From The History of San Fernando Valley, by Frank M. Keffer, Van Nuys, 1934

 

 

Civil strife and uprisings, caused by jealousies among those who had been raised to power and influence in the province, both by Spain and Mexico, also began to disturb the tranquility enjoyed during Spain's rule in California. Mexico, itself, was in a state of turmoil, reflecting the instability of its governmental affairs in the administration of this colony, and was pouring in by shiploads a lot of very undesirable settlers to make matters worse.

 

San Fernando Valley, being so sparsely settled and shut off by its surrounding mountains, was fortunate in not being materially affected by these conditions, but was the scene of several of the most important forays of troops between Monterey and San Diego, in the insurrections that developed. The mission was used as a source of supply for rations and supplies on such occasions by whichever side reached it first.

 

The first revolt occurred in November 1831, when Pio Pico, Juan Bandini and Jose Antonio Carillo, at San Diego, organized a force to overthrow the government of Governor Manuel Victoria, and reseat Echeandia as governor. The troops came north and, with recruits gained in Los Angeles, numbered about two hundred men. Governor Victoria started south to meet the enemy with a much smaller force, in command of Romualdo Pacheco, and passed through this valley. The forces met near Cahuenga Pass and, when Pacheco saw that the government troops were greatly outnumbered, he urged Governor Victoria to withdraw to San Fernando mission to await reinforcements. The governor refused, decided to fight, and made a gallant stand. He was wounded, however, in the engagement and shortly after resigned his office and left the province. Pio Pico, as the result of this uprising, claimed office as governor the following year, but after strong opposition, he was soon forced to relinquish it.

 

It is in this event that Pio Pico, who was to play such an important part in San Fernando Valleyís affairs, first came into prominence. His family had been given a Spanish grant in 1795 including most of the best lands in Ventura County, which provided the necessary background and fortune to establish Don Pio as a formidable caballero. As a leading proponent of secularization, he became a thorn in the flesh to the mission padres, and, in his overzealous espousal of the interests of the southern part of California and in his efforts to remove the capital from Monterey to Los Angeles, he caused much disturbance to the government.

 

Pio Pico's influence, during his short term as governor at this time, may have extended to his successor, Governor Jose Figueroa, for it was in the latter's administration in 1834 that San Fernando mission was finally secularized.

 

More trouble broke out in 1837 after Juan Batista Alvarado had taken over the governor's office and his authority was questioned and opposed by a faction in the south, who among other demands, were insisting that Carlos Carillo be seated as governor and Los Angeles be made the capital. Troops were recruited in San Diego and Los Angeles through the efforts of Jose and Carlos Carillo, Juan Bandini, Andreas Pico and others, and preparations were begun to advance on Monterey to enforce their demands.

 

Governor Alvarado organized his forces, placed Jose Castro in command, and set out to curb the insurrection. After a preliminary skirmish between the opposing factions at Ventura, the southern troops were forced back into San Fernando Valley. Here were stationed 270 men, under command of Alferez Rocha, many of the Indians having been impressed into service. The mission had also been called on to make heavy contributions of money and supplies for the southern cause.

 

Arriving in the valley on January 19, 1837, Alvarado lined up in battle formation between Calabasas and Encino, ready to attack the forces at the mission. In the meanwhile, the leaders of the revolt with many of their followers had gone to San Diego to muster more recruits, so Alcalde Sepulveda of Los Angeles decided it was time to call a truce. The conference lasted several days, the commissioners from the south making no headway in their request that Alvarado disband his army and retire. Finally, after a messenger had been sent to the mission by Castro, stating that he would order an advance if it continued to hold out, the troops of Rocha capitulated and Alvarado, Castro and their men found the mission at their disposal without a shot having been fired.

 

This rebellion had its ending at San Juan Capistrano, where Alvarado and Castro dispersed the recruits on their way north from San Diego in a short engagement. The only casualty in the war of 1837 was one man killed.

 

In 1845, San Fernando Valley again became the arena for what proved to be the last civil war engagement waged by the contending caballeros under Mexican rule. This time it was Governor Micheltorena who found his official position threatened due to various causes, but mainly on account of the thieving propensities of the convict soldiers, brought to California from Mexico to recruit the government's military force.

 

The rebellion opened in the north and was headed by Alvarado and Castro, who after being repulsed in a skirmish near Salinas, brought their followers south and captured the garrison at Los Angeles pueblo in a surprise attack. Here they enlisted the support of Pio and Andres Pico, who agreed to furnish additional men and horses for the rebel cause, under an agreement that Pio Pico was to become civil governor, and Castro was to be placed in charge of the military forces, in the event that Micheltorena was overthrown.

 

Several weeks were spent in making preparations. Hundreds of the finest saddle horses were gathered from the southern ranchos and the fighting force was brought up to about four or five hundred men, including many foreigners.

 

In the meantime, Micheltorena had gained aid from Captain Sutter, who with fifty riflemen, mostly foreigners recruited in Sacramento valley, joined the movement to put down the uprising. The government force, numbering in all several hundred riflemen, artillerymen and drilled Indians with guns, bows and arrows, came south and arrived in this valley February 19. A base was established on the Encino rancho close to the Camino Real.

 

Informed of this movement, Castro and Sepulveda hurriedly got their troops together and came out through Cahuenga pass on the same day, taking a position near the present site of Studio City, where they were reinforced the next morning by Pio Pico with an additional group of recruits.

 

The battle opened at noon, February 20, with a long range artillery duel, which echoed over the hills to Los Angeles and drew most of the population of the pueblo to view the conflict from a hillside. All through the afternoon, the two forces advanced and retreated along the course of the Los Angeles River, wildly firing their muskets, but neither showing any inclination to get within harmful range of the other's bullets.

 

The display of daring horsemanship and the noise from the cannon and rifle fire must have been very impressive, for on the hillside, women and children with crosses in their hands were weeping and wailing, invoking the saints for the safety of their loved ones who were engaged in the battle. Most of the foreigners in both contingents, who had enlisted merely in the hope of securing grants of lands, early decided to get out of danger and, deserting their commands, fraternized among the spectators on the hillside.

 

When darkness finally put an end to the hostilities, it was found that the only casualties were one horse and one mule killed. No human blood had been shed.

 

Indecisive as this Battle of Cahuenga was from a military standpoint, it did impress Micheltorena with the uselessness of continuing the struggle against such a determined and strongly organized group of adversaries. The next day, a conference of the leaders of the factions was held on the Campo of the mission and on February 22, 1845, the Treaty of Cahuenga was completed and signed. Under its terms, Micheltorena retired with honors of war, resigned as governor and turned over the civil and military establishments of the province to Pio Pico and Jose Castro.

 

A few cannon balls, relics of this battle, were unearthed during the nineties, when plows first turned over the virgin soil of the old sheep ranch directly north of the Hollywood Country Club, where much of the fighting took place. Others were found around Burbank.

 

Pio Pico had attained his ambition to become governor and make Los Angeles the capital, but the short time he served as the last civil ruler of California under Mexico more than taxed his ingenuity to hold the province for that nation, to establish an independent republic, or to turn it over to France or England under favorable terms.

 


 

From Burbank History by Author Jackson Mayers, Ph. D., 1975:

 

Rancho La Providencia received its name in a land grant of March 1, 1843. Providencia (from divine providence) was to become the western portion of Burbank. Beside it lay the new grant of Rancho Cahuenga, dated May 5, 1843. On May 12, 1843, Rancho La Canada above Burbank was granted to Ygnacio Coronel. Osa J. Castro, and Luis Arenas had been granted Providencia, which had 4,064 acres.

 

A pierced heart brand was issued on July 8, 1844, to David W. Alexander. On March 5, 1844, Osa sued Juan Moreno, an attorney, over inheritance and collection matters. Local revolutions began rising again as the sons of the country refused to stand for rule from far off Mexico.

 

The disputes led to entry of Governor Micheltorena with his army of "cholos" in 1845. But Micheltorena's move so angered the sons of the country that they actually stood and fought in the field, at Burbank.

 

BATTLE OF PROVIDENCIA

 

On February 19, 1845, Micheltorena's forces met a small army of native sons under Pio Pico beside Cahuenga Pass in the Battle of Providencia, Alamo or Cahuenga. Micheltorena had three pieces of artillery, the local forces two. At very long range the two little armies opened fire. On February 20, 1845, a grand artillery duel went on all day until ammunition ran low. Each side retrieved the other's cannon balls and fired them back. Neither force wished to shed blood, only to frighten off the other. As firing continued the next day, praying went on. Americans "fought" on each side. Possibly one horse or one mule was killed or hurt.

 

Governor Micheltorena raised the flag of surrender and left. Pio Pico was now to become the last Mexican governor of California and owner of the Valley with his brother Andres, except for Burbank lands. A peace treaty was signed on February 22, 1845. For the first time the sons of the country were in undisputed power and the short period of Ca1ifornio rule opened.

 

Pio Pico leased the 110,000 acres of Mission San Fernando to his brother, Andres, and Juan Manso for nine years at a yearly rental of $1080, or $90 a month. Mexican grants also went to Indians. Cahuenga Pass was first improved in 1845. Now stock raising spread in the Valley, a mode to last to about 1877.

 

But the Americans were already on the scene and determined to seize California from the faltering Mexican power. Already six of sixty Los Angeles County land grants were made in or affected the Valley. A new factor, the Mexican War, began to break up the entire older way of life. The war against which Abraham, Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant inveighed in vain began on May 13, 1846.

 

On June 17, 1846, Mission San Fernando was sold to Eulogio de Celis for $14,000, or about 79 cents an acre. The funds went to help fight the Americans. By August 13, 1846, the Americans had won California, only to have to rewin it by January 10, 1847, in the San Fernando Valley as local forces refused to give up. General Andres Pico's forces had waited for the American Colonel John Fremont to end at Rancho Providencia but eschewed a final conflict. Articles of capitulation were signed on January 13, 1847, at Campo de Cahuenga, often called as a result the birthplace of California as a state. These were confirmed in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. By a final act of non-fighting in the San Fernando Valley at the Burbank gateway, California had become a part of the United States. The ranchero era was over.