Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Tribute for Mother's Day: Remembering Pío Pico's Moms

Pío de Jesús Pico has a birthday coming up (b. 5-5-1801).  The last governor of Alta California in the 1840s under Mexican rule is not forgotten.  Mother's Day is nearing, too, a good time to remember the women who mattered in his life.

Pico's African, Native American and Spanish heritage has been a source of pride and a point of interest among those who study his place in history.  His male antecedents are detailed in the only (to-date) biography (Pio Pico, the Last Governor of Mexican California, by Carlos Manuel Salomon, Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 2010), but his maternal forbears are not a focus of the biography nor are they mentioned in recent articles.  The adventures of Maria Feliciana Arballo y Gutierrez (Pico's maternal grandmother) were examined in a chapter called "Merry Widow of the Anza Expedition" in the 1963 publication Rose, or Rose Thorn?  Three Women of Spanish California, written by Susanna Bryant Dakin.

From Dakin's book Rose, or Rose Thorn?
Courtesy of the Seaver Center for Western History Research

According to historian Salomon, Pico's paternal great-grandfather, Pío Pico III, was Spanish-born and likely came to Mexico.  His son, Santiago de la Cruz Pico, was a mestizo who married Maria Jacinta Vasida, a mulata.  Mestizo meaning a man born to Spanish and Native American parents; mulata meaning a woman born to black and white parents.  Santiago had five sons, including José María Pico (Pico's father).

José María Pico was listed as "Spaniard" in the 1790 census.  He married to an "espanola" Maria Eustaquia Gutierrez.  Espanola referred to a "white" person, and these identifications may have provided them better privileges in the late colonial California.  (The accuracy of these labels "Spaniard" and "espanola" is arguable).  José María Pico served as a guard, moving from mission to mission "as duty called."  He was most likely posted at Mission San Gabriel where Pío Pico was born, and several years later he and his family relocated to San Diego. 

Historian Dakin wrote that Eustaquia migrated from Sinoloa, Mexico in September, 1775, at age 4, along with an older sister, Maria Tomasa, age 6.  The trip was expected to include the parents of the two sisters:  Feliciana (a mulata, b. 1755) and Juan Jose Gutierrez (a mestizo).  Also, other persons slated for this trip included Santiago de la Cruz Pico with family, including 11-year old José María Pico.

(Their trip is historically noteworthy - led by Juan Bautista de Anza on his second expedition to Alta California.  It would be another six years before a new group of Mexican colonists headed out to eventually establish El Pueblo de la Reina de los Angeles, or the town of the Queen of the Angels.)

The two girls' father died shortly before the departure.  Their mother proceeded as planned - an unusual decision by the newly widowed woman with young kids.  Apparently Feliciana provided moral support to the others during the trek that lasted from the fall of 1775 into the spring of 1776.  The details of Feliciana were included in diary entries of the expedition in disapproving tone by Father Font (translated by Herbert Eugene Bolton):  "It was somewhat discordant, and a very bold widow who came with the expedition sang some verses which were not at all nice, applauded and cheered by all the crowd!"

Dakin wrote that the colonists arrived at the San Gabriel River by spring, and Feliciana and her daughters did not continue the trip to the final destination of the San Francisco Bay.  Feliciana attracted attention upon her arrival in San Gabriel - supposedly striking love at first sight with a young soldier, Juan Francisco Lopez.  They married at Mission San Gabriel.

At 17, Eustaquia married fellow colonist José María Pico (he was seven years older).  She bore ten children, including seven daughters and three sons (one of whom was Pío Pico).  One of her granddaughters was Trinidad Ortega, whom Los Angeles's Spring Street was named.

Early Los Angeles's scant population meant familial ties were common:  Maria Eustaquia's older sister, Maria Tomasa (1769-1798) married Juan Jose Sepulveda (1764-1808), the son of Francisco Xavier Sepulveda.

The "merry widow" Feliciana died at San Diego in the year 1818.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

New Simons Brick Company Photographs

These photographs were taken by Warren C. Dickerson, around 1900-1902.  They are identified as Simons Brick Company from the collections of the Seaver Center for Western History Research, accessible through their digital collection.  This was a brickmaking plant at 1119 So. Boyle Avenue, Los Angeles, in operation before Simons' plant number 3 opened in Montebello in 1905.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Transformed...at Los Angeles' Exposition Park

This post looks at the transformation from recent years in Exposition Park, as captured by this blogger's camera.  Nothing ever stays the same - soon to break ground is the construction of George Lucas' Museum of Narrative Art.

The Expo Line

The light rail opened in April, 2012:

Taken about 2011 along Exposition Boulevard
A test run on the train
Photo taken in late 2016

Space Shuttle "Endeavour" Comes to Los Angeles

The Endeavour's new home was profiled in this early blog posting after its arrive in September of 2012.

Otis Booth Pavilion at the Natural History Museum

The dramatic façade housing the 63-foot-long fin whale skeleton was unveiled several years ago, on June 9, 2013, at the North Campus of the Natural History Museum.  Nearly 100 years earlier, on July 4th, the museum doors first opened to the public (months ahead of the official opening that was coordinated with the opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in November, 1913).

One can relive the spectacular unveiling at the museum YouTube channel.

Shown here are photos of the challenging construction work:

At the early stage of the project

The frame being added

From July 2012
Taken in early March, 2013

Workers installing the sheets of glass

Taken in late March, 2013

At the base of the pavilion
A recent photo

University of Southern California

The southern side of USC at Figueroa and Exposition now includes the Fertitta Hall.  It opened September, 2016 as the home for the USC Marshall School of Business.  Below are images chronicling the construction:

Google screenshot captured March, 2015.  Center is the dirt patch of the future building
Another screenshot from Google Maps showing the imposing crane during the beginning phase of construction
Captured by yours truly on the morning commute.  Date now forgotten...

Another morning shot of the ongoing construction

Brave men almost done with the roofing
Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

The choice for the George Lucas museum was announced recently.  It will be in Exposition Park, along Vermont Avenue, just south of Exposition Boulevard.  Its eastern boundary will be Bill Robertson Lane (unless it takes up this part of the street, too) next to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as well as the nearby Natural History Museum.  The reported plans are for the site to take over two large public parking lots:

Panoramic photo taken January 24, 2017 with a view towards the parking lots.
The trees and the side street on the left separate the two lots

Additional three photos taken January 23rd from the Natural History Museum.  Shown in order of views from south to north

Just a closing shot - a view onto USC from the Natural History Museum - after a storm