Fast Facts About the Michael White Adobe


Fast Facts about the Michael White Adobe


    • Prior to Spanish colonization, the Gabrielino village of Sonangna stood at the site where the Michael White adobe is today. These early settlers were drawn to the area by the year round flow of underground spring water.


    • 1771: Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, was founded alongside the Rio Hondo in the Whittier Narrows. In 1776, the mission moved to its present location.

    Michael White, later known as Miguel Blanco, was born in 1802 in Kent, England. He became a sailor in his teens and never returned.


  • Mexican War of Independence 1810-1821


  • Visited Baja California as early as 1817, and made several voyages between the Sandwich Islands (Hawaiian Islands) and Mexico's Pacific coast.


  • The British ship, Dolly, brought White to Alta California in 1829. He became a Mexican citizen shortly afterward.


  • Joseph Chapman [1794-1848], was the first “White Don,” in Southern California. His friend Michael White [1802-1885] was the second. These Anglos – Chapman from Maine and White form England, learned Spanish, worked for Mexican shipping companies, married Mexican women and completely assimilated into “Californio” culture.


  • 1830. White, along with former pirate, Joseph Chapman, constructed the schooner, Guadalupe from the remains of the brig, Danube, which ran aground in a storm on Christmas Eve, 1828. The vessel was built for the padres of the San Gabriel Mission to be sold to sea otter traders.


  • White sailed the Guadalupe to Mazatlan and returned in 1832.


  • Upon his return from Mexico, White married Maria del Rosaria Gullien, who was a daughter of Dona Eulalia Perez de Gullien- Mariné, the old matron and bookkeeper at the San Gabriel Mission.


  • Dona Eulalia Perez de Gullien-Mariné was the first land owner in what became San Marino, Pasadena San Gabriel and South Pasadena. Her land grant was ratified on Easter day, 1827, and so was named "Rancho San Pascual," or "Easter Day Ranch." A funny side note is that she lied about her age in reverse, so that when she passed away in 1896, she was thought to be 143 years old. She was probably 108.


  • Following his marriage, White set up a small store at Rancho Los Nietos, a short distance south of the mission.


  • White may have been involved in a smuggling scheme in San Francisco in 1833.


  • Mexican Secularization Act of 1834 (took land from the missions to be available for private ownership)


  • In 1836, White was listed as living at Los Angeles.


  • 1839-1841: went to New Mexico where he may have involved himself in the fur trade. He returned to San Gabriel with the Rowland and Workman Party.


  • 1843: White was granted Rancho Muscupiabe by Governor Manuel Micheltorena. It was a single league of land located near the Cajon Pass in the San Bernardino Mountains. It was named for a Serrano Indian village in the vicinity. The remote rancho was subjected to frequent raids by Paiute Indians and their allies; therefore, it was abandoned in 1844 because it was indefensible.


  • 1845: White participated in the revolt against Governor Manuel Micheltorena. He was a member of the company of foreigners led by William Workman at the Battle of Cahuenga late February 1845.


  • 1845: White received a concession to 500 square varas (77.23 acres) of land north of the San Gabriel Mission from Governor Pio Pico. Pio Pico, and his brother Andreas, were California’s mixed-race governors, being partly Black, Indian, and Spanish. White received this grant because of his wife’s and mother-in-laws service to the San Gabriel Mission.


  • 1845: Built the home which stands today at San Marino High School. The original adobe section of the house was a story and a half. Later, a two-story wing made of wooden ship siding was added.


  • White planted a vineyard and an orchard consisting of a variety of fruit trees. One remnant of his vineyard is the Old Mother Grapevine of San Gabriel. He called his ranch San Ysidro, in honor of the patron saint of farmers and laborers.


  • This became his permanent home, he still yearned to travel and in passing years he embarked on several sea voyages. He and Rosaria had a large family.


  • The Mexican-American War 1846-1847


  • White joined party of fifteen foreign born (mostly American) yet naturalized Mexican citizens led by Benjamin Davis Wilson (Don Benito Wilson). They were stationed at Rancho del Chino to protect the eastern frontier from American forces that might approach from the Cajon Pass.


  • The Hispanic Californios doubted the loyalty of Wilson's men and set out to arrest them in what became known as the Battle of Rancho del Chino. The prisoners, including Michael White, were taken to Rancho Los Cerritos, near present-day Long Beach, where they were detained and ultimately released.


  • 1847 – 1848: Michael White returned to his home on San Ysidro and took a neutral position throughout the ensuing conflict.


  • 1872: The patent to the land was issued by Ulysses S. Grant, President of the United States.


  • Eventually, White sold San Ysidro to L. H. Titus, who owned an adjoining ranch to the east. Titus, in turn sold the property to James C. Flood. Michael White, also known as Miguel Blanco, died in 1885.


  • L. H. Titus became a prominent land owner in Pasadena.


  • James C. Flood was one of the “Bonanza Kings” who made a fortune in the gold rush and increased that fortune in stock speculation and banking.


  • The adobe was re-purposed early on for use as the first school in the community: This is what the San Marino High School website says “Let me quote something from PTA history in 1955…“In the 1870’s, Mr. Joseph Heslop donated an old house and 2 acres of land on the South-East corner of Huntington Drive and Del Mar Avenue for use as school property. Mr. Heslop’s wife, Francesca, was the daughter of Rosario de Guilleu and Miguel Blanco, whose adobe house stands on our high school grounds today. From 1873 – 1890, the children of the Heslop’s, L. J. Roses of Sunnyslope, the Cooper’s, Dan Mulock’s, Pollar’s, J. Smith, and Colonel Winston attended this school.” 


  • 1952 – The adobe was restored by K.L. Carver and a group of public spirited citizens of the San Gabriel Valley


  • In the 1950s, San Marino High School was built on the property surrounding the adobe.


  • 1956: The Native Sons of the Golden West erected the plaque outside the adobe.


  • 1956-present: the adobe has been used variously by the high school and the San Marino Historical Society. It is in good structural condition, as attested to be the National Register of Historic Places, California’s Office of Historic Preservation.


  • Terri Geis, Ph.D. the Preservation Director for Pasadena Heritage, Roberta Martinez, the president of  Latino Heritage, Tesa Becica from the San Fernando Valley Historical Society, Ann Gray of Balcony Press (architectural books) and Mike Buhler, the Advocacy Director for the LA Conservancy have all weighed in for preserving the adobe.


  • There are less than 30 adobes left in Los Angeles County and less than 10 remaining that were once associated with the San Gabriel Mission.


  • There is no justification for destroying this adobe. The “plan” is simply to pave the spot.


  • San Marino Board of Education members Jeanie Caldwell, Jeng Yen, C. Joseph Chang, Karen Preston and Chris Norgaard should be held responsible for an act of violence against our shared cultural history if they destroy this landmark building.





~ by ravenjake on October 25, 2009.

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