Lesson Plan

Lugo Era


Lesson Preparation


Teacher Reading

Read Chapter Two, "Hacendados to Saints" in Sunshine, Citrus and Science.

Read the article "The Days of a Rancher in Spanish-California by Jose del Carmen Lugo. (see below for complete listing and source)





Materials Needed

Cowhide pieces or circles from Tandy Leather http://www.tandyleather.com

Paper sack pieces cut in shape of cowhides





  • If you find an online link for this era, please e-mail me




  • The fourth-grade Social Studies textbooks will cover the rancho period in general. Because the Lugo family was so big, wealthy and spread out, there is quite a bit of information about them here and there. Their stay in San Bernardino valley was quite short and full of problems. Their other ranching efforts further west were more successful.
  • You may want to go to the County Archives to get a photocopy of the recollections of Jose del Carmen Lugo, the son of Antonio Maria. This English translation gives a very detailed picture of life during the rancho period. Lugo, Jose Del Carmen. "The Days of a Rancher in Spanish-California." Touring Times. San Bernarino County Archives, Vertical File, "Ranching, History."




1. Habitat: Spend some time working on the local habitat, including plants and animals that were introduced by the Spanish and Mexican ranchers.

2. Food: See the article above by Jose del Carmen Lugo

3. Housing: The Mexican ranchers continued with adobe as the primary building material, with local logs for roof support, and thatched tule reeds for the roof. Later, fired clay tiles were used for the roofs. Judge Van Unger's two existing adobe homes, one on University Avenue and one on Stewart Street in Loma Linda, could give your students examples of the Mexican rancho style.

4. Social Structure: The structure was paternalistic. The father of the Lugos, Antonio Maria, was the primary owner and decision-maker. There was a Mexican governor of California who oversaw the distribution of land and enforcement of Mexican laws. It's important to note that our valley had gone from being Native American territory to being part of Spain, to being part of Mexico in short order. The local Indians had no decision in any of this. By the time the Lugos got here, the Indians were generally considered "trespassing" on private land. How did that happen?

5. Art and Tools: The Lugos were not artists. They were ranchers, and their lives were quite utilitarian. For relaxation, though, there was music and dancing. Saddles were highly engraved and tooled, trimmed with silver. In spite of all the ranching and hard work, there was a huge importation of Spanish and Mexican culture. Dishes and furnishings were a mixture of European and rustic Mexican design.

6. Footprints: The Lugos came and went without much fuss. They left behind an adobe farmhouse which was later used by the Mormons. Its site is now covered by the San Bernardino County Courthouse.

7. Demise: The Lugos abandoned the valley after ten years, mostly because the Indians from over the Cajon Pass were stealing large numbers of their horses, and because a huge winter storm in 1848 brought three feet of snow in the valley and killed thousands of his cattle. The Lugos did not leave without a profit, though. Their original investment of $800.00 in cattle hides brought them $77,500 from the Mormons.

Projects and Activities

1. Students can make interesting leathercraft pieces if you get cowhide pieces from Tandy Leather and a few stamping tools and hammers.

2. Students can design their own brands, paint or draw them on the cattle hide-shaped pieces of brown paper.

3. Create branding irons with pipecleaners.

4. Learn some Mexican songs and dances.


Worksheet - Lugo Era


The worksheets may be used as either a lesson guide and written in as you go along, or as a test. Feel free to make up your own to fit your approach to the curriculum




1. A trip to the Rains House in Rancho Cucumonga will illustrate life in the later rancho period. Students can get a sense of life by visiting. The House holds its annual Rancho Day in May. In 2000 the date for Old Rancho Day was May 20.

2. (See Links)