Saturday, August 10, 2013

Family photos with Rosa Avila Pryor

Rosa Avila-Pryor, (shown holding her grandson, Charles Landell at Dana Point, circa 1901), was born in 1835 into the Avila family, which had owned Rancho El Niguel since 1841.
Alert reader William S. Dean writes, "[I thought] your readers might enjoy seeing a couple of recently uncovered family photographs of my great-great grandmother -- one of Orange County's more intriguing historical figures.

"Rosa Modesta Avila (sometimes spelled Abila) was the daughter of Don Juan "El Rico" Avila and Soledad Yorba.  She was born in 1835, the elder sister of Guadalupe Avila (who married Marcus Antonio Forster).  Rosa married Pablo Pryor in 1863 and as a wedding present was given Rancho Boca de la Playa (including the old Hide House) where she and Pablo lived and raised their family.
Rosa with grandchild Paul Yorba, circa 1909.
"In 1878, Pablo was mysteriously poisoned with strychnine and Rosa struggled to maintain the property and rancho.  Rosa and Pablo's children, included Juan Miguel (who married Emilia Burruel, daughter of Desiderio of "Burruel Point"); my great grandmother, Teresa who married Miguel Yorba (raised at what is now El Adobe restaurant); Reginaldo (who was a well-known constable at San Juan Capistrano); Alberto, whose one-time home is now the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society headquarters; and Christina Soledad, who married Judge John Landell.  Rosa died in 1915."

Rosa with great granddaughter, Dorothy Marie York (daughter of Rosita Pryor and Larkin York), circa 1907.
Here are some excerpts about Rosa Pryor from Lisbeth Haas' book, Conquests and Historical Identities in California, 1769-1936:

"The story of Rosa Pryor is that of one former ranchero who persisted as a farmer in the American period, yet continued to employ the logic of exchange to which she was accustomed, that of Mexican California. When Prior was widowed in the mid-1870s, she and her children became heirs to 6,658 acres of land in Rancho Boca de la Playa, valued at $9,987. Yet a relatively small amount of money still owed on a $1,000 loan to pay taxes, secured by mortgage on their land, had not been paid. ...Her tax assesment profile for 1889 suggests that this debt probably accounted for a decline in Pryor's landholdings to only 463 acres a decade later,... Nonetheless, she continued to maintain the farm as a modest enterprise. In 1890 she employed three Californio workers, and her two sons and one daughter also helped her with the farming. Rosa Pryor made the decisions about planting and about the purchasing of supplies... The family remained relatively prosperous through the 1930s."


California William said...

Thank you, Chris. One small correction (may have been my typo ins ending you the information): Rose Modesta Avila was born in 1835, not 1836. Thanks again for posting!

Connie Moreno said...

WOW that is sooo interesting! I love stuff like this!