As we observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th to October 15th, we bring you the stories and contributions made by our Latino community here in Ventura County. Latinos living in Ventura County come from many different countries including Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The Museum will be featuring some of these stories over the next month.

Two small volumes in the Museum Research Library represent a long tradition of printing in Mexico, the political turmoil of early California and a connection with one of California’s first printers, José de la Rosa, who came to San Buenaventura in 1880. It is our belief this man carried these books with him throughout his travels in Alta California, beginning in 1834.

The smaller volume, Devocionario Parte II, contains nine religious publications, dating from 1823 to 1832. The somewhat larger Quinario O’ Devocion de Cinco Dias contains five publications, dating from 1768 to 1832.

Born in 1802 in Puebla, Mexico, José María Telésforo de la Rosa first studied for the priesthood “up to the point of being ordained,” but when Mexico declared its independence from Spain, he enlisted as soldier and worked at the government printing office in Mexico City. It was from his grandfather, Agustin de la Rosa, that José first learned the printer’s trade.

In 1834, de la Rosa, his wife Maria Dolores and their two daughters joined over two hundred colonists gathered together by José Maria Hijar and José Maria Padrés, collectively known as Compania Cosmopolitana. The Compania left San Blas on August 1, 1834 on the corvette Morales and the brig Natalia; the latter arrived in Monterey Bay on December 21, 1834. De la Rosa set up shop and soon issued California’s first newspaper, Govierno Politico.

In 1845 de la Rosa moved to Sonoma where he met Harald Ludwig Kamp and his wife Josefa Higuera Kamp. In 1880 Harold and Josefina Kamp moved with their friend José de la Rosa to San Buenaventura. De la Rosa, or “Don Pepe,” as close friends knew him, became a familiar sight on the streets of San Buenaventura, where he was known as “the oldest printer in California”—a term he did not dispute. José de la Rosa died on December 9, 1891, and was buried at the San Buenaventura Mission.

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