Michael White on Los Nietos Ranch 1832-1837

Don Jose Andres Sepulveda about 1856
Jose Castro
Juan Bautista Alvarado 1809-1882

Michael White's oral history continues: When I came back, I went to live on the Nietos ranch, and set up a little store. Was appointed Alcalde.

Nothing worthy of mention happened during my stay in Los Nietos until 1836.

In the mean time, General Figueroa had been Gefe Político [Political Chief, or Leader] and Comandante General from the early part of 1833 to latter part of 1835, when he died and was buried in the Church of Santa Barbara Mission.

In the year 1836, I was still Alcalde in Los Nietos, and José Sepúlveda  [Jose Antonio Andres Sepulveda 1803 – 1875] was the Juez de Paz [Justice of the Peace] in Los Angeles. I got from him a letter directing me to meet him next the day at Los Angeles with every man capable of bearing arms residing in my jurisdiction. [The] next day I could only get together three brothers named Alvitre out of a population of 100 men.

We four rode into town to the court house; the brothers got off their horses, went in and were talking to Judge Sepúlveda—then came out with the Judge. I was still sitting on my horse. He said to me, "Miguel, ya estas aqui?" [Are you here already?] I answered, “Yes. What do you want with me?”

He directed me to alight and go in. There were sitting in the office (I think it was in the latter part of February 1837) Don José Castro, Don Juan Bautista Alvarado and my brother-in-law, the Alferez [ensign or second lieutendant] Isidoro Guillen.

The first words Sepúlveda uttered to me were if I was ready to go and die with him in San Diego. I answered that I had no idea of dying. He then explained that he had not meant to convey the idea that I had about dying. He grumbled about the people of San Diego having fooled them, and taken away the piece of artillery they had. He wanted me to go and help take it away from the Dieguinos, and I refused.

Then he said, "Why, you are a citizen." I answered, "Yes, I am a citizen of Mexico, but not a citizen of revolutions." He then repeated two or three times the question "So you won't go?" and I repeated my answer that I would not, each time in a more peremptory tone, then he broke out, "Pues, va´yase a su casa." [Well, then go on home.]

I thanked him, and told him that was precisely what I wanted to do. Castro, Alvarado and Guillen had a good laugh. Alvarado said " Que´ clase de Ingle´s es ese tan chala´n ?" [What kind of Englishman is this smart horse-trader?] Castro replied, " Ese es mi viejo Capita´n, y mi disci´pulo, pero el disci´pulo ha llegado a saber ma´s que su maestro ." [That's my chief and my pupil, but the pupil has come to know more than the master.]

A day or so after, Castro came to my house at Los Nietos and asked me to go with him to Las Flores, where the San Diego and Los Angeles troops were encamped. I declined to go, but went with him as far as Santa Ana at his own request. Carried a demijohn of aguardiente [moonshine] and 4 case bottles, two in each saddle bag, and the demijohn slung on the head of the saddle.

He tried hard to induce me on the road to go with him to Las Flores, assuring me there would be no fight as he felt he could talk the Southerners out of it. I answered him that one reason why I wouldn't go was that Macedonio Gonzalez, an own cousin of my wife and my compadre [a name used to express kinship between father and godfather] (I had been godfather to his son) was among the abejeños [those from down below, Southerners] in Las Flores, belonging to the Mission San Luis Rey, where the mission had a Chapel, and a priest would go there to celebrate mass every two Sundays. (The Mission had, besides the principal church at San Luis, another chapel in Pala. Las Flores and Pala were ranches of that mission occupied by Indians of different tribes.)

I gave Castro the demijohn of liquor at Santa Ana and returned to Los Nietos. The four flasks I gave to an old woman living at the Coyotes, nearly halfway between Santa Ana and Los Nietos.

Now, I need some clarification on just where Los Nietos is. There’s a community in Whittier that seems like the most likely spot – near the San Gabriel Mission, Pio Pico’s place and all, but there’s also Rancho Los Alamitos which was part of the 300,000 acre land grant given to Manuel Nieto – hence the name. Abel Sterns comes up again as one of the owners of Rancho Los Alamitos, which would add another layer of intrigue if indeed that was the location of Michael White’s store. 

By the way, remember when you look up at that line-up over there at the right that in the 1830s they were only on their ways to becoming prominent citizens, they weren't there quite yet. At the time this whole fiasco was shaping up they were all 20 years younger. (However, they were well on their ways to developing burly muttonchops even then) 

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~ by ravenjake on January 2, 2010.

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