Saturday, July 9, 2016

In the LA Prefecture Records

As I dive back into the history on the Suastegui family, I thought it was fitting to look back at my 5th-great-grandfather, Francisco Suastegui, who was living in Los Angeles in 1835. When I wrote about him in June 2015, Francisco was mentioned in a 2014 translation of Narciso Botello's Annals of Southern California 1833-1847 by Brent C. Dickerson.
Let There Be Light, by Frederick Whitaker. 1971.
Francisco's name appears in Los Angeles Prefecture Records in November 1835. It looks like he was part of a jury in a case between Don Juan de Dios Bravo and Don Antonio Ignacio Avila. Avila's family were wealthy land owners in early Los Angeles, and Antonio's brother Francisco Avila built the Avila Adobe, the oldest standing residence in Los Angeles.
LA Prefecture Records, Vol A, Page 47. Huntington Library Collection.
According to the Early California Population Database hosted by the Huntington Library, on 8 May 1836, Francisco Suastegui was listed as a padrino to a 5 year old Yuma Indian girl named Maria Concepcion at the Mission San Fernando Rey. On 18 June 1836, he appeared again as a padrino in the baptism of Jose de Jesus Dolores Farguison, a son of Daniel Jose Farguison and Maria del Carmen Ruiz.

It is not clear if Francisco owned land during his time in Los Angeles. Francisco moved back to Altar, Sonora in 1836. Borderman, the Memoirs of Frederico Jose Maria Ronstadt, includes some references to Francisco. He recalled that Francisco "studied for the priesthood, knew something about medicine, and finally decided to marry and learn the trade of jeweler and goldsmith. He knew an Indian who would come to town from time to time with gold nuggets and pieces of quartz encrusted with streaks of pure gold. He liked Mr. Suastegui and offered to take him to the place where the gold was. They started out on horseback, and when the Indian showed him the hill from where he got the gold, a few miles away, they were surprised by a band of Papago Indians and a volley of arrows. The Indian friend was killed, and Mr. Suastegui's life was saved by one of the Papagos who recognized him as a man who had befriended him and cured him at one time. This same Indian took him back to Altar. Mr. Suastegui had several arrow wounds from which he never recovered entirely." (Quoted from page 103 of the book, which I purchased via Google).

Francisco's daugther, Maria Concepcion Suastegui, later moved with her children from Altar to Los Angeles. She is featured quite heavily in the Ronstadt book. These early connections to California are fascinating and I will have more on her and her family in the next post.

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