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Don Miguel de Pedrorena ( -1850)

donmiguelpedrorenaThe best biographical sketch of this much respected citizen is that contained in Wm. Heath Davis’s Sixty Years in California. He says:

“In 1838 Don Miguel de Pedrorena, a resident of Peru, arrived here, being at the time part owner and supercargo of the Delmira…. Don Miguel was a native of Spain, and belonged to one of the best families of Madrid. After receiving an education in his own country lie was sent to London, where he was educated in English, becoming a complete scholar. Most of the Castilian race of the upper class are proud and aristocratic; but Don Miguel, though of high birth, was exceedingly affable, polite, gracious in manner and bearing, and, in every respect, a true gentleman. He married a daughter of prefect Estudillo, and resided in San Diego until the time of his death in 1850, leaving one son, Miguel, and two daughters, Elena and Ysabel. He was a member of the convention at Monterey in 1849, for the formation of the state constitution. He owned the Cajon Rancho and the San Jacinto Nuevo Rancho, each containing eleven leagues, with some cattle and horses. Notwithstanding these large holdings of lands he was in rather straitened circumstances in his later years, and so much in need of money that when I visited San Diego in the early part of 1850 he offered to sell me thirty-two quarterblocks (102 lots) in San Diego at a low figure. He had acquired the property in the winter of 1849-50, at the alcalde sale. I did not care for the land but being flush, and having a large income from my business, I took the land, paying him thirteen or fourteen hundred dollars for it.In Madrid be had several brothers and other relatives, one of his brothers being at that time a Minister in the cabinet of the reigning monarch. During the last two or three years of his life those relatives became aware of his unfortunate circumstances and wrote to him repeatedly, urging him to come home to Spain and bring his family with him. They sent him means and assured him that he would be welcomed. Though poor, his proud disposition led him to decline all these offers. Popular with everybody in the department, the recollections of him by those who knew him were exceedingly pleasant.”

He settled at San Diego in 1845, having married María Antonia Estudillo, daughter of José Antonio Estudillo. He strongly favored the American side in the war of 1846, and had a cavalry command with the rank of captain. He built one of the first frame houses in Old Town, which is still standing near the parsonage. In the late 60’s it was used as the office of the Union. He was collector of customs in 1847-8. In 1850, with Wm. Heath Davis and others he was one of the founders of new San Diego. He died March 21, 1850. His only son was Miguel de Pedrorena, born at Old Town in 1844, and died at his ranch in Jamul Valley, December 25, 1882. He married Nellie Burton, daughter of General H. S. Burton of the U. S. Army, at the Horton House in New San Diego, Dec. 25, 1875. His sister Ysabel was married to José Antonio Altamirano. She was born at the very moment when the American flag was raised at Old Town (July 29, 1846), a circumstance of which the family is very proud. Victoria was married to Henry Magee, an army officer from the state of New York, of excellent family. Elena married José Wolfskill and lives at Los Angeles.

[from Smythe, William Ellsworth. History of San Diego, 1542-1908. San Diego: History Co., 1907. (pages 172-173)]

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