Grand Parlor & Historical Preservation Foundation
Dedication Marks Historic Southern California Site
La Mesa Battlefield
On August 7th, the loud blast of a howitzer cannon sounded through the streets of the City of Vernon to kick off a citywide event to replace the California Historical Plaque commemorating the La Mesa Battlefield as the location of the final conflict fought in California during the Mexican-American War.
In front of a crowd of 125, the Honorable Mayor Yvette Woodruff-Perez welcomed the community of Vernon, business leaders, local elected officials and the Native Sons of the Golden West to the Vernon City Hall ceremonies which unveiled a new California Historical Landmark #167 to replace the original plaque which went missing in 2012.
The event included a presentation of colors from the U.S. Marine Corp Color Guard, Recruiting Station, Orange with historical re-enactors in various military uniforms standing at attention nearby. In front of a huge U.S. American flag, historian Steve Clugston gave a stirring rendition of Brigadier General Stephen Watts Kearney who led the American forces at the Battle of La Mesa. Clugston described how the American forces formed a defensive position with ranks of rifleman bordered by cannons at the end of each row and acknowledged how the Californio Lancers were the best horsemen on the continent and had fought brilliantly during the battle. Clugston also spoke of the American troopers who were killed and wounded in the battle and how brave they fought in the line of fire.
The remainder of the program was filled with Vernon school children who performed a variety musical and dance routines for the crowd. The performance by the Vernon City Elementary City School Dance Team and the Middleton Elementary School Folklorico group provided the gathering with a festive environment. It was followed by a performance by Mariachi Alegria de la Vida a local youth group between the ages of 8 and 15 who were joined by Mayor Woodruff-Perez on violin and Chief of Police Anthony Miranda on guitarron.
Local city officials from Huntington Park, Maywood and Bell, as well as officials from California State Assembly and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors were on hand to present commendations to the City of Vernon in their efforts to preserve history.
The Native Sons of the Golden West, led by Grand President Carey Pearce from Santa Lucia #97, HPF Chairman David Allen from Auburn #59, HPF Vice Chairman Joe Castillo from Rio Hondo #294, NSGW members Luke Bramon and Josh Clements from Ramona #109, completed the program by performing their 100-year old dedication ceremony in officially recognizing the historical plaque.
The program closed much like it opened with a loud cannon boom bringing the crowd to its feet with a heart-felt round of applause.
This event recognized the Battle of La Mesa which was fought on January 9, 1847, as the final California conflict in the Mexican-American War. During the battle, over 1,000 men exchanged fire from rifles, cannons and lancer attacks while battling each other trying to claim an advantage in the war. On September 9, 1926, four large granite boulders were used to dedicate the La Mesa Battlefield site at the actual site located on the grounds of the Union Pacific Railroad Stockyard on Exchange and Downey Avenues in Vernon. The boulders were shipped by the Union Pacific Railroad from the San Gabriel Arroyo Seco and were given as a gift by the President of the Union Pacific Railroad, Mr. Carl Gray.
Over 2,000 people attended the dedication event. On March 6, 1935, the State of California approved California Historical Landmark #167 and the California Historical Landmark plaque marked the actual site of the 1847 historic battle. In 1940, the official unveiling of the California Historical Landmark plaque took place with hundreds of people in attendance. The 2018 ceremony marked the reunion of the four large granite boulders with California Historical Plaque #167, a union which has lasted over 90 years….