Lázaro Piña was a trusted officer under Vallejo’s command and so was granted Agua Caliente, a 3,600 acre tract of land neighboring Vallejo’s Petaluma grant. Agua Caliente extended from the pueblo of Sonoma north to the wetlands where Kenwood is today. Formal approval of this grant did not occur however until 1840, after Piña had quickly reconveyed the land back to Vallejo; there is conjecture that all this was a subterfuge on Vallejo’s part to control land beyond his Petaluma holdings.
As a seasoned oﬃcer, Lázaro Piña was entrusted with significant and sensitive assignments that required diplomacy, resourcefulness, and decisiveness. During his first year in Sonoma he was dispatched to locate and execute an Indian neophyte, who had been accused of the murder of a young Mexican boy and girl. Piña was also a central figure in what later became known as the Lausanne Incident, an awkward and politically sensitive confrontation with the Russians over the presence of undocumented American traders at Bodega Bay.
Lázaro Piña and his wife, Maria Placida Villela, were the parents of six sons and one daughter. After Maria’s death in 1844 Lázaro married Maria Ignacia Pacheco. Soon after the beginning of the Mexican-American War, Piña was reassigned to the front, where he died in combat against the Americans at the Battle of Cerro Gordo on April 18, 1847.