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.
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.
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.
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.