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.