Eulogio F. de Celis

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Eulogio F. de Celis was the predominant landowner in the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles, California, in the mid-19th Century, a member of the Los Angeles Common Council and a newspaper publisher. He came from a wealthy family but died in poverty.

Personal life[edit]

Eulogio F. de Celis was born in Los Angeles, the son of Eulogio de Celis and Josefa Arguello, both of Spain. She was the daughter of Alta California Governor Luís Antonio Argüello. Young Eulogio was educated both in England and in France. The family lived in Spain for about twenty years, but after the elder de Celis died, the family returned to Los Angeles.[1]

The Los Angeles Times said of him that:

He spent money with a lavish hand, and his friends and associates shared in his generosity, as many old settlers here remember. One historian states that Señor De Celis bought a lot near the site of the Westminster Hotel, built one of the best houses in the city at that time, and presented it outright to a friend who was in straitened circumstances.

He is described as a polished, cultured gentleman of attractive personality, who in his prosperity had hosts of friends, but for several years before his death he was abjectly poor, and at one time almost blind, though later his sight was partially restored.[1]

De Celis died in May 1903, leaving a widow, two sons and two daughters.[1] He also had two brothers, José Manuel and Pastor.[2] The Times noted:

There was a pathetic little funeral yesterday at the old Spanish Church. The casket was of the plainest and there were no flowers; indeed, not even pallbearers to carry it from the hearse to the altar. A few mourners, a small group of friends of the family in former years, mostly women, followed the body borne by men who happened to be passing at the time, down the aisle to the front seats. A spectator would never have imagined . . . that the man . . . was at one time one of the well-known figures of Los Angeles, and the son of a prominent capitalist of early days who counted his leagues by thousands . . . .[1]

Los Angeles[edit]

Vocation[edit]

De Celis was editor of the Spanish-language newspaper La Cronica, which had been founded in Los Angeles in 1872.[3] In 1878 he was publishing a newspaper called La Reforma, and he was attacked editorially by the Los Angeles Daily Herald, which said he had not paid a bill owed to the Herald for printing his newspaper. "He can come and pay the charges overdue for presswork and take his forms away, and this time he must keep them away, for he is such bad pay that we shall no longer subject ourselves to the worry of the job."[4]

He also translated into Spanish Confessions of a Filibuster by Horace Bell, which was published by La Cronica in a series during October 1877, then reproduced by the Guatemalan Museum in 1956.[5]

Common Council[edit]

De Celis was elected to represent the 3rd Ward in the Los Angeles Common Council, the governing body of the city, on December 2, 1872, and he was reelected on December 1, 1873. His second term ended December 18, 1874.[6]

San Fernando Valley[edit]

De Celis's father, known as Eulogio de Celis, settled in the Pueblo de Los Angeles in 1836 and operated a hide trading business with Henry D. Fitch, Jonathan Temple and Abel Stearns. In 1846, to raise war funds during the Mexican–American War, the Pio Pico government sold the secularized lands from the Mission San Fernando to the senior de Celis.

With the cession of California to the United States following the Mexican-American War, the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided that the land grants would be honored. As required by the Land Act of 1851, a claim was filed with the United States Public Land Commission in 1852 and the land grant was patented to Eulogio de Celis in 1873.[7][8]

San Fernando Valley: 1880 map with land grant boundaries

The grant, which was supposed to contain fourteen square leagues, was bounded on the north by Rancho San Francisco and the Santa Susana Mountains, on the west by the Simi Hills, on the east by Rancho Tujunga, and on the south by the Montañas de Portesuelo (Santa Monica Mountains). When the Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando grant was patented in 1873, it was surveyed at nearly twenty six square leagues, the single largest land grant in California.[9] It amounted to "nearly 120,000 acres, virtually all of the Valley save for the Encino and a few other ranchos,"[10]

De Celis and his brothers, Jose Manuel and Pastor, deeded a parcel of land in Newhall in the Santa Clarita Valley for use as a railroad station for the sum of one dollar.[2]

In 1875 Eulogio F. de Celis sold what was left of his father's holdings, which were facing foreclosure, to Charles Maclay and George K. Porter for $125,000.[10]

References[edit]

Access to the Los Angeles Times links may require the use of a library card.

  1. ^ a b c d "Romantic Day, Pathetic End: Sad Burial of Once Wealthy Scion of Spain," Los Angeles Times, May 26, 1903, page 7 Also can be accessed here.
  2. ^ a b Marie Harrington, "A Golden Spike: The Beginning," Santa Clarita Valley in Pictures
  3. ^ An Illustrated History of Southern California, Chicago: Lewis Publishing (1890)
  4. ^ "Business vs. Bombast," Los Angeles Herald, August 30, 1878, sequence 3
  5. ^ "El Libro en Espanol," EnriqueBolanos.org, footnote, page 23
  6. ^ Chronological Record of Los Angeles City Officials,1850-1938, compiled under direction of Municipal Reference Library, City Hall, Los Angeles (March 1938, reprinted 1966). "Prepared ... as a report on Project No. SA 3123-5703-6077-8121-9900 conducted under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration."
  7. ^ Report of the Surveyor General 1844 - 1886
  8. ^ United States. District Court (California : Southern District) Land Case 343 SD
  9. ^ C. A. Ensign, 1903, "Notes of Litigation on the Title of a Mexican Land Grant," The Michigan Engineer, Volumes 22-25, pp1124-147, Michigan Engineering Society
  10. ^ a b Rob O'Neil, "In 1800s, De Celis Owned Most of the Valley," Los Angeles Times, July 9, 1997