Pablo Antonio Cota was born circa 1744 at Loreto in Baja California. On July 4, 1768 he enlisted as a soldier at the age of 24. In March of 1769 he traveled with the Portolá expedition to San Diego. Cota was with the second land party that discovered the Port of Monterey in May of 1770.
Pablo Cota was stationed at Monterey from 1771-1774. In 1774 he was transferred to Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa as a cabo (corporal). He most likely witnessed the arrival of Anza in March of 1776 at San Luis Obispo. In November of 1776 Pablo Cota married Rosa María Lugo at Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.
Pablo Cota was cabo de la escolta (corporal of the mission guard) in 1778 at Mission San Antonio de Padua. Felipe de Neve promoted Cota to Sergeant at San Gabriel in 1781 and listed him as one of the soldiers destined for Santa Barbara.
Cota was in charge of the escolta at Mission San Buenaventura from its very beginning. In 1782 he was formally listed as Sargento de Compañia Presidial de Santa Bárbara (Sergeant of the Presidial Company of Santa Barbara).
In March of 1788 Sergeant Cota established the new mission La Purísima Concepción in what is now Lompoc. He was promoted to Alférez that same year. He continued to supervise work at Purísima and served as paymaster at the Santa Barbara Presidio in 1792. In 1793 Cota supervised the construction of a crossing on the Pajaró River (near Watsonville). He inspected escoltas at various missions and served as acting commandant of Santa Barbara in 1797. He headed a survey party for Mission Santa Inés in 1789.
Alferez Cota died December 30, 1800, and was buried at the Presidio of Santa Barbara. He was 55 years old at the time of his death having served as a presidio soldier for 32 years.