Juan de Jesus Teofilo Peña. A photo of Maria Anastasia Baca is not available. Courtesy of Richard Lyon


Travelers: Juan de Jesus Teofilo Pena and Maria Anastasia Baca

When and Where:  Juan de Jesus Teofilo Peña and Maria Anastasia Baca traveled the Old Spanish Trail in 1841 as part of the Rowland- Workman Party

Submitted by:  Richard Lyon, Austin, Texas

Relationship:  Second great grandparents


Juan de Jesus Teofilo Peña “Jesus”(1824-1881) and Maria Anastasia Baca (1824-1851) are my 2nd Great Grand Parents and were born near Abiquiu, New Mexico. They are both mentioned in the census of 1841 in La Cienega, New Mexico. It is assumed they knew of each other through social and religious events, especially with their parents being business partners. Juan de Jesus Teofilo Peña was the oldest son of Juan Felipe Peña while Maria Anastasia Baca was the daughter of Juan Manuel Baca.

Jesus and Maria Anastasia would have traveled with their parents as young adults over the Old Spanish Trail to California in 1841 as part of the Rowland-Workman party.  Just think of two young people traveling together, always seeing each other, for six to eight months which would have been the perfect opportunity for a romance to begin. They were married in 1848, in Sonoma, California at the Mission. According to several family members, there was a week long celebration at the Peña Adobe, the home of Jesus’ parents, which included a fight between a bull and a grizzly bear. The Peña Adobe still stands near Vacaville, California.

Albert G Lyon. Courtesy of Richard Lyon
John Patton Lyon and Maria Dolores Peña Lyon on their wedding day, June 2, 1868. Courtesy of Richard Lyon

At this celebration of Jesus’ and Maria’s wedding, there was a young couple, Albert and Prudence Lyon, from Missouri who had arrived in California in late 1846.  They had avoided the disaster of the Donner party by traveling with the main group of immigrants and arrived into California late that year. Albert and Prudence stayed the winter with William Gordon who had been a member of the Rowland-Workman Party. It’s possible that the Lyons were introduced to Juan Felipe Peña by the Gordons. Albert did some work on the Peña Adobe in 1847 and in exchange was granted a section of land not far from the Adobe.

Maria Anastasia and Jesus had two children, Maria Dolores (or Delores) and Jose Jesus. Maria Anastasia died in 1851 of an unknown cause. She was supposedly buried at the Sonoma Mission cemetery, but no record of her burial or grave location has been found. Jesus’ children, Maria Dolores and Jose Jesus, appeared to have stayed in Northern California.

The legacy of Jesus and Maria Anastasia lives on through the marriage of their daughter, Maria Dolores (Peña) and John Patton Lyon, son of Albert and Prudence Lyon, producing over 6 Generations of descendants and at least 83 grandchildren. Some of their descendants have become world travelers, with at least one circumnavigating the world, and another working as a staffer in Washington DC. Others have started their own businesses, become lawyers, teachers, musicians, members of the military and numerous other professions.

After Maria Anastasia’s death, in 1854 Jesus Teofilo Peña married Maria Gertrudes (Trujillo) Garcia, also a traveler of the Old Spanish Trail and the daughter of Lorenzo Trujillo, the Rowland-Workman party trail guide and La Placita and Agua Mansa founder. Jesus and Gertrudes had nine children.

Jesus’s death came on September 27, 1881 while traveling on horseback near Winters in Yolo County, California. He got down to get a drink of water and collapsed, per an obituary from the Solano Republican from 7 Oct 1881. Jesus is buried in St. Alphonsus Catholic Cemetery in Fairfield, California.

What interests you about these ancestors:  I was interested that they were able to adapt from New Mexico to their lives in California, and that their one daughter Maria Dolores lived to be almost 100 years old.

Prudence P Lyon. Courtesy of Richard Lyon
Headstone of Juan de Jesus Teofilo Peña in St Alphonsus Catholic Cemetery in Fairfield California. Courtesy of Richard Lyon



Most of the information for the story started with family information, and backed up by land records from Solano County and newspaper articles from the time. Census reports were also used.