By LAUREN ABBOTT | Contributing Writer
The following piece was penned by a Marquez Charter Elementary School student for Ms. Chaides’ class as part of the “History Under Foot” project.
Most of you think that all the children during quarantine are learning online. Staring at a screen all day. But I have proof that we’re not. Some of my teachers are having us go out and gather our own materials, some have us build things from cookie trays and duct tape.
In science we made stream tables to learn about erosion. We experimented with different amounts of water and how much you put at a time. In history class we just began a new project, History Under Foot.
My teacher, Ms. Chaides, had my class make their way to the corner of Marquez Avenue and Jacon Way, there we found a plaque. Underneath the plaque was a big sandstone boulder. But the boulder is not what’s important, the plaque states, Don Francisco Marquez, Don Ysidro Reyes, grantees, 1839, Rancho Boca De Santa Monica (now Pacific Palisades) landmarked Sept. 13, 1953 Pacific Palisades Landmarks Society. We made an impression of the plaque and took it home to determine its meaning.
The plaque is meant as a landmark to remind us of the Rancho period. The Rancho period began when the missions closed in 1834. Half of this land was supposed to go to the original owners, the Native Americans. This plan was about to go through until Governor Figueroa died in 1835, and instead, this land was up for the taking.
The rest of the government decided to give away big chunks of this land. These were known as land grants. To get a land grant, you had to hand-draw a map of the land you wanted, be a citizen of Mexico, and belong to the Catholic Church. Then, the government would decide if you would get the land. Over 500 were given away!
Most of these grants were awarded to soldiers from old forts and presidios as well as Californios born in Alta California. The least amount of grants was given to the Native Americans. On these chunks of land, Californios began ranchos (ranches) and on these ranchos they lived and worked with many family members.
Their huge ranches were great for raising livestock as well, because they needed lots of grass to eat. As well as a big family, ranchos usually included workers, sometimes up to a hundred Native Americans worked the most on the ranchos in exchange for food, clothing, and shelter, instead of currency. All these things, right or wrong, made up the rancho period
The plaque was placed at this intersection in 1953 by the Pacific Palisades History and Landmarks Society because in 1839, Don Francisco Marquez and Don Ysidro Reyes were granted all of the land in Pacific Palisades and a little chunk of Topanga Canyon. This land was named Rancho Boca De Santa Monica.
Marquez and family built an adobe house in the canyon’s upper mesa. He lived and worked here with his family until he died in 1850. Reyes and his family built a house of adobe where Huntington Palisades now stands. He died 11 years after Marquez, leaving his family to keep his half of the rancho. His wife sold their half to Col. Robert S. Baker, who partitioned his new land among himself and the descendants of Marquez. Sadly, in the 1920s this land was sold by both families to Santa Monica Land and Water Company.
I enjoyed this project because it got me up and moving, and because it was fun to learn about the Rancho Period and the history of my town, Pacific Palisades.
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