Dona Eulalia Perez De Guillen

Here's a little blast from the past for y'all. While researching Michael White, aka Miguel Blanco, I first turned to my boy, John Windell Wood, to see what he had to say.

I've said before, Wood was a racist. Not in the KKK kinda way, but in a "manifest destiny" manner of speaking. BUT, it was 1917, and the times were different. 

The important thing to note here is that Dona Eulalia Perez De Guillen was Michael White's mother-in-law and one of the founders of Pasadena. Here's the whole chapter, it's a riot:

CHAPTER III
Dona Eulalia Perez De Guillen

CONCERNING A WOMAN OF MANY VIRTUES WHO LIVED TO AN EXTRAORDINARY AGE, DOING MANY BENEVOLENT THINGS THE WHILE. AND
HER CONNECTION WITH THIS STORY.

We are approaching the link that connects the San Gabriel Mission and its lands with our own Pasadena ; and in telling the story must of necessity, as well as by disposition, introduce a remarkable and worthy lady who was noted not only for her charities and benevolent deeds, but for the remarkable length of life she attained. Her fame still lingers about the Mission walls, and the remembrance of her strong personality is told, even now, by some of the older residents of San Gabriel. This noted lady was Dona Eulalia de Guillen, born Perez. The Dona de Guillen was not of "noble" blood, but of good Spanish extraction and was born in "Lower" California in 1735. She came to San Gabriel with her husband, who was a soldier of Spain, about the year 1800, being then sixty-five years of age. She then began her career of practical benevolence, which included nursing the sick, teaching the ignorant Indians housewifely arts, and acting as midwife upon occasion; and by these acts ingratiated herself into the notice of the padres, who fully appreciated her meritorious deeds.

When the Junta of Mexico took steps to secularize the mission lands, Fray Zalvidca was in charge of the San Gabriel Mission, and foreseeing the consequences, decided to show his appreciation of Dona de Guillen's activities while he had the ability to do so. In this way came about the presentation to her of a deed to no less than 14,000 acres out of the northwest corner of the Mission lands. One might call it a handsome gratuity indeed, when it is known that these lands embrace the very soil upon which Pasadena stands; and much adjacent land as well—the entire San Pasquale Ranch, as known to map makers. This gift was made in 1826, just prior to Fray Zalvidea's departure to San Juan Capistrano, to which place he had been ordered. Now one might think that with such a benefaction as this the good lady would have been blessed and forever relieved from fear of need. Not so, however; she was ninety-two years old at the time, and without money. It was the law that gifts of crown lands must needs have certain conditions complied with, to confirm them. The important one that the Dona de Guillen could not comply with was that it must be stocked with cattle. The gift was duly ratified on Easter day, 1827, and because of the day was named "Rancho San Pascual," or "Easter Day Ranch," the meaning it had in English, as heretofore explained.

Perhaps it was because of indifference, but most probably because lacking financial ability to stock the land as stipulated by law, the proper requirements were not carried out. No cattle, sheep or horses were placed upon the lands, and also, she even failed to place upon record the deed of conveyance. No trace of it can be found in our County archives. Nevertheless that the gift was made is a fact. Perhaps the old lady, knowing her inability to stock the ranch, felt also the uselessness of recording the title thereto. The law was doubtless a good one and prevented promiscuous land grabbing.

So for these reasons, the good Dona lost her broad domain, although a putative husband of her later years unsuccessfully endeavored to revive the title. When greatly advancing years incapacitated this lady from following her usual pursuits, she became very poor. At one time—in 1876—she appeared before Judge O 'Melveny of Los Angeles, in charge of a daughter, who claimed for her a right to appear at the Centennial Exposition, at Philadelphia, as an evidence of the effect of California climate on health and longevity! The old lady was then 141 years of age and still sprightly.

The Judge reprimanded this daughter, and another one appearing with Attorney Stephen M. White to oppose the request, the first daughter was compelled to give a bond of five hundred dollars to insure the order of the Court "that the mother be kept at her home and properly cared for," which agreement was duly entered into then and there, and probably kept. Old residents visiting San Gabriel will remember this old woman as an object of curiosity because of her great age. She looked the part, too, being much wrinkled and withered, her face like a russet apple, gnarled by keeping overlong. But her bright and friendly eyes, as well as her simple words of greeting, indicated a lively intellect to the end, almost. She died at San Gabriel, June 8th, 1878, being then 143 years old, and lies in the little cemetery there beside her first husband—who died in 1816—and the many friends whose birth she attended and at whose funerals she had given kindly assistance. Four daughters survived Dona de Guillen, one marrying one Ora Lopez, son of Claudeo Lopez, builder of the Old Mill; another Michael White, an American, and another a Mr. De la Ossa.

Some persons may be skeptical about the age of this good lady, but the records in San Diego County show the date of her baptism. Instances of extreme age are well known among Spanish people. There used to live in an old shack in the arroyo near the Devil's Gate, a Spanish woman named Lugo. She was known as "Old Francesca," and when she died— about 1896—she was said to be 107 year old and was active unto the end. Another old lady who died at San Gabriel some years ago claimed to be 110.

Peace be to the bones of Dona Eulalia, the first white owner—nominally at least—of the Rancho San Pascual. It is the duty of all loyal Pasadenans to remember her in their prayers!

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~ by ravenjake on October 8, 2009.

8 Responses to “Dona Eulalia Perez De Guillen”

  1. I do not for one minute believe that Eulalia Perez de Guillen was 143 years old. It reminds me of another real old lady, Tatzumbie du Pea, that made similar claims. She was old – just not that old. Tatzumbie's gonna need a post too. That great old gal was a real character!

  2. My ancestress Eulalia was born in 1766 and died in 1878: she was 112 years old. You can read about her on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eulalia_Pérez_de_Guillén_Mariné

  3. Hello from Raven Jake. Thank you for giving us a bit more info about Eulalia. She was an amazing individual and I've become quite a fan. It has been a joy to research her life and doings in Alta California, One can almost see her just running the show around the mission! Again thank you for your help and interest. Please join us in helping to save the Miguel Blanco Adobe. Jake

  4. My pleasure.

  5. Thanks for your interest in all of this. With the holidays upon us, there isn't much happening till after the New Year dawns, but I will stay in touch with you. I would love to compare notes on Dona Eulalia and the Blanco clan. Many blessings and Happy New Year. Perhaps we can arrange a family tour for you and yours of the adobe. If you have scrapbooks etc we'd love to see them and talk to all of you about this really cool bit of California's living history.

  6. You know, I don't know if I mentioned that a website for the Michael White Adobe launched – you guys might want to check out the "research" module, plus there is also an up-to-date news & events page
    https://sites.google.com/site/michaelwhiteadobe/

  7. Don Raven Jake, thanks partner for staying hot on the trail of Dona Eulalia Perez. One point of clarification for Perez fans and descendants. Alferez Macedonio "Hercules" Gonzalez (Bancroft Pioneer Index, famed Indian fighter) was a nephew of Eulalia, (A son of her sister Teresa).

  8. Thanks Gordy!

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