Tuesday at 6:30 PM – 8 PM
History: See video and details below.
See history video!
On Tuesday, June 30 our TEA time virtual speaker series will kick off with historian Darlene Tenes of CasaQ talking about the Castro Women in California.
She will cover the history of California, when the Castros arrived on the Anza Expedition to the tumultuous marriage of Carmel Castro and the infamous Thomas Fallon who some people consider a hero and others a villian.
The TEA time speaker series which aims to Teach, Engage & Activate guests is a joint effort with the San Jose Woman’s Club, La Raza Historical Society and Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley funded by the Santa Clara County Office of Women’s Policy, Division of Equity and Social Justice.
Castro Women: A Historical Telenovela
Tuesday, June 30
Free ZOOM event
Register to attend and a ZOOM meeting link will be sent to you prior to the event. If you haven’t already, download the ZOOM app beforehand at https://zoom.us/download
The Castro family history in Alta & Baja California is really quite interesting, in fact it would make a great Telenovela. Yes, it is part of the same family that Castro Street and the Castro District in San Francisco are named after.
But since it is Women’s History Month I am going to tease you with just two of the Castro women’s stories, a mother and daughter who are etched in California history.
Martina Cota Castro:
The mother, Martina Cota Castro was born in 1807 at Villa de Branciforte in California under Spanish rule. In 1824 she married Lt. Simon Cota, a Spanish soldier who died 6 years later leaving her a widow with 4 children, one of which was Carmelita (Carmel) Castro who was born in 1827.
Martina didn’t waste any time getting back in the game. When Michael Lodge, a 34-year-old native of Dublin, Ireland came ashore from a whaling ship, he soon began courting Martina and they wed a year later in 1831 adding many more children to her brood. Martina’s home was full of life and she was known about town for her hospitality and many parties.
When Martina’s brothers and uncles began receiving land grants she decided she too wanted her fair share. So in 1833 Martina was the first woman to ask for and receive a Spanish land grant. The Soquel Rancho was a tract of 1,668 acres, an expanse one-and-a-half miles wide and two miles long from Soquel Creek to Borregas Gulch. Later in 1844 she was granted an additional 32,702 acres which made her the largest land grant owner in the region extending her original grant to Loma Prieta.
Just when life seemed perfect the drama of the Gold Rush era and early Statehood woes came about. Her husband was murdered in the California gold fields, three of her children died in a typhoid epidemic and her Yankee and foreign sons-in-law pressured and sued her to divide her land. One of those son-in-laws was Thomas Fallon, husband of her daughter Carmel Castro.
Well, there’s no way to sugar coat this story. Martina was not a happy woman when her daughter married Fallon in 1849, a hotel and saddle-shop owner from Santa Cruz. She felt he was a scoundrel who was only marrying her for her money and land grants. I believe it was about this time the term “gold-digger” came about.
After the heartbreaking lawsuits with her mother, Carmel and Thomas received 3400 acres of land which they sold and then moved to San Jose. In 1959 Fallon would become the first Mayor of San Jose under US occupation. Then after 27 years of marriage Carmel returned home unexpectedly to find her husband in a compromising position with the maid. Busted. She should have listened to her mother.
The loving duo where chased out of the house with a fireplace poker and the honeymoon was over. The next day Carmel packed up her bags and children and moved to San Francisco.
Castro Fallon Building
Carmel started over in San Francisco where she became a savvy business woman and real estate investor acquiring a tremendous amount of wealth. She built the Hotel Carmel, Fallon Hotel and 1800 Market Street. She later made a generous pledge to the San Francisco Opera House which bears a plaque with her name.
There is a lot more juicy tidbits and fascinating facts behind these two and I didn’t even mention the men in the Castro family who are equally as intriguing. But, I’m not writing a novel here so hopefully I have intrigued you enough to do a little archive searching on your own.