Monterey is full of stories - many with hidden chapters or sections worth investigating further!

Since I moved to Monterey, I've been intrigued by the story of Alexo Niño, the first non-indigenous person buried in Alta California. A wooden cross currently stands on the Lower Presidio, and I wanted to know more about his story. You may have driven or walked past it a number of times without ever knowing his name.

Father Serra was unsuccessful in reaching Monterey on his first journey by land in 1769, so he left by sea with a crew in 1770 while Gaspar Portolá and Juan Crespí travelled by land with another team to find the Vizcaino oak tree that marked Monterey Bay. Serra wrote in his letters regarding the burial of Alexo Niño along with the services at Monterey on June 3, 1770: "Luego hizimos al pie de la cruz el entierro de un diffunto marinero calafate el único que ha muerto en este barco en esta 2a expedición. Y concluydo comensé la missa cantada, que llevó después del evangelio su sermón y toda fué muy acompañada de cañonasos..." or "Then we buried at the foot of the cross a dead sailor, a calker, the only one to die during this second expedition. With that ceremony over, I began the high Mass, with a sermon after the Gospel; and, as long as the Mass lasted, it was accompanied with many salvos of the cannon..." The large granite cross at Serra's Landing (end of Pacific St. and Artillery) is not the original cross, but it is the area of the Vizcaino-Serra oak tree and original landing.

Back in 1770 the waterfront near the Presidio was at a different location than it's current spot. In the 1880's much of the end of Pacific St. was infilled. "Minnie's Ditch," aka the Lighthouse Tunnel, was built in 1968-1969 to help traffic flowing into New Monterey and PG. In his book Historic Sites Handbook: Monterey & San Luis Obispo Counties, author and archaeologist Don Howard wrote that he found human remains during the tunnel excavations, near the original landing spot of Junipero Serra, and believed these to be Alexo Niño. After the completion of the Lighthouse tunnel, a wooden cross was placed on top of the Lower Presidio near the Father Serra statue.

I spoke with the Diocese at San Carlos Cathedral, and the original Book of the Dead is still in their possession. Translated into English, Serra's entry states: "At the foot of the large cross in front of the chapel and altar close to the beach, I gave burial to the body of Alexo Niño adulto, a freed black (moreno libre), a single man and native of Acapulco, who died the day before on board the San Antonio. alias the El Principe, where he received all the sacraments."
An article dated June 24, 1970 from the Monterey Peninsula Herald by John Woolfenden identified Alexo Niño as a freed black slave.

But who was Alexo Niño?
Did he have a family back in Acalpulco Mexico?
Why am I telling this story?

Monterey has a complicated history full of stories, with immigrants coming here to build the beautiful culture that people travel from around the world to experience. I'm also hoping that someone reading this has information that may help me tell more of Alexo's story. So far I've been researching in our California History Room, Mayo Hayes O'Donnell Library, PG Library, cemeteries, and San Carlos Diocese. I'm casting my net to find out more!


MPL’s Friends & Foundation “back in person” Chocolate & Wine Benefit was a huge hit! With over 250 people in attendance, we are so thankful for the cheers, smiles, community support, and donations. 

BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE. The online auction is LIVE through midnight on March 11th. Don’t miss the opportunity to bid on spa packages, hotel stays, restaurant gift cards, and a vast array of fun Monterey experiences.

Please email for additional questions.

Don’t miss the chance to jump into a tangled web about mystery, murder, and deception at this month’s Book Flight Book Club meeting.

New York Times Bestseller, The Magnolia Palace, is a novel of the vastly different lives of two women living in New York City’s Frick Mansion.

The Magnolia Palace is another one of author Fiona Davis' historical fiction books not to miss!

Tuesday, March 14th 
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Sounds like a good scrabble word. But, it is actually a form of art that uses an optical illusion to create two different pictures. Stop by the Bookmobile for this month’s STEAM project and make your own agamograph. 

Wednesday, March 15th 
12:30 PM - 3:30 PM 
Fleet and Family Support Center
 1280 Leahy Road, Monterey

Wednesday, March 15th 
4:45 PM - 5:45 PM
220 Montecito Avenue, Monterey

With James Michael Dorsey in this month’s “Before They Vanish” travel presentation series. 

Via detailed digital photography and master storytelling, learn about multiple generations of people who spend their entire lives on the Mekong River in Vietnam. Next stop is the jungles of Cambodia to visit Angkor, where we will learn about the temples, monks and nuns of this remote land.

Friday, March 17th 
5:00 PM - 6:00 PM
MPL Community Room 
Did you know that as a Monterey (and/or Pacific Grove) Library cardholder, you have access to passes to some pretty awesome museums and other cultural and educational venues? Check it out on the MPL Discover & Go Page.

Through our partnerships with Discover & Go, you can make reservations online by date and site, and print out your admission pass. 
Here are the rules:

  • You may have up to 2 reservations at a time
  • You may cancel a reservation only if you have not already printed the admission pass
  • The pass is for use only by the person named and only on the date specified. No photocopies are allowed. Valid ID is required.
  • Each Discover & Go pass expires immediately after the reservation date

Don't have a printer at home? Stop by the library and we will print the passes for you! 

And, we can’t wait for some warmer weather! With winter almost coming to an end, the Winter Reading Program concludes on March 9th.

Bring your completed reading logs to the Library or Bookmobile for your free book.
MPL Hours of Service:
Tuesday - Saturday: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Tuesday: 12:30 PM - 1:15 PM, Wednesdays: 12:30 PM - 5:45 PM,
Thursday: 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM
Call (831) 646-3710 or click Bookmobile for details.
Monterey Public Library | (831) 646-3933 |