The High Chaparral
Don Sebastian Montoya


Don Sebastian Montoya was born in the early part of the nineteenth century. While much is unknown about his early life, we do know that he was not born to a life of luxury.  In the words of his daughter, Victoria, Don Sebastian carved an empire out of a wilderness "with his own two hands" and became the most widely known -- and one of the most widely feared -- landowners of Sonora, Mexico. 

Perhaps it was the hard work and the necessity to build his own fortune that created a wily, ruthless man who would stop at nothing to broaden the reach of his power.  It was Don Sebastian's greed that most often played a comic role in the lives of the people closest to him, but the softer side of "The Lion of Sonora" was his redemption. Don Sebastian had been completely devoted to his wife, who passed away after his two children, Victoria and Manolito, were already young adults. He vowed to never marry again, but hoped his loneliness would be alleviated by the grandchildren his offspring would eventually provide.  Don Sebastian's main obsessions in life were marrying off his daughter and transforming his wild, reckless son into a man capable of inheriting Rancho Montoya. 

Don Sebastian had his best success with Victoria.  When the Rancho Rivera to the north was seemingly abandoned, Don Sebastian wasted no time trying to expand the reach of his own empire.  But when his men tried to drive the newly acquired cattle south, they ran into an unexpected difficulty.  By this time a new rancher, John Cannon, had bought the Rancho Rivera, renamed it  "The High Chaparral", and had beaten back Don Sebastian's hired hands, threatening to hang the next man who dared trespass on his land. Don Sebastian was furious that his plans were thwarted, and vowed to kill John and Buck Cannon the first time he ever laid eyes on them.  But Manolito, Don Sebastian's son, continued a long legacy of playing tricks on his father ... he brought the brothers Cannon to the Rancho Montoya and introduced them to his father as friends.  Not wishing to sully the honor of his hospitality, Don Sebastian grudgingly invited them to supper, clearly annoyed with his son for having put him in such a difficult position. 

Their first meal together, however, changed the old lion's outlook.  He saw that John Cannon was a powerful enemy, true, but could be turned into a powerful ally.  He also saw that his still unmarried daughter was impressed by John.  Always the practical man, Don Sebastian promised John an alliance, but only under the condition that John agree to marry his daughter.  John knew he was outmatched -- he could not expect The High Chaparral to flourish if he had to fight both the Apaches and Don Sebastian -- so he agreed.  By some miracle, Victoria did not oppose her father's plan -- likely a surprise to all concerned, as she had repeatedly frustrated her father by rejecting every suitor he had ever found for her.  Victoria married John and moved north to The High Chaparral, accompanied by her brother and leaving Don Sebastian to live the rest of his life alone.  He hoped that the change of scene would encourage his son to behave more responsibly, but as long as Don Sebastian lived, he would never see that hope entirely realized. 

With all that Don Sebastian acquired throughout his remarkable life, the one thing he wanted most he would not live to have:  grandchildren.  Victoria's marriage did not produce children prior to the death of her father, and Manolito was still unmarried when his father died.  Don Sebastian died in his sleep only a few years after his children left him.  In his will, it was found that Don Sebastian had left Rancho Montoya to his good-for-nothing brother, Don Domingo.  As much as he wanted his son to inherit the estate, he knew that it was the last thing Manolito wanted.  While Don Sebastian's love for his son was often not as apparent as his affection for his daughter, it was a powerful force underlying all that went on between the two men.  Once, following an embarrassing game of cat-and-mouse, Don Sebastian looked at his son and asked, "What else is there between us?" to which Manolito replied, "Well ... I am the son of my father."  A hearty laugh followed from both ... it was always this acknowledgement that could heal any breach and always brought them back together. 

Throughout his life, Don Sebastian Montoya was a practical, intelligent, greedy and often unscrupulous man ... but in the end, his love for his children would never be forgotten by those who lived on to remember him. (By Brenda Meskunas)

From "Filibusteros"

See the Guide to Character Weight to determine in which episodes Don Sebastian had major or minor roles.

Return to Ranch House

Return to Home/Contents