Heritage Day at the Dana Adobe attracted hundreds of visitors Saturday to the 183-year-old adobe in Nipomo. Festivities included enactors in period garb, some dancing to fandango music. Historians provided free guided tours of the Adobe.
Built in the late 1830’s, the Dana family moved into the Adobe in 1839. Captain William Goodwin Dana, a retired sea captain from Boston, received the 38,000 acre land grant after marrying Maria Josefina Petra de Carmelo Carrillo in Santa Barbara. Dana also served as alcalde in Santa Barbara. His wife, Maria Josefina, gave birth to 21 children, 13 of whom survived to adulthood. Photos of the 11 boys and 2 girls are on the wall inside the entrance of the Adobe, The collection includes the photo of the grave of the first Adelina, who died when she was 5 years old. Her body was interred in the wall of Mission San Luis Obispo.
Corazon del Fandango and Bab Altman performed California music while the Yesteryears Dancers performed fandango dances. A blacksmith, weavers, leather workers and gunsmiths and others gave demonstrations at booths surrounding the Adobe.
During a tour of the Adobe, historian Penny Koines said the original land grant may have extended all the way north to present-day Paso Robles. In the 1840’s, Mexican officials awarded land grants to the Estradas in Santa Margarita and other parts of the North County.
The experiences of the early settlers still impacts life in the region. In 1837, Juan Pacifico Ontiveros received the 36,000 acre “Rancho San Juan Cajon de Santa Ana Land Grant”, which is in modern day Orange County. The same year, Tomas Olivera, his future father-in-law, received the 8,900 acre Rancho Tepusquet Land Grant near present day Santa Maria. A drought and plethora of lawsuits over the boundaries of the Rancho San Juan Cajon inspired Juan Pacifico to sell that southern land grant. He bought Rancho Tepusquet and relocated his family to the farmland east of Santa Maria.
Cooking at the Rancho Tepusquet, Dana Adobe and other ranchos was conducted outdoors to prevent fires destroying the home. Because of the heavy lifting, men traditionally barbecued beef, pork, venison, bear and elk. That tradition became a profession from some descendants. Juan Pacifico’s descendants own restaurants in the North County which prepare delectables using recipes developed at Rancho Tepusquet. Lolo’s and Joe’s Place in Paso Robles are owned by direct descendants of Juan Pacifico Ontiveros. Ted Ontiveros started Lolo’s in Paso Robles. Lolo’s closed when Ted retired several years ago, but another Lolo’s continues operation in Morro Bay. Ted’s son Joe Ontiveros owns three Joe’s Place restaurants. The original Ontiveros Adobe is now a tasting room facility at Bien Nacido Vineyard near Sisquoc.
Rancho Tepusquet is home to several fine wineries. In 1997, Cal Poly student James Ontiveros planted grapes on hills overlooking Ranch Tepusquet and started Ranchos Ontiveros Vineyards. He released Rancho Vinedo wine in 2016. James Ontiveros is the 9th generation to live on the Central California Coast.
The Dana Adobe Nipomo Amigos (DANA) has events planned in the months ahead, including a Summer Speaker Series. Penny Koines will speak at 1:00 Sunday afternoon, August 21st on Henry Teft at the new Dana Cultural Center, which is a museum near the Adobe. On September 4th, Tara Machin will speak on Geologic Adventures on Route 66. There are also two large events. Captain Dana spent a lot of time in the “Sandwich Islands.” So, the Captain’s Luau will be held September 17th. A Halloween Bash will be held on October 26th.
For more information on the Dana Adobe, you’re encouraged to visit their website at Danaadobe.org.