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Espiritu Chijulla Leonis
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Birth: 1836
San Fernando
Los Angeles County
California, USA
Death: May 10, 1906
Los Angeles County
California, USA

Maria de (Espiritu) Santo Cheboya was born and educated at the San Fernando Mission. She was a Chumash Indian princess and the daughter of the former mission Indian Chief Oden. Oden was the chief of the Chumash village of Humaliwo, which was located along the east bank of the Malibu Creek near the coast of Southern Ca. Her mother was Eusebia from the Gabrielino, she came from the Kuruvungna rancheria which is now located at the present day city of Santa Monica, Ca.

Espiritu first married a man named Menendez and the couple had one son named Juan. By the time Espiritu was in her mid-twenties she was a widow and a landowner, inheriting her father's holdings in Rancho El Escorpion.

Espiritu married Miguel Leonis, their wedding was in the traditional Gabrielino. They were married by a contractual agreement and with this contract, Leonis gained the entire Rancho El Escorpion and all of Espiritu's cattle. Even though there was no record of a marriage taking place between the two, they affirmed their contractual marriage in court, while testifying during the many land dispute cases involving Leonis.

Their marriage was one of convenience and Leonis treated Espiritu more like a servant than a wife, often treating her poorly. He even refused to allow her son Juan within the threshold of their home. Leonis and Espiritu had one child together, a daughter named Marcellina who died at the age of 20 from smallpox leaving Leonis without an heir.

After the death of Leonis in 1889, Espiritu invited her son, Juan Menendez, and his wife, Juana Valenzuela, to live with her at their family adobe in Calabasas and even though Leonis left behind a wealthy estate, he bequeathed to Espiritu a meager amount of money. In his will, he referred to Espiritu as a mere housekeeper and she was not entitled to the entire inheritance. To make matters worse, there was no proof of a legal marriage between Espiritu and Don Miguel, but the two had shared a common law arrangement, lived together for over thirty years, and had a child together. Espiritu hired a lawyer, Stephen Mallory White, to help her reclaim the property, which was rightfully hers. With White's assistance, Espiritu won a claim granting her one-half of the Leonis estate.
Family links: 
  Miguel Leonis (1824 - 1889)*
*Calculated relationship
Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana Cemetery
Mission Hills
Los Angeles County
California, USA
Created by: KRW
Record added: May 20, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 14339943
Espiritu <i>Chijulla</i> Leonis
Added by: ET
Espiritu <i>Chijulla</i> Leonis
Added by: Anonymous
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I love visiting your rancho and taking my students there each year. Your spirit lives on!
- Katy
 Added: Jun. 30, 2016
I'm glad that you were finally able to bring your son into your home, which became rightfully yours.
- tom
 Added: Jun. 8, 2016
A strong woman.
- Magali
 Added: Apr. 11, 2014
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