1837 – Gov. Alvarado grants Rancho Ojai to Fernando Tico
Two pirate ships appeared offshore at Monterey in November 1818. Military forces were assembled on land to repel the pirates, and the militia was activated. Since Fernando was twenty years old at the time, he more than likely was armed for militia duty.
The pirate leader, Hippolyte Bouchard, left Monterey after sacking and burning the presidio and other buildings. Military forces on land shifted southward, as the expectation was that Santa Barbara would be the pirates’ next target. It is possible that Fernando first came south to Santa Barbara at that time. A show of military force at Santa Barbara succeeded in dissuading Bouchard from attacking, and he left the area.
The next we learn of Fernando Tico is his marriage to Maria Margarita Lopez at Mission Santa Barbara in 1821. Three children were subsequently born to this marriage. By 1929, Tico had served for at least one term as alcalde (mayor) of Santa Barbara, and he also served for at least two terms as Justice of the Peace.
A second tragedy entered Tico’s life in 1834, when his wife died. Tico, however, soon married Maria de Jesus Silvestra Ortega, and twelve children were born of this second marriage.
Tico’s interest now turned to the Ojai Valley, and at some time during the 1830s he constructed a lightly-built house in the upper Ojai Valley. He applied for a land grant, which was approved in 1837. Old maps disclose that he constructed at least three houses on the ranch, one in the upper valley and two in the lower valley. He maintained herds of cattle on the ranch.
Just prior to the moment when the United States took possession of California in 1846, the California provincial assembly approved a second grant to Tico. This was a 26-acre section of land immediately to the west of the church at Mission San Buenaventura. Tico constructed a house on what would later become the northwest corner of the intersection of Main Street and Ventura Avenue in Ventura. This was the beginning of what at the time was called the “mission village.” He also rented the famous old mission garden and engaged in farming.
Just prior to his sale of Rancho Ojai, Tico served as Constable (police officer) at the mission village. He also served as Justice of the Peace in Ventura in 1855 and in that same year was elected to the first county board of supervisors for Santa Barbara County. At the time, the area of Ventura County, as we know it today, was part of Santa Barbara County.
During the final years of his life, Tico sold various plots of land in the western section of Ventura to such persons as Augustino Solari and Juan Camarillo. He died on March 30, 1862; and his body was the last to be buried in the mission cemetery.
Tico’s son, Fernando Antonio Tico, was also prominent in local social and political affairs and a holder of a series of public offices after his father’s death.
by Richard Hoye