The Blond Ranchero"

The South County Historical Society of Arroyo Grande, California, proudly announces the long-awaited reprinting of "The Blond Ranchero."

Originally published in 1960, these are the memoirs of California Pioneer Juan Francisco Dana, who passed away in 1936 at the age of 98. Juan Francisco Dana was a cousin to Richard Henry Dana who wrote "Two Years Before the Mast."

Juan Francisco Dana was one of the sons of Captain William Goodwin Dana of Boston, who settled first in Santa Barbara, California. After a long and successful career at sea, Captain Dana became administrator of the Port of Santa Barbara. In 1828 Captain Dana married a native Spanish girl of Santa Barbara, Josefa Carrillo, whose father was at one time governor. Captain and Mrs. Dana acquired a Mexican land grant and took up ranching north of Santa Barbara on the vast Nipomo Rancho, in what would later become southern San Luis Obispo County.

Captain and Mrs. Dana brought 21 children into the world. They and the Nipomo Rancho became known statewide for their hospitality. Later the sons came to be known as "The Dana Brothers" to all who traversed or lived in the area. Unlike many other California ranchos, the Nipomo Rancho was kept intact for a number of generations by the Dana brothers.

Juan Francisco Dana, nick-named "El Huero" (the fair-haired one), was the last surviving Dana Bother. He lived a long and interesting life which extended from old rancho days under the Republic of Mexico to 1936. He had a great memory and a gift for telling a story. Many of his stories were published in newspapers and magazines prior to being brought together in this well-done volume.

"The Blond Ranchero" is all about life on the Nipomo Rancho from young Juan's perspective. This little volume is encyclopaedic in detail from his sharp recollection of events of his life. Dana was an admired and frequently published story teller who related historic tales of daily life with the same charm and vitality he gave to accounts of armed attacks on the casa and having to steal his mother's horse back from Colonel Fremont's army.

Always curious and into everything, young Juan was just a boy of eight when he disobeyed his father Captain Dana and followed him to the encampment of Fremont's soldiers. He immediately caught the attention of Colonel Fremont, who was surprised to see a blonde boy among the traditionally dark haired Spanish settlers. Thus Fremont dubbed him "El Huero," the fair-haired one.

Dana's stories include everything from how to build an adobe to being attacked by bandits. He tells also of his 1860 wedding which took place on Christmas Eve in Santa Barbara at the old de la Guerra home. He describes the festivities and the dancing that continued for two nights.

Included in the rich detail of these stories of rancho life are references to and descriptions of numerous pioneers and pioneer families, many of whom were related to the Danas. Referenced are: Alvarado, Anderson, Avila, Arrellanes, Bachelot, Ballard, Beckworth, Branch, Burton, Carlona, Carrillo, Chapman, Dana, de la Guerra, Den, Figueroa, Fitch, Folsom, Foxen, Freeman, Fremont, Graham, Harford, Hartnell, Hearst, Hill, Hoar, Janssen, Jones, Kearney, Lataillades, Leffingwell, Lewis, Linares, Lopez, Mallagh, Mason, Miller, Monet, Moreno, Murrieta, Olivera, Onijada, Ontiveras, Ortega, Osio, Osuna, Petra, Pico, Pollard, Powers, Price, Quajada, Raggio, Robbins, Ruiz, Sepulveda, Sherman, Short, Smith, Soto, Sparks, Springer, Steele, Tefft, Thompson, Valenzuela, Vereine, Villa, Wilson, Wolfskill, Young, Zamorano, and others.

While centered primarily around Nipomo and Santa Barbara, other California locations included are: Arroyo Grande, Avila, Berros, Buellton, Cambria, Casmalia, Cave Landing, Center City, Cuyama, Ellwood, Fort Tejon, Foxen Canyon, Gaviota, Goleta, Graciosa, Guadalupe, Huasna, King City, Los Alamos, Los Angeles, Los Berros, Los Olivos, Los Osos, Nipomo, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, Point Arguello, Point Sal, Port Harford, Port San Luis, Refugio, Salinas, San Diego, San Francisco, San Gabriel, San Joaquin Valley, San Luis Obispo, San Marcos Pass, San Mateo, San Miguel, San Pedro, San Simeon, Santa Barbara, Santa Catalina, Santa Cruz, Santa Ines, Santa Maria, Santa Ynez, Saugus, Soledad, Templeton, Ukiah, Yerba Buena, and others.

Copyright © 2006-21 Claud "Sonny" Rouch, all rights reserved. Website by OACYS Technology. Cover photo by Roberts Engineering.