Juana de la Trinidad Briones

Juana de la Trinidad Briones

Birth
Santa Cruz County, California, USA
Death 3 Dec 1889 (aged 87)
Palo Alto, Santa Clara County, California, USA
Burial Menlo Park, San Mateo County, California, USA
Memorial ID 107236667 · View Source
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Mother of San Francisco: Juana Briones 1802-1889
by Lisa Harrington
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Sketch by Robert Gebing, from Florence Fava's book, 'Los Altos Hills.' Gilbert Richard Publications, 1979. Courtesy of The Los Altos History Museum.
No diaries of Juana Briones exist to tell her story, but testimonies of people she doctored, fed, and gave sanctuary to speak volumes. One of the first residents of Yerba Buena, Juana has been called the “Mother of San Francisco.” Compassionate and resourceful, she was renowned for caring for the sick and for the medicinal tea she made from the Yerba Buena plant. She had learned healing practices from her Native Californian friends, and later became expert as both a bone-setter and midwife, training others including her nephew who became the first doctor in Bolinas. Historians have compared her to Clara Barton, the Civil War nurse who founded the Red Cross.
The sketch on the right is often used to portray Juana Briones, though it is believed to be that of her niece Juana, who bore a striking resemblance to her aunt.
Juana’s life was a difficult one and required courage and foresight. When her husband began abusing her, she sought a Church-sanctioned separation and moved her children from their home near the Presidio to her own rancho in what is now North Beach. There, she raised dairy cows and made her living by selling fresh milk and vegetables to sailors, and, when necessary, helping them take “French leave” (escape) from their torturous lives on whaling ships.
Lacking formal education and unable to read or write, Juana was nevertheless brilliant. She was among the few women in California of her time to own property in her own name, and became a skilled farmer, rancher, and businesswoman in the City and Santa Clara Valley.
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Memorial for Yerba Buena pioneer Juana Briones. California Registered Historical Landmark No. 1024
Her biographer Jeanne Farr McDonnell writes of Juana’s death in 1889: “…it was not the end of an era. She was of many eras. She inherited a way of life and bestowed another. If one word had to be chosen to express the essence of her life, it should be continuity. ”
North Beach walks by City Guides often pause at the state memorial to Juana Briones in Washington Square Park. The official plaque was placed in 1997 by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, the Women’s Heritage Museum, and the Bay Area Network of Latinas. It reads: “Juana Briones, born in Hispanic California, was a preeminent woman of her time. In the 1830s and 1840s she transformed an isolated cove in the then Mexican hamlet of Yerba Buena into her rancho. At the site of this park she raised cattle and grew vegetables for sale to ship crews. She gave sanctuary to refugees and was revered as a healer and caregiver. She is honored as a humanitarian, astute businesswoman, community builder, and devoted mother of eight children.”
The Briones Family Timeline
1769 Juana’s grandfather (Vicente Briones) and father (Marcos Briones) come to California with Gaspar de Portola’s expedition.
1776 Juana’s mother, Ysidora Tapia, and her future mother-in-law come to California with Juan Bautista de Anza’s expedition.
1778 Juana’s grandfather, who helped measure and assign house lots in San Jose, moves his family there.
1784 Juana’s parents marry.
1802 Juana is born in the Villa de Branciforte (now Santa Cruz).
1812 Juana’s mother dies; her father moves the family to the Presidio of San Francisco.
1820 Juana marries soldier Apolinario Miranda at Mission San Francisco de Asis (now Mission Dolores). They move to El Polin Spring. Their first child is born in 1821.
1828-29 Four of Juana’s children die, three in the measles epidemic of 1828.
1833 Apolinario requests a land grant for El Ojo de Agua de Figueroa, where he has built a house
1836 Juana moves with her children to Yerba Buena; she adopts 2 Native California children in 1838.
1840 Juana registers the first of many domestic complaints against her husband Apolinario; their 11th child is born in 1841.
1844 Juana petitions for ecclesiastical separation from her husband; she purchases Rancho La Purisima Concepcion in Santa Clara Valley for $300, and moves there with her children in 1846.
1847 Juana is granted her Yerba Buena property by Alcalde George Hyde. That same year Apolinario dies.
1854 The Board of California Land Commissioners approves Juana’s title to Rancho La Purisima Concepcion. It is patented in Juana’s name in 1871, and El Ojo de Agua Figueroa is patented in 1877.
1889 Juana Briones dies on December 3 in Mayfield (now Palo Alto), where she had moved in 1884. She is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Menlo Park. Juana’s headstone sums up her life in two words: She Cared.


Inscription

A true pioneer, she cared


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  • Maintained by: Laura A
  • Originally Created by: Henry Marsh
  • Added: 24 Mar 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 107236667
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Juana de la Trinidad Briones (Mar 1802–3 Dec 1889), Find A Grave Memorial no. 107236667, citing Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, Menlo Park, San Mateo County, California, USA ; Maintained by Laura A (contributor 47103683) .