Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. During this month, the City of Huntington Beach will honor and celebrate our Latino community by taking a look at those who paved the way to make Surf City what it is today.
In 1917, Staff Sergeant Bandini Dear waved goodbye to his parents at their family home in Huntington Beach and headed off to fight in the First World War. He was assigned to the Machine Gun Company of the 364th Infantry, 91st Division and sailed to France aboard the Olympia. Once there, he fought in the St. Mihiel Drive and later, the bloody Meusse-Argonne Offensive in which he sustained serious shrapnel wounds. He was ultimately discharged from medical care and the Army on April 25, 1919.
His unusual name was a tribute to his heritage as a descendant of one of the most prominent members of early “Californio” society – Juan Bandini. Juan and his first wife, Maria de los Dolores Estudillo, were married on November 20, 1822 and had three daughters and two sons. Juan was gracious and cut a refined presence wherever he went with increasingly visible roles in government. He was known as a charming public speaker, fluent writer, excellent dancer, fair musician, and fine horseman. His 12-bedroom home was the social center of San Diego – which is now the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town San Diego.
Ysidora, the youngest of Juan Bandini’s daughters, was said to be the most beautiful woman in Southern California, supposedly swooned from an upstairs balcony into the arms of her future husband, Cave J. Couts. Couts was a dashing West Point graduate sent to California during the Mexican-American War. His detailed diaries remain a rich treasure trove of information for historians. One of their 10 children, Elena Irene, married a British-born newcomer to California, Parker Dear. Their son, Bandini, was born on July 27, 1889 and named in honor of his great-grandfather Juan Bandini. Bandini Dear was truly a scion of the old Californios.