Rancho San Pedro

 Life on a Rancho
Spanish Period 1


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Photo credit: Dominguez Adobe
The adobe of Rancho San Pedro as can be seen today.

What land was Juan Jose Dominguez given?

Photo credit: Title Insurance and Trust Company, Los Angeles
Map of Missions, Pueblos, and Ranchos. Notice the scale, English miles, Spanish leagues, and Spanish varas.

Rancho San Pedro was granted to Juan Jose Dominguez. This was a Spanish land grant, at one time it was 75,000 acres. It was the first land grant issued to a private citizen in Southern California. Juan Jose Dominguez was an uneducated retired soldier.

Who was Juan Jose Dominguez?

Juan Jose Dominguez was born in the village of Sinaloa, Mexico in 1736. Juan Jose’s mother was Ana Maria Sepulveda, she came from a prominent Castilian Spanish family. When he was twenty years old he followed in his father’s (Jose Ignacio Dominguez) footsteps and joined the military. He became part of a company of rough and rugged infantrymen called soldados de cuera. The name came from their uniform, which consisted of thick leather vests or sleeveless jackets.

 

Each soldier was armed with a lance, a broadsword, a musket ,and primer in a leather case. The case held powder and bullets in separate pouches. Each soldier also carried his personal belongings, rations, and other supplies in leather saddlebags, as well as the leather reata.

 

Phote credit: Dominguez Adobe
This is a model of Juan Jose Dominguez that can be seen at the adobe.

 Juan Jose spent a great deal of time in Baja California. He served under Captain Rivera y Moncada. They arrived in San Diego on June 29, 1769. This was the first Spanish settlement in Alta, California. Several weeks later, he was selected to join the party to establish a settlement in Monterey Bay. Captain Gaspar de Portola and Father Junipero Serra were also members of the party. It was during this trip that he saw the land south of Pueblo Los Angeles that later become the first Spanish land grant.

He returned to San Diego a year later, then he spent two years at the presidio at Loreto. In 1773, he served at the presidio in Monterey. At the end of 1774, he was transferred to the presidio at San Diego. He was assigned to the mission garrison when Mission San Diego was attached by hostile Indians, he fought to defend it. By 1780, he was the oldest trooper in the San Diego garrison. By 1782, he had achieved the rank of private first class. He retired in July of 1782. During his time in San Diego, he had acquired some livestock and needed land for grazing.

Photo credit: California State University Dominguez Hills, Gillingham Collection
Mission San Diego, front view, about 1874.

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