Ceasar Ramon Castro was born 1943 in National City and raised in the Otay Township. His father was Raul Cosio Castro (b. 1910 in Eureka, Baja California). Raul came with his mother to the United States in 1921 where his grandmother, Jesus Beltran Castro (b. 1862, Baja California, Mexico), already lived with Raul’s aunt Angela.
Interestingly, two of Jesus Beltran’s sisters married East Coast Irish men. One great aunt married Joseph Hale who came to the area during the Gold Rush, but didn’t strike gold. Consequently, he set up a business bringing cattle up from Baja to Northern California. During his travels up and down Baja and Alta California shipping cattle, he discovered a blue dye along the Pacific Coast that he could pick himself and sell. Seeing profit in the endeavor, Joseph secured a Mexican government license to pick that dye and subsequently became extremely wealthy. When he died in 1897, his estimated worth was 2 million dollars.
Ceasar’s mother was Sara Pilar Chavez Castro (b. 1918, Alamo, Baja California, Mexico). Her father, Manuel Chavez (b. 1872, San Jose Del Cabo, Baja California, Mexico), had been a gold miner when it was discovered in Baja California in the late 1800s. He had an American partner named Mr. Morgan. According to Ceasar, it appears that they may have come from San Antonio, Baja California, which was a mining community. However, when the mining petered out, Manuel had no work. In 1922 he brought the family to the United States and, for a time, he was a farm hand in Bonita.
Raul’s family settled across from the abandoned Otay Watch Factory and Raul attended Otay Elementary (which would be renamed the John J. Montgomery Elementary School). From there, he went straight to Sweetwater High School. He was very proud of having graduated from high school and also that he was the only Hispanic on the fifteen-member track team. After graduation he started working for Claudio Gonzales as a farmer.
Raul Castro married Sara Chavez and they had three children: Mary Christine (b. 1940), Ceasar (b. 1943) and Gilbert (b. 1946). At first, they lived at 314 Zenith Street in Otay Township. In 1958 they moved to 177 H Street, Chula Vista. Raul helped build the house in which he, his wife and children lived before Ceasar was born. It was a small two bedroom home made of redwood. The house had a large backyard with six fruit trees: apple, pomegranate, peach, plume, apricot and kumquat. For a while Raul raised rabbits and at one time had over one hundred. He would sell their fur and the family would eat the meat.
Ceasar attended John J. Montgomery Elementary School, Castle Park Junior High, Chula Vista High School for a year and a half and then he graduated from Hilltop High School in 1961. He attended Southwestern College for two years, then went on to study electrical engineering at San Diego State University. However, when his parents’ ranch closed down in 1964, Ceasar had to save money in order to complete his education and worked two years for Pacific Phone Company installing phones. He completed his degree from SDSU in 1967 and subsequently received a Master’s from Purdue University.
Ceasar married Ana Banuelos, originally from El Paso, Texas, who eventually became a principal for several South Bay schools.
(Interview: February 26, 2016)