Don Julian Estrada was the first of many individuals to own the property on which the Village of Cambria presently stands. He was born into the wealthy and powerful Estrada family in Monterey in 1813. The Estradas married into such prominent families as Carrillo, Lugo, Vallejo and Arguello. The Estrada family owned twelve ranchos amounting to 37.5 leagues which is about 166,000 acres or 260 square miles. Between Don Julian, his brothers and brothers-in-law alone, the family controlled eight ranchos amounting to more than 90,000 acres. One of his brothers, Jose Ramon Estrada, owned the Rancho San Simeon and his first cousin, Jose Joaquin Tomas Estrada, owned the Rancho Santa Margarita.
In 1842, Don Julian married Senorita Nicolasa Gajiola who was also born in Monterey on August 30, 1820. The marriage produced ten children including three sons, Manuel, Mariano and Francisco, and seven daughters, Maria, Sanovia, Rosania, Isabel, Louisa, Gloria and Refugia. In 1849, Don Julian moved his growing family from Monterey to the Rancho Santa Rosa where he engaged in stock raising, having up to 3,000 head of cattle. He sold the hides and tallow to traders who took them to the big cities of the eastern United States by sailing ship around Cape Horn and, after the gold rush, he supplied beef to the growing city of San Francisco.
Like most rancho owners, Don Julian Estrada had great wealth in land and cattle but very little ready cash. In the 1850s he got into financial difficulty due to the declining prices for beef, hides and tallow, bad weather, surveying costs, and increasing property taxes. On August 8, 1859, the San Luis County Board of Supervisors divided the ranchos within the county into four classes depending on the quality of their land. The Rancho Santa Rosa was assigned to the second class which was assessed at the rate of one dollar per acre. In the following year, 1860, Don Julian paid $924 in property taxes compared to the $191 he paid in 1850.
Using the rancho as security, he borrowed $7,900 from Domingo Pujol, a merchant from San Francisco, but he was unable to repay the debt. On May 17, 1862, Pujol and Estrada struck a deal in which Pujol gave Estrada an additional $12,000 and took possession of the rancho with the stipulation that, within one year, Pujol would return to Estrada a 1500 acre square. The square was to be designated by Estrada and would include Don Julian’s house which was located on the present Highway One just north of its intersection with Highway 46. On November 11, 1868, Don Julian finally selected the square and had it surveyed by R. R. Harris.
On November 7, 1860, Estrada was elected county supervisor and he was re-elected to that position on September 4, 1861. Don Julian died on December 27, 1870 and his wife, Nicolasa, died on August 16, 1890, Both are buried in the cemetery at Mission San Luis Obispo.