Avila family of California

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Cornelio Avila was the founder of a large and prominent southern California family.

Cornelio Avila[edit]

Cornelio Avila (1745 – 23 November 1800) was born in Villa Del Fuerte (today's El Fuerte, Sinaloa), Mexico,[1] he was a Spanish soldier who served in Alta California, then stayed to settle in the two-year-old Pueblo de Los Angeles in 1783 with his wife Maria Ysabel Urquidez (1750–1801) and 6 children: Jose de Santa Ana Avila y Urquidez (1770–1806), Francisco Jose Avila (1772–1832), Agustina Avila (born 1775), Anastacio Avila (born 1776), Antonio Ignacio Avila (1781–1858), Ildefonsa Avila (born 1782).

After settling in Los Angeles, three Californio children were born: Bruno Ygnacio Avila (1788–1861), Maria Hilaria Avila (born 1789), and Jose Maria Avila (1790–1831).[2][3][4][5] Cornelio Avila died while visiting Santa Barbara in 1800, and was buried at the Presidio Cemetery.[6]

Jose de Santa Ana Avila[edit]

Jose de Santa Ana Avila y Urquidez (1770–1806), was born in Pueblo De Baca, Mexico, one of several sons of Cornelio Avila. Jose de Santa Ana married Maria Josefa Osuna y Alvarado[7] in 1792, he was a soldier at Santa Barbara 1801 - 1806.

Miguel Avila[edit]

Miguel Avila (1796–1874) was a Californio son of Jose de Santa Ana Avila, born in Los Angeles; in 1816 he enlisted in the Monterey company, and in 1824 was corporal of the guard at Mission San Luis Obispo. In 1826 he married Maria Innocenta Pico (born 1810), daughter of Jose Dolores Pico. Miguel Avila was the grantee of Rancho San Miguelito (which includes present-day Avila Beach) in 1842, and alcalde of San Luis Obispo in 1849.

Maria Ignacia Marcia Avila[edit]

Maria Ignacia Marcia Avila (1793–1858) was a daughter of Jose de Santa Ana Avila y Urquidez and Maria Josefa Osuna y Alvarado, she married Jose Delores Sepulveda of Rancho de los Palos Verdes in 1813. After his death she married Jose Antonio Machado of Rancho La Ballona.

Francisco Avila[edit]

Francisco Avila (1772 - April 5, 1832) was a wealthy ranchero and alcalde (mayor) of the pueblo of Los Angeles 1810 - 1811.

Francisco Avila was a native of Sinaloa, Mexico, he was one of several sons of Cornelio Avila. Francisco came to Los Angeles sometime after 1794; in 1810, Francisco Avila became alcalde of the pueblo of Los Angeles. The pueblo's population at the time grew to 415 inhabitants.

In 1823, the Mexican government granted him 4,439 acres (17.96 km2) of land Rancho Las Cienegas, near La Brea Pits, approximately seven miles west of the pueblo. Avila grazed cattle here and turned it into a profitable venture, the Avila land grant was bordered on three sides by four other ranchos (Rancho La Brea, Rancho La Cienega o Paso de la Tijera, Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas and Rancho Rincon de los Bueyes), which in later years led to many boundary disputes involving Avila and the other owners.[8][9] The Avila Adobe built in 1818 by Francisco Avila, still stands today in the heart of historic Olvera Street.

In November 1826, Avila was one of the local notables invited to Mission San Gabriel by Father José Bernardo Sánchez to meet explorer Jedediah Smith, the first ever to travel overland to California from the United States. [10]

Francisco Avila married Maria del Rosaria Verdugo (1793–1822) the daughter of Mariano Verdugo and Maria Gregoria Espinosa in 1810. Maria del Rosaria Avila died in 1822, and Francisco married Maria Encarnacion Sepulveda, the daughter of Francisco Sepulveda owner of Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica. Francisco Avila died on April 5, 1832, and his four children (Januario Avila, Pedra Avila de Ramirez, Francisca Avila de Rimpau, and Louisa Avila de Garfias) were granted the patent to Rancho Las Cienegas in 1871.

Antonio Ygnacio Avila[edit]

Antonio Ygnacio Avila (1781–1858) was one of several sons of Cornelio Avila, he married Rosa Maria Ruiz (1789–1866) in 1804. He was the grantee of the 22,458-acre (90.88 km2) Rancho Sausal Redondo.

Ascencion Avila[edit]

Maria Ascencion Avila (born 1811), daughter of Antonio Ynacio Avila, married Pedro Antonio Jose Sanchez (born 1806), and by him had six children, one of whom was Tomas Avila Sanchez,[11] after the death of her husband, Ascencion lived with Pio Pico, and had two daughters by Pio Pico, Griselda and Joaquina.

Juan Avila[edit]

Juan Avila (1812–1889), son of Antonio Ygnacio Avila, was the grantee of Rancho Niguel in 1842, he married Maria Soledad Thomasa Capistrano Yorba. He was a "judge of the plains" at Los Angeles in 1844, and justice of the peace at San Juan Capstrano in 1846.[12]

Rafaela Avila[edit]

Rafaela Avila (born 1818) married 1843 Emigdio Véjar (1810–1863) grantee of Rancho Boca de la Playa.

Bruno Ygnacio Avila[edit]

Bruno Ygnacio Avila (1788–1861) was one of several sons of Cornelio Avila. Bruno Avila regained for his family Rancho Aguaje de la Centinela from Ygnacio Machado in 1845 through an exchange of property. Bruno Avila, owned a modest adobe town house near present-day 7th and Alameda Streets in the pueblo of Los Angeles, it was a three-room structure on a small tract of land with a fenced in vineyard. Machado traded his entire rancho, including the adobe hacienda, for Bruno Avila's pueblo property. Bruno Avila moved into the Centinela adobe and went into the business of raising cattle on the land, which was adjacent to his brother's Rancho Sausal Redondo. Within ten years, Bruno accumulated several thousand head of cattle; in 1854 he borrowed $400 from John G. Downey and agreed to pay six- percent interest per month, or seventy-two percent per year, which was the standard lending rate at the time for private loans. The following year he borrowed $1400 from Hillard P. Dorsey at a similar interest rate. Avila, who put up Rancho La Centinela for collateral, was unable to repay the loans and subsequently lost his rancho in 1857, the land was seized and auctioned off at a Sheriff's sale.[13]

Anastasio Avila[edit]

Anastasio Avila (born 1776) was one of several sons of Cornelio Avila, he was alcalde of Los Angeles in 1819 - 1821. In 1843, he was the grantee of the 3,559-acre (14.40 km2) Rancho La Tajauta.

Enrique Avila[edit]

Enrique Avila, son of Anastasio Avila, was 2nd alcalde of Los Angeles in 1847. Enrique Avila served on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for two terms 1868 - 1872.[14]

Jose Maria Avila[edit]

Jose Maria Avila (1790–1831) was one of several sons of Cornelio Avila, he was alcalde of Los Angeles in 1825. He was first married at Mission San Diego to Maria Andrea Ygnacia Yorba, daughter of Jose Antonio Yorba and Maria Josefa Grijalva who was the daughter of Juan Pablo Grijalva, a Spanish soldier who traveled to Alta California with the expedition led by Juan Bautista de Anza and was the original petitioner for the lands that became known as the Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana. Maria died barely one year later, they had one son Jose Maria Avila II, he secondly married Josephina Palomares, daughter of Ygnacio Palomares, they had one daughter. He was one of the leaders of the revolt against Governor Manuel Victoria in 1831, he and fifty other Los Angeles leaders were imprisoned by Alcalde Vicente Sanchez for plotting against Victoria. An army of 150 men raised in San Diego by Jose Antonio Carrillo and Pio Pico marched into the pueblo and released all prisoners. Victoria led a force from Monterey to stop the insurrection in Los Angeles, the two armies clashed at the Battle of Cahuenga Pass and Jose Maria Avila was killed. Josephina Palomares then married Luis Arenas,who also had a son, they had four children of their own.


  1. ^ Find a Grave: Cornelio Avila
  2. ^ Cornelio Avila
  3. ^ Hubert Howe Bancroft (1885). History of California: 1801-1824. History Company. 
  4. ^ Rose Marie Beebe, Robert M. Senkewicz, Testimonios: Early California through the Eyes of Women, 1815–1848
  5. ^ Descendants of Cornelio Avila
  6. ^ Find a Grave: Santa Barbara Presidio Cemetery
  7. ^ Find a Grave: Maria Josefa Osuna Avila
  8. ^ 1900 USGS topographic map[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Map of old Spanish and Mexican ranchos in Los Angeles County
  10. ^ Smith, J. S., & Brooks, G. R. (1977). The Southwest expedition of Jedediah S. Smith: His personal account of the journey to California, 1826–1827, p.102. Glendale, Calif: A. H. Clark Co. ISBN 0870621238
  11. ^ Sanchez Family of Los Angeles, Ca.
  12. ^ Serranos and Avilas were good neighbors
  13. ^ Freeman Family Papers
  14. ^ Supervisor Enrique Avila