Jose Antonio Aguirre (1793-1860)
A native of Basque, Spain, born about 1793. At the time of the Mexican revolution he was a merchant at Guaymas. Remaining loyal to Spain, he was driven out of Mexico and settled in Upper California. Owned brigs Leonidas and Joven Guipuzoana, and engaged in coast, Island, and China trade. On arrival of the Hijar colony at San Diego in 1834, gave a ball in Hijar’s honor. It was at this ball that certain modern dances are said to have been first introduced into California. He divided his residence between San Diego and Santa Barbara, at which latter place he owned the finest residence in 1842. In 1843, he was grantee of the Tejon rancho. In 1848 and 1849, engaged in trade with William Heath Davis, and in 1850 lie and Davis, with four others, founded new San Diego. He was at San Diego April 1, 1850, and appears in a list of the voters at Old Town. In September of the latter year he served on the first grand jury in San Diego county under American rule. He married Francisca, daughter of Prefect Jose Antonio Estudillo, of San Diego, and after her death married her sister Maria del Rosario Estudillo. He was a large man and on that account was sometimes called “Aguirron” (big Aguirre). He was a fine type of the old Spanish merchant and left a large estate to his widow and four children. A son, Miguel Aguirre, lives in the neighborhood of the San Jacinto rancho. A daughter was married to Francisco Pico and lives in the same vicinity. His widow married Colonel Manuel A. Ferrer, of San Diego.
[from Smythe, William Ellsworth. History of San Diego, 1542-1908. San Diego: History Co., 1907. (pages 161-162)]
Haggland, Mary. “Don José Antonio Aguirre: Spanish Merchant and Ranchero.” The Journal of San Diego History 29.1 (Winter 1983): 54-68.
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