The Villavicencio Family...Loreto, Mexico and San Luis Obispo County, California

According to family records, Manuel de la Torre Villavicencio, a descendent of Spanish parents was born in 1706 in Guadalajara, Mexico. His wife to be, Gertrudis Acebedo, also a Spaniard was born in Loreto, Baha, Mexico. They met when Manuel was stationed as a "Soldier of the Guard" at the army outpost Loreto. They had two children, Gertrudis Maria and Rafael de jesus. Rafael also became a soldier of the guard. In 1769 Rafael de jesus joined with the Portola California expedition. Two ships left Baja and arrived in San Diego but many men were lost lost due to scurvy and desertion.

"The Portolá expedition, consisting of 64 persons, set out from San Diego on July 14, 1769. The party included the following: Portolá and servant (2); Rivera and servant (2); Fages and 6 or 7 Catalonian Volunteers (7-8); Costansó, the engineer (1); Ortega and 26 or 27 cuera soldiers (27-28); Indians from Baja California (15); muleteers (7); and Fathers Crespi and Gómez (2). The land expedition traveled north from San Diego, keeping as near to the coast as possible, most likely in search of the San José, which had sailed from San Blas with the other ships, but failed to arrive in San Diego. Sargent Don José de Ortega and 7 soldiers went a day or two ahead of the main body to explore the terrain. The party reached Los Angeles on August 2, Santa Barbara on the 19th, and the San Simeon/Ragged Point area on September 13th. At this point the gentle coastal plain over which they had been traveling disappeared. From Ragged Point north into the Big Sur area the extremely rugged coast range plunges directly into the ocean."(*)

Campsites in San Luis Obispo County were Price Canyon, Cragg Canyon, Los Osos (across the road from Turri ranch), Chorro Creek, Villa Creek (later to be the Villavicencio Rancho), Cambria (near location of present high school), Pico Creek, Arroyo La Cruz, and San Carpojo Creek.

Rafael de jesus married a Salinian Indian woman, Maria Ildefonsa Berges in 1773 at the Mission San Antonia. Fr. Buenaventura Sitjer performed the ceremony. They had eight children. The second born son, Jose Maria Teodoro became the Mexican land grantee of Corral de Piedra in 1841 by governor Juan Alvarado. Their fourth son, Rafael Jose Serapio, was born in 1803 at the Monterey Presidio. In 1842 he received the Mexican Land Grant Rancho San Geronimo the last year of Governor Alvarado's term. Rafael married Maria Ramona Louisa Armas at the Mission San Carlos in 1829. They moved to San Geronimo with five children and started raising cattle for hides. He built a large adobe home and settled into ranching. After the death of Rafael, Roberto who was their third child, inherited most of San Geronimo. He married Maria Guadalupe Higuera. (Higuera Street in San Luis Obispo caries this family's name). Roberto shortened the family name to Villa. Most of the Chumash Indians living on the land stayed and worked on the ranch. Until the War Between the States, the Indians on all the ranchos were slaves. Cabins were built across the creek from the main house for the ones who remained. Without Indian labor most of the Spanish Ranchos declined. Due to the draught of the late 1800's, the hide trade diminished and after the loss of laboring Indians, eventually the property was sold. Roberto moved his family to Cayucos where he engaged in the trucking business. He died in 1917.

Today's family members are outlined in the family tree and some are in local businesses. Gary Villa is a department head at Cuesta College and John runs Villa Motors along with Frank, David and Paul.

(*)Monterey County Historical Society Dr.Gary Breschini
(**)Much of the above from family historians Ernest Cushing and Arlene Zanchuck

Roberto and Maria

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