The Journal of San Diego History
Winter 1969, Volume 15, Number 1
Rita Larkin, Editor

The Machado-Silvas Family

By Rosemary Masterson

Rosemary Masterson is a history major in her junior year at the University of San Diego College for Women. She became interested in the Machado family when Sister Catherine McShane assigned the students in her California history class to do a research project on the Spanish families of Old Town.

In addition to her history major Rosemary bas a double minor in English and Spanish. She serves as news editor of "Vista," the USD newspaper, and as president of Delta Beta, the USD honor society, She recently was chosen to appear in "Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities." She would like to teach American history and literature in the secondary education field.

José Manuel Machado was one of the first soldiers stationed at the Presidio of San Diego and one of the first settlers of Old Town. He was born in 1756 and arrived in San Diego in 1781 as a corporal of the Leather Jacket Company stationed at the Presidio. in the service he advanced rapidly and held many military offices. He commanded the military guards at Mission San Luis Rey and San Diego. He was active in the founding of the mission stations at Pala, Las Flores and Temecula.

Having proved himself to be one who could be entrusted with responsibility, he was given charge of the large grazing ranch, " El Rancho de la Nación," in National City in the 1820's. He demonstrated his fidelity to the Mexican as well as to the Spanish government, and was rewarded by being granted the El Rosario Rancho in Descanso in Lower California.

When the pueblo of San Diego was formed in 1834 José Manuel became an active citizen of the new town and in 1836 served as a "regidor," or councilman on the "ayuntamiento," or city council.

At the age of fifty-three he married a girl of twenty, whose name was Serafina Valdez. Serafina, the daughter of Eugenio Valdez and Serafina Quintero of Real de los Alamos, Sonoma, was a tiny blond with blue eyes. These facts José Manuel took on faith, evidently, for theirs was a negotiated marriage and neither saw the other until they met at the altar.

Both parties seemed happy in the marriage. From it came fifteen children whose futures were interwoven into the history of California. The children were: Juan, María Antonia Juliana, María Guadalupe Gegoria, Juanita, María, José Arcadio.Maríá Guadalupe Yldefonsa, Jesús, Rafael, Rosa María, Maríá Antonia, Joaquín, Ignacio, Augustín, José Herculano and Dolores.

Juan Machado married a girl named Maríá Serrano and fathered nineteen children. In addition to his large family and the fact that he was a farmer, Juan had other claims to fame. He bought the remnant of " Fort Guijarros," on Ballast Point, for forty dollars. Later he moved to the El Rosario Rancho in Descanso, Lower California, where he hosted horse races. This may tae why San Diegans nicknamed him the "King of the Frontier."

Juana Machado, Juan's sister, proved to be a dynamic individual. She married twice and reared eight children. Her first husband was Damasio Alipas, whom she married in 1829, when her brother, Juan, acted as best man.

As a result of the Bandini Revolution, Juana found herself a widow, with three children - Ramona, Josefa, and María Arcadia. Ramona's second husband, "Cockney Bill," became the majordomo at the Ortega ranch and under duress guided Kearny and his men through the ranch on their way to the famous Battle of San Pasqual.

Josefa married John Peters in 1850. One of their six children, José Antonio, was the grandfather of Dr. Raymond Brandes, currently chair-man of the history department at the University of San Diego College for Men.

María Arcadia became the wife of Robert Decatur Israel who came to San Diego in 1848. Because he was a blacksmith, it is assumed he was responsible for the building of the coaches that linked San Antonio and San Diego in part of the transcontinental route of 1857. Blacksmithing, however, was only one of his many services to the community. In his lifetime, he was a school trustee, a justice of the peace, a policeman, a jailor, and keeper of the lighthouse at Ballast Point. He also conducted the firing squad that executed the Indian Antonio Garra, who was responsible for the Garra Uprising in 1851.

In the rigorous days of early California one could not spend much time in mourning. Emphasis had to be placed on the business of sustaining life under precarious circumstances. Not long after Damasio's death Juana Machado Alipas married Thomas Wrightington. Wrightington, along with Henry Delano Fitch, was apparently one of the very first American settlers in San Diego.

As the "supercargo" of the vessel "Ayucucho,'' he came from Fall River, Massachusetts with Abel Stearns in 1833. Although he was once arrested, in 1840, he served as justice of the peace in 1844 and 1847.

Thomas Wrightington and Juana Machado Alipas de Wrightington became the parents of José, Serafina, Luis, and James, who died while young. José was sent to Boston to be reared and educated in American style, by an uncle. José who seems to have inherited his father's disposition, "took offense" at a colored footman in his uncle's house, ran off to sea to become a whaler, and married a Chilean woman.

Serafina married John Minter, who, it is said, resembled U.S. Grant, the general and president. Serafina's parents at first objected to her marriage because Minter was not a Catholic, but he proposed to her beside the pillars at San Luis Rey Mission, became a Catholic convert, and married her. His ranch became the scene of the only Civil War action in San Diego. Among his close friends was Dr. George McKinstry, a pioneer diarist, whose memoirs are available in Junípero Serra Research Library. McKinstry often mentions Minter in his writings.

Although she was busy with her duties as a wife and mother, Juana Machado Alipas de Wrightington, often rode with Father Ubach into the back country to visit the Indian rancherías and to check conditions.

Her neighbors named Juana the "Florence Nightingale of Old Town." In 1878 she dictated her memories to Thomas Savage, an agent of Hubert Howe Bancroft. During her last years Juana lived withher daughter, María Arcadia, Juana suffered from paralysis for five years before she died. She was buried in El Campo Santo Cemetery, beside her second husband, Thomas Wrightington.

Her sister, María Guadalupe Yldefonsa, first married Peter Wilder. One of her daughters by Wilder, María Guadalupe de los Dolores Wilder, married Dr. David B. Hoffman, the first civilian doctor in San Diego. He served as city coroner, post surgeon in the army and the first president of the San Diego Medical Society. A medical historical society, the David B. Hoffman Society, is named after him.

After Peter Wilder died, Guadalupe Machado de Wilder entered into another marriage, with a colorful background, Her second husband was Albert B. Smith, who achieved fame during the Mexican-American War. In November 1846,he sneaked ashore to spike the guns at Fort Stockton, thus enabling the Americans to retake the town which they had previously conquered on July 29. At this time Smith and his future sister-in-law, Maríá Antonia Juliana Machado de Silvas, found themselves confronting each other over the battle fire. As she rushed from her home, the Casa de Machado de Silvas, to cut down the Mexican flag to save it from the Americans, Smith climbed the flagpole and nailed the American flag to it since she had made off with the halliards.

Guadalupe Machado de Wilder married Smith in 1850. Although he served as superintendent of schools and county assessor, his reckless daring, suitable for war time, was not compatible with civilian life. In 1865, during a period of excessive lawlessness in San Diego, Smith formed the habit of shooting at prisoners through the bars of the San Diego jail with the result that one prisoner was killed. Smith then threatened to shoot a deputy sheriff who interfered with his sport and was placed under $1000 bail. Despite his sometimes unorthodox behavior Smith was given a military burial at Point Loma.

A daughter of Albert Smith and Guadalupe Machado Wilder de Smith, who was born in 1858, became the second wife of Andrew Cassidy, a prominent pioneer in San Diego. Cassidy was an Irish immigrant who had come to San Diego in 1853. Like Dr. David Hoffman, he was a scientist of distinction.

Another member of the Machado family who achieved merit was Jesús Machado, born to José Manuel and Serefina in 1823. Jesús married Lugarda Osuna de Alvarado in order to provide a mother for his four children by Ms first wife. Lugarda had lost her first husband, José Maríá Alvarado, who was tortured and killed in the Pauma Massacre of 1846 by one of Lugarda's former suitors, Bill Marshall. When Marshall later was caught and imprisoned for his deeds, he called for Lugarda and begged her forgiveness. She forgave him and became his godmother as he was baptized before he was hung.

A daughter of Lugarda and Jesús, Felicita, had an intriguing courtship with Francisco (Pancho) Estudillo. For many years Felicita worshipped him and would marry none of her suitors, even though Pancho was married to Carmen Robidoux. When Carmen died Pancho married Felicita.

According to the memoirs of Juana Machado Alipas de Wrightington her young brother Rafael Machado was at the Pauma Massacre, but managed to escape the Indians. He also acted as guide to Captain Archibald Gillespie when Gillespie sought to join General Stephen Kearny. He seems to have taken no position in the Mexican-American War and at times stayed with each side. Rafael Machado married Bersabé Alipas in 1868. Their daughter, Margarita, is buried in El Campo Santo Cemetery.

The last noteworthy child of the remarkable José Manuel Machados was Maríá Antonia, who was born in 1828. She married Enos A. Wall, who served as an elector in 1850, a member of the City Council in 1851, and later as assistant lighthouse keeper.