DEL MAR — With the passing in June of Earnest “Ernie” Bertoncini, the last direct link between the present and the era of land grants ended. There was a close relationship between the Juan Maria Osuna land grant that included Rancho Santa Fe and village resident Ruth Bertoncini, Ernie’s mother.
She was Osuna’s great granddaughter. There were five siblings in the Bertoncini family — Clarence, Ida, Florence, Robert and Ernie.
Their home on 10th Street was built by Col. Jacob Taylor, founder of the village, and it served as his part-time residence and as the train station when the railroad ran along Stratford Court. Western Union equipment remained there when the Bertoncini family lived there. Osuna was given the San Dieguito Land Grant (that included Rancho) by Gov. Pio Pico when the county was a territory of Mexico. Osuna became San Diego’s first mayor in 1835.
Ernie’s father, Albino, emigrated from Italy and eventually became a local resident when he joined the Santa Fe work crew that was building the railroad through the village. At the time, Ernie’s mother and her sister were operating the Don Diego de Alvarado residence as a boarding house for railroad workers and she and Ernie’s father met there.
When the William G. Kerchoff Co. came to the village, Ernie’s father became the senior maintenance man and held the post until he retired.
Included in Osuna’s Rancho holdings were 44 acres known as the Osuna Hacienda. It was acquired by Bing Crosby who added an adobe home, a small training track for thoroughbreds and stables.
Ernie was the last direct survivor of the Bertoncini family, however, there are many other relatives. Ernie’s wife, Janet Knipe, is from a pioneer San Dieguito family.
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