The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Winter 1969, Volume 15, Number 1
Rita Larkin, Editor
By Rosemary Masterson
Rosemary Masterson is a history major in her junior year at
the University of San Diego College for Women. She became interested in the
Machado family when Sister Catherine McShane assigned the students in her
California history class to do a research project on the Spanish families of Old
In addition to her history major Rosemary bas a double minor
in English and Spanish. She serves as news editor of "Vista," the USD
newspaper, and as president of Delta Beta, the USD honor society, She recently
was chosen to appear in "Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities."
She would like to teach American history and literature in the secondary education field.
José Manuel Machado was one of the first soldiers stationed
at the Presidio of San Diego and one of the first settlers of Old Town. He was
born in 1756 and arrived in San Diego in 1781 as a corporal of the Leather
Jacket Company stationed at the Presidio. in the service he advanced rapidly and
held many military offices. He commanded the military guards at Mission San Luis
Rey and San Diego. He was active in the founding of the mission stations at Pala,
Las Flores and Temecula.
Having proved himself to be one who could be entrusted
with responsibility, he was given charge of the large grazing ranch, " El Rancho
de la Nación," in National City in the 1820’s. He demonstrated his fidelity to
the Mexican as well as to the Spanish government, and was rewarded by being
granted the El Rosario Rancho in Descanso in Lower California.
When the pueblo of San Diego was formed in 1834
José Manuel became an active citizen of the new town and in 1836 served as a "regidor,"
or councilman on the "ayuntamiento," or city council.
At the age of fifty-three he married a girl of twenty, whose
name was Serafina Valdez. Serafina, the daughter of Eugenio Valdez and Serafina
Quintero of Real de los Alamos, Sonoma, was a tiny blond with blue eyes. These
facts José Manuel took on faith, evidently, for theirs was a negotiated marriage
and neither saw the other until they met at the altar.
Both parties seemed happy in the marriage. From it came
fifteen children whose futures were interwoven into the history of California.
The children were: Juan, María Antonia Juliana, María Guadalupe Gegoria,
Juanita, María, José Arcadio.Maríá Guadalupe Yldefonsa, Jesús, Rafael, Rosa
María, Maríá Antonia, Joaquín, Ignacio, Augustín, José Herculano and Dolores.
Juan Machado married a girl named Maríá Serrano and fathered
nineteen children. In addition to his large family and the fact that he was a
farmer, Juan had other claims to fame. He bought the remnant of " Fort
Guijarros," on Ballast Point, for forty dollars. Later he moved to the El Rosario
Rancho in Descanso, Lower California, where he hosted horse races. This may tae
why San Diegans nicknamed him the "King of the Frontier."
Juana Machado, Juan’s sister, proved to be a dynamic
individual. She married twice and reared eight children. Her first husband was
Damasio Alipas, whom she married in 1829, when her brother, Juan, acted as best man.
As a result of the Bandini Revolution, Juana found herself a widow, with
three children – Ramona, Josefa, and María Arcadia. Ramona’s second husband, "Cockney Bill,"
became the majordomo at the
Ortega ranch and under duress guided Kearny and his men through the ranch on
their way to the famous Battle of San Pasqual.
Josefa married John Peters in 1850. One of their six children,
José Antonio, was the grandfather of Dr. Raymond Brandes, currently chair-man of
the history department at the University of San Diego College for Men.
María Arcadia became the wife of Robert Decatur Israel who
came to San Diego in 1848. Because he was a blacksmith, it is assumed he was
responsible for the building of the coaches that linked San Antonio and San
Diego in part of the transcontinental route of 1857. Blacksmithing, however, was
only one of his many services to the community. In his lifetime, he was a school
trustee, a justice of the peace, a policeman, a jailor, and keeper of the
lighthouse at Ballast Point. He also conducted the firing squad that executed
the Indian Antonio Garra, who was responsible for the Garra Uprising in 1851.
In the rigorous days of early California one could not
spend much time in mourning. Emphasis had to be placed on the business of
sustaining life under precarious circumstances. Not long after Damasio’s death
Juana Machado Alipas married Thomas Wrightington. Wrightington, along with
Henry Delano Fitch, was apparently one of the very first American settlers in
As the "supercargo" of the vessel "Ayucucho,” he came from
Fall River, Massachusetts with Abel Stearns in 1833. Although he was once
arrested, in 1840, he served as justice of the peace in 1844 and 1847.
Thomas Wrightington and Juana Machado Alipas de
Wrightington became the parents of José, Serafina, Luis, and James, who died
while young. José was sent to Boston to be reared and educated in American style,
by an uncle. José who seems to have inherited his father’s disposition, "took
offense" at a colored footman in his uncle’s house, ran off to sea to become a
whaler, and married a Chilean woman.
Serafina married John Minter, who, it is said,
resembled U.S. Grant, the general and president. Serafina’s parents at first
objected to her marriage because Minter was not a Catholic, but he proposed to her
beside the pillars at San Luis Rey Mission, became a Catholic convert, and
married her. His ranch became the scene of the only Civil War action in San
Diego. Among his close friends was Dr. George McKinstry, a pioneer diarist,
whose memoirs are available in Junípero Serra Research Library. McKinstry often
mentions Minter in his writings.
Although she was busy with her duties as a wife and mother,
Juana Machado Alipas de Wrightington, often rode with Father Ubach into the back
country to visit the Indian rancherías and to check conditions.
Her neighbors named Juana the "Florence Nightingale of
Old Town." In 1878 she dictated her memories to Thomas Savage, an agent of Hubert
Howe Bancroft. During her last years Juana lived withher daughter, María
Arcadia, Juana suffered from paralysis for five years before she died. She was
buried in El Campo Santo Cemetery, beside her second husband, Thomas
Her sister, María Guadalupe Yldefonsa, first married Peter
Wilder. One of her daughters by Wilder, María Guadalupe de los Dolores Wilder,
married Dr. David B. Hoffman, the first civilian doctor in San Diego. He served
as city coroner, post surgeon in the army and the first president of
the San Diego Medical Society. A medical historical society, the
David B. Hoffman Society, is named after him.
After Peter Wilder died, Guadalupe Machado de Wilder entered
into another marriage, with a colorful background, Her second husband was Albert
B. Smith, who achieved fame during the Mexican-American War. In November 1846,he
sneaked ashore to spike the guns at Fort Stockton, thus enabling the Americans
to retake the town which they had previously conquered on July 29. At
this time Smith and his future sister-in-law, Maríá Antonia Juliana Machado de
Silvas, found themselves confronting each other over the battle fire. As she
rushed from her home, the Casa de Machado de Silvas, to cut down the Mexican
flag to save it from the Americans, Smith climbed the flagpole and nailed the
American flag to it since she had made off with the halliards.
Guadalupe Machado de Wilder married Smith in 1850. Although
he served as superintendent of schools and county assessor, his reckless daring,
suitable for war time, was not compatible with civilian life. In 1865, during a
period of excessive lawlessness in San Diego, Smith formed the habit of shooting
at prisoners through the bars of the San Diego jail with the result that one
prisoner was killed. Smith then threatened to shoot a deputy sheriff who
interfered with his sport and was placed under $1000 bail. Despite his sometimes
unorthodox behavior Smith was given a military burial at Point Loma.
A daughter of Albert Smith and Guadalupe Machado Wilder de
Smith, who was born in 1858, became the second wife of Andrew Cassidy, a
prominent pioneer in San Diego. Cassidy was an Irish immigrant who had come to
San Diego in 1853. Like Dr. David Hoffman, he was a scientist of distinction.
Another member of the Machado family who achieved merit was
Jesús Machado, born to José Manuel and Serefina in 1823.
Jesús married Lugarda
Osuna de Alvarado in order to provide a mother for his four children by Ms first
wife. Lugarda had lost her first husband, José Maríá Alvarado, who was tortured
and killed in the Pauma Massacre of 1846 by one of Lugarda’s former suitors,
Bill Marshall. When Marshall later was caught and imprisoned for his deeds, he
called for Lugarda and begged her forgiveness. She forgave him and became his
godmother as he was baptized before he was hung.
A daughter of Lugarda and Jesús, Felicita, had an intriguing
courtship with Francisco (Pancho) Estudillo. For many years Felicita worshipped
him and would marry none of her suitors, even though Pancho was married to
Carmen Robidoux. When Carmen died Pancho married Felicita.
According to the memoirs of Juana Machado Alipas de
Wrightington her young brother Rafael Machado was at the Pauma Massacre,
but managed to escape the Indians. He also acted as guide to Captain Archibald
Gillespie when Gillespie sought to join General Stephen Kearny. He seems to
have taken no position in the Mexican-American War and at times stayed with each
side. Rafael Machado married Bersabé Alipas in 1868. Their daughter, Margarita,
is buried in El Campo Santo Cemetery.
The last noteworthy child of the remarkable José Manuel
Machados was Maríá Antonia, who was born in 1828. She married Enos A. Wall, who
served as an elector in 1850, a member of the City Council in 1851, and later as
assistant lighthouse keeper.