Michael White and the Lugo Colony

Alright, now here’s an intriguing little historical tidbit, and that concerns Michael White and the founding of San Bernardino County.


In Glen Dawson’s notes, he states that according to George W. Beattie in Heritage of the Valley, “In 1838 or 1839 White, under his California name Miguel Blanco, applied for land in the San Bernardino area as one of the Lugo colonists, and before going to New Mexico lived for a short period in or near the Santa Ana River bottom on land occupied by one Hipólito [Hipólito Espinosa, also known as Apólito or just plain Pólito.] No doubt White camped there preparing for the trip to New Mexico.” There was more to Beattie’s account in that White gave the information that he’d lived for part of the year on Hipólito’s property in part of some courtroom testimony regarding the grant. Beattie also fixed the probable rendezvous spot as San Bernardino Rancho and also mentioned what a tremendous undertaking preparing for a caravan on the Spanish trail was – gathering and branding all the stock, preparing the paperwork for the authorities, and getting all the provisions together.  


But back to his Lugo affiliation.  This pre-dates his title to the Muscupiabe Grant by about four years, and put him in the area before his trip to New Mexico.


Now a lot o’ folks were having no luck with this area – the Indians (not too surprisingly) didn’t want them there and it was like a horse thief superhighway for rustlers of all persuasions. Here’s a little background on that:


After the Mission system was dismantled by the Mexican government, several prominent Southern Californians attempted to acquire Rancho San Bernardino. In 1837, Antonia Pico and Andres Pico made an application for the land, but it was rejected.


Ygnacio Palomares applied for the right to graze cattle in the eastern San Bernardino Valley and Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado rejected the application. Instead, the governor approved a settlement plan by Antonio Maria Lugo. Lugo's proposal was to colonize the San Bernardino area, listing 27 prospective settlers. Apparently, Miguel’s name was on that list!


In 1839, the Lugo's colonization permit was granted for 18 leagues of land. In the same year, the Lugo Family built an adobe house where the current county courthouse sits today.


The plan for colonization was not successful. In 1841, Antonio Lugo prepared another petition. This time, it requested a land grant in the name of three of his sons, José del Carmen Lugo, José Maria Lugo, Vicente Lugo, and José del Carmen's friend, Diego Sepulveda. Despite his severe appearance, Antonio Lugo was known as the nicest guy around, renound for his generosity, kindness and killer parties. Seriously.


On June 21, 1842, Rancho San Bernardino was granted to Antonio Maria Lugo, his sons and his nephews, who grazed approximately 4000-6000 cattle in the area. The grant included a large part of the San Bernardino valley, 37,700 acres (153 km2) in all. Lugo's adobe would later become Amasa M. Lyman's house. His brother repaired the estancia and lived there. A community that grew up astride the Santa Ana River northeast of current-day Redlands would be known as Lugonia. It lost its identity with the November 1888 incorporation of Redlands. Lugonia, huh? That has a nice ring to it…


Now bear in mind that Michael White (really Miguel Blanco for all intensive purposes) is just not here while all this property ownership drama is going on. He’s off on the lonesome trail and will be coming back with the Workman-Temple party in a couple of years, and then it’s his turn to hold the title:


In 1843, Michael White (also known in Spanish as Miguel Blanco), a Mexican citizen of English origin, was granted Rancho Muscupiabe, named after the Serrano village Amuscupiabit, "Place of little pines." Michael White built a house overlooking the Cajon Pass, but Native Americans from the desert stole his grazing stock, and he abandoned the Rancho after nine months.


But we’re not there yet. Just an FYI that he’s been busy all along, Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado can’t hate him too much ‘cause he keeps approving his land grants, and he’s making plans for a nice home in the mountains…

Read and post comments | Send to a friend


~ by ravenjake on January 11, 2010.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: