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Movies & Million-Dollar Mansions, and Silents on the Islands


Image: Pacific Rural Press, October 4, 1874

The Mesa's First Family - Part 1


He was a Santa Barbara cowboy, a soldier, and a family man. He had light skin, gray eyes, and black hair. He was six feet tall – pretty tall considering that he lived in the mid-1800s. He probably walked with a limp since one of his legs had been broken and had not been properly set. Most likely, he was injured when he was thrown from a horse. But he spent most of his day on a horse, so it probably didn't matter much. He is the first person to be documented living here on the Mesa.


His name was Luis Gilber. He was born in Santa Barbara and baptized at the Mission. His father was born in Spain, and his mother was born in California. Luis spoke Spanish, and would have called himself a vaquero, which means cowboy in Spanish. Because his name was Spanish, it was misspelled a half a dozen ways in the records here: Louis, Gilbar, Hilbar, Gilver, Jilver, Gilbert, etc.


In 1856, Charles E. Huse, one of the leading lawyers in Santa Barbara, visited the Mesa to scope out a location for the lighthouse. Huse kept a journal in which he mentioned visiting Luis in his home on the Mesa near the area where the lighthouse would be sited. This is the earliest written record of anyone living on the Mesa. So, Luis and his wife Maria del Refugio Olivas de Gilber and their children had a front row seat as the lighthouse was being built during the summer of 1856. (The lighthouse is believed to have been located about where La Mesa Park is today.) More about Louis Gilber, the soldier, next week. 

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