atr the age of 91, Gerónimo López gave a statement to Charles J. Prudhomme that was published over a decade later in the 1932 annual publication of the Historical Society of Southern California. While the title of the published article is that in the title of this post, a short summary identified the narrower subject: “Reminiscences of old days during the Mexican War of 1846-47 as related by Don Geronimo Lopez, who at that date is still in fairly vigorous condition.”

The short piecestarted by giving his birth date of 30 September 1828 at Los Angeles, adding that he was educated at the Felíz family private school at their Casa de Cahuenga with instruction given by his relative, Francisco López, Jr. The narrative then went into López’ recollections of principal figures in the battle for Alta California, including General José María Flores, commander of local forces, but who, however, left the area prior to the last battle at Los Angeles in early 1847 and Captain Juan Bautista Moreno was placed in charge of the Californios arrayed against the Americans under the command of General Stephen Watts Kearney.

On 8 January 1847, the two sides met on the west side of the San Gabriel River (which became the Rio Hondo after flooding in 1867 created a “New San Gabriel River” to the east which emptied into the Pacific where Seal Beach and Long Beach meet–whereas the old channel emptied into the Los Angeles River) and what López referred to as El Paso de Bartolo, which seems to refer to someone named Bartolo, though exactly who this was is unknown, and which later was the name of a ranch owned by Pío Pico, who was the govenor of Alta California at the time of the American invasion, but who had left for Mexico, ostensibly to seek help from the embattled central government losing ground rapidly to Americans marching towards the capital.  López also referred to this locale as Paso de Corruga, which would mean a “crimped pass,” referring to the narrowed opening of the San Gabriel River through the Montebello Hills to the west and the Puente Hills eastward.

In this battle at the San Gabriel River, for which there is a small monument within the City of Montebello today, four Americans and two Californios were killed, but the Americans forced the retreat of the Californios toward what López referred to as El Aliso Alto, a tall sycamore tree on the Rancho San Antonio, the property of Antonio María Lugo and which was still standing in 1921 three miles from Los Angeles.  On the 9th, the Californios made a stand there and clashed in what the narrative called “a guerrilla skirmish,” implying that the defenders did not engage in a conventional battlefield formation but tried surprise attacks.  The ranch owner, Lugo, joined with Captain Moreno in organizing this action, but, again, the local forces had to retreat, with some suggestion that they moved into what is now Boyle Heights, on land partially owned by López family members, including Gerónimo.  Kearney and his forces then marched into and took possession of the pueblo of Los Angeles.

Two days later, on the 11th, López recalled, General Andrés Pico, who as related in the last post, led a smashing defeat of the Americans by mounted Californios near San Diego, sent for the 18-year old López and said to him, “Here are these special letters.  Go , and deliver them in person to Captain Ugenio Montenegro,” this officer being in command of one hundred troops at Mission San Fernando.  After the young messenger arrived, Montenegro received him, reviewed the docuements, and replied, “This letter is for me and this other letter is for Lt.-Colonel John C. Frémont.”  Frémont [it might be remarked here that while Frémont’s name had the accent in the text of the 1932 article, there were no accents on any of the names of the Californios mentioned in the article, these being added for this post] was marching down from northern California with a cadre of troops.

As related by López, Montenegro then ordered fifteen mounted soldiers to appear to deliver the letter from Pico to Frémont and “Young Gerónimo López was appointed to carry the ‘Flag of Truce’.”  The detachment went north and “down on the slope near Newhall they came in sight of Lt.-Colonel Frémont’s camp.”  Montenegro then delivered the letter and received a reply from the American commander, which “he in turn gave it to young Gerónimo López . . . then young López proceeded to the headquarters of General Andrés Pico and delivered him the message.”

On the 12th, Frémont and his soldiers proceeded to Mission San Fernando, which Montenegro had abandoned and, the following day, marched to the Casa de Cahuenga, the same adobe house that López had received his education, and met Pico there.  Negotiations ensued about creating a document of capitulation by which Pico would surrender Alta California to Frémont, rather than to Kearney, who was his superior in rank and command, with Pico evidently being concerned for his life in dealing with the general.

In any case, on the 13th, the Treaty of Cahuenga was signed at the site which exists as a landmark across from Universal Studios and López witnessed the historic occasion.  Moreover, he recalled to Prudhomme that “While Lt.-Col. Frémont and his soldiers were marching to the Pueblo, I, Gerónimo López, was sent to San Gabriel Mission with a message for the people giving them the information that the Treaty had been signed.”  Afterwards, the messenger rode on to Los Angeles and he recalled that the Californios gave a grand ball (baile) at the house of Alexander Bell and the southeast corner of Aliso and Los Angeles Streets (now directly under the 101 Freeway), where Frémont established his headquarters.  According to López, the event was in honor of Frémont, Kearney and Commodore Robert Stockton, who had led the initial conquest of Los Angeles in fall 1846 and, after which, the Californios had repulsed the garrison left behind and recaptured their town.

As remebered by López, “I was present and Lt.-Colonel  Frémont knew me as being the one who had carried the ‘Flag of Truce.’  He came and shook hands with me.”  As an aside, the narrative ended with the statement that, “Don Gerónimo López adds that Lt.-Colonel Frémont was known among the inhabitants as El Coronel Fla-mont, same being the sound in the Spanish language for Frémont.

The document was then signed by López and witnesses J. C. Villegas and Mrs. John Wilson.  López’ daughter María had married Inocencio Villegas and another daughter Grace was the wife of John T. Wilson.

Categories: Andres Pico, California History, Geronimo Lopez, John C. Fremont, Lopez History, Mexican-American War, Treaty of Cahuenga | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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