This is a photograph of my great grandmother, Teresa Pryor de Avila. Her grandparents (paternal) were Nathaniel “El Platero” Pryor, who came to California in 1828 as a fur trapper from Taos, New Mexico, and Maria Teresa Dolores Sepulveda. Her maternal grandparents were Don Juan “El Rico” Avila and Maria Soledad Thomasa Capistrano Yorba.
Teresa was born in 1866, four years after her parents’ marriage. Her father, Pablo Pryor, had been orphaned at the age of eleven. He would be poisoned to death with strychnine in 1878, when Teresa was eleven. Teresa’s mother, Rosa Modesta Avila (Abila) had also tasted the poisoned cocoa that killed her husband, but recovered to live until 1915.
Until her death in 1946, a year before I was born, my great grandmother had lived in what is now an historical monument, known as the Hide House, which was made famous by Richard Henry Dana in his book “Two Years Before the Mast”.
The property and house, then known as Rancho Boca de la Playa, had been bought for Teresa’s parents as a wedding present by Rosa Modesta’s father, Don Juan Avila (Abila), a year before his own wife, Soldedad Yorba, died from smallpox.
Teresa Pryor de Avila grew up to be an independent sort of woman for her time period. She was a champion horsewoman, an able manager of a rancho, and eventually, at age 32, married San Juan Capistrano’s constable, Miguel Yorba.