Don Ignacio Nicanor Martinez
By Roger Weed
Don Ignacio Nicanor Martinez was born in Mexico City in 1774. He served in Spain's colonial army in Alta California, where he was stationed at the San Diego presidio. In 1807 he married Martina Ramirez de Arellano at the Santa Barbara presidio. They spent the following years between Santa Barbara and San Diego. They had eleven children. In 1821 Martinez was transferred to the presidio at Yerba Buena (renamed San Francisco in 1848) as second in command to Luis Arguello. He followed Arguello as commander in 1822, serving in this position until his retirement in 1832. He then moved to the pueblo of San Jose. When he returned to Yerba Buena it was as alcalde, chief officer of the civic government. In 1836 he moved his family to Rancho el Pinole, a grant of land in Contra Costa County which had been awarded to him for service to the Mexican government. He died there in 1848 but was buried at the San Jose mission, where many prominent Californio families attended his funeral services. The town of Martinez, part of which included Rancho el Pinole, was named for him.