Guillermo Castro


Guillermo Castro

Don Guillermo Castro (b. 1810 d. ?) was the son of Don Carlos Castro of Rancho Las Lagas, near Coyote, California in Santa Clara County. He was soldier, rancher, surveyor, and magistrate in his lifetime.

Castro was a career solidier and lieutenant of the militia in the Mexican army, posted to the pueblo of San Jose. He also worked as a surveyor for the government (listed as such in 1838). Three years later, in 1841, Governor Juan Alvarado granted Castro 26,722 acres (108 km²) as a reward for service. The grant, called Rancho San Lorenzo, included much of what is today Castro Valley, Hayward, and San Lorenzo.

Soon after receiving his land grant, Castro married Luisa Peralta of the Rancho San Antonio (owned by Don Luís María Peralta, possibly Luisa's father). The young couple received 300 cattle as a wedding gift. As a rancher, Castro added 4000 sheep and 500 horses, and in the next 7 years, 7 children. The adobe home of the couple was discovered years later beneath the foundation of the old Hayward city hall.

Over the next 26 years, Castro set himself on the path to self-destruction, due to his compulsive gambling. He began selling off portions of his rancho to cover his gambling debts, finally mortgaging his property. To add to his financial problems he had to pay for lawsuits to force squatters off his land, brought by the influx of settlers from the California Gold Rush. In 1864, sheriff I. A. Mayhew presided over the sale of the last of the rancho for 400,000 dollars to Faxon Dean Atherton. Destitute, Castro left California for Chile with his wife and younger children.

A conteporary, Jacob Harlan said of Castro, "Of the Spanish Californians that I have known, Guillermo Castro was the best. He was a sparse, wiry man with brown eyes and hair and was physically active and tough. He was a splendid horseman and he was very extravagant and spent his money freely."

References

* http://mycastrovalley.com/history/ MyCastroValley Website
* http://www.haywardareahistory.org/CastroValleyEras.html Hayward Historical Society Website


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