Sharp & Savvy: Fernando Tico (1798 – 1861)
by David Mason
Fernando Tico was born in the small town of San Francisco on April 9, 1798, at 8 o’clock in the morning. He was baptized the next day and given the names:
Fernando Jose Maria Ignacio Martin Tico.
Mr. Tico married Maria Margarita Lopez at the Santa Barbara Mission in 1821 and they had three children. He also served as mayor for the town of Santa Barbara.
Tragedy entered Mr. Tico’s life in 1834 when his wife died. Soon afterwards, Mr. Tico married Maria de Jesus Silvestra Ortega and twelve children were born of that marriage.
The Rancho Ojai was granted to Mr. Tico in 1837, by Governor Juan B. Alvarado. At that time, the Ojai Valley was part of Santa Barbara County, and the Mexican land grant consisted of 17,716.83 acres.
With the cession of California to the United States following the Mexican-American War, the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided that the land grants would be honored. As required by the Land Act of 1851, a claim for Rancho Ojai was filed with the Public Land Commission in 1852.
In the transcripts of the proceedings, depositions were taken to insure Mr. Tico’s rights to the Ojai Valley. Andrus Pico wrote: “My name is Andrus Pico, my age is 42 years. I was born in California. I know the Ranch called Ojai; it is in Santa Barbara County. Fernando Tico first occupied it in 1831 and has continued to occupy it ever since with cattle, horses, a house and corrals”.
The deposition of Pedro C. Carrillo was somewhat longer.
“Question: Will you now state what you know concerning the occupation and inhabitancy of this Rancho by Fernando Tico?”
“Answer: Tico established himself on the Rancho Ojai by permission from Padre Blas Ordaz in the year 1836. He built a corral and a house or hut built of sticks in which he lived with his family. In the year 1837 he got a grant from the Governor and built a fine adobe house about three miles to the westward of the house he first occupied and I have known him to live in it ever since that time in the Rancho with his family, cultivating, having cattle, horses and sheep in the place.” Mr. Tico’s land grant was approved by the Public Land Commission.
Mr. Tico served as Constable in the town of Ventura, he was the Justice of the Peace and in the same year he was elected to the first Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors [in 1854].
In 1853, Mr. Tico sold the Rancho Ojai to Henry Starrow Carnes of Santa Barbara.
Fernando Tico died on December 29, 1861; and his body was the last to be buried in the cemetery at the Ventura Mission.