We tend to think that settlement in the Fallbrook area began with the Reches and the Magees, but there was an earlier Mexican family, the Alvarados, who were important in our development. And one member of that Alvarado family, a daughter named Lugarda, left her married name on a Fallbrook historic building, the Palomares House. This article is about Lugarda's growing up.
Lugarda Alvarado was four years old and a citizen of the Republic of Mexico when her father, Ysidro Alvarado, received a 13,000 acre grant of land from the Departmental Legislature of Mexican California. He was eligible for a grant because his father had served as a soldier for thirty-five years, starting in San Diego in 1780. After the invasion, and the 1848 victory by United States forces, the government of Mexico, under duress, signed the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, ending the war. By terms of the treaty, the U.S. promised that Mexican Californians would be granted citizenship and that their rights would be protected. When Congress appointed a Land Commission to investigate all Mexican claims, Lugarda's father submitted his boundary map for the Monserate Grant, which stretched from the San Luis Rey River almost to today's town of Fallbrook, and from Mission Road to east of I-15. By the time this happened, Lugarda's father had built a house of adobe blocks (at the foot of what is now Rosemary's Mountain) and was farming and keeping stock, all of which had been requirements for confirming legal title under Mexican law. Her mother had died during the Mexico/US war, and Lugarda's father married her mother's sister, Manuela Avila. By the time her father moved them all from Los Angeles down to the Monserate, there were six children growing up on the ranch. Their grandmother Alvarado had taught school in her home, so it was natural for her father to continue the tradition.
The Alvarado's closest neighbors were the families of the neighboring Luiseno Indian town (also called Monserate). It was a small town, smaller than the Native towns at Pamoosa (along today's Camino Del Rey) or at Pala, but it was large enough to be listed by the Indian Agent in the 1850's. In each of the towns there were some who had been educated at the San Luis Rey Mission, and others who had received training in ranching techniques. Still others were skilled in the traditional Indian ways of land management. The Monserate ranch could not have operated without the knowledge and labor of the townspeople, who constructed the buildings, made the gardens and orchards produce, and improved the grazing lands for livestock. Lugarda's mother's family, the Avilas, were early settlers and town officers of Mexican Los Angeles. With Alvarado and Avila aunts, uncles and cousins living in San Diego and Los Angeles, and on nearby ranches, one of the things the family did often was travel. When Lugarda wanted to go to Los Angeles to visit her relatives, she would go in the family two-horse buggy on the road up the Monserate valley and through the pass (now Rainbow) to Temecula in the great inland valley. Here for a few years there was a station, a stopping place, for the Butterfield Stage Line. (The station and town were located four miles east of today's Temecula). In 1859, if the stage was delayed, and Lugarda had to spend the night at the rooming house, Lugarda would have met land-looking families named Reche and Magee, who were living there, waiting for Congress to open the land for homesteading.
If Lugarda were on the way to visit her cousin, Estefana Alvarado de Johnson, she would take the Butterfield Stage south from Temecula Station. After crossing the desert, the stage would arrive at the Yuma crossing on the Colorado River. Estefana's husband was captain of a steamboat which carried supplies from San Diego to the Yuma settlement and to the military community stationed at Fort Yuma. When it was time top go home, Lugarda could take the boat, which steamed down the river to the Gulf of California, down the Gulf, and rounded the peninsula to travel up the coast of Baja California to the port at San Diego. After visiting her aunt in San Diego (where Old Town is today) she would take the local stage to San Luis Rey Mission by way of the old El Camino Real. Here her family would pick her up.
The church at San Luis Rey was no longer staffed by the Franciscans, and the surrounding ranches often had their own chapels, where the priest from the San Diego Catholic Church occasionally held services. The mission was owned by the United States government, and without care, it was falling into ruin. However, the cemetery continued to be used. and in 1862 Lugarda's mother and father were buried there. They had cared for Monserate Town Luiseno people during a smallpox epidemic. Both contracted the disease and died.
After the death of their parents, Lugarda and her younger brothers and sisters probably spent some time with relatives in Los Angeles. They may have stayed at the home of their mother's uncle, Francisco Avila, not far from the Catholic church on the Plaza. (The Avila house is today a historic site on Olvera Street.) The Alvarado children soon made the trip back to San Diego County, however, to attend the wedding of their older brother, Tomas, to the widowed Maria Moreno de Soto. The wedding was held at Maria's home on the nearby ranch of Buena Vista (today's Rancho Buena Vista Adobe). Shortly afterward, in 1866, Lugarda Alvarado was also married at Buena Vista. Her husband, Francisco Palomares, was a childhood acquaintance from Los Angeles.
It would be eight more years before the Alvarado title to Monserate was confirmed and Lugarda received her third of the ranch. And twenty years after that, Lugarda fought a court battle to keep the Fallbrook Irrigation District from taking her property. She won. But that's another story.
Information for this story was compiled from 1860 Census data, the Bancroft seven volume collection, correspondence of Benjamin Hayes, the Couts and Penasquitos Collections at the County Park's office of the Historian, and the Alvarado Collection of Old Town State Park's office library. Copies of notes and research document may be viewed at the Historical Museum, 260 Rocky Crest Road, 723-4125.
A Butterfield Stage. These stages ran between St. Louis and San Francisco from 1858 to 1861, and made stops at Warner's Ranch and Temecula, among others in Southern California. From the Collections of the Title Insurance Trust Co. of Los Angeles.
A Local Stage, which would have run between San Diego and San Luis Rey. It had a top which could be put up in case of rain. A Buggy, which was used between a home and a nearby source of public transportation, like a local stage. Both drawings are from Wallace W. Elliott's 1883 History of San Bernardino and San Diego Counties, California, with Illustrations from Original Drawings. Fallbrook resident and writer, T.S. Van Dyke, was one of the contributors to this book. The artist was C.P.Cook.
River Boat at the Yuma Crossing on the Colorado River. It traveled between Yuma and San Diego by way of the Gulf of California, sailing around the tip of Baja California. From the Collections of the Arizona Pioneers Society, Tuscon.
Home of Ysidro Alvarado and his family, located at the foot of today's Rosemary's Mountain. Pankey farm buildings now cover its location. From an 1912 watercolor sketch by E.S.Fenyes, Southwest Museum.
Copyright © 1998 by Fallbrook Historical Society
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Comments and feedback: Elizabeth Yamaguchi
Last update: 26 November 1998.