By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Palisadians were invited to the launch of nonagenarian author and historian Ernest Marquez’s latest book on the history of Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica Canyon, “Rancho Boca de Santa Monica: The 1839 California Land Grant—A History,” on Saturday, September 25, at the Pascual Marquez Family Cemetery.
Completed at the age of 97, Marquez shared the long-researched story, in words and images, of the land where he was born, “a land bestowed upon his ancestors by the Mexican government, long before California became part of the United States of America,” according to the event poster. “A land which encompassed present day Santa Monica, Santa Monica Canyon, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades and Topanga.”
“Self-trained, a one-man research library of an archivist and historian, Ernie assembled a breathtaking collection of 11,000 photographs,” William Deverell, director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, said about Marquez and his book. “That same kind of stewardship and regard for who came before us animates this book … It isn’t just the product of a single lifetime’s work. It’s all those other lifetimes woven into its pages, all those family members who lived across so much change.”
Locals were invited to meet the author, enjoy refreshments, and walk the grounds of the historic cemetery and Santuario San Lorenzo. In 2013, Marquez told the Palisadian-Post he spent 20 to 30 years fighting for his family cemetery, which is now a historic landmark. His efforts were documented in a film called “Saving the Sacred Ranchero in the Canyon.”
Palisadian Sharon Kilbride, Marquez’s cousin, shared that the turnout of the September 25 event was “better than expected,” with approximately 300 individuals who showed up to support the author and the book—a mix of friends, family and neighbors.
“At some point … people were actually lined out onto the street waiting to buy a book,” Kilbride said to the Post. “He’s been working on this book for 30 years … and got it done, it was the last item on his bucket list. I’m very proud of the way it was written to finally tell the story of our family.
“It was a great event, Ernie was over the moon with the attendance and the outpouring of people there. He was elated.”
Marquez has written numerous books about local history and has previously spoken at community events. He also has a collection of documents, books, original photographs and memorabilia.
He shared that his great-great-great-grandfather, Francisco Marquez, arrived in Alta California in the 1770s to help establish Spanish missions. After Mexico won its independence, Francisco Marquez and Ysidro Reyes were awarded a land grant from the Mexican government for Rancho Boca de Santa Monica in 1839. The area includes much of Pacific Palisades.
After learning more about his family’s role in settling the area, he believed California historians had largely ignored his family. When he retired in the 1990s, he became the family historian.
In 2013, he was honored with the 2013 Pacific Palisades Community Service Award.
“Ernie’s heart and soul have connected the past and present right here in Pacific Palisades,” Palisadian Barbara Kohn said at the time.
To purchase a copy of the book, click here.
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