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General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo: The Rise and Fall of His Fortunes

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The Vallejo home in Sonoma, Lachryma Montis

The Vallejo home in Sonoma, Lachryma Montis

Pivotal Times of History

In his 82 years of life, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo achieved much by way of fortune. His meteoric rise in military ranks saw him commanding the Presidio of San Francisco at age 26. That was in 1833. He also had to desecularize the Mission San Francisco Solano and counter any Russian insurgence. Added to his duties was colonizing the area of what was, at the time, the northern portion of Alta, California, which was a province of New Spain. Native American tribes were the primary residents during the colonization period.

Spain claimed ownership of large portions of land that would later come under Mexican rule after Mexico declared independence from Spain. Immigrants coming from the United States revolted against Mexican rule, briefly establishing the Republic of California. California soon came to be a part of the United States.

General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo's career first took place under the rule of Spain, then Mexico, and he ultimately became a California State Senator in 1850. He was also a Mayor of Sonoma, a town he founded.

Awarded to him were large land grants. At one time, he owned thousands of acres. His fortunes of land ownership, via the Mexican land grants, were eventually overturned by rulings of the United States Supreme Court. Stripped of most of his land holdings, he spent his last years at his home in Sonoma, the Lachryma Montis.

Lachryma Montis

The home in Sonoma was the primary residence of Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo and his large family. Multiple buildings were on this homesite. Vallejo was an intelligent person who had learned multiple languages. Building on a site adjacent to a potable water source, his home's name had the meaning of "tears of the mountain" in Latin.

Lachryma Montis was a prefabricated home, made in Boston, shipped, and assembled on site. It was large to accommodate his growing family in style. The operation of the estate required the use of many servants. You can see more about the estate by watching the video below.

Rancho Petaluma Adobe

Built from adobe bricks made on-site, the historic ranch house owned by Vallejo, back in 1836 to 1857, was the largest privately-owned structure, at that time, in California. At one time, the 44,000-acre ranch employed about 2,000 Native Americans who ran the extensive horse, sheep, and cattle operation. It was also a defensive structure.

Tanning of hides and the production of tallow became a significant source of income for Vallejo. Most of it shipped to San Francisco. He became very wealthy, and he was able to add even more land to his holdings. Rancho Suscal comprised an adjacent 80,000 acres awarded by another Mexican land grant.

Overseers ran the operation, and it became self-sustaining. The family would occasionally visit, but they primarily lived at their home in Sonoma.

Now a part of the Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park, demonstrations of what life was like back during that timeframe is on view to visitors at this site.

Declining Fortune, But Fame

Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo's fortunes took a turn downward during the Bear Flag Revolt in 1846 when a rag-tag group of U.S. immigrants to this region tore down the Mexican flag and replaced it with theirs. Vallejo was arrested and briefly imprisoned, but he was later released when the U.S. flag replaced the Bear Flag about a month later.

Unfortunately, during his imprisonment, his Rancho Adobe was looted, and he no longer had possession of his cattle and other ranch commodities, which was his primary source of income.

He ended his life living quietly at home in Sonoma, where he authored five volumes of history regarding California's Mexican period.

Some of his accomplishments leading to lasting fame include the following:

  • Commander of the Presidio at San Francisco
  • Military Commander and Director of Colonization of the Northern Frontier
  • Temporary Commandante General of all Mexican military forces in California
  • U.S.Indian agent for Northern California
  • Delegate to California's constitutional convention
  • California State Senator
  • Mayor of Sonoma

Honorariums include the following:

  • The town of Vallejo, California, bears his name. The nearby town of Benicia bears the name of his wife.
  • The U.S. submarine (SS BN 658) is named USS Mariano G. Vallejo.

He will be long-remembered in history. His place of burial is in the Mountain Cemetery in Sonoma, California.

Monument at gravesite of General M.G. Vallejo and his wife, Francisca Benica Carrillo de Vallejo.

Monument at gravesite of General M.G. Vallejo and his wife, Francisca Benica Carrillo de Vallejo.

I compare that old relic with myself... ruins and dilapidation. What a difference between then and now. Then, youth, strength and riches; now age, weakness and poverty.

— Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo

For more information about General Vallejo from his great-granddaughter, take time to listen to this interview in the video below. Learn more about this man and the times in which he lived.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 18, 2021:

Hello Emmy,

I am pleased that you enjoyed reading this article. Thanks for your comment.

Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on January 18, 2021:

A very interesting and enjoyable reading article.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 13, 2021:

Hi Denise,

I am sure that you will enjoy visiting Sonoma. Thanks for your comment on this article about General Vallejo.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on January 13, 2021:

I didn't know all of this despite living in California and know quite a bit of California history. I need to visit Sonoma and see for myself sometime soon. Thanks.



Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 12, 2021:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

I am pleased that my article could shed some light on this important man in history. It will be fun to be able to explore more sites when the pandemic is ended. Thanks for your comment.

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 12, 2021:

What a wonderful article about a part of history that receives very little spotlight. I agree that your photos are impressive. I'd love to visit. Your articles show us that there's so much here in America we have yet to see once this pandemic lifts.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 11, 2021:

Hi Mary,

I am glad that you learned a bit more about Vallejo and the life he led. He certainly accomplished much in his lifetime!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 11, 2021:

I have read about Vallejo in a novel but do not really know many of the facts here. It is interesting to see how his life has been.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 11, 2021:

Hi Ruby Jean,

Yes, his ancestors must be very proud of the part he played in history. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on January 11, 2021:

This was very interesting. I knew nothing about General Vallejo. It took a strong man to do what he did. His ancestry must be proud.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 11, 2021:

Hi Devika,

I am glad you enjoyed reading this article about General Vallejo. History was not a subject that I enjoyed when I was a child in school, but the older I get, the more it fascinates me. Thanks for your comment.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 11, 2021:

Peggy W I haven't started on my hub for 2021. I see you have another hub and going at writing skills with great intentions. Interesting and always a well thought of idea for a hub from you. History is often known as a dead subject but you bring to life what has been forgotten and I enjoyed reading it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 11, 2021:

Hi Chitrangada,

It is my pleasure to be able to share this information about General Vallejo with you and others. We do learn things by looking back at history. Thanks for your comment, and stay well!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on January 11, 2021:

An engaging and informative article about General Vallejo. Your narration made this an interesting read. We always learn something from our history. I liked all your pictures.

Thank you for introducing me to this aspect of American history.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 11, 2021:

Hi Manatita,

He accomplished much during his life, and even though he lost much of his fortune, he still ended up with a lovely home and family. The fact that a U.S. submarine is named after him says much.

manatita44 from london on January 11, 2021:

The whole thing to me is so sad! Name, fame, pomp and ceremony and in the end, someone else or something else, makes us all like children again. A bit like what Covid-19 is doing and reminds me of the world's most practical man, according to many Seers.

Buddha said that nothing is permanent ... all is trancient, nothing is ours. We're just passing through. Still, the 'game' is God's and has to be played, I guess. Lovely piece on Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 10, 2021:

Greetings Umesh,

So glad you liked learning about this aspect of history and the part that General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo played in it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 10, 2021:

Hi Linda,

I am pleased that you enjoyed this history lesson and also the photos. Thanks for your comment.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on January 10, 2021:

Nice narration.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 10, 2021:

Hello MG,

Glad that I could add to your education about this time in history.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on January 10, 2021:

Thank you for sharing an interesting and enjoyable history lesson, Peggy. The photos were a great addition to the article.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on January 10, 2021:

This is an awesome article and thoroughly enjoyed reading it and more important add edit to my knowledge because I've never heard of this general.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 10, 2021:

Hi Rosina,

I found this to be interesting also. Thanks for your comment.

Rosina S Khan on January 10, 2021:

I enjoyed reading the historical account of this man. The rise and fall of his fortunes were interesting to note. Thank you for sharing, Peggy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 10, 2021:

Hi Pamela,

Vallejo may have lost most of what made him extremely wealthy, but he still retained his home and estate in Sonoma. Most people would be fortunate to possess that much! He certainly led an influential life, and the books he authored undoubtedly add much to the historical events of that time.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 10, 2021:

This is a fasinating article, along with the videos and the pictures, Peggy. I love learning more about history, and I knew very little of this information before reading your article.

This man had a sad ening but at least he is remembered in several ways. Thanks for such an enjoyable article to read on Sunday afternoon.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 10, 2021:

Hi Dora,

What Vallejo accomplished over the years took some time under different forms of government. I am glad that you enjoyed reading this historical account. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 10, 2021:

Hi Cheryl,

Thanks for your comment regarding this part of history and the significant part General Vallejo played in it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 10, 2021:

Hi Liz,

I also learned much by delving more into what Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo did in his lifetime. He was certainly an influential man of his times! Thanks for your comment.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 10, 2021:

Thanks for the historical account of this quick rise and fall of Vallejo. It is very interesting and such a different occurrence from what is likely to happen these days.

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on January 10, 2021:

What an interesting history lesson.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 10, 2021:

Hi Ann,

I am pleased that you enjoyed reading this article about General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, and the part he played in history. That last video speaks about a fascinating period of time! Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 10, 2021:

Hi Bill,

You are correct. The Gold Rush days were happening at that point in history, luring many from the U.S. to settle in those parts. So glad you enjoyed reading this.

Liz Westwood from UK on January 10, 2021:

This is a fascinating article which covers a section of American history that I know little about. I especially appreciate the way that you have interwoven the biographical details with the sites. As ever this is an extremely well-illustrated article.

Ann Carr from SW England on January 10, 2021:

What a comprehensive and fascinating story about this man. He did so much and was in the thick of it, yet managed to survive in very dangerous times.

Your photos are amazing! I think you and I could spend a good day out with our cameras and be shutter-happy for hours!

Thanks for educating us with this history lesson - brilliant!


Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 10, 2021:

It was a time in history when a man could make an enormous fortune rather quickly. This is such a wonderful history lesson as well as an entertaining article. Loved it, my friend!