This collection of historic documents dating between 1796 and 1855 relates primarily to the Ortega family of Santa Barbara.
The documents include legal and financial letters and notices, title documents, and receipts relating to the property and
finances of Jose Francisco Ortega and his heirs.
Jose Francisco Ortega was on Gaspar de Portolà's 2nd land expedition to Alta California in 1769. He was the chief scout on
this expedition, which discovered San Francisco Bay. In 1773 Ortega became Lieutenant and Commandant of the Presidio of San
Diego, a post he held until 1781. In the spring of 1782, Ortega was on the expedition that founded Mission San Buenaventura
and he became Commandant in charge of the military guard chosen to construct the temporary Santa Barbara Presidio in 1782,
a post he held for two years. After that, he commanded the presidio in Monterey. He ended his career in 1795 in Loreto, Mexico
where he was transferred. According to historian Walker Tompkins, Ortega owed a large debt to the Mexican army, due to bad
bookkeeping, and asked Governor Borica for land north of Santa Barbara in Refugio Canyon to raise cattle on to pay off his
debts. Several of Ortega's sons also moved up to Refugio and claimed land for themselves, although they did not yet own the
title. Eventually the Ortega family was one of the first families to receive titles to land grants distributed by the Mexican
government in 1834.
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Associate Director for
Historical Resources. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation Research
Center as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which
must also be obtained by the reader.