Thomas & Juana Wrightington

juanawrightingtonWith the possible exception of Henry D. Fitch, Thomas Wrightington was the first American settler in San Diego. He came with Abel Stearns, on the Ayucucho, in 1833, and settled, while Stearns went on up the coast. Wrightington was supercargo of the vessel. He was from Fall River, Mass., was a shoemaker by trade, and had a good education. He applied for naturalization in 1835 and got provisional papers in 1838. He served as a volunteer in the Mexican War. He held several minor offices, both under the Mexican and American governments. Bancroft spells his name Ridington, which is erroneous.

He married Juana Machado de Alipás, widow of Damasio Alipás and daughter of José Manuel Machado. Their children were José, Serafina, and Luis. José was sent to Boston with the intention that he should be adopted and brought up by an uncle; but, having taken offense at a colored footman in his uncle’s house, he went off to sea on his own account. He was a whaler all his life and married a Chilean woman. Serafina was married to John Minturn. Luis was killed by a horse, at San Juan.

Mrs. Wrightington was a widow several years, and a well remembered character of Old Town. She was a mother to all the unfortunates around the Bay. [Juana Wrightington is shown above in her cactus garden.] She spent her last days with her daughter, Mrs. Israel, at Coronado.

[from Smythe, William Ellsworth. History of San Diego, 1542-1908. San Diego: History Co., 1907. (pages 293-294)]

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