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Opinion, Editorial, Hometown Hero, Santa Monica

Marquez Family's Legacy is Santa Monica's Foundation

Ernest Marquez
Photo by Sharon Kilbride
Ernest Marquez

Hometown Hero: Ernest Marquez

Posted May. 31, 2011, 12:43 am

Susan Cloke / Mirror Columnist

Ernest Marquez, the historian of the Marquez family, was born in 1924 at Mary Martin Hospital in Santa Monica. He grew up in the family home in Santa Monica Canyon on land that was part of the original Rancho Boca de Santa Monica, land that had been in his family for generations.

“In the Canyon cows roamed free and so did kids. As a boy I spent my time at the beach, swimming and playing in the creek and climbing the bluffs,” said Marquez.

Miss Verna Weber was the only teacher at the one room Canyon School where Marquez was one of the 30 children in the school. “We all loved Miss Weber. There were four children in my graduating class. I was friends with everyone in the school,” said Marquez.

As a child he helped his cousin, Angelina Olivera, take care of the Marquez Family Cemetery on San Lorenzo. He listened to the family stories from his aunts and uncles, who were a generation closer to the old history – a history that went back to the time of the American Revolution.

In 1769, Junipero Serra led an expedition to California, claiming Alta California for the King of Spain. Francisco Reyes, the great, great, great grandfather of Ernest Marquez, had worked on ships used by Junipero Serra and was known by the Spaniards. In 1771, he was recruited to come to Alta California as a Spanish solider. He was 24.

After 15 years of being a Spanish soldier he applied for a Spanish land grant. As all land belonged to the King, a Spanish land grant gave permission to use the land, but it didn’t convey ownership. Francisco Reyes was given the land grant for Rancho Encino.

His grandson, Ysidro Reyes, joined with Francisco Marquez to apply for a land grant for Rancho Boca de Santa Monica. It was 1839, Mexico had won the War for Independence, and Alta California now belonged to Mexico.

To apply for a Land Grant one had to be a Mexican citizen, Catholic, and Spanish speaking. The application had to include a diseno (a hand drawn boundary map) and a letter to the Pueblo Council requesting the land, promising to build a house within one year, and certifying ownership of a herd of 150 cattle. The Pueblo Council reviewed the application and, if they approved it, forwarded it to the Governor of Alta California.

The boundary map of Rancho Boca de Santa Monica started above Topanga Canyon on the beach. Two horsemen, each holding a tall pole, connected with long buckskin ropes of 100 varas (a vara was approximately equal to one yard) marked the perimeter.

The first horseman jammed his pole into the sand and then the second horseman rode as far down the beach as the rope would permit and jammed his pole into the sand. They repeated this action in relay fashion and continued until the entire 6656-acre area was mapped.

The Mexican government awarded Reyes and Marquez Rancho Boca de Santa Monica. When they died and left the land to their families, the Rancho was United States land.

Reyes’ widow, Maria Micaela de Guadalupe, sold her interest in the Rancho to Robert Baker. In the 1870s, Baker filed to have the property partitioned among the owners. The partition wasn’t final until 1881, and during the process Baker transferred his interest in the Rancho to his wife, Arcadia Bandini.

The Marquez Family Cemetery is one of two pieces of land from the Rancho still owned by the family. In all, 32 people are buried in the cemetery, 10 family members from a New Year’s Eve tragedy, other family members, and family friends. Pascual Marquez died in 1916 and was the last person to be buried in the cemetery.

Pascual left his land to his children, and it was sold. As the cemetery portion couldn’t be used, it was deeded back to Pedro Marquez. He accepted the cemetery but not the lot that gave access to the cemetery. That lot was then deeded to a neighbor who offered to take care of it.

When Ernest Marquez retired in the 1990s, he could finally focus on what he calls his “real job, the family history.” He began to work on protecting the family cemetery. The old agreements, which had not been properly recorded, were ancient history. He had both a title and an easement problem to solve.

The first step was to gain the right of an easement to the Marquez Family Cemetery, which was won through a court order. The title was still in the name of Ernest Marquez’s uncle, Pedro Marquez, who had died 30 years previously. The Judge directed Ernest Marquez to get quitclaim deeds from his cousins, which he did.

The next step was to reopen the Estate of Pedro and Aurora Marquez. In 2010, with help from the Marquez and Reyes families, and especially with the help of his lawyer; daughter, Monica; Ernest Marquez became the owner of the family cemetery.

La Senora Research Institute, a nonprofit foundation, joined with the families to raise money to purchase the easement lot between the cemetery and what is now San Lorenzo. Help also came from UCLA archeologists who used high tech equipment to locate burial sites, from the City of Los Angeles and Council member Bill Rosendahl, with support for a landmark designation, from pro bono attorneys, and from neighbors and friends. Working with the foundation, the family will plant a traditional, sustainable garden on the easement lot, and the garden will become the new entrance to the cemetery.

Ernest Marquez hopes “the cemetery and garden will be a reminder to the land grant families and to the people of Santa Monica of the history and legacy of Rancho Boca de Santa Monica.”

What Say You?

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May. 31, 2011, 5:48:58 am

janie calvert said...

hi honey...this man is a friend of Tish Neddleship and is always at her functions. He was with us at the house/museam. I believe it is Tish's house property that once belonged to him. Tish and he work closely together. xoxoxppp

May. 31, 2011, 7:47:41 am

dale bell said...

great story!

Jun. 20, 2011, 4:13:30 pm



Jun. 27, 2011, 7:04:37 pm

Liza Saenz-Bernard said...

The Santa Monica Canyon has always been close to my heart since I was a child. We lived on 9th

Oct. 30, 2011, 8:18:30 am

Bill Schinsky said...

Grandson of Vincent Marquez. Finding historical roots can be an emotional journey. I can remember visiting the cemetary, but still am investigating the family I knew very little.

Nov. 27, 2012, 9:51:38 am

James Ruben Wilson-MARQUEZ said...

My Dads Name Is George E Wilson-Marquez as you him as Papi is moms name was MINNiE Marquez Thank you for this Story Can you send me a coppy of your book singed please .I will put with all my Histery your graet nephew JAMES RUBEN WILSON-MARQUEZ email for my address

Nov. 27, 2012, 10:25:56 am

James Ruben Wilson-MARQUEZ said...

Sorry but we are cousin,s my dad is your first cousin papi George Edward Wilson-Marquez

Dec. 6, 2012, 4:30:17 pm

James Ruben Wilson-Marquez said...

sorry for writing all over your page his nick name was Poppy sorry for the miss spilling and I have the book Rancho Baco de Sanita monica."and it was a good Book. But. Ermaina Minnie Marquez . I am her Grand son and her son is my dad. One day I like to meat you. Thank you .

Aug. 13, 2013, 11:40:53 am

Margaret Queen said...

My grandmother, was Rosa Bell Marquez, was married to a French man divorced, and excuminated from the Church, remarried to a man named Wallace Barton. She died in San Bernardino, I think in late 1960's. I would love to hear more. My mother's name was Rosie Barton, she married Roy Mortensen.

Aug. 23, 2013, 4:18:50 pm

Toni Eldridge Byrnes said...

Am so anxious to speak to Mr. Marquez. He had to have known my dad, Gene Eldridge??

Nov. 18, 2013, 8:43:47 am

tammy bennett said...

how can I learn more - or contact Earnest. My family is also related but came to Arizona. One of the daughters married a Scotsman in the 1800's that came to Florence AZ. My great great grandparents.

Jun. 15, 2014, 10:28:06 pm

Angela Marquez-Smith said...

I am Della Marquez-Orozco's Granddaughter, her sister is my Aunt Clarita Marquez-Young ...please let me know how I can get a book.

Jul. 25, 2014, 7:43:38 am

Patricia said...

My Grandma Name Was Adela Marquez Land Grant Family Thanks For Sharing Rich History.

Aug. 25, 2014, 9:06:38 pm

Tom Jackson said...

My fathers family lived for a time in Santa Monica Canyon during the early 1920's and became good friends with Bebe Marquez and Angie Marquez. During the early Depression years Dad talked about camping out with Bebe on the Marquez property and of making money exercising Will Rogers polo ponies. Also of days sent at the beach fishing and surfing on old wooden ironing boards.

Aug. 25, 2014, 9:08:38 pm

Tom Jackson said...

My fathers family lived for a time in Santa Monica Canyon during the early 1920's and became good friends with Bebe Marquez and Angie Marquez. During the early Depression years Dad talked about camping out with Bebe on the Marquez property and of making money exercising Will Rogers polo ponies. Also of days sent at the beach fishing and surfing on old wooden ironing boards. My Dad's name was Gilbert Jackson.

Sep. 15, 2014, 3:15:18 pm

Millie Jensen said...

My husband has an ancestor in common with Ernest Marquez, if the research I have is correct. Francisco Reyes. Until recently, I possessed a copy of a hand written letter from Fr. Junipero Serra granting permission for Francisco Reyes to marry. The family genealogy is a bit sketchy, but Reyes, Villa, Bojorquez are names that date back into the 1700's. It would be interesting to learn more of the family history.

Dec. 27, 2014, 11:49:17 am

Deborah Leoni said...

Hello! I read the article in the LA Times about Ernest Marquez and the beautiful crosses he's building to mark the graves in your family's ancestral cemetery. I have about 50 beautiful Mexican tiles that I would be honored to dedicate to this beautiful effort. Would he consider accepting them? Thank you!

Mar. 23, 2015, 4:58:49 pm

Julia (Judy) Morales) Shumard said...

My grandmother was Carmelita Marquez she married Miles Morales My Father was Robert Morales and lived at 1545 Stoner Ave West Los Angeles. a part of the Marquez family land. He bought The property from his Grandmother for ten dollars I was told and he borrowed the ten dollars from her. I have some antique furniture that was part of the estate at on time I was told. it's a table, desk and 2 chairs carved out of Chinese cherry wood and a chines tea set if you have any questions please feel free to send me an email Judy

May. 21, 2015, 8:34:11 am

Moses Marquez Simonet said...

Hi. Had the pleasure of stopping by 5/20/2015 the Marquez cemetery. 1. DNA hits show family in this part of LA area. 2. Would like to find POC to help with cemetery improvements. 3. Phone H/O 619.297.1438 San Diego

Jun. 25, 2015, 2:29:22 pm

Judy Hall said...

This is so interesting! I'm glad that their family history has been recorded and preserved. Living a stones throw from San Juan Capistrano and the Mission, many of the names in the story are familiar to me. Reyes, Bandini, Olivera, and Junipero Sera, with streets named after them. There is also an old cemetery that many don't know about.

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