General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo
Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo's father was Ignacio Ferrer Vallejo, a sergeant in the Spanish Army of New Spain. Ignacio, born in New Spain in the middle of the eighteenth century, first arrived in California in 1774, at San Diego, with the Spanish explorer Fernando Moncada. He accompanied Father Junipero Serra to northern California in 1776 and assisted in founding the Presidio and Mission Dolores at San Francisco. It is not known if he helped establish the Castillo de San Joaquin at the mouth of the Golden Gate (called Yulupa by the Miwok Indians) in 1795. At one point he served as Alcalde of San Jose. Ignacio married Maria Antonia Lugo and had thirteen children.
Ignacio and Maria's eighth child, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, was born in Monterey, California on July 4, 1807. At the time of Mariano's birth, California was to all intents and purposes a semi-independent territory of New Spain. Madrid passed laws and issued declarations but had little real power to implement them in California. The Governor and the few colonists that occupied the territory on behalf of Spain were pretty much on their own. In 1812 the Russian-American Fur company defied Spanish law and established Fort Ross on the north coast of California. Spain's strength in California was not sufficient to do anything but accept the fait accompli.
Early in the nineteenth century Spain faced a rising tide of revolution throughout the Americas. In 1818 an Argentine revolutionary named Hippolyte Bouchard arrived in Monterey in an attempt to convince the colonists to join in the revolt against Spanish authority. Then Governor Pablo Vicente de Sola ordered the garrison to resist the effort. Mariano's father, Ignacio and his elder brother, Jose de Jesus, were part of the resistance, but eleven year old Mariano was hustled off inland to Mission Soledad. Bouchard eventually drove the defenders out of Monterey and occupied the town long enough to loot and destroy most of it. Following Bouchard's departure the colonists reoccupied Monterey and eventually rebuilt it.
After the Bouchard incident, Governor Sola selected three young boys for special education: Mariano Vallejo, Juan Bautista Alvarado, and Jose Castro. Governor Sola clearly felt that they were potential future leaders for the community. Alvarado's mother was Mariano's elder sister and the two young men were virtually brothers. All three were destined to hold important positions in California's power structure during the period leading up to Statehood.
Mariano received additional tutoring from William Hartnell, a prominent English merchant living in Monterey and a bit later worked for David Spence, a Scottish merchant, as a clerk and bookkeeper. Governor Sola was replaced by Luis Arguello in 1822 and the fifteen year old Mariano was appointed to be the new governor's private secretary. This was the period in which Mexico obtained its independence from Spain and the political scene in California was undergoing rapid and profound changes. Ignacio received a land grant from the new Mexican government which he named Rancho Bolsa de San Cayetano. It consisted of 8,881 acres just twenty three miles north of Monterey.
In 1824 Mariano joined the Mexican Army as a cadet posted in the presidio at Monterey. In 1826 he was appointed to be a member of the territorial legislature meeting in Monterey. He was just nineteen years of age. In 1827, John B. R. Cooper, a colorful American sea captain who served as master of the Governor's ship, Rover, married Mariano's older sister, Encarnacion. (That same year Cooper was the bondsman that guaranteed that Jedediah Smith would leave Mexican territory.)
By 1829 Mariano had achieved the rank of Second Lieutenant in the Mexican Army. That year he defeated a force of 150 Miwok Indians ably led by former Mission neophyte named Estanislao. The politics of California remained turbulent and in 1829 he was imprisoned for three weeks in connection with the Joaquin Solis revolt and banished to San Diego. In 1831 Lieutenant Vallejo participated in the establishment of Pio Pico as Governor of Callfornia. In 1832 Vallejo married Francisca Benicia Carrillo, whom he had met while in San Diego. In 1833 Jose Figueroa was appointed Governor to replace Pio Pico. Figeuroa took a liking to Vallejo who was then serving as Commandant of the Presidio in San Francisco and instructed him to establish a new presidio at Sonoma. In addition, Vallejo received an extensive land grant which he named Rancho Petaluma.