Portrait of Don Antonio Maria Lugo

Don Antonio Maria Lugo, Photograph album of early Los Angeles (Collection 94/57). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

An image depicts a man in black and white rendering, likely a drawing. It is a portrait: the man’s head and torso are in three quarter view, facing the right side of the image. He is wearing a large top hat, slanted toward his front, and what appears to be another cloth head-covering underneath. His hair is white, slightly wavy, and about chin-length. The wrinkles on his forehead, under his eyes, and on his cheeks indicate he is of older age. The wrinkles in between his eyebrows are especially noticeable, giving him a stern but worrisome expression. His facial features are large and prominent on his face, especially his eyes and nose. He is neatly dressed in a black dress jacket, collared white shirt, and tie. The portrait is framed by a dark, oval vignette.

There is one line of inscription at the bottom of the image: “Don Antonio Maria Lugo – came to Los Angeles 1803.” This portrait of Don Antonio Maria Lugo was found in the photograph album of early Los Angeles. I encountered it while conducting archival research at the UCLA Library Special Collections for Professor Lopez’s digital humanities course on Mexican history in California. From the portrait’s formal qualities, we can infer that the subject was a man of prominence. His status granted him a portrait drawing created for archival purpose, to be remembered by future generations. This image is the only labeled formal portrait in the photograph album of early Los Angeles. While the label states Lugo’s year of arrival in Los Angeles, we do not know the year the image was created nor the age at which Lugo was depicted. A 1991 Los Angeles Times article indicates that the Lugo family was sent from Spanish-dominated Mexico to settle in Northern California in 1773 (Griego). Antonio Maria Lugo later became mayor of Los Angeles and one of California’s largest landowners. It is unsurprising that the only known subject in this photograph album of early Los Angeles is a mayor-landowner of Spanish origin.

Although the photo album included a subject heading for “Mexicans,” I unfortunately could not identify any images that gave visual cues to Mexican California. After a few quick web searches, it is apparent that this portrait is perhaps the only known image of Don Antonio Maria Lugo. Every essay, description, anecdote about Lugo and his family is accompanied by this same stoic black and white portrait. It is interesting to think about which images will remain of and represent different communities in the distant future. While Lugo is remembered by his stern facial expression, others in his era live without archival representation. It was challenging to locate images of Mexicans, and many photographs remain unlabeled. The scarcity of visual artifacts during this period in this collection of early Los Angeles photographs is indicative of the hierarchies that exist in archives. What objects and documents are preserved in archives? What subjects are included and excluded? This portrait of Don Antonio Maria Lugo is just one example of the limitations that exist in narrating history through archival research.

The Curse of Señorita Petronilla

Newspaper article, The Curse of Rancho Loz Feliz, Griffith Family Papers (Collection 2060, Box 16 Folder 4). Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

Newspaper articles and clippings are dispersed throughout the Griffith Family Papers collection. Among the miscellaneous news in the collection, a fascinating article in one box described the eerie tale of a Mexican ghost that roams Griffith Park. The article, titled “The Curse of Rancho Loz Feliz,” describes the story of Senorita Petronilla and her curse upon the land. The story of Petronilla is one that marks the significance of Mexican past in the land that Mr. Griffith acquired, a past that is fairly difficult to find within the collection. Despite the few creases, folds, and tears in the newspaper, the author of the article engages the audience in to the story through fascinating visual representations and compelling storytelling. This aspect of engaging the readers into this story is important, to bring these historical characters to life and allow readers to gain an understanding of the stories of the Mexicans who resided in the rancho prior to it transforming into a tourist attraction in present Los Angeles. The story itself seems as if it was produced for residents of Los Angeles, as the author addresses them as “angelenos” in the first paragraph and makes the assumption that the readers will know of Griffith Park, as well as the many landmarks that exist within it.

Although the article speaks of Mexican history and beliefs, it does not seem targeted towards a Mexican audience. The author seems to imagine their audience as the residents of Loz Feliz or around Griffith Park, who might have not been well informed on the rich Mexican history of the area. By speaking of the topic in high regard and immersing the audience in the story to bring the story of Senorita Petronilla to life, it made me imagine that there might be a possibility that the speaker had a connection to Mexican culture. Aside from this, I also noticed that the visual representation for this story is an illustration of a Mexican cowboy on a horse, further bringing the historical characters mentioned in this story to life. The illustration resembles a map, with Griffith observatory present in the background. This may have been important to map out the history of the rancho, as the author continuously mentions the specific locations that Senorita Petronilla was believed to roam and place the curse on the land, as well as where important events in history took place to transform the rancho to what it became in the 1930’s.

This piece was shown to the general public near Los Angeles, as it was written in the Los Angeles Times and most of the advertisements are for stores located in areas around L.A. Written mostly for Loz Feliz residents, which may have comprised of celebrities that called areas near Hollywood their home, it is sensible that this story is written in a creative and engaging manner as most of them may have found this article at their doorstep. This piece may very well have been written to change public perception of this new land that was acquired fairly recently from the time it was produced as well as create an exciting take on Mexican culture. By writing this story, the author is able to bring awareness to the general public of those who had original ownership of the rancho and much of California, rather than erase a part of history that is vastly significant.

Mapping Mexican History: Connection Between Pio Pico, The Feliz Family, and Antonio F. Coronel

Pio Pico, was the last Mexican governor of Alta California and owned several ranchos across Los Angeles, along with his younger brother Andres Pico.

Jose Vicente Feliz, was a veteran of the 1776 Anza Expedition and gained ownership of Rancho Loz Feliz in honor of his service around 1787. The Feliz family owned the Rancho for many years until the death of Don Antonio Feliz, who gave the land over to a Mexican lawyer Antonio F. Coronel in 1863. Coronel also owned Rancho de los Verdugos, which the last Mexican governor, Pio Pico, granted him in 1846.

Utilizing Google My Maps, we highlighted connections between Pio Pico, his younger brother Andres Pico, and Antonio F. Coronel. Pio Pico’s Casa de Pico, Pio Pico’s Whittier Adobe and Mansion, Andres Pico’s San Fernando Adobe Ranch House, The Feliz Family’s Adobe, and Coronel’s Rancho de los Verdugos are marked with photographs on the current map of Los Angeles, as well as photos of how these locations look today.

My Maps