Pio de Jesus Pico was born in 1801 to parents of African, European, Indian and Mexican descent at San Gabriel Archangel. Pico was the last Mexican governor of Callifornia serving briefly in 1832 and again from March 1845 to July 1846. During his governorship he made Los Angeles the provincial capital, and grew increasingly concerned about the rapid arrival of settlers from the United States. His fears prompted laws that threatened deporation for those settlers who would not accept Mexican citizenship and to become Catholics. However, following the American invasion, Pico's fears appeared to come true and he rapidly sold 12 million acres of public land (Including Santa Catalina Island) for dirt cheap to prevent the Americans from siezeing it as well as to help fund the poorly armed militia in the area.
In the early part of the war, Pico was only able to gather up a rag-tag citizen's army of approximately 100 or so men with Mexico refusing any millitary support. Pico, realizing the futility of the situation and believing that the Americans would treating him poorly if captured, the governor fled to Mexico, returning in 1848 when Alta California was ceded to the United States.
After the war, Pico became a hotel owner, businessman, rancher, and even served on the Los Angeles City Council. The former governor also opened up, at the time, the area's most luxurious hotel, the Pico House in 1870. He also owned the Rancho de Bartolo or "El Ranchito" in what is now Whittier. Pico also owned a large house in the Los Angeles Plaza. Alas, an 1884 flood destroyed his ranch, and he was forced to morgage his other properties to pay for the damage.
Pico died in 1864 at the age of 91 pennyless and living off of charity and his daughter due to his love of gambling. Pico and his wife Ygnacia are buried at the Workman and Temple Family Homestead's El Campo Santo cemetery in the City of Industry.