Juan Bautista Valentin Alvarado y Vallejo
Juan Bautista Alarado's paternal grandfather accompanied Gaspar de Portola as an enlisted man in the Spanish Army in 1769 in the expedition that established the Spanish presence at San Diego and Monterey. Juan Bautista's father, Jose Francisco Alvarado, was born in Sinaloa where he enlisted in the army. In 1805 Jose Francisco was transferred to Monterey where he served as an aide to Governor Jose Joaquin Arrillaga. In 1808 Jose Francisco married fourteen year old Maria Josefa Vallejo, daughter of Sergeant Ignacio Vallejo (father of Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo). Juan Bautista Valentin Alvarado y Vallejo was born on Saint Valentine's Day,1809 in Monterey, California.
Juan Bautista's father died a few months after his son's birth and his teen age mother moved back into her parent's home. Three years later Maria Josefa married Raymundo Estrada and left Juan Bautista in the care of his grand parents - the Vallejo family. Juan Bautista and Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, grew up together in the Vallejo household. In 1815 Pablo Vicente Sola was appointed Governor of California. Governor Sola took an interest in both boys and assisted their early education.
In 1818 Hipolito Bouchard, an Argentine revolutionary, attacked and captured Monterey. Young Alvarado was evacuated inland along with his mother, step father, and their children. Bouchard destroyed much of Monterey during his short occupation of the capitol and while Monterey was being rebuilt the family stayed on Don Ignacio Ortega's rancho for about six months before returning to Monterey. In Monterey Alvarado remained with the Estrada family until his step father was reassigned to San Francisco. At that time Alvarado returned to the Vallejo residence. William Hartnell, an English merchant living in Monterey, assisted both Alvarado and Vallejo in their education.
Alvarado was in his early teens when, in March 1822, the residents of Monterey received news that Mexico had won it's independence from Spain. The new Mexican Government authorized California to have its own legislature (diputacion) made up of one representative from each presidio and pueblo (seven members in all). The legislature selected Governor Sola to represent them in the newly established Mexican Congress and replaced him with Lieutenant Luis Antonio Arguello as the first California born Governor. In 1825 the Mexican government, fearing that Arguello might favor independence for California, replaced him with Jose Maria Echeandia, a colonel in the Mexican Army. Echeandia established his headquarters in San Diego (later moving to Monterey).
In 1823 John Rogers Cooper, an American ship captain, arrived in Monterey and took up residence in the Vallejo house. In 1827 he married Mariano Guadalupe's sister, Encarnacion. Cooper represented the opening of California to the wider world and his presence in the Vallejo household was a powerful influence on both Alvarado and Vallejo. About this time Californians began referring to themselves as Californios and distinguishing themselves from people living in Mexico.
Also in 1827 Alvarado, then eighteen years of age, was hired as secretary to the territorial legislature. It was a time of great political ferment in Mexico and in California and, as secretary to the legislature, Alvarado was in the thick of things. In 1829 he was briefly arrested along with Vallejo and another friend, Jose Castro, by soldiers involved in the military revolt led by Joaquin Solis. During this period Alvarado also became very active socially. In 1831 he built a house in Monterey where he installed a beautiful young lady by the name of Juliana Francisca Ramona y Castillo. Over the years, "Raymunda" and Alvarado had a total of five illegitimate daughters. Alvarado recognized all of the children but did not marry their mother. During this period Alvarado began drinking heavily and sometimes drank himself to stupefaction. One of his daughters claimed that Raymunda had refused to marry Alvarado because of his excessive drinking.
Politically, Alvarado was firmly aligned with those that favored the secularization of the missions, particularly with the charismatic Lieutenant Colonel Jose Maria Padres, aide to Governor Echeandia. In 1831, even though he had already been replaced as governor, Echeandia issued an order secularizing the Californian missions. Alvarado was appointed to oversee the secularization of Mission San Miguel (Jose Castro Mission San Antonio, and Padres Mission San Carlos).
In January 1831 the new Governor, Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Victoria, an ardent supporter of the Catholic Church, arrived in Monterey. One of his first acts was to reverse Echeandia's secularization order. He also ordered the arrest of Castro and Alvarado for "attempting to arouse the neophytes." Alvarado and Castro fled first to Santa Clara and then to San Francisco where they sheltered with Vallejo, then adjutant at the presidio. Victoria's rule was unpopular and he was overthrown in December 1831 by a force led by Echeandia. Pio Pico, the senior member of the legislature, was appointed interim governor and the legislature was summoned to meet in Los Angeles.