Pioneer Victor Prudon

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Famous men from California’s Mexican period (1822-1847) include a remarkable, talented Frenchman. Victor Prudon, then 25 years old, entered Alta California in 1834 as a private tutor after residing in Mexico for seven years. An educated man and a gifted linguist, Prudon was a master of the French, English and Spanish languages. In 1837-1838 he was the secretary to Governor Juan Alvarado, and a captain in the Mexican militia. He owned a shop or tavern and gambling establishment in San Francisco during 1839-1840, received a grant to lands in Bodega in 1841, and during that year became secretary to General Mariano Vallejo, commandante of the northern regions.  In this capacity Prudon lived in Sonoma from 1841 to 1845, and received additional land grants in northern California. Although an infrequent visitor to the Sacramento Valley, he and John Sutter maintained a years-long correspondence. Prudon was present in November 1845 at Sutter’s Fort when General Jose Castro and Mexican official Andres Castillero, representing the Mexican government, offered to purchase Sutter’s New Helvetia land grant “with all its appurtenances” for an alleged $100,000  (later sworn testimony differed).  Later that very same evening, Prudon sweetened the deal by offering, in addition to the money, lands and cattle belonging to the Mission San Jose. Sutter declined both propositions. Although Prudon favored the cause of the United States in a potential takeover of California, members of the Bear Flag Revolt arrested him in July 1846, along with Mariano Vallejo and Vallejo’s American-born brother-in-law Jacob Leese, taking them to Sutter’s Fort where they were imprisoned until August 1, when Commodore Robert Stockton ordered their release. During 1847-1848 Prudon kept a store at Sonoma, and in 1848-49 reportedly made some money in the gold mines.  Socially agreeable, attractive, and possessed of fine manners, Victor Prudon—who for the most part composed his employer’s documents—was also adept at the graceful, flowery language seen in the state papers of both Alvarado and Vallejo.



2 thoughts on “Pioneer Victor Prudon”

  1. Why do you claim that Victor Prudon died in 1847?
    I have evidence that he was alive in 1853 when he testified at a trial. I also have a record of a death in 1865.

    There were two men of this name in this time period. One lived in Los Angeles, the other in the Sonoma area. They have been confused for each other.

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