What role did Cristobal Dominguez in running the Rancho?
Cristobal Dominguez was not happy with the arrangements made by Gutierrez with Sepulveda. Since Cristobal had shown no interest in the rancho, it was assumed that he had abandoned his claim to the rancho. However, in 1817, Cristobal Dominguez filed a petition with Governor Pablo Vincente de Sola to have Sepulveda removed from the property and requested that Rancho San Pedro be re-granted to him. Both Gutierrez and Sepulveda refused to give up the land that they had improved. The governor issued a decree ordering Sepulveda from the rancho and granted provisional ownership to Cristobal Dominguez. Sepulveda refused to abandon his home and appealed the decree.
The rancho's boundaries were very vague. The coast was a natural boundary that was indisputable. The Northern and Eastern boundaries were not clearly defined, and the Southern boundary was the Los Angeles River, but it changed course yearly due to flooding. This caused many disputes with neighboring ranchos and problems with the mixing of cattle. So in 1817, Rancho San Pedro was first surveyed and mapped. The boundaries were marked by piles of stones or clumps of trees. One of the trees marking the Northern boundary still stands at Poppy and Short streets in Compton. In 1947, a plaque was placed at its base.
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In 1822, Governor Sola formalized the land grant and made Cristobal Dominguez the owner of Rancho San Pedro. Sepulveda appealed again, and requested a personal meeting with the governor to plead his case. Sepulveda was killed in a violent Indian revolt at Mission La Purisima Concepcion in 1824, while returning from a trip to Monterey. His sons Juan and Jose Loreto Sepulveda continued the fight. They received help from Antonio Machado, who guided the boys, supervised their cattle operations, and married their mother.
Cristobal retired from service in 1821. Although Cristobal had title of the rancho, he never returned to it. He died in 1825 at the San Diego Presidio. The day before his death, he made out a will leaving the rancho to his six children. He had wanted the land divided equally among them.
Photo credit: California State University Dominguez Hills, Gillingham Collection