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The Ethnic Ancestry of the Californios (🇺🇸 🇲🇽)


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The Californios are the descendants of Spanish & Mexican colonists who settled in present-day California during the Spanish & Mexican eras, prior to to the outbreak of the Mexican-American War.

Today, Historians & Genealogists have estimated that there are 300,000 to 500,000 descendants of Californios, after the war & the Mexican Cession (the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo), over 95% of the Californios remained in California, now as American citizens with full civil rights, so they didn't cross the border, the border crossed them, in other words, the United States came to them.

Today, very few Californios are full-blooded descendants of the original settlers, today are very heavily mixed with Non-Hispanic White, Local Native American tribes, & more recent Mexican immigrants (or a mix of two or three of these ancestries).

But what are the ancestral Origins of the original Californios?

Well, I've traced the family trees of several famous Californios (including a few who I'm distantly related to), as well as extensive online research & here's what I found.

The Pobladores of Los Angeles consisted of:
  • Four American Indians (one from Jalisco, two from Sinaloa, & one from Durango)
  • Two Spaniards (one Criollo from Chihuahua & one Peninsular from Andalusia)
  • Two Mulattoes (from Nayarit & Sinaloa)
  • Two Blacks (from Sinaloa & Jalisco)
  • One Mestizo (from Sinaloa).
so most of the settlers were from Sinaloa, & of diverse Origins.

However in the 1790 Census, the population of the small Pueblo has changed.
  • sixty-eight Spaniards (Criollos mostly from Sinaloa, as well as few from Chihuahua, Puebla, Mexico City, & Baja California, & one Peninsular from Catalonia
  • fifty-three Mestizos (mostly from Sinaloa, as well as few from Jalisco, Baja California, & Sonora).
  • seventeen Mulattoes (from Sinaloa, Jalisco, Nayarit, & Durango).
  • seven American Indians (mostly from Jalisco, with few from Sonora & Chihuahua).
  • seven Coyotes (mostly from Jalisco & Sinaloa, also few from Sonora & Durango).

According to FamilySearch Genealogical Trees & some other sources, the vast majority of the Californios descended from Mexican settlers from Sinaloa, Sonora, the Baja California Peninsula, Jalisco, & Mexico City, with only very few coming directly from Spain, & very fewer coming from other Spanish colonies (such as New Mexico & Peru), only the priests & some soldiers were Spanish Peninsulares, & the Peninsular settlers all married into Mexican settler families, during the Spanish & early Mexican eras, & over 99% of them were men.

Of the Mexican settlers, they were a mix of Criollos, Mestizos, & Mulattoes, with few American Indians, Blacks, & Coyotes (a mix of Mestizo & American Indian).

Of the Ethno-Genealogical origins of many famous Californios, here's what I found.
  • William Gaxton descended from Mexican settlers from Sinaloa, the Baja California Peninsula, & Tlaxcala
  • Myrtle Gonzalez descended from Mexican settlers from the Baja California Peninsula, as well as a Portuguese settler from Lisbon.
  • Leo Carrillo descended from Mexican settlers (mainly Criollos) from Durango, the Baja California Peninsula, Sinaloa, Morelos, as well as a Peruvian Criollo settler & a Spanish Peninsular settler from Andalusia (Malaga)
  • The Pico Brothers (Pio & Andres) were the children of Mexican settlers (Mestizos & Mulattoes) from Sinaloa & Sonora.
  • Of the Catholic clergy, Fermin de Lausen (from the Basque Country), Juan Crespi (from Mallorca), & Junipero Serra (also from Mallorca) were Spanish Peninsulares, while Jose Gonzalez Rubio was a Mexican Criollo from Guadalajara (Jalisco).
  • Of the soldiers, José de la Guerra y Noriega (from Cantarbia) & Jose Maria Estudillo (from Malaga, Andalusia) were both Spanish Peninsulares, & both married Mexican Criollas (Estudillo's wife was from Morelos & Noreiga's wife was born in Los Angeles to parents from Sinaloa & Baja California Sur.
  • Another soldier, Agustín V. Zamorano was a Floridano settler who settled in Alta California, who was born in La Florida (St. Augustine) to a Cuban Criolla mother from Havana & a Spanish Peninsular father from Castile & Leon, & his wife was descended from Mexican settlers (mainly Criollos) from Queretaro, Sonora & the Baja California Peninsula.
  • Jose Figueroa (who was a governor of Alta California during Mexican rule) was from Guanajuato, & was a Mestizo of Spanish & Aztec ancestry, & his wife was also from Guanajuato, as well as his children.
  • Modesta Avila descended from Mexican Criollo settlers from Sinaloa & Baja California, as well as a Native American (her paternal grandmother), likely from the Tongva tribe, making her a Castiza.

So the Californios descended from Mexicans, not Spanish Peninsulares, despite popular beliefs that Californios are mainly descendants of Spanish Peninsulares, which was very popularized by the fictional character Zorro, & contrary to popular belief, the Californios were very racially diverse.