Legacy | 2015 Pioneers – The Villegas Family
The Villegas family was honored as the City of Perris’s 2015 Pioneer Family. They were inducted on January 31, 2015 at the Perris Valley Historical Museum at the historic Santa Fe Depot.
THE VILLEGAS LEGACY: A STORY OF DREAMS, HARD WORK DEDICATION AND PRIDE
Marcelino and Maria Bernal Villegas were 17 and 13 years old when they married in San Francisco del Ricon, Guanajuato, Mexico which was not uncommon in that era. Marcelino and Maria soon became parents to three children. In their effort to support their young family, Marcelino and Maria did what they could to support themselves and their family. Marcelino working as a candy maker as well as making shoes. Maria mastered the craft of weaving palm leaves into hats. These goods were taken to surrounding market places to be sold. Marcelino soon realized that he wanted to offer his family a better future. In 1924, Marcelino made his way into the United States to follow his dream for his family. Marcelino soon sent word to Maria to pack what she could along with their three young children, and make the long hard journey to Mexicali, Mexico where she was to meet up with Marcelino. Through a long hard series of events, Marcelino and Maria were reunited.
Marcelino, Maria and their children made their way to the Inland Empire to the City of San Bernardino where they sought the immigrant processing center for legal entry into the United States. They vowed from their very humble beginnings that they would make their way in the United States, but they would accomplish their dreams legally and properly.
Marcelino and Maria settled in the City of Perris where Marcelino found work as a farm laborer for Harry Hughes, a well known and respected farmer in Perris Valley. Their family of five grew and became of family of nine (Casimira, Musio, Cesario, Jose, Alfonso, Ireneo and Lydia Villegas). Marcelino worked endlessly to support his growing family while Maria kept busy raising their children. The older children went to school and also helped out with the family obligations.
Marcelino insisted that his children learn English and interact in the community. Two of Marcelino’s sons, Musio and Jose joined the United States Armed forces during World War II and their son Alfonso during the Korean campaign. Marcelino and Maria lifted their heads with pride as their sons wore the uniform of the United States Military.
Marcelino and his sons became very involved in the farming industry specifically potato harvesting in the Perris and Hemet Valleys. The whole family soon became involved in this industry and it evolved into the family business.
The Villegas family has been a part of the Perris community since 1924 and continued to be represented by six generations of Villegas’. Though Marcelino and Maria came from very humble beginnings, their descendants were handed down a great legacy of work ethics, hard work, dedication , and loyalty that they are all very proud of. Due to Marcelino and Maria’s sacrifices their descendants, today, enjoy success in the fields of corporate business, medical, education, military, law enforcement, engineering, and other endeavors.