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Mojave Desert History > Names in History

Don Antonio Maria Lugo

"No wonder that cattle and other animals thrived and increased in numbers wonderfully, and that eventually he had more stock than he knew what to do with. So, as his boys grew up, he obtained a grant in their name of the rancho of San Bernardino which included a considerable portion of the rich and fertile San Bernardino valley; and a part of their cattle and horses were moved to the new grant, where they continued to increase in numbers, as they had done on the home rancho."


Don Antonio Maria Lugo -- 1775 - 1860

Picturesque Character of California
By H. D. Barrows - 1896

Don Antonio Maria Lugo
Among the native Californians of the olden time who were of families, and who were were also prominent citizens in their day, was Don Antonio Maria Lugo, who was born at the Mission of San Antonio de Padua, of Alta California, in 1775, and who died at his rancho of San Antonio, near the present town of Compton in this county, in i860, at the age of 85 years.

He was one of the largest land-owners and stock raisers outside of the Missionary establishments in the Californians. The writer of this knew him well; and he remembers vividly his striking appearance as he rode into town on horse back erect, with his sword strapped to his saddle beneath his left leg, he then being an octogenarian.

He told me at his rancho in 1856, that when he was still a young man, after having served as a soldier under the king of Spain, he obtained per- mission to settle where he then lived, in 1813.

He said he took a few head of horses and cattle there, and engaged in a small way, in the business of stock-raising, and that afterward he received a concession in legal form of, I think, seven leagues of land, which has since been known as the San Antonio rancho.The grant extended from the Dominguez or San Pedro rancho, one of the four most ancient grants in Alta California, nearly to the low range of hills separating it from the San Gabriel valley, and from the eastern Pueblo boundary to the San Gabriel river. It was one of the finest cattle ranges in the Territory; there was abundance of water on it, and on both sides of it, as the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers were not then taken out for irrigation, and there were lines of live willows extending along their banks to near the sea. When I was at his house in '56, there were two large spouting natural wells near by, that discharged immense quantities of water, accompanied by a roaring noise, that could be plainly heard some distance away.

No wonder that cattle and other animals thrived and increased in numbers wonderfully, and that eventually he had more stock than he knew what to do with. So, as his boys grew up, he obtained a grant in their name of the rancho of San Bernardino which included a considerable por- tion of the rich and fertile San Bernardino valley; and a part of their cattle and horses were moved to the new grant, where they continued to increase in numbers, as they had done on the home rancho.

The flocks and herds of the venerable Don and of his sons, like those of the patriarchs of Scripture, ranged over "a thousand hills;" and probably their owners did not know themselves, how many cattle they had.

Don Antonio named over to me, all the governors of California, down to the coming of "Los Americanos," nearly every one of whom except ot course, the first three, he know personally.

The town home of the old gentleman, where nearly all of his large family of children were born, was on the east side of the street, afterwards known as Negro alley, situated on the eminence overlooking the valley, which was then a very desirable place of residence; it had not then been made the resort ot low gamblers, nor as it is today, a vile den of heathen Chinese.

The following passage, written by Stephen C. Foster in 1876, * refers to an episode which occurred during Don Antonio's occupancy of this home, and incidentally it describes his personal appearance at that period, and also gives exquisite touches of customs that were practiced here in the good old Spanish times. "In 1818 the pirate Bouchard had alarmed the inhabi- tants of this coast, and "Corporal Antonio Maria Lugo received orders to proceed to Santa Barbara with all the force the little town could spare;" for it was expected that the pirates would la^d at or near that place, which they di i, at Ortega's ranch, where several of their crew were captured, in- cluding Joseph Chapman and a negro named Fisher, for whose safe keeping, Lugo became responsible. Some two weeks afterward he started with Chapman for Los Angeles, where says Mr. Foster, "Dona Dolores Lugo, (wife of Don Antonio,) who, with other wives, was anxiously waiting, as she stood after nightfall in the door of her house, which still (1876) stands on the street now known as Negro alley, heard the welcome sound of cavalry and the jingle of their spurs as they defiled along the path north of Fort Hill. They proceeded to the guard house, which then stood on the north side of the Plaza across upper Main street. The old church was not yet built. She heard the orders given, for the citizens still kept watch and ward; and presently she saw two horsemen mounted on one horse, advanc- ing across the Plaza toward the house, and heard the stern but welcome greeting, "Ave Maria Purlsima," upon which the children hurried to the door and kneeling, with clasped hands, uttered their childish welcome, and received their father's benediction. The two men dismounted. The one who rode the saddle was a man fully six feet high, of a spare but sinewy form, which indicated great strength and activity. He was then forty -three years of age. His black hair, sprinkled with gray, and bound with a black handkerchief, reached to his shoulders. The square-cut features of his closely shaven face indicated character and decision, and their naturally stern expression was relieved by an appearance of grim humor — a purely Spanish face. He was in the uniform of a cavalry soldier of that time, the cu ra blanca, a loose fitting surtout, reaching to below the knees, made of buckskin, doubled and quilted so as to be arrow proof; on his left arm he carried an adargi, an cval shield of bull's hide, and h ; s right hand he'd a lance, while a high-crowned, heavy vicuna hat surmounted his head. Suspended from his saddle were a carbine and a long straight sword.

The other was a man about twenty-five years of age, perhaps a trifle taller than the first. His light hair and blue eyes indicating a different race, and he wore the garb of a sailor. The expression of his countenance seemed to say, "I am in a bad scrape; but I reckon I'll work out somehow."

The Sefiora politely addressed the stranger, who replied in an unknown tongue. Her curiosity made her forget her feelings of hospitality, and she turned to her husband for an explanation.

' Whom have you here, old man?" (viejito) "He is a prisoner we took from that buccaneer — may the devil sink her — scaring the whole coast, and taking holiest men away from their homes and business. I have gone his security."

"And what is his name and country?" "None of us understand his lingo, and he don't understand ours. All I can find out is, his name is Jos6 and he speaks a language they call English. We took a negro among them but he was the only one of the rogues who showed fight, aad so Corporal Ruis lassoed him, and brought him head over-heels, sword and all. I left him in Santa Barbara to repair damages. He is English, (or speaks English) too."

"Is he a Christian or a heretic?" "I neither know nor care. He is a man and a prisoner in my charge, and I have given the word of a Spaniard and a soldier, to my old comandante for his safe keeping and good treat- ment. I have brought him fifty leagues, on the crupper behind me, for he can't ride without something to hold to. He knows no more about a horse than I do about a ship, and be sure and give him the softest bed. He has the face of an honest man, if we did catch him among a set of thieves, and he is a likely looking young fellow. If he behaves himself we will look him up a wife among our pretty girls, and then, as to his religion the good Padre will settle all that. And now good wife (esposita mia) I have told you all I know, for you women must know everything, but we have had nothing to eat since morning; so hurry and give us the best you have.

Mr. Foster adds that Lugo's judgment turned out to be correct; his Yankee prisoner, Joseph Chapman, who was the first English speaking set- tler of Los Angeles, (these events occurred in the year 1818,) soon after helping Lugo to get out timber in the mountains for the construction of the church; and a few years later, after he had learned enough Spanish to make himself understood, and could ride a horse without tumbling off, Lugo accompanied him to Santa Barbara, where he helped him to find a wife in the Senorita Guadalupe Ortega, daughter cf o'd Sergeant Ortega, Lugo standing as sponsor at the wedding; after which the three set out on horseback on the long road from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles, Chapman and his bride riding the same horse.

In after ycrs Seflor Lugo planted a vineyard on the east side of San Pedro street, on land now bisected by Second, and at present owned in part by his grand daughter Sefiora NTontes de Oca, formerly Mrs. Wood- worth; and for some years his town home was in the long adobe house, still standing, just north of the Woodworth residence.

One of Mr. Lugo's daughters, and I believe the only one of his numerous children now living, Dofla Merced, married first, Jose Perez, and after his death, Stephen C. Foster, formerly Alcalde, and afterwards, Mayor of this city. Mrs. Foster's great-grandchildren, namely the children of J. J. Woodworth, Mrs. Albert Rimpau and Mrs. C. E. de Camp, are the great-great-grandchildren of the deceased patriarch, Don Antonio Maria Lugo. Thus it has been the lot of the writer to know five generations of this family. Another daughter, Jesus, married Col. Isaac Williams the old time owner of the magnificent rancho of "El Chino." The descendants by this line included Mrs. Jesuron, formerly Carlisle, and Mrs. Carrillo, form erly Rains, and their children and grandchildren, also to the fifth genera- tion. Of the sons of old Don Antonio and their numerous descendants extending to the tfiird, fourth and fifth generation, and, by marriage acquir. ing other names, I cannot undertake to give an account, because I am not well enough acquainted with them to do so. Don Felipe Lugo, one of the best known of these sons lived for many years on the ranch which bore his name, near to and south of the city and east of the river.

A brother of Don Antonio was Don Jose" Ygnacio Lugo, the grand- father of the Wolfskills on their mother's side. He died in 1846. Dofia Maria Antonia, wife of old Sergeant Vallejo — "Sarjento distinguido" — mother of General M. G. Vallejo, was also a Lugo, and a sister of Don Antonio.

From all of which it would appear that there must be a good deal of Lugo blood scattered about in various parts of California. Take it all in all, as exemplified both in the earlier and later generations, it has some pretty good qualities.

In 1795, Don Antonio married Dolores Ruis, by whom he had ten children. After her death, he married as his second wife, Maria Antonia German, by whom he had several children.

Don Antonio was Alcalde of the Pueblo for some years prior to 1815. There are several portraits of him extant. I think Mrs. Foster has one; Wallace Woodworth who married one of his granddaughters had one, and his son Vicente had another.

Mr. Stephen C. Foster has recorded some interesting incidents which reveal striking peculiarities in the character of Sefior Lugo. Mr. Foster had been elected as one of the delegates to represent the Los Angeles district in the first Constitutional convention which met at Monterey in 1849; and desir- ing a letter of introductio-i to Don Antonio's sister, who lived there, he says: "I then had a consultation with my old father-in law, (Don Antonio Maria Lugo,) on the subject. He said: 'So the Mexicans have sold California to the Americans for $15,ooo,coo, and thrown us natives into the bargain? I don't uudcrstand how they could sell what they never had, for since the time of the king we sent back every governor they ever s»nt here. With the last they seut 300 soldiers to keep us in order, but we sent him with his ragamuffins back too. However, you Americans have got the country; and must have a government of your own, for the laws under which we have lived will not suit you. You must go, and you can stop with my sisten Dofla Maria Antonia, the widow of old Sergeant Vallejo.' 'But you must give me a letter to her.' 'A letter?' was the quick reply; 'I can't write and she can't read, for we had no schools t in California when we were young. They tell me the Americans will esablish schools where all can learn. I tell you what I'll do: I will make Jos6, (one of his sons,) loan you el Qua" chino;' (the name of a notable horse which had been used by Lugo's sons to lasso grizzly bears that had attacked their stock on their San Bernardino rancho, and which besides the brand had the marks of a grizzly's claws.) 'My sister knows the horse, for I rode him to Monterey three years ago, and she knows my son would lend that horse to no man in California except his old father.'

'I will tell you how I happened to ride to Monterey at my time of life: In 1845, when Don Pio Pico became governor, he established the seat of government in JLos Angeles, as the Mexican government had directed in 1836; but there was no government house, so I made a trade for a house for $5000, for which drafts were given on the custom-house in Monterey, and like an old fool I went security for their payment' (The house stood on the lot which extends from Main to Los Angeles streets, and from Com- mercial street north, to and including the present St. Charles Hotel.) 'The owner was pushing me for the payment; so I had to go to Monterey to see if that hopeful grandson of my sister, Governor J. B. Alvarado, then in charge of the custom-h<. use, would pay them.

•I found him and Castro preparing to come down and deprive Pio Pico of the governorship, and they had use for all the money they could get; so I had my ride of 300 leagues for nothing. Plague take them all! with their pronunciamentos and revolutions, using up my horses and eating up my cattle, while my sons, instead of taking care of their old father's stock were off playing soldier.

'The Americans have put a stop to all this, and we will now have peace and quiet in the land, as in the good old days of the king.'

• When you get to Monterey, you go to my sister and tell her for me, by the memory of our last meeting, to treat you as I have ever treated her sons and grandsons, when they visited me.' "

The circumstances of the "last meeting" referred to between Antonio Maria Lugo and his sister at Monterey three years before, are thus described :

"In March, 1846, Dona Maria Antonia Lugo de Vallejo was seated on the porch of her house, which commanded a full view of the town and the southern road, accompanied by one of her granddaughters. Three horse, men were seen slowly turning the point where one coming from the south can first be seen. The old lady shaded her eyes and gazed long and ex- claimed: 'There comes my brother!' 'O, grandmother (abuelita,) yonder come three horsemen, but no one can tell who they are at that distance. 'But, girl,' she replied, "my old eyes are better than yours. That tall man in the middle is my brother, whom I have not seen for twenty years. I know him by his seat in the saddle. No man in California rides like him. Hurry off, girl, (hijita,) call your mother and aunts, your brothers, sisters and cousins, and let us go forth to welcome him.'

The horsemen drew near and a little group of some twenty women and children stood waiting with grandmother at their head, her eyes fixed on the tall horseman, an old, white-haired man, who flung himself frcm the saddle, and, mutually exclaiming, 'brother!' 'sister!' they were locked in a warm embrace.'

Don Antonio Maria Lugo was, in most respects as thoroughly a Span- iard as if he had been born and reared in Spain. He looked upon the com- ing of the Americans as the incursion of an alien element, bringing with them as they did, alien manners and customs, and a language of which he knew next to nothing, and desired to know less.

With "los Yankees,'' as a race, he, and the old Californians generally, had little spmpathy, although individual members of that race whom from long association he came to know intimately, and who spoke his language, he learned to esteem and respect most highly, as they in turn, learned most highly to esteem and respect him, albeit, his civilization differed in some respects radically from theirs.

It is related of him that on seeing for the first time an American mowing-machine in operation, he looked on with astonishment, and, holding up one long bony finger, he exclaimed: "Los Yankees faltan un dedo de ser el Diablo" The Yankee only lacks one finger of being the Devil!

To rightly estimate the character of Senor Lugo, it is necessary for Americans to remember these differences of race and environment. Al- though he lived under three regime*, to wit: Spanish, Mexican and Anglo American, he retained to the last the essential characteristics which he inherited from his Spanish ancestors; and although as I have intimated, he Lad as was very natura', no liking for Americans themselves, as a rule, or for their ways, nevertheless, he and all of the better class of native Cal- ifornians of the older generations did have a genial liking for individual Americans and other foreigners, who, in lorg acd intimate, social and busi- ness intercourse, prcved themselves worthy of their friendship and confi. dence. Indeed, I may say, and I take pleasure in saying to the members of this society, that one of the pleasantest leatures of my more than forty years' acquaintanceship with native Calfornians, not only in Los Angeles, but in San Jos© and Monterey, has been this universal friendship and respect on their part, for those foreigners, comparatively few in numbers, who by alliance in marriage, or by sympathetic and honorable dealings have won their confidence.

How warm, how genuine, was the esteem in which native Californians of the better class held such honorable men, and ever wholly trustworthy friends as "Don Benito" (Wilson,) "Don Ricardo" (Dr. Den,) "Don Juan" (Dr. Griffin,) "Don Guillermo" (Wolfskill,) "Don David" (Alexander,) etc.; and others up country, like "Don Alfredo" (Robinson,) "Don David" (Spence,) etc., etc.

The Spanish Californians are naturally a warm-hearted race; and withal they are, and always have been, lovers of liberty. They welcomed the men I have named and others, as equals, merely conceding that these new-made but true friends, were only superior to themselves, in this, that they had traveled more than they, and had doubtless seen more of the outside world; and furthermore, that they had had, what they Californians had not had, namely the benefit of schools. For California, half or three-quarters of a century ago, was pretty effectually shut off from the rest of the world, and was without schools, or materials, to wit, teachers, wherewithal to establish them. For the rest, the Californians and Americans, both of the better class met on an equal footing, and as a consequence, the sincere friendship which grew up between them, rested upon an enduring basis.
To justly appreciate the older generations of Californians we should consider their surroundings, their almost absolute isolation, and the civiliza- tion which they as citizens of "New Spain," had inherited, and then imagine, if we can, how we would have acted if we had been placed in their stead.
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