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Two legends

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Joined: 27 Nov 2007
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Location: Monterey County, California

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:18 pm    Post subject: Two legends Reply with quote

The Custom House at Monterey is the setting for many Spanish legends, of which, "The Lost Pearls of Loreta" is one of the most interesting. According to tradition, while California was still under Mexican rule, with Pio Pico as Governor, the chivalry of the "caballeros" and the beauty of the women were outstanding features of the community. La Favorita (Ysabel Herrera) of Monterey, was known as the prettiest of the senoritas.

She was an orphan and lived in the old Jimeno house, on Main street (old convent) with her wealthy uncle, Manuel Jimeno. She longed for a string of pearls and told all of her suitors she would never marry until one should come who could fill her lap with them.

Finally there came to Monterey from Los Angeles a handsome Spaniard, Vincent de la Vega, who won from all the local "caballeros" in the horse races. He won La Favorita’s heart but with the same provision concerning the pearls.

He exacted a promise of marriage from her and promised her the gems, asking, however that she voice no objections as to the manner in which he might procure them.

After a long absence, de la Vega returned with the pearls, and told a thrilling story of how he had stripped them from the most Sacred Lady in the Mission of Loreta, of how he had killed a priest while engaged in the theft, and of his final escape.

Ysabel was at first horror stricken but when she realized that he had done this for her, her feelings changed to pride.

That night at a ball given in the Custom House, La Favorita wore the string of pearls. During the evening a priest entered the ball-room, accused de la Vega of robbery and murder, and made after him. La Vega seized his sweetheart, made for the nearby cliffs and was about to jump into the bay, when a shot rang out and he fell dead. Ysabel picked up her lover and leaped into the waters of the bay with him.

The rose, as the story goes, was given to Miss Bonifacio by Lieutenant W. T. Sherman when he had been ordered east, and while calling on his lady love for the last time, with the promise that when it bloomed he would come and claim her as his bride. Together they planted the rose, vowing to remain true to each other until his return to her.

The general never returned, the promise was never fulfilled, and Miss Bonifacio is made to spend the remainder of her life in unrequitted love. Anna Geil Andressen, in her book entitled "Historic Landmarks of Monterey," says: "Miss Bonifacio knew Lieut. Sherman, and in common with the young ladies of Monterey in that early day, received the attention of Lieut. Sherman that grew out of the social events of that period.

"It was well known in Monterey at that time Miss Bonifacio was engaged to a young Spanish Californian, Don Estrada, a brother of Dona Josefa de Abrego, and half brother of Governor Alvarado; while Lieut. Sherman was at the time engaged to Miss Ewing, whom he afterwards married. Miss Bonifacio never married her youthful lover, Pedro Estrada, and passed away still a senorita, at Monterey in 1915. (The Sherman Rose and home of Miss Bonifacio that used to stand on Alvarado street, has been reproduced in Sherman Lane).
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