Joaquin Carrillo died in 1911 following an illness, which was undoubtedly worsened by his death and burial twelve years earlier.

The Carrillos, as every Santa Rosa school kid knows, settled here in 1838 and the head of the family, widow María Ignacia de Carrillo, applied to the Mexican government for a land grant covering most of modern-day Santa Rosa. A few years later her eldest son, Joaquin, obtained a grant on an even larger tract of land between Santa Rosa and Forestville (roughly). Between the two of them, mother and son owned the equivalent of about 34 square miles. Doña María died before California statehood and her property was split amongst many of her other children; Joaquin kept his land holdings intact and when the Americans recognized the legitimacy of his Mexican land grant he was the owner of 13,316 acres of prime Sonoma County real estate.

His obituary in the 1911 Press Democrat was brief, noting his family and Vallejo in-laws “together owned a good part of Sonoma county in the later days of Mexican dominion,” but didn’t specifically mention the land grant at all or that he operated a hotel in Sebastopol. At age 19 he married in 1849 and moved to Sonoma County, living in Santa Rosa since then according to the PD. The Republican – which came out in the late afternoon – shamelessly plagiarized most of its obit from their morning rival, mainly adding just a paragraph about the land grant.

The first clue that both obituaries had serious errors was that this man was a little too young. Several county histories already published by that time had detailed the Mexican land grant was awarded to him in 1844, which was when he would have been fourteen, by the newspaper’s “19 in 1849” chronology, and that would have happened five years before he supposedly even arrived in Sonoma county, according to the obits. An editor (both editors) should have noticed the dates didn’t jibe – it was almost as if they had mixed up details about entirely different people.

In fact, they had scrambled together the life stories of two men who were close to the same age, lived most of their lives only a dozen miles apart, had nearly identical names and were both married to women called Martha. (You cannot imagine some of the eye-crossing mistakes found in amateur genealogies trying to construct Carrillo family trees from that period.)

Untangled details of both Joaquins follow but in summary, there was the son of Doña María, who was the land grant guy and Sebastopol hotelier: Joaquin Victor Carrillo y Lopez III (1820-1899). For the purposes of this article, we’ll call him “Sebastopol Joaquin.” The man who had just died was Jose Joaquin Victor Carrillo y Montano (1829-1911) who married a daughter of Doña María. Here we’ll refer to him as “Santa Rosa Joaquin.”

To be fair, it must be noted that someone at the Press Democrat did understand they were writing the obituary for Santa Rosa Joaquin; their version correctly noted that Julio Carrillo – the youngest son of Doña María and a colorful local character who had died a quarter of a century earlier –  was the deceased man’s brother-in-law. Still, the PD confused everything else by devoting much of its obit to an appreciation of the “Carrillo family” (without being clear that meant his wife’s family) and their role in local pre-statehood history (which all happened before this fellow came here).

But as muddled as the PD version was, the Santa Rosa Republican obituary was worse, with its paragraph about his having the land grant – and a few days later, the paper dug the hole deeper with an anecdotal story that was clearly about Sebastopol Joaquin.

Clearly, no one from either paper had bothered to contact members of the family, even though by 1911 the Carrillo clan had grown to a remarkable size – nine of Sebastopol Joaquin’s 17 children (!) were still alive at the time as were five of Santa Rosa Joaquin’s ten, not to mention all the grandchildren and cousins and spouses of everybody.

What to make of this? It speaks to the diminished prestige of the Carrillo name by that time, perhaps. The 1905 obituary for his wife (who was the last living member of the founding family) was also brief and padded with historic generalities; like the garbled 1911 obits, it was pretty much the boilerplate “old pioneer” death write-up. The papers didn’t want to waste too much space because readers probably wouldn’t remember that old-timer and besides, there probably wasn’t much of a story to tell, anyway. In the case of Sebastopol Joaquin, however, the latter certainly was not true; some details of his unhappy life were never reported in any newspapers.

“Sebastopol Joaquin” Carrillo and “Santa Rosa Joaquin” Carrillo, dates unknown

“Sebastopol Joaquin,” who called himself Joaquin Carrillo, came to Northern California with his mother and siblings when he was 16, sometime in the year 1837. Five years earlier an older sister married a rising star in the Mexican military named Mariano Vallejo, who was now Comandante General of the “Free State of Alta California” as well as having the enormous 66,000-acre land grant of Rancho Petaluma. Doña María and her nine unmarried children lived with them in Sonoma for about a year. During that time a smallpox epidemic swept through the Indian communities of the North Bay, decimating the population. (General Vallejo chose to vaccinate only fellow Mexicans and a few members of the friendly Suisun tribe.) When the Carrillo family embarked to build their own adobe in what would be Santa Rosa, they settled in the center of Bitakomtara Pomo homeland, newly laid waste by the disease.

Sebastopol Joaquin requested his own land grant in 1843. The Mexican governor wouldn’t approve it because surveying hadn’t been done by the adjacent ranchos but he applied again a few months later and this time his petition was promptly granted. That was very unusual; approval usually took up to a decade and his neighbor’s land hadn’t surveyed itself in the meantime. It was further expected that a claimant had already made improvements on the property – but he had not yet built a home there or planted a single crop. Likely his claim was pushed through by his brother-in-law, General Vallejo, for strategic reasons; tensions were high just then because John Sutter, who had purchased Fort Ross from the Russians, was blustering about raising a private army and taking over the northern part of Alta California. The road from the coast was mostly the same as Bodega Highway today and went directly through this land, making it imperative that it be in friendly hands. (The government was so worried about Sutter’s threats that 300 soldiers were sent up from Mexico but according to a biography of Sutter, about half of them were convicts who looted and pillaged ranchos as they marched up the coast.)

There’s not as much written about Sebastopol Joaquin as his famous mother and infamous brothers, Julio and José Ramón; there’s a chapter about him in a handwritten Carrillo family history1 and he’s always discussed regarding his Rancho Llano de Santa Rosa land grant. Unfortunately, most of this information is unsourced and usually incorrect. It’s often claimed he took up arms during the 1846 Mexican-American War (that was his brother, Ramón), fought the Bear Flaggers at the “Battle” of Olómpali (no chance) and was held prisoner by the Americans (it was brother Julio). It’s often said he was once the “mayor” of Sonoma (not really) and sometimes that he divorced his first wife (nope). Almost never mentioned is the single most noteworthy event in his life – that his son tried to kill him.

Skipping ahead a couple of years to 1846, Sebastopol Joaquin is now 25 and building a small adobe at the crossroads of what would become downtown Sebastopol. Like his mother, the spot he picks is right next to a Pomo village, where a few years before ten to twenty people were dying every day from smallpox. (Nothing can be found about his relationship with either Indian or Chinese people, the latter having a large community in the town from the 1880s onwards.) Unlike the rest of his family who seemed mainly interested in livestock, he appears inclined to farming, and is mentioned in county histories growing hundreds of acres of corn, barley and wheat.

At the start of that year he was also appointed second jueces de paz for the town of Sonoma, which meant he was secundo alcalde. In 19th century Mexico and Alta California, this was something like, “assistant general civil servant.” The only specific account I can find in the Bancroft histories of California of someone functioning as 2º alcalde is a guy supervising roadwork.

That was also the year of the Bear Flag Revolt, when General Vallejo was famously arrested by the Americanos and held prisoner at Sutter’s Fort, which was the home of his nemesis from just a few years earlier. After some debate, the Bears decided to also lock up Sonoma’s primo alcalde José Barryessa. Seeing his boss arrested, Joaquin ran away.

And apparently that was the end of his involvement with the Mexican-American War.

He married Maria Guadalupe Caseres in 1849 just as Gold Rush Americans were starting to flood the Bay Area. He was still farming but began identifying himself as a hotel keeper in the 1860 census, also the year when the first mention can be found in local papers about his Analy Hotel, which was described as if it were already a well-established concern.2

Over two decades the Carrillos had ten children (11, according to some genealogists who say their first born was a daughter who died in childhood). These were prosperous years; according to items in local newspapers they owned two Sebastopol hotels (the Analy and the Pioneer), a saloon and a boarding house.3 The census reports between 1850-1870 show a net worth between $26-60 thousand, which would be the equivalent of $100-150 million today, adjusted for inflation. Even as he kept selling off chunks of his land, Sebastopol Joaquin remained one of the wealthiest men in the North Bay.

Then in 1865, his wife Guadalupe sued for divorce, asking the court to put their holdings into receivership until such time as she would be awarded a “suitable portion of his property.”4

Her complaint was that her husband was a “habitual drunkard and almost constantly intoxicated,” not to mention a man of “lewd, vulgar and indecent conduct” who should not be allowed to have custody or any control over their children’s lives. Sebastopol Joaquin “has for several years been and still is squandering and wasting his property,” she told the court. He was a man of “extreme cruelty” who had been “violently beating and kicking” her and threatening to kill her with a knife. She described specifically an incident a few months earlier, when he climbed through her bedroom window at night, pulled her from bed by her hair, and dragged her out in the middle of the street as she screamed for help from the neighbors.

Divorce was unusual at that time in America but not unheard of, particularly in California which had a divorce for every 355 marriages, close to double the national rate in 1870 (the first year statistics were collected). Divorce proceedings were rarely covered as news, however – a surprising glimpse of Victorian prudery in an era when the most gruesome details of suicides were described in loving detail. The silence of the newspapers was particularly unfortunate in the case of Carrillo vs. Carrillo because we don’t know exactly what happened, except the case was dismissed.

And unless a scholar or Carrillo family member hand copied the original judgement, we’ll never know the outcome: All of these hand-written documents were microfilmed decades ago and the originals destroyed. Some of the pages from Guadalupe’s divorce case and her probate are clearly written and easily read on the film but about forty percent of all these pages are completely illegible. Presumably written in faded ink on yellowed paper, the negative images on film are black with scattered dark gray strokes – the technician photographing these documents didn’t know (or care) the results would be unreadable. Of the six page court decision, the only words that can be made out are “State of California” which must have been written in a bolder hand or with better ink. Thank our previous generation of penny-wise county administrators for throwing away our collective history to save the astronomical costs of setting aside a few shelves of storage space somewhere. End of rant.

Sans the court judgement, we still can be certain the case was dismissed, however, because that is the notation in the civil case index. Perhaps they reconciled; two more children were born after the divorce suit was filed. It does appear he gave her the financial security she wanted from the suit; after she died her estate was appraised at over $48,000 and it all was property from his original land grant. The family history says the 1,200 acres Joaquin had retained was appraised at $46,000, although no source for that number was given.5

Guadalupe’s death on May 15, 1874 apparently opened family scabs. One of the first documents filed with the probate court was his challenge to her last will and testament, where she had left most of the estate to her children. Joaquin’s affidavit claimed it was not actually her will; that it was signed without witnesses; that at the time of the signing she was not in her right mind; that it was not really her signature and anyway, she signed it under duress after getting bad advice.6 (Talk about a scattershot assault!) His challenge to the will was apparently denied – see above, re: illegible microfilm – but the probate churned on for a year and a half. And, by the way, the probate documents confirmed there never was a divorce: He was always described as her husband.

Not long after the first anniversary of her death, Sebastopol Joaquin remarried. His bride was Martha “Mary” Caffera-Springer; her father was an Italian ship’s captain who went to sea with his wife one day and neither returned. She was raised by James and Mary Springer, farmers in Bodega who had no children of their own. At the time of their marriage Joaquin was 54; she was 19.

Her age meant she was four years younger than his oldest living son, Henry (Enrique, actually) who was also administrator for his mother’s estate. Henry was also guardian of his younger siblings, per Guadalupe’s request – she still considered Joaquin an unfit parent.

(RIGHT: Analy Hotel at its most well-known location at the SE corner of Main street and Bodega Avenue, c. 1890. By this time Carrillo was living in Santa Rosa and had sold the hotel to John Loser. Photo courtesy Sonoma County Library)

About six weeks after the wedding, Henry tried to kill his father. “The cause of the shooting was a long standing family quarrel,” the Petaluma Argus dryly reported in a small item on July 30, 1875. Henry was arrested and held on $2,000 bail. Nothing more ever appeared about the incident; possible reasons for Henry’s anger at his Poppa might include (and probably isn’t limited to) his remarriage to such a young woman, his insulting challenge to Guadalupe’s will or his old habit of drunkenly beating Henry’s Momma without mercy.

Aside from his gunshot wound, Sebastopol Joaquin had little complaint about the outcome; Guadalupe generously left him a third of her property. A month after the shooting he petitioned the court for immediate possession. It would be understandable for him to want a quick end to any dealings with trigger-happy Henry the estate administrator, but it might be because he badly needed the money. He probably wasn’t actually poor but clearly his fortune was severely diminished. In the same edition of the Argus that mentioned his shooting there was a list of everyone in Analy Township who had been assessed at $10,000 or more; of the 27 names listed, Guadalupe’s estate ranked #5 but Joaquin wasn’t there at all.

In the next few years there were dwindling mentions in the papers of Sebastopol Joaquin or his hotel or saloon, and in the 1880 census he again called himself a farmer. Eight years later he was no longer living in Sebastopol, but at the modest house in Santa Rosa at 421 First st. (between A and B streets). It was not a nice part of town, just down from the smelly coal gas plant.

When he died on July 15, 1899 the Press Democrat gave him a nice but brief obituary (transcribed below). Hopefully he treated his second wife better than Guadalupe; she gave birth to seven children, all but two living to adulthood. He is buried in Petaluma’s Calvary Catholic Cemetery.

“Santa Rosa Joaquin” formally called himself Jose Joaquin Victor Carrillo. He was born 1829 in Cabo San Lucas and his father was the brother of Joaquin Carrillo II (husband to Doña María and father of Sebastopol Joaquin). His wife was Maria Marta ‘Martha’ Juana Carrillo y Lopez (1826-1905), a younger sister of Sebastopol Joaquin. Thus besides having the surname Carrillo by birth, he was a first cousin to both Sebastopol Joaquin and his own wife. They married in 1855 and he had no involvement with building the Carrillo Adobe or the Mexican-American War or had any Mexican land grant. He might never have even met his infamous namesake cousin.

Most of we know about he and his wife comes from an article that may (or may not) have appeared in a 1900 San Francisco newspaper Sunday feature.7 Regrettably, almost every historical fact found there is dead wrong, but the author apparently did interview Marta and hopefully there’s better accuracy where events of her life were discussed. The piece does have a slightly different Carrillo origin story that’s worth mentioning.

The story usually goes that Doña María brought her large family to Sonoma County at the encouragement of her son-in-law, General Vallejo. In this version, the death of her soldier husband in 1836 left the family nearly destitute. A priest told her about the “…beautiful and fertile country, far to the north, where a home might be built and land in any quantity obtained for the taking.” The article claimed the priest “urged the widow of his friend to go to this country west and north of the Sonoma Mission, picturing its beauties, its adaptability to cultivation, the docility of the natives, who, he said, could be employed at farming and herding.” The priest was named “Father Ventura” in the article but details match Fr. Buenaventura Fortuni, who headed the Sonoma mission from 1826-1833 and certainly knew this area. After 1835 he was at Mission San Luis Rey which was not far from San Diego where the Carrillos lived, so a discussion of this nature certainly could have happened.

A newsworthy bit in the article revealed Marta inherited 1,600 acres “lying between Santa Rosa Creek and Matanzas Creek” where she apparently built a home. “One day Dona Marta was served with a notice of ejectment,” the article continued, and “when she protested she was shown what purported to be a deed to the property, signed by herself,” even though she was illiterate and “could not even scribble her own name.” Salvador Vallejo, the husband of one of her sisters and the younger brother of General Vallejo, supposedly had faked her signature to sell the land. Even though it meant the theft of her birthright, “she would not bring disgrace on the family by making complaint.”

(RIGHT: “Santa Rosa” Joaquin Carrillo and family, date unknown. Photo courtesy Sonoma County Library)

The article accurately stated she married her cousin, Santa Rosa Joaquin, in 1855. “Their early married life was one of many hardships and privations until the husband by hard work had accumulated a little fortune of three or four thousand dollars.” With that nest egg they bought an acre of land and built a house at 1049 Fourth street, halfway between Brookwood and College avenues extending back to Allison Way. (That address is now an office building in the hideous “streamline moderne” architectural style better suited to Los Angeles.)

It is unclear how Santa Rosa Joaquin supported his family of ten children. In the 1860 census he called himself a vaquero, so perhaps he was a cattleman; after that he told the census-takers he was a farmer. Theirs was a modest life.

The only detail found about them was an anecdote from around the turn of the century, when children and grandchildren would visit their home on Sundays and holidays. Santa Rosa Joaquin had a parrot with had a vocabulary comprised entirely of Spanish cuss words. Joaquin and Marta were reportedly always terrified the kids, who only spoke English, would repeat what they heard the parrot squawk.

Marta died in 1905 after a marriage of over fifty years. True to form, the Press Democrat obituary confused her family with the Sebastopol Carrillos and stated, “Many years ago the deceased and her husband were very wealthy and owned large tracts of land in this county.” Santa Rosa Joaquin died in 1911, of course, and together they are buried in the Odd Fellows’ Cemetery at Santa Rosa Memorial Park.

And now the Believe-it-or-not epilogue: If having two Joaquin Carrilos in the immediate family wasn’t confusing enough…there might have been a third.

The most notorious figure in early California statehood was Joaquin Murrieta, the leader of a Mexican bandit gang that terrorized 49ers and settlers in the early 1850s. He was later portrayed in dime novels as a heroic Robin Hood-like character avenging injustices on behalf of oppressed Mexicans, but he was a real person who robbed and killed and scared the Americans half to death. In 1853 the governor authorized a company of California State Rangers to capture or kill the “party or gang of robbers commanded by the five Joaquins.” It was called the “Five Joaquins Gang” because the leaders were supposed to be all named Joaquin: Joaquin Murrieta, Joaquin Botellier, Joaquin Ocomorenia, Joaquin Valenzuela – and Joaquin Carrillo. (There was also a really vicious guy named Manuel, but “the Five Joaquins Plus Manuel” sounds more like a circus acrobat act than a paramilitary organization of fearsome outlaws.) A few months later the Rangers had a shootout with a group of Mexicans in the Central Valley and claimed they had killed Murrieta, sawing off the guy’s head as proof to claim the reward money.

Chances are nil that the Joaquin Carrillo who belonged to the Murrieta gang was either Santa Rosa Joaquin or Sebastopol Joaquin (or for that matter, the Joaquin Carrillo who was a Southern California District judge in the same era). But at least one researcher has claimed it possibly might be another of Doña María’s children: Sebastopol Joaquin’s younger brother, José Ramón. Historian Brian McGinty wrote about this in an often-cited journal article on the Carrillo family:8

Most frequently he was referred to as “Ramón,” following the not infrequent practice among Spanish-Californians of dropping the first given name. At other times he was confusedly called “Joaquin,” the proper name of his brother. Because of José Ramón’s constant activity during the years from 1846 to 1864, during which time he was often referred to as “Joaquin Carrillo” or “Carillo,” it seems possible that he was partially responsible for the composite legend of Joaquin Murrieta.

It’s not so impossible that José Ramón might have been involved with Murrieta. He was cut from a different cloth than the other Carrillo men; he was an adventurer and soldier who fought bears armed with a knife, using his horse’s soft leather saddle bags as his only shield. He commanded Mexican troops in several important battles in the 1846 Mexican-American War including the Battle of San Pascual, the bloodiest conflict ever to take place in California. After the war that journal article mentions there were stories of him being a highwayman at the same time as Murrieta and rumors of buried treasure near his ranch in Cucamonga.

But using his brother’s name as an alias (possibly while engaged in criminal activity, no less) seems unbelievable – although that article does acknowledge José Ramón’s grandson assisted with the research, so perhaps there might be something to it. Had he died in Santa Rosa and the local reporters gotten whiff that he was AKA Joaquin Carrillo, however, you can be sure his obituary would have been a glorious swirl of confusion.


1Alma MacDaniel Carrillo and Eleanor Carrillo de Haney: History and Memories – The Carrillo Family in Sonoma County. Undated handwritten manuscript, 94 pp.

2John Cummings: Early Sebastopol Part 2. 2005, North Bay Regional Collection, Sonoma State University Library

3These all might be differing descriptions of the same hotel. Cummings (ibid.) suspects the Pioneer might have been a relaunch of the Analy c. 1869, as the two hotel names never appear simultaneously in period newspapers. The earliest Sanborn fire map (1891) showing the Analy Hotel indicates it had a saloon, and any hotel easily could be called a boarding house.

4Guadalupe Carrillo, Plaintiff, vs. Joaquin Carrillo, Defendant: July 22, 1865, District case number 493

5op. cit. MacDaniel Carrillo and Carrillo de Haney, pg. 36

6Probate for estate of Guadalupe Carrillo: Reel 19 #688

7“‘Sonoma Valley Before the Gringoes Came,’ written for the Sunday Bulletin, March 11, 1900”: undated and anonymous, 7 typewritten pp. Gaye LeBaron Collection, Sonoma State University Library

8Brian McGinty: “The Carrillos of San Diego: A Historic Spanish Family of California,” The Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly, March 1957


Joaquin Carrillo, one of the first white residents of what is now Santa Rosa, passed away at his home, 1039 Fourth street, at 1:30 this morning. He had resided at that place for the past 26 years and in Santa Rosa since 1849.

Mr. Carrillo was born in the town of Pabosa Lucas, Lower California, 81 years ago, but moved to Santa Diego when a child. He lived in San Diego until 19 years of age, when he married and removed to Sonoma county settling on the present site of Santa Rosa.

The Carrillo family were pioneers in San Diego under the old Spanish rule. Joaquin was a brother-in-law of Gen. Vallejo, one of the principal characters of California’s early history. Both the Carrillo and Vallejo families were prominently connected with the affairs here in the time of the American pioneers, and in the time before the Americans came.

Both families were numerous and wealthy, and the two together owned a good part of Sonoma county in the later days of Mexican dominion. Julio Carrillo, brother-in-law of the man who died this morning, passed away in this city several years ago, and was likewise early identified with the town and county.

Mr. Carrillo had been feeble for several years, but had not been confined to his bed until about three months ago.

He is survived by five sons and three daughters. Albert Carrillo of Eureka, John Carrillo of Guaymas, Mexico, Eli and Andrew Carrillo of Santa Rosa; Abe Carrillo of San Francisco; Mrs. Phantry of San Francisco; Mrs. Olarlo of Guaymas, Mexico and Mrs. John Welty of San Francisco.

Preparations for the burial will be delayed until response is had from John Carrillo, in Guaymas, who has been asked by telegraph whether he can come to attend his father’s funeral.

– Press Democrat, April 1, 1911

Joaquin Carrillo, one of Santa Rosa’s first white residents, passed away on Saturday morning at 1:30 o’clock at the age of 81 years. Deceased was at one time the owner, under Spanish grant of Llano de Santa Rosa, the 13,336.55 acre grant stretching from a little west of this city to Sebastopol and south to the Cotati Rancho. Three square leagues in Santa Rosa and Analy township is called for in the grant, which was confirmed to Joaquin Carrillo by the District Court of March 24, 1856.

Mr. Carrillo was born at Cabo San Lucas, Lower Calif., but with his parents and their large family of children, moved to San Diego when but a small child. His parents were pioneers of San Diego. At the age of 19 Joaquin Carrillo came to Sonoma county with his bride and settled on the present site of Santa Rosa. He had been a resident of Santa Rosa since 1849 and had lived in his home at 1039 Fourth street for the past 26 years.

Joaquin Carrillo was a brother-in-law of General Vallejo and between the families of Vallejo and Carrillo nearly the whole of Sonoma county was owned. It was from this pioneer that much of what is known of the earlier history of this county was secured and chronicled.

Mr. Carrillo had been confined to his bed for the past three months, but for several years before that had been in feeble health. Arrangements for the funeral will be made when word is received from John Carrillo, a son residing at Guaymas who has been asked by wire if he can be present at the funeral.

Mr. Carrillo is survived by five sons and three daughters. Albert Carrillo of Eureka, John Carrillo of Guaymas, Mexico, Eli and Andrew Carrillo of Santa Rosa; A. Carrillo of San Francisco; Mrs. S. M. Shantry of San Francisco; Mrs. Olague of Guaymas, Mexico and Mrs. John Welty of Santa Rosa.

– Santa Rosa Republican, April 1, 1911
Mrs. Tyler Recalls Happenings of Early Days

Mrs. Flora E. Tyler of this city recalls some interesting events in the life of Joaquin Carrillo, the pioneer of this county, who passed away on Saturday morning.

Mrs. Tyler was then a girl and made her home in Sebastopol, and attended the school there with a number of his relatives.

At the time of the civil war Mr. Carrillo owned the hotel at Sebastopol, and there a fair and banquet was held for the benefit of the wounded soldiers. People for miles around came on horseback to attend the festivities and a gala times was enjoyed. Not long age [sic], when the old building was torn down, a paper bearing the date of 1864 was found, and it gave an account of the fair.

Mr. Carrillo owned considerable land, and it took in what is now Sebastopol, and reached nearly to Santa Rosa. The road leading from Santa Rosa to Sebastopol was lined with Castilian roses, planted there by Carrillo and when passing the young people would stop and gather bunches of them. They were a bright pink and very fragrant. They are seldom seen now.

Another interesting event related by Mrs. Tyler was the lassoing of a grizzly bear by Mr. Carrillo while returning from his honeymoon. As he neared the bridge at the laguna a big grizzly bear crossed his path and he started to lasso it. The bear was more than he bargained for, and had it not been for the aid of a man who was with him, he might have been killed. In those days all traveling was done on horseback and his bride rode beside him on her fine pony.

Mr. Carrillo and his bride first lived at Sebastopol and later moved to Santa Rosa.

– Santa Rosa Republican, April 4, 1911
Joaquin Carrillo’s Eventful Life Is Ended
Was the Oldest Surviving Pioneer of Sonoma County and Was Well Known

A black knot of crape on the door of a humble little cottage on First street Saturday caused many people to stop and reflect over a life, which at one time in the early history of Sonoma county had a wide influence. The life called to mind was that of Joaquin Carrillo which had ended after a year and a half of incapacity through suffering. This morning at Petaluma from St. Vincent’s church his funeral will take place at ten o’clock, the cortege leaving the residence on First street about seven o’clock.

The last years of the old pioneer’s life were spent unostentatiously. His days were passed very quietly. He was about ninety years of age when the last summons came and his eyes were closed in death. He came to Sonoma county in 1838 and laid claim to being the oldest pioneer of Sonoma. After his arrival here he settled near Sebastopol where it is estimated he owned at one time many thousands of acres of land. His brother was Julio Carrillo, who also owned a great portion of the county.

The deceased was a native of California. He was known all over this section. He leaves six grown children, Andrew J., Lee A., Joseph, Jennie and Mary Carrillo, and also a number of other relatives. Mrs. General Vallejo is a sister of the deceased. By many a hearthstone in Sonoma county the old man’s stories of early days were heard with eagerness and a reverence was felt for that white crowned head over which the clouds and sunshine of more than three score years and ten had passed. The funeral today will doubtless be largely attended by many of the deceased old-time acquaintances.

Among the children by the deceased’s first wife are Mrs. Millie Miller of San Francisco, Lupe Carrillo of Oakland, Mrs. Lulu McCord of Hanford, Mrs. Kate Alpine of Duncans, Mrs. Agnes Perry of Occidental, Raymond Carrillo of Ferndale. His second wife survives his and also their five children first named.

– Press Democrat, July 19, 1899

Joaquin Carrillo, the oldest pioneer of Sonoma county, is dead. After a year and a half of constant suffering he passed peacefully away last Saturday at his home on First street, Santa Rosa.

In 1838 deceased came to Sonoma county and settled near Sebastopol. Here he resided for many years and at one time conducted a hotel on the corner of Bodega and Petaluma avenues. Many years ago he owned thousands of acres of land in this section, but, like many other pioneers, he dispensed hospitality with such a free and generous hand that he died in poverty. Many a man who to-day enjoys wealth and plenty can look back to the time when he was started out on the road to prosperity by Joaquin Carrillo…

– Santa Rosa Republican, July 19, 1899


  1. Thank you for this well-written and informative blog about the two Joaquin Carrillos. I have been researching Mariano Vallejo and Sonoma, and of course, had learned about his wife’s family. I found your blog looking to confirm that Joaquin Victor Carrillo III had been an alcalde of Sonoma. That proved to be another error that has been repeated too often, as was the one about Joaquin being arrested during the Bear Flag Revolt (it was Julio).

  2. My son’s name is Joaquin diego Carrillo and I was just researching his name.
    Thank you for all the info, it was very interesting

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