After Alta California was secularized, SGV was divided up and distributed through land grants provided by the Mexican government. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was an agreement between the United States and Mexico that ended the Mexican-American War. An initial draft of the treaty guaranteed the land grants would be valid. However, that guarantee was taken out and the U.S. simply agreed to honor them. The treaty was signed in 1848.
In 1849, the gold rush started and in 1850, California became a state. Destined to keep California a white state, the Public Land Act of 1851 was passed, which required holders of the land to prove the validity of their land grants, instead of just honoring them as agreed. This resulted in some rancheros (owners of ranchos) losing their ranchos. Some ranchos were granted outright to Americans and Europeans. Eventually, through a series of miscalculations by a few and the luck of one, much of the SGV ended up in the ownership of Eli Baldwin. Ultimately, the ranchos will be partitioned off and sold, cities incorporated, and the SGV as we know it. Below is a brief history of the ranchos.
Rancho San Jose (1837-1882)
Included: Pomona, Claremont, San Dimas, Glendora, and La Verne.
As all of the other ranchos that made up the SGV, Rancho San Jose was land seized from the San Gabriel Mission after the Mexican decree of secularization. Ygnacio Palomares and Ricardo Vejar were granted the land that would cover 15,000 to 22,000 acres and much of eastern Los Angeles County and operated initially as a sheep and cattle ranch. The rancho was expanded when Luis Arenas joined Palomares and Vejar. Ygnacio Palomares was a member of Spanish aristocracy and Ricardo Vejar was a judge in the Los Angeles area. Palomares kept his share of the land; however, Vejar would lose his interest in the Rancho San Jose as well as another rancho to the U.S. government seizing the land in violation of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Arenas would sell his one-third interest in Rancho San Jose to Henry Dalton. Once wells were found on the property, Rancho San Jose and others began focusing on citrus. The land was eventually sold after the death of Francisco Palomares (Ygnacio’s son) in 1882).
Rancho Azusa de Duarte (1841-1878)
Included: Arcadia, portions of Monrovia, all of Bradbury, all of Duarte, portions of Irwindale, portions of Azusa and a portion of Baldwin Park.
Rancho Azusa de Duarte was granted to Andres Duarte, a corporal in the Mexican Army. After the treaty, Duarte was forced to pay to file and defend his claim, which ultimately resulted in him have to sell the land for filing and lawyer fees. Duarte was eventually awarded the access to the land, but by then had sold it to defend his interests.
Rancho La Puente (1845-1868)
Included: Avocado Heights, Bassett, Baldwin Park, San Dimas, Rowland Heights, Hacienda Heights, City of Industry, La Puente, Walnut, Covina, West Covina, and section of South El Monte and Irwindale.
Rancho La Puente was granted by land grant to John Rowland (American) and William Workman (British). They were able to maintain their state in the property after the Treat of Guadalupe Hidalgo, because they were able to afford to defend their claim, as was required under the treaty. This requirement allowed the U.S. government to take the land of those unable to defend their claim, as was the case for Vejar with Rancho San Jose. Eurpoean settlers were far better able to defend their claims than native or Mexican individuals who received land grants. Much of the land was used for cattle and farming as well. The rancho was partitioned in 1868, divided by Rowland and Workman. Rowland continued in cattle and farming. Workman began conducting business with Francisco Temple, where the two became very wealthy, including starting a bank. Workman mortgaged much of his land to Elias Baldwin, who would eventually foreclose on the property after the economy took a downturn and he was unable to afford the mortgage. The bank also collapsed. Much of the land has been passed down to the lineage of Rowland, Workman, Temple, and Baldwin. Names that are still commonplace in the region.
Rancho Santa Anita (1845-1847)
Included Temple City, Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia, Sierra Madre and San Marino.
Hugo Reid was awarded the land grant that would later serve as Rancho Santa Anita. Reid was a man from Scotland who resettled in Mexico, became a citizen, and married a Kizh woman, Victoria. In 1847, Rancho Santa Anita was sold to Henry Dalton, the owner of Rancho Azusa.
Rancho Potrero Grande (1845-1876)
Included: Rosemead and South El Monte.
The land was originally granted to Manuel Antonio, who was a mayordomo at the San Gabriel Mission. Rancho Potrero Grande was purchased by Juan Matias Sanchez, who later successfully completed his claim after the treaty in 1859. However, Sanchez, who was a friend of William Workman and Temple, owners of Rancho La Puente, helped them by mortgage Rancho Potrero Grande to Baldwin. Just as Workman and temple, Sanchez would lose Rancho Potrero Grande to Baldwin after the economic downturn and foreclosure by Baldwin.
Rancho San Pascual
Included: Pasadena, South Pasadena, and portions of San Marino and the unincorporated communities of Altadena and San Pasqual.
Rancho San Pascual was originally granted to Juan Marine, who died in 1838. In 1839, Jose Perez and Enrique Sepulveda were granted title to the property and they died in 1841 and 1843, respectively. A lieutenant of the Mexican Army, Manuel Garfias. Garfias was granted the land by Mexican governor Micheltorena, while Gargias served as an officer in Micheltorena’s “Batalon Fijo de Californias,” translated “Fixed Battalion of California.” When it came to claim title for Rancho San Pascual, after the Treaty, a claim was put forward by descendants of Jose Perez and Enrique Sepulveda, but that claim was rejected. Instead, Garfias’ claim was approved. Garfias sold the much of the land to build an elaborate adobe that would ultimately result in Garfias losing the rest of the land. The land was sold to prominent white individuals including one who would go on to serve as Governor of California.
Rancho Azusa de Dalton (1844-1885)
Included Azusa, Arcadia, Monrovia, Irwindale and Baldwin Park.
In 1844, Henry Dalton, born in London, England, purchased El Susa from Luis Arenas, along with the one-third interest in Rancho San Jose that Arenas received after he, Palormares, and Vejar expanded their rancho. El Susa was renamed by Dalton to Rancho Azusa de Dalton. Dalton would go on to expand Rancho Azusa de Dalton to include Rancho Santa Anita and Rancho San Francisquito. This resulted in Henry Dalton owning what would become present day San Dimas to the eastern edge of Pasadena. After the Treaty, Dalton had to defend his claim and thus borrowed from J.S. Slauson to do so. After 24 years of litigation, the court sided against him and he had to turn Rancho Azusa over to Slauson, where he was deeded back a 55-acre homestead. Upon Dalton’s death, Slauson acquired Rancho Azusa de Dalton, and developed the town of Azusa.
Rancho Potrero de Felipe Lugo
Included: South El Monte.
Jorge Morrillo and Teodoro Romero received a grant for Rancho Potrero de Felipe Lugo. Jorge Morrillo’s wife, Magdalena Vejar, was the sister of Ricardo Vejar, the individual granted Rancho San Jose in 1837. After the Treaty, a claim was filed by Jorge Morillo and Juana María Verdugo de Romero and was granted in 1871. By 1874, P.P.F. Temple owned Rancho Potrero de Felipe Lugo and one-half of Rancho La Merced. This rancho, along with Rancho Potrero Grande and Rancho La Puente, was foreclosed by Elias Baldwin, who would ultimately become the owner.