Incorporating Mexican California

The incorporation of California meant that the thousands of Mexican people there could become citizens of the United States or could return to Mexico. Mexicans who had long been established in California struggled to retain their culture, property, and political influence as Americans set their sights on the territory.

J. Y. Del Valle overlooking Rancho Camulos, late 1880s–early 1900s

J. Y. Del Valle overlooking Rancho Camulos, late 1880s–early 1900s

Courtesy of Seaver Center for Western History Research, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History

New U.S. laws were not extended equally to Mexicans in California. Unlike many Californio families, Ygnacio and Ysabel Del Valle were successful in maintaining legal ownership of their land.

The Del Valle Family

As leaders in the social, cultural, and political life of southern California, Ygnacio and Ysabel Del Valle helped maintain the Californio identity of Mexican colonial Catholics, even after incorporation. They worked hard to keep their cultural identity, in part through family, language, and dress.

Ysabel Varela Del Valle near the time of her marriage, around 1852

Ysabel Varela Del Valle near the time of her marriage, around 1852

Courtesy of Seaver Center for Western History Research, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History

Ygnacio Del Valle, mid-1800s

Ygnacio Del Valle, mid-1800s

Courtesy of Seaver Center for Western History Research, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History

Ysabel Del Valle and her daughters at Rancho Camulos, 1880s

Ysabel Del Valle and her daughters at Rancho Camulos, 1880s

Courtesy of Seaver Center for Western History Research, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History

Del Valle family and friends at Rancho Camulos, 1880s

Del Valle family and friends at Rancho Camulos, 1880s

Courtesy of Seaver Center for Western History Research, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History

Rancho Camulos

Strict U.S. laws made it difficult for Californio families to prove ownership of their land. Unlike many, the Del Valles successfully established their claim. Rancho Camulos profited from the demand for cattle with the influx of people into California after 1848, and later diversified into citrus, grapes, and other crops.

Map of Rancho Camulos, part of the larger Rancho San Francisco, around 1843

Map of Rancho Camulos, part of the larger Rancho San Francisco, around 1843

Courtesy of Seaver Center for Western History Research, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History

Reproduction of permit for reissue of cattle brand to Ygnacio Del Valle, 1851

Reproduction of permit for reissue of cattle brand to Ygnacio Del Valle, 1851

Courtesy of Seaver Center for Western History Research, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History

U.S. land grant approval, 1854

U.S. land grant approval, 1854

Courtesy of Seaver Center for Western History Research, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History

Maintaining Californio Culture

Ysabel Del Valle helped preserve the family's Californio identity through religion. She maintained strong ties with the Catholic Daughters of Charity in Los Angeles and established a Roman Catholic chapel at the rancho, where family and visitors celebrated their faith.

Catholic chapel at Rancho Camulos, late 1800s

Catholic chapel at Rancho Camulos, late 1800s

Courtesy of Ernest Marquez Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California