The earliest member of Boronda family to arrive in Alta California was Manuel Boronda, he was born in 1750 near Guadalajara, Mexico. As a corporal in the Spanish Army he accompanied Fr. Serra’s expedition to Alta California. In 1790, he was stationed at the Presidio of San Francisco. When he was 42 Manuel Boronda was married at Mission Santa Clara to Gertrudis Higuera. She was the 14 year-old daughter of another California Spanish family whose parents had settled in Monterey. Even though he was in the Spanish Army, Manuel also conducted a class for boys (1795-97), by doing so he became the first teacher in San Francisco.
In 1811, He and his wife moved to Santa Cruz, Manuel retired from military service and with his family moved to Monterey. At that time Monterey only had around 400 residents. Back then military families lived in small buildings on the presidio grounds. This was at the original presidio that was located at Lake El Estero near the Royal Presidio Chapel. Outside the presidio walls there were a few land grants and some were given to retired soldiers. During this period he also taught school to Monterey schoolchildren, as he did when he taught children in San Francisco. Manuel became the first schoolteacher outside the presidio walls to teach in the pueblo of Monterey.
In 1817, Manuel built an adobe house, assisted by Indians and friends. It was one of the few houses at the time that was located outside the presidio walls but within walking distance of the church. Paths to the house were flanked with whalebone. Of Manuel and Gertrudis Boronda’s children, eight grew to adulthood. All three boys had the first name, José, and the five girls each carried the first name, María. Manuel Boronda passed away in 1826 and was buried at San Carlos Cemetery. His widow maintained the boys’ school in Monterey for awhile, along with her youngest daughter María Petra, whose husband also taught through the 1840s. Gertrudis later moved to Santa Barbara to live...
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