Leonardo Escalante in Ventura County 1898-1910

Leonardo Escalante….I didn’t know much about him when I started this journey. What I’ve heard from my grandfather, Albert, is that he remembers travelling on a wagon to get supplies with his dad. He was little, but it must have been a wonderful memory. And that is the only memory I’ve really heard. But what about his background? Where did Leonardo settle down? His avoidance of being in any census made me wary of his profession once I found it. What exactly would I find?

Luckily for me, when I was looking for his sister, Anna Romo, in the 1900 Census, my brain turned on. I decided to browse around and see who Anna’s neighbors were. And then, the blinders came off. Her next door neighbors in 1900 were none other than “Leonardo Scanlant” and his family. Ah ha! Awesome! And boy…. that really IS being close to your sister.

Leonardo living next door to his sister's family in Hueneme Township 1900. Courtesy of ancestry.com.

Leonardo living next door to his sister’s family in Hueneme Township 1900. Courtesy of ancestry.com.

So much information in one place! And kindly enough, a list of the children in birth order. Lovely. They appear to have come to the United States in 1898. The census tells us that Leonardo is a Farm Laborer, along with David Romo, at this time. It would be interesting to know whom he worked for. They seem to know The Gonzalez family well, as they were godparents to several of the children. The Gonzalez’ were California born. They worked as laborers who eventually end up with their own ranch. Eduardo Gonzalez is a Horse Trainer the last time he is on a census.

**Fascinating female trivia: The cenus asked quite personal questions. How many children have you had? How many are still alive? Anna had 9 babies, but only 3 living. Amado, the baby, dies before they leave Ventura County. Rufina had 6 babies, with 5 still living. Rumor had it that Maria was a twin. Maybe that was the baby who died. Sister-in-law tensions could have been high where one woman was more successful in her childbearing than the other.**

It seems that everyone is working differently in a meager 10 years. The 1910 Census finds Leonardo’s family in Santa Paula, CA. He is a few doors down from the Romo family. Leonardo is no longer working on the farm. He owns a pool hall.


In the last decade, three more babies came into the picture. Jose, the eldest son, has left the home. Leonardo Sr is the owner of a Pool Room. His son, Leonardo Jr, owns his own Barber Shop. On the form you will see “OA” next to their names. This indicates they are “working on their own account.” This is amazing news. David Romo is the manager of a Pool Room. Can you get an idea of who he works for? And David Jr is a barber in his own right as well.

City directories are becoming popular. And now my great-grandfather is no longer shy about being found.

Leonardo Sr and Jr at their respective businesses in Santa Paula, CA 1910.

Leonardo Sr and Jr at their respective businesses in Santa Paula, CA 1910.

Interesting factoid: The Pool Room and Barber Shop took up the same space. (Calling the health inspector!).

One of the last things I found on Leonardo in Ventura County was a bill of sale between Leonardo with Rufina and Simon Cohn. Cohn purchased a lot in Colonia from the two in September, 1910, for $10 in gold coin. They had been property owners as well. Hard work paying off? Inheritance money from his parents? (More on this theory when I discuss Anna Romo in Ventura County. She bought quite a bit of property with quite a bit of gold.)

Leonardo and Rufina selling land to Simon Cohn, Colonia, CA.

Leonardo and Rufina selling land to Simon Cohn, Colonia, CA.

Then, they leave.

What happens to make both families, with successful business opportunities, leave their homes of over 10 years? I have no idea. I’ve read that Santa Paula was going through a Mexican backlash by the 1920s. It must have been something quite profound to get them out of their social group to move down the coast.

The youngest child, Fernando, was born in Los Angeles in 1914. Leonardo died in New Delhi, Orange County, CA (now Santa Ana/Tustin area) in 1915 of tuberculosis. Rufina and her 9 children were near the Romos for approximately 4 more years. And then the the story changed. Again.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.