Daily Archives: May 30, 2017

New Collection — Early Settlers in the San Gabriel Valley –Bustillos Family Collection

black and white photograph of the Nava Brothers.

Left to right: Roberto (1902-1995), Enrique (1900-1998), Ruperto (1907-2000), and Pascual Nava in Los Angeles. The brothers were born in Zacatecas and came to US during the Mexican Revolution.

One of the PDHC’s newest collections features images from the family of Dr. Ernesto Nava Bustillos, sociology professor at Pasadena City College. A fifth-generation Californian, Dr. Bustillos’ family, both sides, can trace their lineage to the early days of the San Gabriel Valley, specifically to Irwindale.

Bustillos’ paternal ancestor, Don Gregorio Fraijo left Sonora, Mexico in 1843 and was hired as an overseer at a ranch in the La Ballona (now Culver City) area.  He was then apparently bit by gold fever in 1849, and along with many others, left for Sonora in search of gold.   While in Sonora, Fraijo met Henry Dalton, a land owner in what is now Irwindale but who was also searching for gold.  Although Fraijo spent the next decade moving rather frequently, likely because land was being grabbed up by Anglos as they “settled” the area, he was finally able to put down roots in 1860 when he landed at  Rancho Azusa de Dalton, a large ranch in Irwindale that was owned by his friend, Henry Dalton.   Fraijo was eventually able to purchase 120 acres of Azusa Abajo from Dalton and build his own ranch.  Fraijo’s son, Gregario, is listed in the 1850 California enumeration.

Bustillo also has a paternal connection to the Ayon family, another early landowner in Irwindale.  Facundo Ayylon (now Ayon), Dr. Bustillo’s 2nd great grandfather, was born in Mexico in 1830 but immigrated to the U.S.by the early 1840’s.   Although we’re not certain when he settled in Azusa, when he died in 1893, he owned land and was living in what would become a very tight Mexican American community.

In this collection are also images from Bustillos’ maternal ancestors, the Nava and Bedolla families.   Dr. Bustillo’s grandfather, Ruperto Sanchez Nava  was born in 1907 in La Calera de Victor Rosales, Zacatecas, Mexico.  He immigrated to the U.S. in July of 1923 and worked as a gardener for several estates in the San Gabriel Valley.  Images of some of the homes where he worked as well photographs of those he worked for, are included in the collection.  The Bedolla family, originally from Michoacan, immigrated to California about fifty years before the Nava’s, having arrived in 1916 during the middle of the Mexican Revolution.

This collection includes a diverse collection of photographs in addition to correspondence, news clippings, and several pieces of ephemera and personal records.