Rogerio Rocha, baptized in the mission of San Fernando, became a well-known blacksmith in California. In the late 1800s, he became the head Captain of the Fernandeño Tataviam people.

RogerioAs a young man, Rocha learned the trade of a blacksmith and worked for several farmers in Northern Los Angeles County. Through trade, Rocha made his wealth and occupied several acres of land throughout the San Fernando Valley. It was believed that Rocha would bury his money under his house. In his later years Rocha settled on ten acres in San Fernando, the northeast corner of Hubbard and Fourth, which was granted by the same 1840 Mexican Grant that created Rancho Encino.

Rocha lived on the San Fernando land with his wife, respecting the ways of his ancestors. On the property Rocha constructed two adobe houses (made of sun-baked bricks), two tule houses (native traditional houses), and two wood frame houses, with an enclosed fenced area where he cultivated.

In 1874, Charles Maclay purchased the land title “San Fernando Grant” through a court probate, and tried to negotiated with Rocha for a house and payment of his lands. Rocha refused and soon after, in 1885, Maclay visited him with a Los Angeles sheriff, wanting Rocha to sign a paper. Rocha replied, “I sign nothing.” Then on the first of November of the same year, two deputy sheriffs were ordered to deprive Rocha of his lands.

Drawing Rocha's home 1896

The manner of ejection was as cruel as it was outrageous. Rocha was over eighty years old, living with his wife and another woman, nearly of equal age, with five or six other persons, constituting his entire household. The sheriff removed them by force in the middle of winter, tumbled the two aged women with all their effects (including Rocha’s blacksmith tools, fuel, chickens, etc.) into a wagon, and dropped them by the roadside, where they staid without the slightest protection and without food, excepting parched corn, for eight days when the rainy season was at its worst, while Rocha went to Los Angeles to get permission from the priest to occupy an old dilapidated shed connected to the old mission church.

Rocha’s wife soon after died of pneumonia, brought on by the exposure. Rocha became an old homeless wanderer, living his remaining life at Lopez Canyon until his death in 1906.

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