Don Jose Maria Gil, deceased, was born in Madrid, Spain, December 14, 1821. His father was a native of Scotland, who went to Spain as a young man and married a young Spanish lady of good family. When Jose was about seven years old he came to America with his parents, who settled at Herongariquero, Mexico. At the age of twenty-one years he came to California, some six years before it was annexed to the United States by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican war. Upon the discovery of gold in California in 1849, he, like thousands of others, was attracted to the mines. While fairly successful as a gold seeker, he gave up that occupation and located at Jolon, where he became the owner of two hundred and sixty acres of fine land. His vine-clad adobe residence of the Spanish type, was considered one of the finest in that section, and was especially noted for the well kept grounds which surrounded it. When California was admitted to the Union in 1850 he was naturalized and became an American citizen. At that time the country was new, only sparsely settled, and many of those who came here in quest of gold were almost penniless. How many of these unfortunates were aided by Mr. Gil will probably never be known. He gave them employment, even at times when laborers were not needed on his farm, or furnished them the means by which they could go to other places in search of work. Believing in education, he was a pioneer in the establishment of California’s school system, and in every way he was looked upon as a broadminded, progressive man.
Jose M. Gil was twice married. In 1850 he married Senorita Juliana Gomez, who died in 1857, leaving three sons. Her body rests under the belfry of the Mission of San Antonio. Of the sons, Jose died single, Miguel died in 1920 in Porterville, Tulare county, California, leaving a widow, Flavia Avila, fourteen children and an estate valued at seventy-eight thousand dollars.
In 1860 Mr. Gil married Senorita Maria Vallejo, who bore him nine sons and five daughters, namely: Eliza, died at the age of fifteen years. Rosa (or Rosita) M. is now living in King City. Leon is living in San Jose, where he is in the real estate business. He married Miss Lizzie Guest and they have a grown up son and a daughter; Augustin, a resident of Nacosari, Sonora, Mexico, has a family of five children, all grown. During the Villa revolution he lost all his live stock, having nothing left but his house and furniture. With other citizens of the town, he fought for three days and nights to keep Villistas out of the place and save their property but without avail. Estevan, the fifth child, died of brain fever when only five years old. Louisa became the wife of Peter Williams, a farmer living near Bakersfield, California, and they have one son grown to manhood. Victoria married David Snider and they have five grown children and a fine estate at Porterville, California. Marcela married Santiago Rios, who owns a fine home and several motor cars. They have seven children, all grown. Mary became the wife of Egorilo Rios and reared a family of five children. Henry A. is now the postmaster at Jolon and has a sketch elsewhere in this volume. Tito Leoncio married Miss Maria Yates and lives in King City, where they are doing well. Their seven children are all in business for themselves. Alejandro lives in San Francisco, where he is employed by the Wells Fargo Express Company; Guillermo at the age of sixteen years enlisted in the Fourteenth Infantry in 1898 for the war with Spain. His regiment was sent to the Philippine islands and under the American government was chief of police at old Cavite for several years. He is now at Guatemala, Central America, holding a responsible position with the Trans-Continental Railroad, which runs through the Central American states. Alberto, the youngest of this numerous family, has been employed at Mare Island since 1916. It will thus be seen that the children have all become useful members of society and good citizens —due to the teaching and example of their honored parents.
Don Jose M. Gil died in 1891, and his widow survived him until December 15, 1909, when she passed away at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. Rosa M. Feliz, of King City. She was born in Monterey when the old town was the capital of California, a lineal descendant of Spanish pioneers who settled California, and inherited all the graces and sterling traits of character of the women of “the good old days.”
Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California’s history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925.