Friday, June 10, 2016

Domingo and Maria Bastanchury

The following is from a work-in-progress called The Town I Live In: A History of Fullerton.

Continuing my research into the history of my hometown of Fullerton, I've begun flipping through Samuel Armor's massive 1,600 hundred page book History of Orange County: With Biographical Sketches of the Leading Men and Women of the County who Have Been Identified with Its Earliest Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present (1921).  Here's what I learned from reading the section on Fullerton pioneers Domingo and Maria Bastanchury.  Fellow locals will recognize Bastanchury Road, one of Fullerton's main thoroughfares, named after the Bastanchury family.  

Domingo was born in Aldudes, Basses-Pyrenees, France in 1839, son of Gracian Bastanchury.  He never received any formal education, but instead made his living as  sheep herder.  At age 21, he sailed for America, around Cape Horn, and landed in California.  The difficult voyage took six months.  He continued working as a sheep herder, gradually acquiring lands.  At one time, he was the largest sheep herder in LA County (before the formation of Orange County in 1889), owning between 15,000 and 20,000 head.  He eventually acquired over 6,000 acres, in and around present-day Fullerton, and  switched his business to citrus cultivation.   At one time, the family owned the largest citrus grove in the world.  He and his sons (Gaston and John) formed the Bastanchury Ranch Company.

In 1874, he married Maria Oxarart, who was born in 1848, also in Basses-Pyrenees.  She obtained a limited education in her home country before immigrating to America.  Biographer Samuel Armor writes: “Mrs. Bastanchury shared with her husband all the trials and hardships incident to pioneer life on the plains of Southern California and while he was in the mountains with his sheep she was alone with her little family, her nearest neighbors being several miles away.  She well remembers the country when there was no sign of the present town of Fullerton; all the trading was done in Los Angeles or Anaheim…There were only two houses between her home place and Los Angeles, and where now hundreds of autos travel the main road between Los Angeles and Fullerton, in the early days there would not be more than one team a week.”

Evantually, Domingo and Maria had four sons: Dominic (who owned a 400-acre ranch in La Habra), Gaston (manager of the Bastanchury Ranch Company), as well as Joseph and John (who also oversaw the ranch).  Domingo died in 1909, leaving the vast family holdings to his wife and sons.

To read more about the Bastanchury's, click on the following links:

My profile of the man for the Fullerton College Centennial HERE.

The Lost Mexicans of the Bastanchury Ranch by Gustavo Arellano HERE. (I helped Gustavo with research for this article)

Excerpts from an oral history interview with Domingo and Maria's granddaughter Juanita Ferraris HERE.

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