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Julian A. Chavez
Born January 7, 1808
Died July 25, 1879
Los Angeles, California
Occupation rancher, landowner and elected official
Known for Chavez Ravine
Board member of Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
Spouse(s) Maria Luisa Machado

Julian Antonio Chavez (January 7, 1808 – July 25, 1879) was a rancher, landowner and elected official in early Los Angeles, California, who served multiple terms on the Los Angeles Common Council (the forerunner to the present-day City Council) and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. His land holdings included the area later known as Chavez Ravine.


Origins and arrival in Los Angeles

Julian Antonio Chavez was born in Abiquiu, New Mexico on January 7, 1808, son of Francisco Chavez and Francesca Rosa Verlarde. He is thought to have arrived in Los Angeles in the early 1830s, possibly with one of many trapping parties from New Mexico. The city census of 1836 listed Julian Chavez, aged 27, with a stated occupation of "laborer."

Land acquisition

Around that same time he began to acquire real estate, which could be done by simply petitioning the ayuntamiento (a local body similar to a city council) for permission to take possession of unoccupied tracts. In 1844 he was granted a plot of 83 acres (340,000 m2) about 1½ miles north of downtown Los Angeles, which would become known as Chavez Canyon. During local smallpox outbreaks in 1850 and 1880, the canyon housed an isolation hospital to care for the afflicted. Later renamed Chavez Ravine, it is today the location of Dodger Stadium.

Political career

Chavez's first political office was that of assistant mayor (suplente alcalde) of Los Angeles in 1838. He served also as a "judge of waters" and later a "judge of the plains," as part of the Court of Sessions, which handled legal matters — mostly on water and cattle disputes. During his final term in 1873 as a member of the Los Angeles Common Council he worked closely on issues with Prudent Beaudry, Henry Dockweiler and William H. Workman.

Chavez was elected to the first Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in June 1852. Other members were Jefferson Hunt, Francisco P. Temple, Manuel Requena and Samuel Arbuckle. He served on the seventh board in 1858 and the tenth board in 1861.

Family and death

Chavez was a widower until he married again, to Maria Luisa Machado on November 4, 1865. She was 22 years his junior, and as a daughter of Ygnacio Machado she came from a long-established family of Los Angeles rancheros.

Chavez died of a heart attack on July 25, 1879.

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