About Us

This website is dedicated to the descendants of José de la Guerra y Noriega, universally known among the Californians of his time as "El Capitan." We hope this site will serve as a resource for individuals to connect with other family members and learn of their roots, and to provide news and information about family reunions and other activities.

Biography of José de la Guerra

De la Guerra was born March 6, 1779, in the hamlet of Novales, Santander, Spain. He was the son of an old established Spanish family. As a boy he wished to be a friar. At the age of 13 he went to Mexico City to live with his maternal uncle Pedro Gonzales de Noriega, a wealthy merchant.

De La Guerra joined the frontier army in 1793, working for the paymaster general. He was appointed a cadet in 1798 at the Presidio of San Diego in Alta California. He was promoted to alférez (ensign) at the Presidio of Monterey in 1800, and was its acting Commandant in 1804. In 1806 he was made lieutenant at the Presidio of Santa Barbara. From 1807 to 1815 he was lieutenant at the Presidio of San Diego, and was, for a short time during 1806–1807 the commandant.

From 1815, De La Guerra served at Santa Barbara, becoming captain in 1817. He became Commandant in 1827, succeeding José Darío Argüello, who was promoted to Governor of Alta California. De La Guerra also became a Deputy (diputado) to the Mexican National Congress in 1827. De La Guerra served as Commandant until 1842, when he retired after 52 years of service in the army.

From land grants and purchases, De La Guerra became owner of over 1/2 million acres (2000 km²) in present Santa Barbara, Ventura, Marin, and Sacramento counties, California. These include Rancho Simi, Rancho Las Posas, Rancho San Julian, Rancho Los Alamos and Rancho El Conejo.

De La Guerra married María Antonia Carrillo (January 8, 1786 - December 26, 1843), daughter of José Raimundo Carrillo, on May 16, 1804. They had seven sons (Jose Antonio, Juan, Francisco, Pablo, Joaquin, Miguel, and Antonio Maria) and four daughters (Teresa, Augustias, Anita, and María Antonia).

De La Guerra died in 1858 and is buried in the church crypt at Mission Santa Barbara with his wife. His house, called the Casa de la Guerra, still stands and is a historic landmark of downtown Santa Barbara.

References: Fr. Joseph A. Thompson. El Gran Capitan, José De la Guerra, (Franciscan Fathers of California, Cabrera & Sons, Los Angeles, 1961); Wikipedia; and the California State Military Museum.