Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Bernal Family Papers
mssHM 70789-70855  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (67.10 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Bernal Family Papers
    Dates: 1849-approximately 1896
    Collection Call Number: mssHM 70789-70855
    Creator: Bernal family
    Extent: 67 items in 1 box
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection chiefly documents business, legal, financial, and real estate-related activities of the Bernal family and their associates in the San Francisco Bay area of California in the mid-to-late 19th century.
    Language of Material: The records are in English and Spanish.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Bernal Family Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Purchased from Argonaut Bookshop, March 1949.

    Biographical Note

    The Bernal Family resided in the San Francisco Bay area during the latter part of the 19th century. Carmen Sibrian de Bernal, who was born at San Juan Bautista Mission on April 14, 1804, married Jose Cornelio Bernal on Junee 26, 1819 at Santa Clara Mission. As these documents reveal, Carmen Sibrian de Bernal assumed a greater role in the family's legal and financial matters after the death of her husband in November 1850. The documents also demonstrate that the couple's son, Jose de Jesus Bernal, born circa December 26, 1830 at San Francisco Mission, also took an active role in the family's dealings, particularly in real estate affairs. Jose de Jesus Bernal eventually married Geronima Rufino, whose family members also contributed to this collection. Other persons who had familial ties to the Bernals include members of the Vasquez and Higuera families. Other associates include members of the Italian and Euro-American communities in the San Francisco area.

    Scope and Content

    This collection chiefly documents business, legal, financial, and real estate-related activities of the Bernal family and their associates in the San Francisco Bay area of California in the mid-to-late 19th century.
    The chronologically-arranged documents demonstrate the range of legal, financial, and real estate-related transactions initiated by or concerning the Bernal Family and their associates. Included in this series are legal contracts, mortgages, leases, title deeds, promissory notes, tax receipts, and general accounting records. The series also includes materials created and / or signed by California-based administrators, most notably by Jacques Antoine Moerenhout. The Belgian-born Moerenhout served as consul for France in the United States and Tahiti and authored The Inside Story of the Gold Rush (Campbell 85). Also represented is Henry Haight, the San Francisco-based banker and uncle of the tenth governor of California, Henry H. Haight.
    The chronologically-arranged correspondence includes personal and business letters to and by the Bernal Family members and their associates. Many letters were directed to Geronima Rufino de Bernal, with a minority of letters directed to Carmen Sibrian de Bernal.
    Two chronologically-arranged portraits comprise their own series. Both portraits were taken by San Francisco-based photographers, Charles Lake Cramer and George Daniels Morse, sometime during the last thirty years of the nineteenth century. Only the sitter in Morse's photograph was named and identified as Luis Ruffino.
    Finally, ephemera are contained in the last folder of the collection. These items include: a blank indenture form signed by Charles C Moore; a "Compromisos" (or Obligations) printed card, filled in with pencil; an empty envelope addressed to Carmen Sibrian de Bernal, postmarked January 3, 1882; and two business cards, one for Mr. and Mrs. Aldrich and the other for Mr. and Mrs. Forbes.


    The collection is arranged in 4 series in 1 box:
    • Documents
    • Correspondence
    • Cartes-de-visite (2 items)
    • Ephemera (5 items)

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Personal Names

    Bernal family


    Halleck, H. W. (Henry Wager), 1815-1872
    Moss, Joseph Mora,1809-1880
    Landlord and tenant--California
    Land titles--Registration and transfer--California.
    Real property tax--California
    Taxation--California--San Francisco
    California--History--19th century--Sources
    Livermore (Calif.)
    San Francisco (Calif.)
    San Mateo County (Calif.)


    Cartes-de-visite (card photographs)
    Deeds California 19th century
    Leases California 19th century
    Legal documents California 19th century
    Letters (correspondence) California 19th century
    Promissory notes