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Escondido's Felicita Park honors Native American woman who preserved history

Posted at 6:02 PM, Nov 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-13 21:06:51-05

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) - Felicita County Park is just south of Escondido and is one of the largest and oldest parks in San Diego County. It’s named after a Native American woman who helped preserve history more than a century ago.

Dove Toler is a San Pasqual Tribal Council member and has studied the rich Native American history of his own tribe, writing a book about his family’s past, and the history of the surrounding San Diego area. He said one of the most unique factors about Felicita LaChappa was the information she possessed.

Toler said it’s estimated that LaChappa was born around 1820 during the Mexican era. He said during this era, Native people were dealing with the invasions of many different other cultures in addition to battling disease, so it’s incredible that she survived this period. This gave a window into a time period that many did not remember or live through.

“She was able to survive, she didn’t get the diseases, she was able to marry, she was able to prosper in a sense that she survived,” he said, adding that, “Felicita survived during that turbulent time, those that were here were able to photograph her, interview her and now in honor of her, name this beautiful park after Felicita.”

The park’s property was bought by San Diego County in 1929 and was named after LaChappa to honor her. To this day, there are still holes in some large rocks, evidence of the Native American people who once lived there. Toler estimates those artifacts to be 3,000 or 4,000 years old.

Tolder added that the county has done a good job of adding signage around the park to educate the public on the history of LaChappa and the other Native Americans who once lived there.