Greetings all! We are getting ready for Fall to come in full force here in Oklahoma. Leaves are starting to fall, which is early in this region. But I am ready for a new season. I am interrupting the normal flow of Escalante history for a “relative”-ly short detour. Hahaha! N.B. – Escalante’s are not related to the families mentioned below; only to two ladies – Mariana Bustamante and her daughter, Maria Ramirez.
In the last blog entry, I discussed my darling Mariana Bustamante. She had been married to Leonardo Escalante, then ran away with another man. Gasp! She must have been extraordinary to be taken away by Juan Ramirez. Their time together produced a lovely daughter. But Mariana’s inability to be married hindered their future together. Or was it ill-fated from the beginning?
Juan de la Ressureción Ramirez Avila was born in Los Angeles, California, Mexico in 1839. His parents were Juan M. Ramirez and Petra Avila.
According to preliminary research from M. Barbachano, both branches were part of Spanish colonization. Juan Bernardo Ramirez met a lovely young woman in a new hip and happening town, Santa Barbara, California. Maria Rosa Quijada’s family had come from the interior of Mexico with the 1781 Rivera Expedition to settle the area. The couple married at the Santa Barbara Mission in 1794. Their son Juan M. Ramirez moved to Los Angeles.
The Avila family’s story was similar, with Cornelio Avila’s children/grandchildren doing their civic duty for the crown. Francisco Avila, Petra’s father, settled in the pueblo of Los Angeles sometime after 1794. He became the alcalde of Los Angeles when it was a bustling metropolis of over 410 residents. Petra’s cousin, Miguel, was granted lands which included Avila Beach, and he was alcalde of San Luis Obipso. (As a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo alum, this warms my heart).
The Juan M. Ramirez family had over 8 children. They settled into Petra’s family home, the Avila Adobe. If you have been to Olvera Street in Los Angeles, you may have seen it.
Italians started immigrating to the Los Angeles area in the 1800s. In the old pueblo, they started showing other Los Angelinos how to cultivate vineyards. Juan M. Ramirez had become a vinter – maker of wine. Los Angeles became the early wine capital of California. (see article below).
Juan M.’s son, Francisco, made a name for himself. A self-educated man, Francisco was tri-lingual. He started his own newspaper. He became an attorney in the late 1860s to fight for rights of minorities in the area. This book is on my amazon wish list: https://www.amazon.com/Clamor-Equality-Emergence-Californio-Francisco/dp/0896727637
So why I am I sharing all of this fascinating information with you? Juan had some very big shoes to fill. Social standing. Familial ties. Lands granted by the King of Spain to forefathers for devoted service. All of this was vastly important to Juan.
Speaking of handsome devils, here he is below.
It took a while for Juan to get his life bearings (in my opinion). As a young-ish man, he did some traveling. He could have been conducting business for his family. However it happened, he had wandered into Hermosillo, Sonora. He met, and saved, Mariana Bustamante de Escalante from her marriage in 1867. He found himself with a secret life in Hermosillo. He had a romance with her which produced their lovely daughter Maria Luisa Bernadina Ramirez. And she looks like she had been well taken care of, financially speaking.
Mariana might have been a woman to live with, but was not one to bring home to Los Angeles. Did Juan divide his time between Sonora and California? By the time Maria was 9, her father decided to marry another woman. California Girl Rosa Bustamante (not directly related to Mariana, that I have found – whew!) married Juan Ramirez in Los Angeles in 1879. I don’t know if he saw much of Maria after his marriage, but her life progressed forward. And nicely, too.
What I cannot tell from this announcement is whether “Maria’s parents” were just her mom; Or her dad and Rosa living in Ochoaville, Arizona; a town that no longer exists. So vague. Grrrr.
Juan decided to embrace his life in Los Angeles. He adopted two children with Rosa. They were Elias H. Goodwin and Adela Ramirez. Elias moved to San Francisco. He worked in the restaurant industry and patented a new design of salt and pepper shakers. Adela Ramirez married Jan Baptiste Lambert, a French-Canadian baker, in 1912. They had a baby the next year, but the baby does not appear to have survived. They divorced. She kept her married name.
Juan settled into life as the landowner of the ever-growing city of Los Angeles. His parents passed away. He became the head of the family. He started to sell his land off to accommodate the need for housing and roadways. In 1916, he testified when the Federal and State governments wanted to claim public roadways on property that owners insisted was private. (I am envisioning Highway 101 – imminent domain) Juan testified he had “used the road through what is now the Malibu ranch during the 1850s… it was a well-beaten road in those early days, and was the principal line of communication between what is now Santa Barbara and Ventura counties…He said that cattle did not make the path because, on account of bears, they were not allowed to roam over the then wild country. Travelers tramped this road. The cattle had to be kept in corrals because otherwise the bears would have killed them.” (Los Angeles Daily Times, Mar 14, 1916)
Back to Los Angeles becoming a melting pot. Italian and Spanish families had much in common, such as their Catholic faith. There was familial integration during this early time of LA history. Juan’s younger sister Isabel married into the Pelanconi family. She had a few children, but only one son, the handsome Lorezno.
He was a favorite of his Uncle Juan and Aunt Rosa. These families were successful. They were the Who’s Who of Los Angeles society. But. Like all mere mortals, Juan eventually died.
After reading this obit, I realized that the author mistook him for his brother Francisco who started the newspaper. His daughter, Maria Ramirez de Barbachano was NOT mentioned here. Rude!!! And frankly, I think it kind of hurt her feelings.
There was never any follow-up articles as to whether or not Maria was given anything but the insulting $5. I would bet she never accepted it.
Juan and Rosa never had their own biological children. This ended up being a point of interest at the end of Juan’s life. He left the bulk of his real estate to the Ramirez familial heir, Lorenzo Pelanconi, son of his sister Isabel. Nothing was left to his adopted children. Or his one biological child, Maria. When Rosa Ramirez died, their adopted daughter Adela went to live with her sister-in-law (Goodwin’s widow) in San Francisco.
Lorenzo. Got. It. All.
He had the name. He had the background. He had the connections. He was from a church sanctified marriage.
I’ll tell you more about Lorenzo too, because his story was pretty cool.
He fell in love with a young woman of similar background. Martina Yorba married him. Yep. You’ve heard the name before. Her granddaddy was Bernardo Yorba of Yorba Linda, California. I’m dropping names of Rancheros all over the place.
He was no shrinking violet. His biography stands on it’s own. Their love was wonderful. Yippee!
But enough about all of them.
Mariana Bustamante was the parent who stayed with Maria. She was the one who knew and loved her grandchildren. But in the end, it was Juan’s name that was always dropped as THE parent to whom Maria was related; the one she revered. Even his grandchildren named him as their touchstone to the Spanish/Californio legacy.
Sigh….I’m sure you can sense my bias against Juan. But Good Grief! He missed out on SO much. All in the name of the family honor.
So what about Maria? I love her. I feel her story very deeply. It wasn’t as if she were a beggar on the street. She was amazing. She embraced her half-sister, Ana Escalante de Romo, at the end of their lives. I’m sure she valued her social standing as much as her cousin, Lorenzo. Her legacy was in the eyes of this lovely group of people here.
Maria’s origin story was up to her parents. She had to deal with its repercussions. That did not stop her from marrying a son of the Governor of Yucatán. It didn’t stop her children from being very successful. (Compania Telefonica Fronteriza, founders of the Tijuana Lion’s Club and Chamber of Commerce, the Rosarito Beach Hotel, architects, merchants, etc.; and just really amazing people in the U.S., Mexico, and all around the world.) Whether it was because of Juan, or in spite of Juan, we will never know.
Thank you to M. Barbachano for all of your research (and continued support) on this blog post. Her daughter blogged a video of their family visiting the Avila Adobe for the first time. VERY Cool! https://www.youtube.com/embed//tyguBUiaH9c
My sources for this piece were plentiful. If you have time, please peruse the following web pages.