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Ponponio (Lupugeyun)
Born circa 1799 [1]
Northern California
Died 2 Feb. 1824[2]
"Presidio, mismo" Northern California
Occupation (tentative) Alcade, Mission San Rafael Arcángel
Parents Francisco (Tabal[j]eiu) and Antonina (Juniela)

Ponponio, aka Pomponio and Lupegeyun (ca. 1799-1824), was the leader of a band of Native American fugitives in California who called themselves Los Insurgentes and who rebelled against Mexican rule and the mission system in California. Under his organization they raided settlements between the areas of modern day Sonoma and Soledad in the early 19th century.

Pomponio State Beach, Pomponio Creek, south of San Gregorio, and the Pomponio Trail in Pescadero Creek Park, San Mateo County, were named for him.[3]


Early years

Ponponio was a Coast Miwok from the Guaulen local tribe area of present-day Bolinas according to sources that reference the early Franciscan mission records.[4] He was born to Francisco (Tabal[j]eiu) and Antonia (Juniela) about 1799 with the native name Lupegeyun (or [S]upugeyun).[1] He was baptized at the Mission Dolores in San Francisco in 1803,[4] and given the Spanish name "Ponponio".[1] The mission recorder noted he was about four years old ("como 4"), when he was baptized.[1] The mission records spell his name Ponponio. Later historians such as Hurt spell it Pomponio.[5]

By legend Ponponio was also rumored to be "the bravest and most fearsome of the Cainameros tribe" which was a reference to the Southern Pomo of present-day Sonoma County, California.[6]

Another non-mission source identifies him as an Ohlone from south of the Golden Gate, although this seems a legend without supporting documentation.[7]

He may have at some time served the Mission San Rafael Arcángel as an alcade.[4]

Rebel years

Ponponio fled the mission and began raids against scattered ranches and missions about 1818.[5] In the summer of 1823, his main camp was somewhere in the area of present day Upper Alpine Road, San Mateo County. A cave "once called Ponponio's Cave" at the headwaters of Pomponio Creek, near Devils Canyon Falls, was said to have been his headquarters.[8]

Originally, much of Ponponio's legend was assembled from unreliable, anecdotal sources. One romantic, fictionalized account of his life has Ponponio cutting off his own heels to escape from captivity.[9] The origin of this story may be that a lieutenant of Ponponio's band, one Gonzalo from Carmel, was captured and put in irons, and was reported to have cut off both heels to escape. The historical account continues saying that after a career as a robber, Gonzalo asked Ponponio to bring a priest to make his dying confession. Rather than have a priest hear anything not to his (Pomponio's) benefit, Ponponio ran him through with a lance. Ponponio gave similar treatment to another of his lieutenants named Baltasar.[10]

Ponponio raided far from his home vicinity of the Pescadero and San Gregorio Creeks.

He was captured by a party of four soldiers near San Rafael and tried by court martial in Monterey, and shot on February 6, 1824.[11] The mission records also note this "Alcabuc[e]aron...por sentencia de un consejo de Guerra formado en el mismo Presidio."[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Early California Population Project Database: Baptism ID SFD:02546
  2. ^ Early California Population Project Database: Death ID SC:02478
  3. ^ Brown 1975.
  4. ^ a b c Jackson 1995
  5. ^ a b Hurt 2002:74
  6. ^ Sanchez 1995:155 quoting Alvarado 1982:33
  7. ^ Laws 2004:8; California Coastal Commission 1987:179.
  8. ^ Santa Clara News 1869, as summarized by Trail Companion 2000.
  9. ^ Carter 1917
  10. ^ Bancroft 1888:682-3.
  11. ^ Bancroft 1886,Vol. II:537-38.


  • Bancroft, Hubert Howe (1888). California Pastoral 1769-1848. San Francisco: The History Company. pp. 682–3.  
  • Bancroft, Hubert Howe (1886). History of California,Vol. II. pp. 537–38.  
  • Brown, Alan K. Indians of San Mateo County, in La Peninsula:Journal of the San Mateo County Historical Association, Vol. XVII No. 4, Winter 1973-1974.
  • Brown, Alan K. Place Names of San Mateo County, San Mateo County Historical Association, 1975.
  • Brown, Alan K. Pomponio's World, in Argonaut, (San Francisco Westerners), no. 6, San Francisco, May 1975.
  • California Coastal Commission, Madge Caughman, and Joanne S. Ginsberg, California Coastal Resource Guide, University of California Press, 1987. ISBN 0520061861, page 179 [1]
  • Carter, Charles Franklin (1917). Stories of the old Missions of California. Paul Elder & Company. pp. N/A.  
  • The Huntington Library, Early California Population Project Database, 2006.[2]
  • Jackson, Robert. Indians, Franciscans, and Spanish colonization, University of New Mexico Press, 1995, page 185 [3]
  • Hurt, The Indian frontier, 1763-1846, UNM Press, 2002, ISBN 0826319661, p. 74
  • Laws, David A. Coastside: Exploring the Ocean Side of the San Francisco Peninsula, Windy Hill, 2004, ISBN 0972387420, page 8 []
  • author unknown (11/12), Santa Clara News  , in author unknown (Fall 2000). "Names on the Land". The Trail Companion.  .
  • Sánchez, Rosaura. Telling Identities: the Californio Testimonios, University of Minnesota Press, 1995, ISBN 0816625581, page 155.

Further reading



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