Rancho Monserate

Originally Published In Village News Oct. 29, 1998

Contributed by the Fallbrook Historical Society

Don Rivers, President

Don Ysidro Alvarado's father arrived in San Diego California as a Spanish solder in 1769 and was assigned to the Presidio in San Diego. After he retired from the military garrison at San Gabriel Mission he lived in Los Angeles. When he died in 1818, his mother taught school to help raise her children. Ysidro Alvarado and Micaela Avila were married in the church at San Gabriel Mission and settled in Los Angeles where her father served as an official of the town of Los Angeles.

In 1846 Ysidro Alvarado was a citizen of the Republic of Mexico where he received the 13,322 acre Monserate Land Grant from the Departmental Legislature of Mexico California and President at that time was Pio Pico, who just happened to be his brother-in-law. After the invasion of Mexico's state of California by the American's gold and land seekers that eventually escalated into a war between Mexico and the United States and was settled in 1848 by the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo which conceded the state of California to the United States.

By the terms of the treaty, the United States granted that the Mexican citizens of California would receive American citizenship, and as citizens they would be guaranteed full rights.

When the U.S. Land Commission was appointed to carry out these guarantees, Ysidro Alvarado submitted a map or disero to prove his title to the Monserate Land Grant. The Lands of the Monserate rancho stretched from south of the San Luis Rey River almost to today's town of Fallbrook and from the eastern boundary of the Pankey ranch to Mission Road between Bonsall and Fallbrook. All the rest of the land was government land, and no one could homestead on government land in the Fallbrook area until the U.S. Land Commission established the land grant boundaries of the Monserate and Santa Margarita.

To the marriage of Ysidro and Micaela Alvarado there were three children born: Tomas, Lugardo and Dolores. In 1845 Micaela Avila de Alvarado died of unknown causes. Soon after her death Ysidro married Micaela's sister.

With the advent of the smallpox epidemic in 1862, fearing for the lives of his children, Ysidro sent them to Los Angeles to live with the Uncle Francisco Avila. The epidemic ravished the Rancho Monserate killing both Ysidro and his wife along with 21 Indian and Mexican vaqueros, farm hands and domestic help on the Rancho. It has been said that the victims of the smallpox epidemic were buried in a common grave near the Alvarado Hacienda.

Don Ysidro had made his wishes known that he wanted to be buried at the San Luis Rey Mission. Although the mission had long been in private ownership it was still La Mission to the faithful. At that time the property where the mission stood belonged to Colonel Cave Couts of Rancho Guajome. Colonel Couts had let it be known that no one who died of smallpox would be buried at the Mission San Luis Rey.

Whether or not the Alvarado family knew of this proclamation is immaterial now. The story told by survivors later was that Don Ysidro's casket was taken to the mission and, on a dark and rainy night, lowered into the grave. The mourners gathered about the open grave with handfuls of earth. A cry rang out from the darkness of the night, "Look out, I am about to shoot!" Within a few seconds another body lay on the ground beside the open grave. One of the mourners, a man by the name of Vasquez had paid with his life. The other mourners left immediately fearing for their lives, leaving the open grave and beside it the body of Vasquez.

In defense of his actions in this tragic affair Colonel Couts later stated that, in an effort to protect his family from smallpox he had sent three men to the Mission with a warning, among them was his brother Blunt, and that Blunt had been attacked first by Vasquez.

After the death of Ysidro Alvarado his children being too young to assume the responsibilities of operating the rancho and as yet the U.S. Land Commission had not established ownership of the Rancho Monserate their home was rented to Simon Goldbaum and utilized as a store. He supplied the needs of a growing number of homesteading families in the area. In one year alone the store purchased 3,000 pounds of honey for resale. A small settlement grew up at the eastern edge of Rancho Monserate, and by the early 1870s there was both a Monserate school and post office.

In 1870, the United States Land Commission confirmed ownership of the Monserate Rancho to his children and legal heirs, but it wasn't until 1874 that the final survey was completed.

Lugarda Alvarado Palomares was living in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters when she received ownership of her approximately 4,500 acres of the western portion. Dolores Alvarado de Serrano and her husband inherited the middle portion of 4,500 acres and built their home in the lower portion of what today is known as Live Oak Canyon. William Gird purchased the Serrano Rancho in the early 1880s and lived in the Serrano house until they could build their own frame house on higher ground. Tomas Alvarado, the son, received approximately 4,500 acres of the eastern portion and built an adobe hacienda on the south side of San Luis Rey River just west of Interstate 15. Today the Rancho Monserate Country Club is located there.

Go To:

Fallbrook Historical Society
Fallbrook, CA Area Information: History
Elizabeth Yamaguchi's Writings On Fallbrook History

Copyright © 1998-1999 by Fallbrook Historical Society
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to the Fallbrook Historical Society at this source:
Comments and feedback: Don and Mary Rivers
Last update: 23 January 1999.