AYALA, Ramón “Nini”

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AYALA, Juan Jose Ramón de los Santos “Nini” (1838-1913), was born in Santa Barbara, and for more than half a century was a Santa Cruz Island vaquero. He was working on Santa Cruz Island and 25 years old when he enlisted in the Civil War in the California Native Cavalry on July 25, 1864. Records indicate he served as a private, was just over 5 feet 7 inches tall and had black hair and black eyes. He was discharged from the Presidio in San Francisco almost two years later on April 2, 1866.

According to Helen Caire: “The ditty of ditties in this busy place for many years used to be sung by Nini Ayala who prided himself on being the oldest island vaquero. He rode the island ranges for more than sixty years.” [1993, Pp. 113].

Nini Ayala = [October 6, 1870] Rita Bersabe Davis (1837-1912)

  • 1. Eliza Ayala (1862-1920)
  • 2. Juan Jose Ramon de los Santos Ayala (1864-1910)
  • 3. Alberto J. Ayala (1868-1921)
  • 4. Pablo J. Ayala (1870-1947)
  • 5. Jose C. "Joe" Ayala (1873-1910)
  • 6. Conrado Ayala (1877-1880)
  • 7. Nicandro L. Ayala (1878-1949)
  • 8. Apolinario "Lonnie" Ayala (1882-1955) = [1911] Joaquina Smith

Nini Ayala died on June 21, 1913 at age 73. Both he and his wife are buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Ventura.

In the News~

May 14, 1883 [SBDI]: “Ramon Ayala is at present seal hunting on Santa Cruz Island. He expects to get 50 barrels of oil and four or five tons of skins. There is also a company now fitting out an expedition to go to San Nicolas and other islands on a similar mission.”

November 16, 1883 [SBDI]: “Ramon Ayala went to Santa Cruz seal hunting this morning.”

November 4, 1904 [Bureau of Pensions]: Ramón Ayala enlisted July 26, 1864, 25 years old, 5 feet 7-1/2 inches tall, light complexion, black eyes and hair. Occupation foreman on sheep ranch.

June 10, 1907 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon is becoming metropolitan. It is boasting of a safe robbery [John Robarts] and a burglary, both in one day. Such things have been predicted when this town should be made an open port, but the fact that three boats landed their passengers on the island one day last week without molestation, scarcely establishes the fact that it is an open port yet.”

November 9, 1909 [SBMP]: “All the working men, the sheep shearers and the vaqueros on Santa Cruz Island went on a strike Sunday and came to this city in a body, yesterday on the launch Santa Cruz with Captain George Nidever. This is the busy season on the island. For nearly a month crews have been working from 4 o'clock in the morning until 5 o'clock in the evening, with only two holidays during this time; and they declared that they were work out and needed a rest. They told their foreman, Nini Ayala, they did not want to work on Sunday. Superintendent Arabeli objected to the loss of time and told the men if they did not want to work they could leave, which they did. Eighteen men came over. They included nearly all the men in this locality who understood sheep shearing, although there are a few others who will probably be recruited and with others from Ventura and other places the work will go on.”

June 23, 1913 [LAT/VC]: “Ramon Ayala, a pioneer of this city and county, and one of the most noted bear hunters and killers in California in days gone by, passed await at his home here yesterday, aged 74 years. Ayala has had a remarkable career for the reason that he always sought the frontier and the mountain districts. For years in the early days he resided in Cuyama Valley in the east end of this county, where he owned a cattle ranch. In those days, bears were plentiful and in his work as a cattleman he has taken hundreds of them, always with the lasso, with which he was an expert. In many instances he has taken the animals alone and has had many thrilling experiences with fierce grizzlies. He was born in Santa Barbara, but came here as a child. He took to ranching and was, of course, expert as a horseman. Later in life he had full charge of Santa Cruz Island for the owners. He has a record of two years of service in the California volunteers during the War of the Rebellion and was affiliated with Cushing Post of this city… He leaves five children, these being Ramon, Albert, Pablo, Joseph and Nick Ayala. He was a member of the Latin-American Union and by this order and the G. A. R. his funeral services will be conducted from the Old Mission church…”

June 27, 1913 [VFP]: “Ramón Ayala, a pioneer of this section and a veteran of the Civil War, passed away at his home in this city Saturday afternoon. The deceased had lived long in Ventura and was favorably known by all the old residents. His wife had passed away a year ago and since that time, he had gradually failed. Mr. Ayala was born in Santa Barbara 74 years ago and had always resided in this or Santa . For many years, he was foreman of the Caire interests on Santa Cruz Island. During the Civil War, he enlisted in the California Volunteers [California Native Cavalry, Company C] and his two years service gave him an honored place in the ranks of the Grand Army of the Republic. Deceased leaves five sons, all of this county. They are Ramón, Albert, Pablo, Joseph and Nick Ayala. A sister, Mrs. Monica Garcia, resides in Santa Barbara. Funeral services were held at the Old Mission on Tuesday morning at 10 o’clock. The funeral was under the auspices of the Latin American Union and the Grand Army of the Republic.”

June 27, 1913 [OC]: “Ramon Ayala crosses the great divide. Ramon Ayala, 74 years old, passed away at his residence in Ventura Saturday afternoon. Hemorrhage of the brains was the direct cause of death, although he had been in failing health for some time. The death of his wife a year ago was a blow to him. He was born in Santa Barbara and has always resided in this [Ventura] and Santa Barbara counties. He served two years in the Civil War as a member of the California Volunteers and was a member of Cushing post of G. A. R… Five sons mourn his loss… A stepdaughter, Mrs. Elisa Ortega of Los Angeles, and a sister, Mrs. Monica Garcia of Santa Barbara are other surviving relatives.”