Manuel Rodriguez (c.1759-1846) was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and came north, when he was about 15-years old, to Alta California, which is the name for California when it was still part of the Spanish Empire. Spain began colonizing California in 1769 when Gaspar de Portola brought 169 colonists to Monterey. Not long afterwards, Manuel was recruited in Guadalajara to come to California as carpenter, probably by Capt. Fernando Rivera . Manuel sailed to the colony in the Santiago, which left San Blas, on the south coast of Mexico, on Jan. 24, 1774, and landed at San Diego 49 days later on March 14, with Father Junipero Serra, two more carpenters, two blacksmiths, a surgeon, and their families. Rivera, meanwhile, made the journey by horse back, arriving a few days after the Santiago. Manuel was still at San Diego during the 1775 California Census, but by 1781 he had moved 600 miles north to Monterey.
 Capt. Fernando Rivera y Moncada was appointed military governor of California to replace Pedro Fages, with whom Father Junipero Serra had quarreled. Rivera left for California late in 1773, traveling via Guadalajara (where Rivera had a small farm), Tepic, and Sinaloa, to recruit fifty or so settlers in route. Sailing across the Gulf of California from the mouth of the Yaqui River, he arrived in Loreto, on the Baja Peninsula, in early March of 1774. Thence he rode horseback the entire distance from Loreto to San Diego, close to 600 miles, where he arrived on March 23 or 24, 1774. (From The California State Military Museum.)
California Mission Records show Manuel's parents to be Joseph Rodriguez and Maria Antonia Estrada, both of whom were born in Mexico. There exists in the Catholic Church Archives in Guadalajara, Mexico a Feb. 25, 1744 marriage record (shown at left) for Joseph and Maria that identifies Joseph as a mulatto slave belonging to lawyer Don Pedro Ypolico de la Parra. Becuase he is called mulatto, he would have had a black parent and a Spanish parent, and because he is also a slave, the most likely scenario is that he was the illegitimate son of a criollo father, and a black slave mother, but this of course is a guess. Maria is identified as an India (Indian) from Real del Rosario, which is a village in southern Sinaloa. Both are listed as widowers, Joseph having been married previously to Juana de Cobarrubias, who had been buried 7 years before in the cemetery of the Hospital of Bethlehem in Guadalajara, and Maria having been married previously to Salvador de Thorres, who had been buried 3 years before in the Church of Rio de Santiago, probably on the northeastern outskirts of Guadalajara.
Manuel married Maria Valvanera (Balbanera) Antuna (c.1766-1830) at the Carmel Mission in Monterey on Nov. 11, 1781, when he was about 22-years old. Their marriage record at the Huntington Library shows Maria's birthplace as Sinaloa and her parents as Joseph Manuel de Antuna and Juana Gertrudis de Serna. Also, the 1790 Spanish Census of Monterey specifically shows Maria as being from Villa Sinaloa, which refers to the town of Sinaloa that is located several miles north of Mazatlan in the Mexican coastal province of of Sinaloa. Both Manual and Maria are listed in this census as Mestizo - meaning mixed blood, which indicates each had both Spanish and Indian ancestry. The census lists Manuel's occupation as laborer, but mission records clearly show that he was a carpenter.
Manuel, in fact, was the carpenter for the Monterey Presidio, and Carmel Mission records in 1781 and 1788 identify him as such. He almost certainly is the carpenter who fashioned the simple, redwood coffins that Fathers Juan Crespi and Junipero Serra in 1782 and 1784 were buried in beneath the mission floor. Father Francisco Palou states that when his friend and mentor Father Serra knew that he was dying, "I saw the carpenter from the presidio was about to go in (to see Serra), and when I stopped him, he told me that the Father had sent for him to have him make the coffin for his burial and he wished to ask him how he wanted it. This affected me very much but I would not allow him to go in and speak to the Father, but told him to make the coffin just as he had make the one for Father Crespi." Recalling that it was Junipero Serra who recruited Manuel to come to California in 1774, and that it was Serra who baptized Manuel's first born in 1782, Manuel no doubt knew Junipero Serra well.
Manuel and Maria later moved to the Santa Clara Mission, where two of their children were born in 1797 and 1801, then he is listed later in 1801 as a corporal of the guard at San Juan Bautista. He was still alive, but listed as retired, when Maria died on Dec. 28, 1830 in Monterey, and was buried in the chapel there at the presidio. He is next listed in the 1836 census, and he is probably to be identified with the Jose Manuel Rodriquez who died June 22, 1846, and is buried at Monterey in the Mission Cemetery. Although his death does not appear in the mission records at the Huntington Library, he appears in the mission burial list of Hough & Hough (1999).
Ynnocencio Joseph Rodriguez (1784-1789) was born Dec. 26, 1784, baptized the next day at the Carmel Mission, and died July 29 at the Santa Barbara Presidio.
Mariano Loreto Rodriguez (1788-1788) was born Dec. 9, 1788, baptized the next day at the Carmel Mission, and died a few days later on Dec. 30.
Maria Guadalupe Gabriela Rodriguez (b. 1790) was born Dec. 7, 1790, baptized four days later at the Carmel Mission. She married Jose Joaquin Buelna on Nov. 4, 1805 at the San Juan Bautista Mission.
Ana Josefa Rodriguez (1793-1793) was born Feb. 4, 1793, baptized at the Carmel Mission. She died a few months later and wad buried Aug. 3 of that year in the mission cemetery.
Maria Antonia Rodriguez (b. 1795) was born Feb. 14, 1795, and baptized two days later at the Carmel Mission. She married Feliciano Soberanes on Nov. 20, 1810 at the Soledad Mission.
Maria Josefa Rodriguez (b. 1797) was born April 20, 1797, and baptized the next day at the Santa Clara Mission. She married Alfonso Mateo Martin of France on Nov. 26, 1842 at the Carmel Mission.
Antonio Bernabe Rodriguez (b. 1799) was baptized June 12, 1799 at the Soledad Misison, and married Maria de los Dolores Galindo Nov. 7, 1823 at the Santa Clara Mission.
Ana de Jesus Rodriguez (b. 1801) was born Sept. 15, 1801, and baptized three days later at the Santa Clara Mission. She married Juan Gonzales about 1834/35.
Maria de Altagracia Rodriguez (b. 1803) was born Nov. 25, 1803, and baptized two days later at the San Juan Bautista Mission. She married Francisco Gonzales.
Antonia Dolores Rodriguez (b. 1806) was born March 27, 1806, and baptized the same day at the San Juan Bautista Mission.
Luquesia Maria Antonia Rodriguez (b. 1809) was baptized April 28, 1809 at the San Juan Bautista Mission.
Damaso Antonio Rodriguez (1782-1847), the son of Manuel Rodriguez and Maria Valvanera (Balbanera) Antuna, was born Dec. 11 1782 in Alta California, and baptized by Father Junipero Serra four days later on Dec. 15 at the Carmel Mission in Monterey. His full name was Jose Damaso Tomas Antonio Rodriguez. He became a soldier at the Monterey presidio, and married Maria Dolores Soto (1790-1826) at the mission on Nov. 11, 1805. Although Maria is listed in the mission records as being 18 at the time (the page with her marriage record is shown on the right - it is entry #1230 on the left page), her baptism date was May 30, 1790 at the Santa Clara Mission, which implies she might have been even younger. Maria was the daughter of Ygnacio Soto (1749-1807), a Spanish soldier who came to California with his wife Barbara de Espinosa (1759-1797) and three children with Juan Bautista de Anza's expedition that arrived at Monterey in January of 1776, and pressed on a few months later to found San Francisco. Although it is quite speculative, the Soto lineage supposedly can be traced back to a Spanish ancestor born in the early 1600s.
Bancroft (1886) tells us that Damaso eventually reached the rank of corporal at the Monterey garrison, and was transfered in 1818 to the Santa Barbara Presidio, where from 1821 to 1830 he was a sergeant, and from 1831 on alférez (a low-ranking officer). His first wife Maria Soto died at Santa Barbara on June 11, 1826, and was buried in the mission cemetery. He then married his second wife Maria Antonia Romero (b. 1814) on July 28, 1831 at the same mission. When Damaso was transferred in 1833 to the San Francisco Presidio, he served as alférez again, and sometimes commander. He was transferred once more in 1837 to Sonoma, and even though he was officially listed as invalido (disabled), he served with full pay on General Mariano Vallejo's staff.
Damaso evidently gained Vallejo's confidence, as the general helped him to receive from Governor Juan Alvarado in 1841 a grant of one-and-a-half leagues of land (6,654 acres) known as Yajome Rancho, a small grant by comparison to others, but a rich one located east of the Napa River and north of the present town of Napa. Unfortunately, the Bear Flag revolt ensued in 1846, before Damaso had a chance to occupy the land. He was living near Novato when 55 or so Mexican soldiers on June 23, 1846 were attacked by a contigent of Americans at a nearby site called Olompali. When the Americans, soon after the skirmish, found Damaso, who was not at the battle but at his house, they severely beat him in front of his family. He apparently survived this beating, and applied for compensation a few days later, but died not long after. According to Northrup (1971) he was buried at Santa Clara.
When California became part of the United States in the aftermath of the Mexican War, the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo specified that the Mexican land grants would be honored. However, Damaso's heir and son Antonia Rodriguez did not pursue his father's claim in the American courts, as his father had never occupied the land, a prequisite for validating the grant. Furthermore, Damaso had been percieved as an enemy during the Bear Flag Revolt, and he had died in the interim. Consequently, General Vallejo's brother Salvador Vallejo applied for the grant himself in 1852, receiving a patent for it in 1864 from the Public Lands Commission.
children - RODRIGUEZ (from first marriage with Maria Soto)
Maria Francisca Antonia Rodriguez (1806-1807) was baptized on Oct. 4, 1806 at the Carmel Mission, and died Nov. 5, 1807 at Santa Clara.
Antonio Rodriquez (1807-1887) was born in Alta California on Dec. 12, 1807 and baptized a few days later on Dec. 21 at the Santa Clara Mission. He was twice married, first to Maria Arellanes on March 6, 1832 at the Santa Barbara Presidio, and second to Maria Valensuela on Jan. 24, 1846 at the Presidio again. When his father died, Antonio chose not to pursue claim to the Rancho Yajome, for a variety of reasons. Although he was over 50-years old when the American Civil War broke out, Antonio enlisted as a corporal at Santa Barbara on July 25, 1864 in Company C, 1st Battalion of the Native Cavalry Regiment, and mustered out April 2, 1866 at the San Francisco Presidio. He died Jan. 3, 1887 and is buried with a recent veterans headstone in Santa Barbara in the Cieneguitas Cemetery.
Maria Francisca Rodriguez (1807) was born Nov. 4, 1807 at Santa Clara, and died the next day before she could be baptized.
children - RODRIGUEZ (from second mariage with Maria Romero)
Maria Francisca Jabiera Rodriguez (c.1832-1920) was baptized on Dec. 5, 1835 at the San Francisco Mission, but almost certainly born much earlier. She married Jose Reyes Foxen (1832-1889) on Aug. 21, 1853 at the Santa Barara Mission, her husband being the illegitimate son of William Benjamin Foxen (c1797-1874) of England, and a Scottish-Polynesian woman. Maria and Jose had several children, and she lived a long life, passing on May 3, 1920 in Santa Barbara. Although her obituary claims she was 99 years old when she died, this is highly unlikely.
Octaviano de los Dolores Rodriguez (1834-1835) was baptized March 23, 1834 at the San Francisco Mission, and died in San Francisco on Oct. 27, 1835.
Maria Juliana Rodriguez (b. 1844) was born June 22 and baptized Oct. 19, 1844 at the San Rafael Mission.
Juan Jose Rodriguez (1809-1843), the son of Damaso Rodriguez and Maria Soto, was born Feb. 15, 1809 and baptized the same day at the San Juan Bautista Mission by Father Getrudis Cantua. Juan married Maria Ramona Rivera Miramontes on Feb. 3, 1836 at the San Francisco Mission, where mission records show Maria as being 19-years old. This would indicate she was born about 1817, but many lineages give her birth as early as 1812 (yet with no documentation). She was probably born at the Branciforte Pueblo in Santa Cruz, which is what her marriage record indicates, and where her parents Juan Jose Candelario Miramontes and Maria Guadalupe Briones were among the first settlers. Unfortunately, there seems to be no baptism record for her, the record possibly being lost when the mission was destroyed in 1857 by a series of earthquakes.
Maria's father Juan Candelario Miramontes had arrived in Monterey in 1797 as a boy of age 8 or so on the ship Concepcion, where he appears on the passenger list with his mother and stepfather. He married Maria Guadalupe Briones probably about 1808 in Santa Cruz, but again no mission record survives. He served as a soldier for awhile at Santa Cruz, where his father-in-law Marcos Briones served as well, and also in San Francisco. He evidently did well and received in 1841 a grant of one-square league of land called Rancho Arroyo de Los Pilarcitos. This grant later became known as Rancho San Benito and is located in San Mateo County on Pilarcitos Creek near Half Moon Bay.
Maria and her husband Juan Rodriguez appear in an 1842 Census of San Francisco, where Juan is shown as a laborer with the four children listed below. He died July 4, 1843, when he was only 34 years old, and was buried in the San Francisco Mission Cemetery. Maria lived many more years and her name appears on the 1882 patent for her father's land grant at Half Moon Bay that the California Public Lands Commission issued to the Miramontes family. However, her father's name appears on the patent as well, and he is believed to have died in 1846, some 35 years before. Her mother Señora Doña Guadalupe Briones de Miramontes was interviewed in San Mateo County at Spanish Town (Half Moon Bay) by William Heath Davis some time prior (probably several years) to writing his 1889 book Sixty Years in California. Supposedly she died when she was over a century old, having been baptized Feb. 25, 1792 on the day of her birth at the San Antonio Mission, but there seems to be a wide opinion on her death date, meaning it is not known with certainty.
children - RODRIGUEZ
Francisca de Paula Josefa Rodriquez (b. 1837) was baptized April 6, 1837 at the San Francisco Mission. She married Benito Robles (b. c.1828), with whom she settled in San Mateo and had several children. She died sometime after the 1920 U.S. census, which shows her living in Redwood City, California.
Mateo Rodriquez (b. c.1840) was born Sept. 21 in Alta California, and baptized Nov. 17, 1842 at the Santa Clara Mission.
Jose Rodriquez (b. c.1842) is known only from the 1842 San Francisco census.
Maria Rodriguez (1837-1917), the daughter of Juan Jose Rodriguez and Maria Miramontes, was born Dec. 8, 1837 in Alta California, back in the days before it was part of the United States, and baptized Dec. 14, 1838 at the San Francisco Mission. She married Enrique (Henry) Vega (b. c.1823), who had been born in old Mexico, and came to California as a young man, becoming an American citizen on August 7, 1867, at the same time and place as Valerio Lamas, who was the father of his daughter Rufina's husband. Enrique died sometime before the 1900 U.S. census, when Maria is listed as a widow. Maria died Dec. 8, 1917 in San Luis Obispo at the age of 80 years and 8 days. Her obituary, which was published Dec. 19, 1917 in the San Luis Obispo Morning Tribune, and her death certificate both state that she was buried in the Catholic Cemetery in San Luis Obispo, which would indicate the Old Mission Cemetery. However, she is not listed in the transcription for the cemetery compiled by the San Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society, which might indicate her tombstone is missing, unreadable, or possibly inscribed only as "Mother", which was a fairly common practice in those days. If so, her husband Enrique, whose tombstone also has not been identified, may be buried nearby.
children - VEGA
Maximiano (Mike) Vega (1858-1925) was born March 10, 1858 in Half Moon Bay, and married Eliza Murray Sutcliffe (c.1855-1899) on Feb. 10, 1925 in San Luis Obispo. He died Dec. 18, 1925 in San Luis Obispo.
Meliton Vega (1863-1926) was March 10, 1863 in San Luis Obispo, and married Anita Martinez (1868-1922) there on June 15, 1884. He worked as a street sweeper and shepherd. He died Aug. 26, 1926 in San Luis Obispo. Both Militon and Anita are buried there in the Old Mission Cemetery.
Jose (Joe) Vega (c.1863-1925) was born about 1863 in Half Moon Bay and died Mar 18, 1925 in San Luis Obispo.
Jesus Vega (1865-1918) was born in 1865 in San Luis Obispo and died in 1918.
Luis (Lewis) Santos Vega (1870-1945) was born Oct 28, 1870 in San Luis Obispo, and married Margaret Lopez (b. c.1888), probably in San Luis Obispo. He died Oct. 13, 1945 in San Luis Obispo and is buried in San Luis Obispo the Old Mission Cemetery.
Juan (John) Vega (1867-1948) was born March 16, 1867 in San Luis Obispo, married Eleanora Pettor, and died in San Luis Obispo on March 6, 1948. Their John Vega, Jr. (b. April 7, 1898, d. Feb. 12, 1919) is buried in the Old Mission Cemetery.
Maria Vega (b. c.1874) is known only from the 1880 U.S. Census. She probably died young.
Ruperta Vega (b. c.1876) is known only from the 1880 U.S. Census. She probably died young.
Fitch, A.H., 1914, Junipero Serra: The Man and his Work, A.C. McClurg & Co., Chicago, p. 213-215. Available on Google Books.
Hough, Granville and Hough, N.C., 1999, Spain's California Patriots in its 1779-1783 War with England, Part 2, Society of Historical and Ancestral Research, Midway City, CA, p. 1-39 & 168-171. Available online at the website for the South Coast Chapter Sons of the American Revolution.
Lorenzen, Bob, 2012, Marriage Record for Joseph Rodrigues and Maria Antonia, collected at the Catholic Church Archives in Guadalajara, Mexico about 2009.
Northrup, Marie, 1971, Spanish-Mexican Families of Early California: 1769-1850, Southern California Genealogical Society, Burbank, California, v. 1, p. 285-286.
Palou, Francisco, 1787, The Life and Apostolic labors of the Venerable Fray Junipero Serra (translated by C. Scott Williams, 1913), George Wharton James Publisher, Pasadenda, Calif. p. 269. Available online at books.google.com.
by Janet & Michael Clark
This history is an evolving document.
Despite our best intentions it probably contains mistakes.
Please let us know if you spot any by sending an email to Mike Clark