This collection documents principally the lives of Miguel and Dolores ("Lola") Venegas, both originally residents of Zapotlanejo,
of the state of Jalisco, Mexico, before immigrating to Los Angeles in 1927. Miguel was born to Juan Venegas (1872-1955) and
Julia Cárdenas de Venegas (1881-1961) in 1897; Dolores to Silviano Dávalos (1870-1963) and Dolores Morales de Dávalos (1881-1919)
in 1900. Miguel was the eldest of eight children, Dolores the second of four.
Miguel's original home was a ranch (Rancho San Roque, Jalsico, Mexico), owned by Miguel’s grandfather, Donaciano Venegas.
The family eventually moved to Zapotlanejo. Here Juan Venegas opened a bakery—later expanded to a grocery store—where Miguel
would eventually work, after first working on the "Hacienda de Colimilla" (by 1914). Following this work for his father in
Zapotlanejo, he then managed a general store there.
The family of Dolores Dávalos was prosperous, its financial wellbeing resting on the five haciendas (large landed estates)
that her maternal grandfather José María Morales had accumulated. Dolores attended school through the third grade; her future
husband, Miguel, made it through the fourth—and final—grade, although he pursued extensive reading on his own after his primary
education ended. In 1918, the two became engaged; their marriage followed one year later (1919).
Four sons were born in the first seven years of the marriage: José Miguel (1920-2015); Ricardo (1922-); Guillermo (1924-),
and Eduardo (1926-1999). Through ownership of a profitable general store and the inheritance of a ranch (El Ingenio) from
Dolores' grandparents, and acquisition of another (El Cerro), the couple prospered.
The Cristero Rebellion (1926-1929), the revolt of Mexican Roman Catholics against the relentlessly anti-clerical policies
of the government of president Plutarco Elías Calles, upended the lives of Dolores and Miguel Venegas, devout Roman Catholics.
Miguel and brother Alfonso joined the Cristero forces, taking to the countryside with the Cristero armed forces. Alfonso would
die in the service of the Cristeros, but Miguel survived, although the suppression of the Cristeros, resulting in their persecution
in his home town of Zapotlanejo, would force his and his family's move to the United States for safety. He chose Los Angeles,
partly because of the many Cristero refugees from Jalisco there, and arrived in June 1927. His family would join him later
that year, in October.
The family settled in the Bunker Hill section of Los Angeles, where in the first three years in Los Angeles, Dolores bore
two more children: Juan José (1928-1997) and María Teresa (1930-). In addition, four more children would be born to Dolores
and Miguel: Alfonso (1933-1966); José María (1935-); Enrique (1939-); and Carlos (1941-).
To support himself and his family, Miguel first worked as a dishwasher, but using money that Dolores had made from the sale
of their cattle in Zapotlanejo, he bought a small store at 805 California Street (the corner of Bunker Hill and California)
that came with a house at 419 North Bunker Hill Street and attached garages that were rented out. The store, although hard
and time-consuming work for both Dolores and Miguel (it was normally open six and one half days per week), provided for a
comfortable living: Miguel could afford to buy a car, for example. Because of his forced move from Zapotlanejo, problems with
creditors there over his business and lands still plagued Miguel and proved a consistent concern. The Depression would bring
severe financial hardship to the family because business at the store suffered from the inability of clients to pay—a persistent
problem throughout the 1930s.
Miguel returned to Mexico in 1932 for a ten day visit, to determine if conditions in Zapotlanejo were favorable for his family's
return, which, he decided, were not. Consequently, he returned to Los Angeles that same year, but eight years later Miguel
decided to return with his family to Mexico, while retaining his business in Los Angeles, which his sons José Miguel, Ricardo,
and Guillermo managed for him. Miguel gave up his rented home at 808 California Street, to which the family had moved after
leaving the smaller residence at 419 North Bunker Hill Street. The garages that were part of the store at 805 California were
converted to living quarters for the three sons.
Miguel Venegas returned to Los Angeles in December 1941, and the entire family returned in 1942. The converted rooms at the
store at 805 California Street provided the initial living quarters, but in 1946, the family moved to 1505 West Temple Street,
where Miguel and Dolores would reside until their deaths. That same year Miguel relocated his store to the corner of Grand
and Temple streets, which he ran until the late 1940s, when the City of Los Angeles bought the property in that area for the
construction of the county and city court buildings.
The family maintained close contacts with relatives in Guadalajara and Zapotlanejo. The trip of José Miguel to Mexico to attend
the 1938 meeting of the Associación Católica de la Juventud Mexicana resulted in a lengthy stay in Guadalajara and Zapotlanejo,
which foreshadowed extended family vacations to Mexico to visit family and friends beginning in the mid 1940s.
In the 1940s, Miguel expanded his Los Angeles business ventures by moving into the management and ownership of real estate.
This first occurred, circa 1942, when Japanese neighbors asked him to manage their apartment complex (the Elite Apartments)
in the Bunker Hill area because of their forced move to internment camps. In either 1943 or 1944 Miguel Venegas bought a Victorian
home remodeled into apartments on Flower Street. He continued to acquire and manage property at least until the early 1960s,
when it is known that he developed apartments on Court Street in Los Angeles in 1962.
In World War II, three sons would serve in the armed forces: José Miguel, Ricardo, and Guillermo. Miguel served in the United
States Army Air Corps in Europe, flying thirty-three missions as a radio operator on a B-17. Ricardo was a member of the United
States Army, serving in Alaska, while Guillermo saw combat in the South Pacific with the United States Army. In the Korean
War, Juan José Venegas would earn a Purple Heart.
The family, of course, was active in the Roman Catholic Church, attending mass, at least in the early years in Los Angeles,
at "La Placita" (La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles or Our Lady Queen of Angels), the Roman Catholic church
on the plaza of old Los Angeles and a center for Mexican-American cultural life. Miguel Venegas became active in the Knights
of Columbus, eventually reaching the fourth degree. Dolores Venegas' stature in the Mexican-American community was confirmed
when she received the honor of "Mexican Mother of the Year" in 1969, the same year that she and Miguel celebrated their fiftieth
wedding anniversary with their extended family.
In 1973, Miguel and Dolores began splitting the year between Zapotlanejo and Los Angeles, after building a residence in the
former. In Mexico, Miguel devoted his time to charity, funding the construction of a Red Cross hospital in Zapotlanejo and
a school in nearby Jocotopec. In recognition of this, a street in Zapotlanejo is named after him.
Dolores Venegas passed away in 1991. Miguel Venegas died in 1994, but not before becoming a citizen of the United States in