PICO, Pio de Jesus

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Pio Pico, 5th and 14th (last) Mexican governor of Alta California
Pio de Jesus Pico

PICO, Pio de Jesus (1801-1894), 5th Mexican governor (for the brief period Jan. 27-Feb. 18, 1832) and also 14th and last Mexican governor (March 1845-July 1846) of Alta California under Mexican rule. On December 15, 1845 Andres Castillero, to whom Santa Cruz Island had been granted by 12th Mexican governor, Juan Bautista Alvarado in 1839, wrote to Pio Pico in Monterey, California:

“Excellent Señor Governor Don Pio Pico, Señor Don Pablo Noriega, the bearer, will present to you a petition from me, which is based upon an order (disposition) of the Supreme Government, asking that you order possession be given me of the Island of Santa Cruz, the Messrs. Carrillo having already chosen that of Santa Rosa, which impediment prevented me occupying it, but now I have already purchased the cattle to occupy it, and I will be obliged by your sending me by said gentleman the title and order of possession.” [United States District Court v.s Andres Castillero on Cross Appeal, Claim for the Mine and Lands of New Almaden, Argument of Hon. J. P. Benjamin, San Francisco, 1860, p. 18.]

In 1846, Pico granted Santa Catalina Island to Thomas Robbins.

The fourth of ten children and the second son, Pio Pico was born at Mission San Gabriel Arcangel. His heritage was a combination of African, Native American, Hispanic and European. Pico joined the army briefly in 1828. He received his first land grant near San Diego the following year. Pico married Maria Ignacia Alvarado (1808-1854) in 1834. They had no biological offspring, but adopted five children. Pico became governor in 1845 after a bloodless revolt. With American troops occupying Los Angeles, Pico escaped to Mexico in 1846 returning two years later. By the 1850s he owned over a half million acres of California land. Gambling and bad business decisions forced him to sell his property and he died in poverty. Originally buried at Old Calvary Cemetery in downtown Los Angeles, his remains were reinterred in the private mausoleum of a friend when the city dismantled Old Calvary in the 1920s.