A Brief History of the City of
The Tongval, the Juaneno and Luiseno tribes were the native people of
this land before
the arrival of the Europeans. The Tongva, later know as the
the Gabrielino Native Americans, migrated into the Southern California
region about 1,500 to 2,000 years ago. There were about 5,000
Native Americans that lived from the foothills of the San Gabriel
Mountains, all the way down to the shores of Laguna Beach, and as far
inland into Temecula. They set up villages and settlements
where (and when) food and water were easily obtainable, including here,
around the area we know today as the City of Orange. As late
as 1870, a Native American Camp was still thriving where Glassell
Street crosses the Santiago Creek, near the Garden Grove Freeway.
The lives of the
California natives were reshaped by the mission fathers led
by Father Junipero Serra and the expedition of Gaspar de
Portola. The mission road known as the El Camino Real passed
not too far from where the Plaza sits today. The area of
Olive was considered for a mission settlement, but resident natives
resisted. The proposed mission was later established in the
San Gabriel Valley in 1771, where it sits today. San Juan
Capistrano Mission was founded in 1776.
1801, Juan Pablo Grijalva, a soldier who came to Alta
California with the De Anza expedition in 1775, petitioned for "Rancho
Santiago de Santa Ana" in 1801 after retiring from service.
He received concession documents in 1802. The
Grijalva adobe ranch hose was built overlooking the Santiago Creek, on
what is known as Hoyt Hill, at the current intersection of Hewes and
Santiago Canyon Road. Juan died in 1806 with the land and
grants passing to his son-in-law,
Jose Antonio Yorba and his grandson, Juan Pablo Peralta. A
proper land grant was filed and on July 1, 1810, the land was granted
to Jose and Juan and was renamed Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana.
These families officially owned 79,00 acres of land between
them and were able to ride from today's Riverside County line, to the
Newport Beach coast, without leaving their family's property.
The 79,000 acre rancho was ultimately divided amongst the remaining
Yorba and Peralta family members, including Bernardo Yorba, Jose
Antonio's son. In the early 1860's, Leonardo Cota, Bernardo
Yorba's son-in-law, borrowed money from Abel Stearns, the largest
landowner in Southern California at that time. The load
and Cota put up his interest of the Rancho. Leonardo hired
Glassell and Alfred Beck Chapman as his attorneys for they specialized
in property law. For their services, Glassell and Chapman
land for partial payment.
Together Glassell and Chapman combined
their land and hired Frank Lecouvereur to survey their tract in 1870.
Their tract was portioned into 40, 80 and 160 acres.
saved 18 lots within their surveyed tract for what they envisioned
being a center for a town. This town, known as Richland, had
laid out and staked on the Santa Ana Ranch in close proximity to an
existing stagecoach line to the city of Los Angeles. The soil
which their town was laid was able to used for a diversity of crops
with readily available water from the nearby river and creek.
In 1873 Richland got a new name. The name of "Richland" was
already given to a city near Sacramento and the Post Office of
California requested a change of name from the Richland in the south.
The 3.1 square mile, city of Orange, the new name to the
"Richland of the South", was incorporated on April 6, 1888, within the
County of Los Angeles. The city boundaries stretched from
Street in the west, to the Santiago Creek in the east, and from La Veta
Avenue in the south, to Collins Avenue in the north. Orange
County was incorporated in 1889, with Santa Ana beating out both
Anaheim and Orange for the county seat.
The center of the
original town site became known as the Plaza, which has
become the symbol of the community. Today, the Plaza and the original
one square mile town site contain many homes and buildings dating to
the early days of the city and the site is registered on the National
For more history, information and further details about
city of Orange, may we suggest enjoying a morning or afternoon with our
volunteer docents through Old Towne Orange along our Historical Walking Tour.