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Title: The Romance of the Ranchos

Author: E. Palmer Conner

Release date: November 11, 2016 [eBook #53500]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Stephen Hutcheson, MFR and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at


The Romance of the Ranchos

Romance of the

Chief Title Searcher

Title Insurance and Trust Company
433 South Spring Street
Los Angeles

Reprinted by permission from the Los Angeles Times
Fifth Edition


Old Plaza Church
Where Los Angeles began


Ranchos of California

Picture a map of California cut up into Ranchos like a crazy quilt, dotted with twenty-one Missions and a handful of Pueblos. Picture a people browned by the sun, happy, prosperous and carefree. Picture a white-walled hacienda on each of the ranchos, every one open with a never failing hospitality and welcome. That was California when the Americans took it.

With the advent of American ownership the tide of population turned to California in a never ending stream. By sail, steamboat, covered wagon and finally by train came a new people. The great Spanish ranchos soon passed to new owners and took on a new character. There is a record of Spanish ranchos traded for nearly every commodity and necessity. Ranchos like the Malibu and the Centinela exchanged for wines and groceries, the Los Alamitos bought with hides and tallow, the La Canada deeded for an attorney’s fee, ranchos for horses, for vines, for surveyor’s fees and many ranchos for mortgages.

It was a period of rare honor. Don Abel Stearns refused to take advantage of a technicality in his favor and lost a 29,000 acre rancho. Juan Matias Sanchez to help his friends, William Workman and F. P. F. Temple, signed their mortgage to “Lucky” Baldwin and lost his own rancho in the San Gabriel Valley, wholly without consideration.

With progress and development the ranchos gave way to the towns and farming communities. Many of these towns, now grown to cities, were named for the ranchos on which they were built. In Los Angeles County, Ranchos Santa Monica, San Fernando, Azusa, La Canada, Puente and Tujunga all gave their names to the towns founded within their borders. Santa Ana and La Habra in Orange County likewise took their names from their ranchos. Santa Barbara was an original Spanish Pueblo but still farther north in San Luis Obispo County, Arroyo Grande, Pismo, Santa Margarita, Atascadero and Paso Robles all correspond with the rancho of the same name.

Many names of roads and highways all over California can be traced directly to the rancho over which they pass. Many others were named for an illustrious owner, who perhaps in bright velvet and astride a silver saddle, rode down the same road when California was a land of great ranchos in the days of the Dons.


Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit

Among the ranchos of Los Angeles County Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit, more commonly known as the Malibu Ranch, is outstanding. Not that it was the first of the grants, although in fact it was one of the first, or because it was the largest, although its acreage of 13,315 was exceeded by few, but the historic rancho has in its almost intact state outlived all others and today it stands as “The Last of the Ranchos.”

The Malibu was first granted in 1804 to Jose Bartolome Tapia by Jose Joaquin de Arrillaga, Military Governor of the Californias, acting for the King of Spain. It bordered the Pacific for miles and extended back into the mountains,—a princely domain unexcelled for beauty.

The heirs of Tapia held the property until January 24, 1848, when they granted the great rancho to Leon Victor Prudhomme of the Pueblo of Los Angeles for the sum of $400, $200 to be paid in cash and $200 in groceries and wines. As the heirs were uncertain as to the true name of the rancho they gave four names under which it had been known and concluded by reciting that it was bounded on the north by the high mountains, on the south by the Pacific Ocean, on the east by the Rancho Santa Monica and on the west by the mouth of the River of San Buenaventura. The recital that the rancho was bounded on the south by the Pacific Ocean is correct as the rancho faces the ocean more southerly than westerly.

Prudhomme also had a famous vineyard near Cucamonga and in order to devote all of his time to the vineyard he sold the Rancho Topanga Malibu in 1857 to Matthew Keller, known in Spanish days as Don Mateo Keller, for $1400. Mateo Street in Los Angeles is named for Mr. Keller.

In 1872 an agreement was entered into between Matthew Keller and Mrs. Carrie S. Lewis for conveyance of the rancho to Mrs. Lewis for $35,000, a little less than $3.00 an acre, but the buyer failed to complete the deal and Matthew Keller remained the sole owner until his death in 1881.

In 1892 in two conveyances H. W. Keller, son of Don Mateo Keller and assignee of the other heirs, sold the property to May K. 5 Rindge and Frederick H. Rindge for approximately $10 per acre. Mrs. Rindge is now President of the Marblehead Land Company, owner of the property, and it is now being developed into a seaside residential district.

From Tapia to Prudhomme, Prudhomme to Keller, Keller to Rindge—surely a very brief history of a great rancho—yet today its value is figured in tens of millions of dollars—surely a great advance from the days when it was traded for the wines and groceries.

Twenty-Mile Shore Line of the Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit


Ranchos Los Cerritos and Los Alamitos

The lives of two persons seldom parallel themselves more strangely than did the lives of two great California ranchos, the Rancho Los Cerritos and the Rancho Los Alamitos. Both were part of the Manuel Nieto grant made in 1784 by the King of Spain, each was partitioned to a Nieto heir, each became the property of a New Englander and each owner naturalized as a citizen of Mexico. They rivaled each other for the honor of the finest sheep, the fattest cattle, the fastest horses. Together they became the property of the Bixbys, jointly they shared the growth of Long Beach and finally they divided the honor of Signal Hill—Los Cerritos the northwesterly slopes, Los Alamitos the southeasterly slopes.

Juan Temple was one of the New Englanders who early settled in Los Angeles when California was a part of Mexico. At one time Temple ran the mint for the government of Mexico. Later he opened the first general merchandise store in Los Angeles, advanced the City of Los Angeles funds for Ord’s Survey, built the first theater, the County’s first Court House and the Temple Block, recently wrecked to make way for Los Angeles’ new City Hall. Temple Street is named for him.

Not only did Temple naturalize as a citizen of Mexico, but he married a Spanish girl of a prominent family. Dona Rafaela Cota became his bride and by this marriage Temple acquired one-twelfth of the Rancho Los Cerritos, then owned by Rafaela and her eleven brothers and sisters, heirs of Manuela Nieto de Cota. The remaining eleven-twelfths was not so easily acquired and it cost Don Juan “$3025 in silver coin and an equal amount in merchandise at market prices” to complete his ownership of the 27,000 acre rancho.

In 1844 the large hacienda, yet standing on the Virginia Country Club grounds, was built and occupied by the new owners. Until a short time before his death Juan Temple divided his time between his big Rancho and his many interests in the Pueblo of Los Angeles. In 1866 he sold the hacienda, the cattle, the sheep, the horses and the 27,000 acres for $20,000 and removed to San Francisco where he died. Benjamin and Thomas Flint and Llewellyn Bixby were the fortunate purchasers.


Meanwhile, adjoining Los Cerritos on the East, Rancho Los Alamitos had had a similar career. Another heir of Manuel Nieto to whom this 28,000 acre Rancho was partitioned, sold it in 1834 for $500 to Brigadier-General Jose Figueroa for whom Figueroa Street in Los Angeles is named, and at one time Governor of California under Mexico.

In 1840 the Estate of Figueroa sold the Rancho, composed of “six sites of grown up cattle” to Don Abel Stearns for $5500 to be paid in hides and tallow to be laid down at San Pedro or at Mazatlan. Don Abel Stearns was the other New Englander who became famous as a Mexican citizen. Like Temple he, too, married into a Spanish family and was equally prominent in affairs of the Pueblo of Los Angeles.

The same drought that caused a terrific loss of stock and forced Juan Temple to sell Los Cerritos for $20,000 proved fatal to Don Abel’s ownership of the Los Alamitos and eight months after the Flints and Bixby bought Los Cerritos the Sheriff sold Los Alamitos to Michael Reese for $31,000, approximately $1.10 an acre. In 1881 the Estate of Michael Reese sold the rancho to John W. Bixby, who in turn conveyed a one-third interest each to I. W. Hellman and Jotham Bixby. Under the Bixbys both ranchos flourished.

When the Bixbys purchased Rancho Los Cerritos and later Rancho Los Alamitos nothing was farther from their thoughts than that they were purchasing the site of the future City of Long Beach but they had the good judgment to hold their land and California, oil and Iowa did the rest.

Four thousand acres of Los Cerritos were sold in 1880 by Jotham Bixby Company to W. E. Willmore, who platted Willmore City, surrounded by the American Colony Tract, composed of farm lots. Tremendous effort was put forth by Mr. Willmore to make his city successful. He advertised all over the country and even ran a special excursion from Chicago with prospective Willmoreans. But the plan was premature and not enough purchasers could be found to buy the city lots at $25.00 to $100.00 each or the farm lots at $15.00 an acre 8 to enable Willmore to meet his agreement with the Bixbys and several years later he abandoned the land to them.

But Willmore had planned well—his streets were wide, 80 and 100 feet being usual, and one, American Avenue, being 124 feet wide, and the natural beauty of the land and ocean frontage made it attractive to others. Soon a syndicate under the name of Long Beach Land & Water Company took up the sale of the lots and Willmore City took the name of Long Beach.

Now the two families of the Bixbys, one from their hacienda, the former home of Don Juan Temple on the Los Cerritos, the other from their hacienda, the former home of Don Abel Stearns on the Los Alamitos, watched Long Beach grow from a subdivision to a city. The Alamitos Tract and the Townsite of Alamitos Bay were platted.

In 1897, William A. Clark, Montana Copper King and builder of the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad, purchased 8,139 acres of Rancho Los Cerritos for $405,000. This vast tract, known as the Montana Ranch, has been held practically intact to the present day. Early development, however, is planned for this property by the Janss Investment Company, Los Angeles Realtors, who have announced that they will build a model city on the ranch.

In 1921 the secret of Signal Hill was discovered and an added impetus given the development of the two ranchos. Soon the hill bristled with oil derricks. There being then many owners there soon were many millionaires. Oil flowed so fast from the hill that on several occasions it streamed uncontrolled over lawns and flowers on the slopes of Signal Hill. Daily the value of the oil taken from the hill equalled twice the price the Bixbys paid for both ranchos.

Slowly the oil fields have been extended—northwesterly toward the hacienda of Don Juan Temple and southeasterly toward the hacienda of Don Abel Stearns.


Rancho Aguaje de La Centinela

Traded with two barrels of wine for a small adobe house in the Pueblo of Los Angeles, then in turn owned by a noble Spaniard, an ignoble Frenchman, a famous Confederate General and a Scotch Baronet, then the scene of one of the most spectacular boom subdivisions in the Land Boom of 1886-1888 and finally the site of a prosperous and successful city—such is the history of the Rancho Centinela.

The rancho was granted in 1844 by the “Department of California,” Government of Mexico, to Ignacio Machado by a grant which described the land as “half a league more or less of grazing land.” Machado did not prize his grazing land very highly and the following year traded the property to Bruno Abila for a small adobe house “with vineyard fenced” in the suburbs of the Pueblo of Los Angeles. But in the eyes of these two traders, the small adobe was worth more than the great Rancho Centinela and the deed provided that in addition to the rancho Machado was to give as an added consideration two barrels of aguardiente (wine).

Bruno Abila held the rancho until 1857 at which time he carelessly—or desperately—borrowed $900 with interest at six per cent per month, or seventy-two per cent per year, and, giving his rancho as security, promptly lost it under the hammer. Hilliard P. Dorsey bought the property at Sheriff’s Sale for $2000, or about $1 an acre.

But Hilliard P. Dorsey paid too much for the land and two years later Civility R. Dorsey, his widow, sold it out of his Estate for $930, or thirty-five cents an acre. However, the deed to Francis I. Carpenter, the purchaser, provided that he, Carpenter, was obligated as part of the consideration to run off and dispossess of his own effort one Fernando, a Frenchman and son-in-law of Bruno Abila, a former owner, who had refused to surrender peaceable possession of the rancho.

The next owner of the rancho was Joseph Lancaster Brent, a Southerner by birth, but for many years a prominent citizen of Los Angeles. In 1860, just before the Civil War started, Brent sold his rancho and at the outbreak of the war hastened to make his way south and join the Confederate Army. He was later made a Brigadier-General and was with the last Confederate General to lay down his 10 sword. The conveyance by Brent was made for a consideration of $3,000 to Sir Robert Burnett, a Baronet of Scotland, who on a visit to California had fallen in love with the natural charm of the Rancho Centinela and purchased both it and its neighbor, the Rancho Sausal Redondo.

From this time on the value of the rancho grew rapidly and in 1885 Sir Robert Burnett and Lady Matilda Josephine Burnett, both of Crathes Castle in the Kingdom of Great Britain, sold the two ranchos for $140,000 to Daniel Freeman, the founder of Inglewood.

Then came the great Land Boom, the town of Inglewood was platted and thrown on the market. Beautiful parks and plazas were planned and dedicated and Mr. Freeman, with an insight into the future that now seems uncanny, platted streets of unheard of width.

Used as cattle land by the Spanish, sheep land by the Baronet and a Boom Subdivision by Daniel Freeman, the Rancho Centinela has attained its greatest period of usefulness and success today as the site of the thriving City of Inglewood.

Ranch Home on the Rancho Aguaje de La Centinela


Rancho San Pascual

The Rancho San Pascual has always been a famous ranch. Its owners have always been prominent in the affairs of California and in the Pueblo of Los Angeles. It has always been famed for beauty and today within its far-flung boundaries are the world famous cities of Altadena, Pasadena, South Pasadena and parts of San Marino.

The rancho was granted in 1843 by the then Mexican Governor, Manuel Micheltorena, to Manuel Garfias and comprised 13,693 acres of land. Manuel Garfias later became Los Angeles County’s first Treasurer. At the time he was campaigning for the office of Treasurer he sold a portion of his rancho for approximately $3.00 an acre for funds with which to finance his ambitious plans.

Manuel Garfias was a member of one of the finest Spanish families and married Luisa Abila, whose family owned the Abila hacienda facing the Plaza in the Pueblo of Los Angeles and where Commodore Stockton resided while stationed in Los Angeles. History records that Manuel Garfias was an excellent County Treasurer but as a ranchero he was very poor and bit by bit he sold off parts of the rancho until in 1857, heavily involved in financial obligations, he sold the remainder of the rancho to B. D. Wilson, the famous Don Benito. Wilson Avenue in Pasadena, South Pasadena and Alhambra, Wilson Lake and Mt. Wilson are all named for B. D. Wilson. Under his care and under the guidance of Dr. John S. Griffin, who purchased an undivided one-half interest from Mr. Wilson, the Rancho progressed and the price of the land gradually increased.

The early conveyances of parts of the Rancho in addition to the usual indefinite ties of an oak tree, a little rock set on a big one or a pile of bones or brush, tied in one of its courses “to a point on the side of a hill North of the prickly pears.” Many of the descriptions tied to the walled garden of Benjamin D. Wilson, called “Huerta de Quati.”

Later the Rancho was settled by the Indiana Colony, Pasadena was founded, then South Pasadena and San Marino and today within its boundaries are many thousands of magnificent homes, carrying on the fame of the famous Rancho San Pascual.


Rancho Santa Gertrudes

Seventeen thousand six hundred and two acres of California’s most fertile land, bordered by a large river, divided by two smaller ones and with a billion dollar oil pool beneath—the Rancho Santa Gertrudes sold under the hammer for $3.40 an acre.

The rancho was a part of the great Manuel Nieto grant made by the King of Spain through the Spanish Governor, Pedro Fages. The Nieto grant was divided among his heirs and Antonio Maria Nieto received the part designated as the Rancho Santa Gertrudes and in 1834 the Mexican Governor, Jose Figueroa, confirmed the title to Dona Josefa Cota, widow of Antonio Maria Nieto.

Later the rancho was conveyed to Lemuel Carpenter, born a Missourian, but for many years a resident of California when it was a part of Mexico. For awhile Carpenter and his beautiful wife, Maria de Los Angeles Dominguez de Carpenter, lived happily on the rancho. They prospered under Mexico but failed under the United States and on November 14, 1859, the rancho was sold by the Sheriff. One week before the day of the sale Carpenter committed suicide.

John G. Downey and James P. McFarland, doing business as Downey, McFarland & Company, were the purchasers at the sale, paying $60,000 for the entire rancho. Both of these men were famous characters in California history. Downey became the Civil War Governor of the State and McFarland a leading State Senator. Together they opened the first drug store in Los Angeles, and Downey, with Alvinza Hayward, organized the first bank.

In 1865 the rancho was leased for twenty-five years to the Los Angeles Pioneer Oil Company for exploration and development of oil. But, although the oil company diligently explored, no oil could be found and the lease was finally abandoned.

The Town of Downey was started in 1873 with a boom and predictions were freely given that the new city would soon outdistance its sleepy neighbor, Los Angeles.

Toward the east boundary of the rancho the Town of Fulton Sulphur Springs and Health Resort was platted. But few lots were sold until 1886 when the Santa Fe Railway built its line through the 13 town, bought up all the lots and replatted them into smaller ones, planned a big hotel and renamed the town Santa Fe Springs. How foolish the silver-tongued land auctioneers made the purchasers appear when they bought lots, then at $200 apiece. How foolish would the same auctioneers look today if they could see their town of Santa Fe Springs—a city of derricks—a bonanza of “Black Gold.”

Night at Santa Fe Springs on the Rancho Santa Gertrudes


Rancho San Antonio

No horses so fast, no cattle so fine, no land so fertile, no rancho more famous than the Rancho San Antonio. No family more prominent, no hospitality more welcome or as freely partaken, no hacienda more lovely, happy or prosperous than that of the Lugos.

Antonio Maria Lugo received the grant of the rancho from the King of Spain in 1810 and for fifty years thereafter this old Spanish Don and his sons were the sole owners of its 29,514 acres, adjoining the original pueblo grant of the City of Los Angeles on the southeast.

The Lugos saw the rise of the Mission chain to the height of its glory, then the passing of Spanish control and the rise of Mexico, the breaking up of the Mission chain, the fall of Mexico and the coming of the Stars and Stripes. Wars and governments came and passed and the Lugo family stood them all and kept their rancho intact. They built a wonderful adobe in the pueblo of Los Angeles facing the Plaza directly opposite the church and there the social life of the city centered.

But American ways and American prosperity they could not stand and as the County grew, bit by bit they lost their vast rancho by sale, foreclosure and litigation.

In 1865 the Sheriff sold the home place of Vicente Lugo, one of the sons, for a consideration of less than $1.00 an acre. With the conveyance went a large wooden house constructed by the younger Lugo, one of the first wooden houses in the County. In 1883 Jonathan S. Slauson, founder of Azusa and for whom Slauson Avenue is named, purchased the land constituting what had been the home place for $200 an acre. In 1910 the heirs of Slauson sold the land for $500 an acre.

In 1927 part of this land was sold for a consideration of $7,000 an acre for the site of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company’s plant. Only the cluster of trees now shows where the great wooden house once stood while hundreds of workmen pass daily over the paths and gardens of the noble Don Vicente.

On other parts of the rancho have been built Huntington Park, Vernon, Walnut Park, South Gate and Lynwood, all prosperous 15 communities. The original adobe house of Antonio Maria Lugo is yet standing on Baker Avenue opposite the Southern California Edison Company’s Power Station and near the Union Plant of the Consolidated Steel Corporation.

The Lugos builded well and both the hacienda and the city home on the plaza are still in good condition. Both should be landmarked and properly preserved—testimony to the finest in life and honor in the days of the Dons.

No Hacienda More Lovely Than That of the Lugos on the Rancho San Antonio


Rancho Los Felis

North of the Pueblo of Los Angeles and adjoining the Los Angeles River on the west is the Rancho Los Felis, 6,647 acres.

The rancho was granted in 1843 to Maria Ygnacia Verdugo but it is evident that she had been occupying the land for some time previous to that date as on February 17th, 1841, the City of Los Angeles, by the President of its Common Council, granted to her the “right to use the water from the river of Our Lady of Angels for cultivating the lands of Los Felis.” At that time there was so much water in the Los Angeles River in excess of what the pueblo inhabitants could use that the city felt free to dispose of part of it in this manner.

In 1853 Dona Verdugo, signing by mark, granted to her daughters parts of the rancho. These deeds recited that they were made for “the welfare and progress of my daughters.” But the daughters failed to progress and soon sold their respective parts for $1 per acre.

Antonio F. Coronel, famous pioneer of Los Angeles, purchased the rancho and subsequently he deeded it to James Lick, equally famous pioneer of San Francisco, by this “more or less” definite description: “Commencing at a point on Los Angeles River; thence Southerly 3,150 varas, more or less; thence Westerly 6,200 varas, more or less, to a napalera (prickly pear patch); thence Northerly 5,000 varas, more or less, to a calera (lime kiln) and thence Easterly following along the right bank of the Los Angeles River to the place of beginning 7,100 varas, more or less, containing more or less one and a half square leagues of land.”

In 1882, 4,071 acres were purchased by Colonel Griffith Jenkins Griffith and in 1884 Colonel Griffith sold back to the City of Los Angeles for $25,000 the valuable water rights donated 43 years previously.

In the western and southern parts of the rancho development followed rapidly. The Lick Tract, now part of Hollywood, was platted, then Ivanhoe and the Edendale district. But most of the mountain and slope land of the Los Felis Rancho was undeveloped except by hand of nature until 1898 when Colonel Griffith deeded 3,015 acres of unsurpassed land to the City of Los Angeles, one of the finest gifts ever presented to a city—Griffith Park.


Rancho San Pedro

Within the boundaries of Rancho San Pedro was Nigger Slough, Rattlesnake Island and the Salt Flats, and its own name was none too beautiful. But the Rancho San Pedro overcame all such handicaps and developed into a favorite child in the family of the Spanish Ranchos.

This rancho, containing 43,119 acres, was one of the tremendously big Spanish grants made by a Spanish King, who believed the limit of population which Southern California could ever care for was represented in the ten Missions, four Pueblos (San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo) and the comparatively few Ranchos.

The grant was made to Juan Jose Dominguez of an illustrious family quite different from the average Spanish family living in California in its early days. The Dominguez heirs have each in succession adapted themselves to every change and kept a large part of their rancho intact to the present day. But much of the land was so strategically located on the sea, around the harbor and on main lines of boulevards and railroads between Los Angeles and San Pedro, that it was inevitable that intensive development should take place on these parts.

On December 22, 1854, the Dominguez heirs sold 2,400 acres at the harbor to Phineas Banning, B. D. Wilson, John G. Downey and associates for $20,000, or nearly $10.00 an acre, and on this and adjoining land Banning founded the town of Wilmington, originally called New San Pedro. During the Civil War Phineas Banning and B. D. Wilson in a burst of patriotic enthusiasm donated a large parcel of land in their new town to the United States government for Drum Barracks, and as such it served a useful and vital purpose, not only as a supply station and barracks, but, as well, to hold down anti-Union sentiment. It was easy to donate the land but it took eight years and a special act of Congress for Banning and Wilson to get the land back after the close of the War.

Nine miles north of Wilmington but within the same rancho was platted Comptonville, now Compton, originally planned as a temperance colony. Ten miles westerly and also in the same rancho, 18 Redondo Reach, platted in 1889, became a famous pleasure resort. Between these far distant points have been laid out the towns of Gardena, Moneta, and Torrance. In addition to these there are now many hundreds of small farms, and probably the world’s largest aggregation of oil tank farms, two or three airports, an excellent and productive oil field, and there is plenty of land left in the rancho.

Such is the story of a gift from a King—a Rancho of success.

Patio of the Dominguez Home—Rancho San Pedro


Rancho Santa Anita

The Rancho Santa Anita, covered with oaks and on gentle, sloping ground, was situated between Pasadena and Monrovia, and includes within its 13,319 acres the cities of Sierra Madre and Arcadia. Its title was founded on a grant to Hugo Reid made in 1841, confirmed by Mexico in 1845 and by the United States in 1857.

For 20 cents an acre Hugo Reid conveyed the rancho to Henry Dalton, an Englishman who had for 25 years lived in South America. Subsequently it passed to William Wolfskill, whose home in the Pueblo of Los Angeles stood on the present site of the Southern Pacific station. Wolfskill left the rancho to his son, Lewis, and the younger Wolfskill sold it in 1872 for $85,000 to H. Newmark & Co. Both Harris Newmark of that firm and Hugo Reid, the first owner of the rancho, have perpetuated their names in history by their writings of early Los Angeles. Mr. Newmark’s book, “Sixty Years in Southern California,” has had a wide circulation.

Three years later for nearly three times the amount paid by H. Newmark and Co. the rancho was purchased by E. J. Baldwin. Lucky at the mines, lucky in the markets, lucky with horses and luckiest of all with land,—no wonder they called him “Lucky” Baldwin.

Baldwin at this time was a San Franciscan and had made millions in the Ophir mines of Nevada. He built the “fireproof” Baldwin Hotel, the largest in San Francisco, later destroyed by fire. But the charm of Rancho Santa Anita soon took Baldwin from his northern home and he moved into the large ranch house, devoting the balance of his life to the development of this rancho and the acquiring of others. Upon his death in 1909, his daughters, Anita M. Baldwin and Clara Baldwin Stocker, succeeded him in the ownership of Rancho Santa Anita.

Baldwin’s greatest love was for horses and he developed a breed of racing stock which became world-famous. Next to his love for horses he loved trees and he bordered every road within his rancho with trees and jealously fostered and guarded them. The towering lines of Eucalyptus trees along Huntington Drive and Santa Anita Avenue through the Rancho Santa Anita stand as evidence of the hand of “Lucky” Baldwin—those are his monuments.


Rancho La Brea

For the inhabitants of the pueblo, later the City of Los Angeles, the Rancho La Brea has always been one of the most useful of the ranchos. The rancho derived its name from the La Brea Pits where the brea, or crude oil, oozed to the surface to catch prehistoric animals and preserve them for many thousands of years and to catch a few stray cattle in the Spanish days, and also to furnish excellent roofing for the adobes in the Pueblo of Los Angeles.

The rancho was first granted January 6, 1828, by Jose Antonio Carrillo, Alcalde of the Pueblo of Los Angeles, to Antonio Jose Rocha, and comprised one square league of land. Early conveyances, however, provided that the owners of the rancho, while they were to have complete title, nevertheless were to allow the inhabitants of the pueblo unmolested right to take such brea as they might need for the roofs of their adobes.

Antonio Jose Rocha built an excellent adobe in the Pueblo of Los Angeles as his pueblo home and this adobe, later known as the Rocha House, was purchased in 1855 by the Board of Supervisors and the City of Los Angeles and used jointly as the Jail, the Sheriff’s Office, the Court House and the City Hall.

In 1860 the Rocha heirs sold the Rancho to John Hancock by a deed which described the property as being a rancho “some 4 or 8 miles West of the Pueblo of Los Angeles.” Cornelius Cole, then United States Senator from California, received 500 acres of land in this rancho as an attorney fee for services rendered the Hancock family and on these acres platted Colegrove, now a part of Hollywood. However, much of the rancho was held intact by Mr. Hancock and Major Henry Hancock, and later G. Allan Hancock, and for many years the land with its springs, flowing streams and gentle ravines provided excellent hunting ground for the people of the town of Los Angeles. As late as 1892 there appears a conveyance, executed by Mrs. Hancock, conveying 20 acres of land and reserving for fifteen years the right to hunt for game. The subsequent platting of the land following the completion of the Los Angeles-Pacific Interurban lines soon ruined the land for hunting purposes.


For years the Hancock heirs took immense quantities of oil from the productive oil field and, as the oil decreased, the development and growth of the city changed the character of the land and the black sump holes gave way to green lawns and the tall, ugly (but profitable) derricks to fine homes, as the Wilshire District, one of the world’s finest residential sections, was built on the Rancho La Brea.

Famous La Brea Pits and Ranch House, Now in Hancock Park


Rancho Cienega o’Paso de La Tijera

How differently the Spanish and the Americans viewed their ranches is quite apparent from the names they gave them. The Americans dubbed their ranches the “Diamond Bar,” the “3 X,” the “109,” or some other rather picturesque but meaningless title.

The Spaniards blessed their ranchos by dedicating them to Santa Anita, San Rafael, Santa Gertrudes, or San Geronimo. They saw the many little streams of water flowing from the springs on what is now Beverly Hills and named that Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas—the gathering of the waters. They loved the big oaks of the district along Ventura Boulevard between North Hollywood and Girard and named it Rancho El Encino—the oaks. What the Americans call the Baldwin Hills—they saw naturally formed a pass resembling scissors and thus was named Rancho Cienega o’Paso de La Tijera.

In 1843 Governor Manuel Micheltorena granted Rancho Cienega o’Paso de La Tijera to Vicente Sanchez, friend of the Mexican government, valiant soldier and good citizen. But he did not live long to enjoy his rancho and at about the time California became a state his heirs partitioned his land holdings. Tomas A. Sanchez acquired the rancho—his sisters taking property on Nigger Alley in the Pueblo of Los Angeles as their share.

Tomas Sanchez also had a well deserved reputation for extraordinary bravery and was Sheriff of Los Angeles County from 1860 to 1867, a period in which crime waves were permanent and the accepted order of the day.

Gradually the Rancho increased in value. In 1875 Sanchez sold a half interest for $60,000, later he sold a fourth and finally another Sheriff sold the remainder. E. J. (Lucky) Baldwin became the owner. Baldwin found this rancho something of a white elephant. Sheep ranching became unprofitable and the land was not adapted to orange groves and he knew nothing of the oil beneath it. But he held the property and when he died in 1909 his estate listed Rancho Cienega o’Paso de La Tijera as one of its most valuable possessions. The Baldwin heirs sold large parts of the rancho, and the Los Angeles Investment Company subdivided tract after tract within its bounds.


Seemingly no matter how fast this old rancho has been subdivided (and the growth of Angelus Mesa has been phenomenal) the remaining unsubdivided part grows in value by leaps and bounds directly contrary to its diminishing size. Like the estate of “Lucky” Baldwin the estate of his daughter, Clara Baldwin Stocker, recently deceased, lists as its most valued possession the remainder of the Rancho Cienega o’Paso de La Tijera.

Hacienda of the Rancho Cienega o’Paso de La Tijera—now a Golf Club


Rancho Ex-Mission de San Fernando

The remark is often heard, “I knew the San Fernando Valley when it was a wheat field.” Thousands of Angelenos recall the founding of Van Nuys and Owensmouth and the platting of Tract 1000, the largest subdivision in Los Angeles County. And even the newcomers have seen almost unbelievable development. But what of the valley before Tract 1000; what before the wheat?

When the Fathers of the Mission of San Fernando completed their Mission and looked out through its arches their vision could not include land not theirs. The grant to the Mission described 121,000 acres extending from mountains to mountains on all sides of the valley, and named the rancho Mission de San Fernando, and as such it prospered.

Spain encouraged and protected the Missions of California and granted to them great tracts of land—Mexico plundered and destroyed the Missions and seized their lands. Among these Mission lands seized by the Mexican government was the prize of them all, the Mission de San Fernando. For years chaos reigned at the Mission. The government drove off many of the Indians, others left and the herds of cattle became legitimate prey alike for “Gentlemen of Mexico” and Mexican bandits not claiming the distinction.

In 1846 armed invasion of California was commenced by the Americans. Governor Pio Pico in a blaze of oratory declared that at any cost the “Department of California” must be retained as property of Mexico forever and asked for authority to sell Rancho Mission de San Fernando, then known as Rancho Ex-Mission, for funds with which to equip an army. In this emergency the San Fernando Valley was sold as a land bargain never again equaled, $14,000 for the entire rancho—approximately eleven cents an acre. Eulogio de Celis purchased the rancho at that figure and not only did he get a Mexican land bargain but he at once stocked his big rancho and before the war was over sold horses and cattle to both sides.

In 1854 General Andres Pico, brother of the Ex-Governor, purchased a half interest in the rancho for $15,000 and in 1862 this interest passed to Pio Pico himself. The land holdings of the last Mexican Governor were equal to an empire. At one time he owned 25 Rancho Paso de Bartolo, his interest in Rancho San Fernando, his home place called Ranchito, near Whittier in this County, and Ranchos Las Flores and Santa Margarita, both tremendous ranches in San Diego County. In addition to his ranchos he owned a home on the plaza in the Pueblo of Los Angeles and considerable additional pueblo land in Los Angeles and San Diego. He built the celebrated Pico House, yet standing, facing the plaza in Los Angeles. His life was crowned with success at every turn. Under Mexico he was California’s leading citizen. Under the United States the ranchos he owned and the honors he had held gave him a prestige accorded few men.

For $2.00 an acre the Rancho Ex-Mission de San Fernando was sold by Pico and the son of de Celis to Isaac Lankershim, Charles Maclay, I. N. Van Nuys and B. F. Porter. Under the ownership of these four men Rancho San Fernando became a great wheat field and four great fortunes were made for its owners.

While Pio Pico, who once counted his acres in hundreds of thousands, spent his last days in abject poverty—his ranchos, his city property, his hotel and his home all sold for a mortgage—nothing was left—nothing but his medals of honor and his memories of the past.

Mission de San Fernando


Rancho Tajauta

Rancho Tajauta, sometimes called Rancho Los Cuervos, was like a dwarf among giants. It could have fitted into one corner of its neighbor, the Rancho San Pedro, or been lost in the San Fernando, and yet it was no small plot of ground. It extended from what is now Manchester Avenue on the north to the north boundary of the Rancho San Pedro on the south and between Central Avenue on the west and the Los Angeles River and Rancho San Antonio on the east.

At the height of the cattle days there was only one house on the Rancho Tajauta, a two-room adobe. Today it is estimated over 20,000 people live within its boundaries, which include most of Watts and adjoining area in the southerly part of Los Angeles—and a fourth of the rancho is yet to be subdivided. The size of the rancho, however, was no criterion to the number of its owners and changes in its title. Before California became a state, its original owner, Anastacio Abila, died and left so many heirs that it was necessary to divide the estate into seventieth parts to properly partition it. These small interests in the rancho were then traded in like second-hand Fords are today.

Phineas Banning, passing the rancho in his stage-coach and eyeing it carefully for bandits, noticed the soil was excellent, visioned the railroads that would cross it and bought many small interests. O. W. Childs, famous for the water ditch which he constructed and for which he received most of downtown Los Angeles in payment, likewise bought a few interests. So did Don Mateo Keller, who owned the Rancho Malibu and Francis Mellus of Mellus Row. And among the owners was the entire legal fraternity of that day—A. B. Chapman, Andrew Glassell, A. Brunson and R. M. Widney, all famous names in Southern California history. A $50 gold slug, the common medium for exchange in those days when small change was unknown, often bought an interest. Enrique Abila, one of the heirs of Anastacio Abila, in addition to his own holdings, gradually acquired many of the interests of the other heirs. He made his home on the rancho and lived to see the city reach and surround him.

A little rancho was Rancho Tajauta, but a very active one.


Rancho Repetto

Rancho Repetto, as such, was not an original Spanish or Mexican rancho, yet in character and size it was just as a Spanish or Mexican rancho would be. Its history, although covering a period much shorter than the life of the Spanish grant, is full of the romance of the ranchos of the Dons.

The rancho derived its name from Alessandro Repetto, later known as Alexander Repetto, who purchased its five thousand acres shortly after the Civil War. Some of the land had been found by the United States Land Commission to belong to the Rancho San Antonio and this Repetto purchased from the Lugos. Some of the land he obtained from the government and forty acres came through state patent.

Toward its west boundary ran a road recently widened and paved by the County of Los Angeles. One of the deeds to Repetto refers to this as “the Road used by the horsemen coming from the rancho of Juan Matias Sanchez” (originally Mission land of San Gabriel). Later the road was called Portesuelo de la Rosa de Castella, and still later it was officially changed to Monterey Pass. It is commonly called Coyote Pass.

In 1885 Alexander Repetto died leaving as his heir Antonio Repetto, a brother who lived in Italy. The heir preferred Italy to California and came here only long enough to collect his inheritance, sell the rancho and return home. Harris Newmark, John D. Bicknell, Kaspare Cohn, who founded the Union Bank & Trust Co., Stephen M. White, once United States Senator from California, and whose figure in bronze stands in front of the Los Angeles County Court House, and I. W. Hellman purchased the rancho for $60,000—about $12.00 an acre.

Out of the Harris Newmark and Kaspare Cohn holdings in Rancho Repetto was platted Montebello, originally called the Town of Newmark. I. W. Hellman, whose interest in the rancho equalled 1,500 acres, chose his land in the northwestern part of the rancho and with that foresight which made him the foremost banker in Los Angeles when he lived here and the foremost banker of San Francisco 28 when he removed there he held the land for the future. This remainder of Rancho Repetto though closer to Broadway than Hollywood has almost to this day remained just as it was when it was the property of Alessandro Repetto, while to the south was a view of intensive development, as Los Angeles industrially spread eastward, and to the north was another view of intensive development as Pasadena and Alhambra became cities.

Recently the last of Rancho Repetto has given up its aloofness. Atlantic Boulevard has been cut through from north to south and Beverly Boulevard is to cross it from west to east. The Hellman heirs have conveyed a large part of it and the J. B. Ransom Corporation has announced an immediate subdivision program. The final chapter in the history of Rancho Repetto is being written.

Early Ranch House—American Period


Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica

Most of the development on the ranchos of Southern California has just happened—they, like Topsy, just grew. But not so the Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica. A careful plan, expenditure of great wealth and a determination of purpose unequaled all sought to make a great seaport of Santa Monica—and no city could have grown more contrary to the efforts to guide it than has Santa Monica.

The rancho was granted December 20th, 1839, by Governor Juan B. Alvarado to Francisco Sepulveda, officer of the Mexican army, and comprised 31,000 acres of mountain, mesa and ocean shore land. In the following thirty-three years many changes came over California. The rule of the United States supplanted the ruin of Mexico, California became a state and Los Angeles a city. The wool of the lazy sheep became more profitable than the hides of cattle.

In 1872 the heirs of Sepulveda, anxious to divide their inheritance and believing that Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica had reached the peak of its value, sold the same for less than $2.00 an acre to Colonel Robert S. Baker, prominent wool grower of Kern County. Colonel Baker stocked the rancho with herds of sheep and shortly thereafter sold an undivided three-fourths interest in his property to Senator John P. Jones of Nevada. Jones and Baker then conceived the plan of a great harbor at Santa Monica and a harbor city on the rancho; the fortunes of both these men were thrown into the project and Santa Monica was platted.

The Los Angeles & Independence Railroad with its terminus at the new city and running to Los Angeles was built and operated. It had been planned to extend the railroad into the mining district of Inyo County and part of its name was derived from Independence, the county seat of Inyo County. However, the line was never built beyond Los Angeles. In connection with the railroad a large warehouse was built in Los Angeles, and a long wharf at Santa Monica. Every preparation was made for giant ships of the sea—ships which were never to come.

In 1886 the land boom which descended on Los Angeles and vicinity found Santa Monica well prepared to receive it. Colonel Baker and Senator Jones had hundreds of unsold lots and those previously 30 sold when the harbor city was budding were ready for resale. The Arcadia Hotel, a handsome tourist resort located on the bluff, was built by Colonel Baker and named for his wife, Arcadia Bandini de Baker, who formerly had been Mrs. Abel Stearns. Mrs. de Baker, child of an illustrious Spanish family, was famed for her beauty, and, as wife of Don Abel Stearns, commanded an outstanding social position in Los Angeles. Upon Don Abel’s death she inherited all of his ranchos. Shortly after the boom the Estate of Colonel Baker, Senator Jones and the Santa Monica Land & Water Company conveyed 300 acres of land along the east boundary of the rancho to the United States and on this and adjoining land the Soldiers’ Home was built.

Then another effort was made to create a harbor at Santa Monica—this time led by Collis P. Huntington with the wealth of the Southern Pacific Railroad behind him. This last great attempt was given up only when threshed out on the floor of the United States Senate and the United States had decided that the Harbor should be at San Pedro. Perhaps it was the guiding hand of destiny that kept Santa Monica unspoiled as a residence city.

The wool of the lazy sheep became more profitable than the hides of cattle


Rancho Los Palos Verdes

Rancho Los Palos Verdes has been the scene of some of the earliest as well as the latest development in Los Angeles County. For more than thirty years before Willmore platted Willmore City, later called Long Beach, and before Jones and Baker laid out their harbor city of Santa Monica there had been a thriving settlement at the port of San Pedro in the Rancho Los Palos Verdes.

The town of San Pedro, later city of San Pedro, and now part of the city of Los Angeles, was built around that port settlement and almost the entire district was carved not out of the Rancho San Pedro, as is generally understood, but out of the Rancho Los Palos Verdes.

The rancho was granted June 3rd, 1846, by Governor Pio Pico to Jose Loreto Sepulveda and Juan Sepulveda, brothers, this grant being a ratification of a previous one made in 1827. It extended from Redondo to Wilmington and bounded on the north and northeast by Rancho San Pedro and on the southeast, south and west by the Pacific Ocean, comprising 31,629 acres. Pico, however, reserved a plat of land along the beach, 500 varas square, for the use of the “Superior Government of the Mexican Nation.”

With the death of the original grantees and the passing of the ranch title to their many heirs, Rancho Los Palos Verdes passed into a period of extensive litigation and had it not been of such tremendous size and of such constantly increasing value in all probability it would soon have belonged to the attorneys. From 1865 to 1880, seventy-eight lawsuits were instituted involving the rancho. The ranch title itself was not confirmed until 1880. All of the heirs and their successors in interest held undivided parts of the rancho and six partition suits were filed before the property was divided according to the respective ownerships. There were also a dozen suits to eject squatters, several divorces among the owners, three condemnation suits by the United States government for land for the lighthouse at Point Firmin, an action to fix the boundaries of Timms Landing at the port, two foreclosure actions and several complaints for possession.

The commissioners in one of the partition suits platted the town of San Pedro, composed of ninety-eight blocks and this plat filled the two-fold purpose of making an easy method of dividing the property 32 among the partitioners and of providing for the growth of the settlement at the harbor.

In the years that followed the east part of the rancho progressed rapidly while thousands of acres in the hills from Point Firmin to Redondo were retained in a few ownerships and the land used only for farming. Few people ever saw the rugged coast of Palos Verdes, although Malaga Cove, Rocky Point, Point Vicente, Long Point, Portuguese Point and Portuguese Bend were all known to fishermen.

In 1913 for a consideration of nearly $2,000,000 the western part of the rancho was conveyed to Jay Lawler and Frank A. Vanderlip, then of New York. Palos Verdes Estates was conceived in 1922 to develop this part of the property and to make a world-famous community of homes. The rancho of the Sepulvedas is a perfect setting for this effort.

Verdugo Ranch House, Rancho San Rafael—the First of the Grants


Mission San Gabriel Arcangel

In all California no land has been the scene of such triumphs and defeats, such prosperity and poverty, such alternating fair fortune and dire misfortune as the lands of the Mission San Gabriel Arcangel.

The Mission San Gabriel was founded September 4th, 1771, by Father Junipero Serra and land set apart for the Mission included nearly the entire San Gabriel Valley. There was the usual struggle to establish the Mission and convert the Indians. The first Mission buildings were destroyed and the old mill—yet standing—built at a great expenditure of toil and thought was a total failure. But within a few short years after the founding Mission San Gabriel took its place as the Queen of the Missions and the most prosperous of all.

The title of the Mission Fathers to the lands had not been confirmed by written grant from Carlos III, King of Spain, and the governors of California under Mexico took advantage of this to grant ranchos within the valley borders. In the northwest part Rancho San Pascual was granted to become the princely estate of Don Manuel Garfias and later the sites of Pasadena and South Pasadena. Farther east Rancho Santa Anita was created and eventually became the property of E. J. (Lucky) Baldwin. Beyond that rancho were Ranchos San Francisquito and La Puente. Along the south hills of the valley Ranchos La Merced, Potrero Grande and Potrero Chico were granted. By the severing of such large tracts of land the property of the Mission San Gabriel diminished from tens of thousands of acres to thousands of acres and then to hundreds.

In 1846 Governor Pico asked permission of his government to lease the remaining land of the Mission San Gabriel “to prevent the total ruin of the Mission.” No lessee could be found to take the land under this act and on June 18th, 1846, Pio Pico made the final grant of all the remaining Mission lands to Julian Workman and Hugo Reid. The United States government, however, refused to confirm this last minute disposal of the Mission land and declared the property public land of the United States, first setting aside to Bishop Alemany 190 acres surrounding the Mission buildings.


The public land was quickly taken up by many settlers, who were eager to acquire homesteads in a country almost exclusively made up of giant ranchos. Subsequently B. D. Wilson and J. De Barth Shorb acquired much of this land and platted the present prosperous and beautiful city of Alhambra. San Gabriel and Monterey Park also have been built on land originally within the Mission boundaries.

The 190 acres set aside for the Mission Church was the largest parcel of land received by any one Mission out of the land it had formerly held. At the height of the Mission glory in all a million and a half acres were under the control of the Padres. When California became the property of the United States twenty missions other than San Gabriel held from four to seventy-six acres each—a total for all the chain of less than 800 acres. Eight hundred acres out of the original million and a half.

Mission San Gabriel Arcangel


Rancho San Jose de Buenos Ayres

Rancho San Jose de Buenos Ayres was not in South America, as its name might indicate, but was an important rancho of Southern California. The rancho was granted by Manuel Micheltorena, Governor of the Californias, February 24, 1843, to Maximo Alanis and comprised 4,438 acres. Don Alanis died shortly after he received the grant and his heirs conveyed the rancho to Dr. Wilson W. Jones and Wm. T. B. Sanford, the former, one of Los Angeles’ first doctors and the latter, an early Los Angeles postmaster.

But the doctor knew little about ranching and in 1852 he was glad to sell his half interest in the rancho to Don Benito Wilson for $662.75, or at the rate of 35 cents an acre. Don Benito’s interests were extensive and widely separated. Jointly with Dr. Griffin he operated Rancho San Pascual northeast of the Pueblo of Los Angeles. Jointly with Phineas Banning he founded and developed the city of Wilmington at the port of San Pedro, and west of the pueblo, halfway to the ocean, with Sanford, the Postmaster, he raised cattle on Rancho San Jose de Buenos Ayres. Between supervising trips to his ranchos and to the harbor he found time to maintain a home in the Pueblo of Los Angeles—so large that after he moved it was used for an orphan asylum—buy much city property, ship wine to San Francisco and foster the development of the orange.

In 1858 B. D. Wilson bought the interest of Sanford in this and other property for $16,000 and subsequently sold the rancho. In 1884 John Wolfskill of the prominent family of that name purchased the rancho for $40,000. The purchase by Wolfskill was very timely as the completion of the Santa Fe Railroad two years later sent land prices skyrocketing and in 1887 he entered into an agreement to dispose of the rancho for $438,700, or more than ten times what he had paid for the land in 1884.

The Los Angeles and Santa Monica Land and Water Company was organized to take over the land at that figure. This company built a railroad through the property and platted the town of Sunset. But few lots were sold, however, and in 1891 the Los Angeles and Santa Monica Land and Water Company quitclaimed the land back 36 to Wolfskill and the townsite was restored to acreage. Then for many years the rancho was used only for farming, although its neighbor on the east, the Rancho Rodeo de Las Aguas, was subdivided into Beverly Hills, and on the west Santa Monica grew into a thriving city.

In 1919 Arthur Letts, Sr., Merchant Prince of Los Angeles, founder of the Broadway Department Store, bought the rancho for an investment. Since that time Westwood, Holmby Hills (named after Holmby, England, Mr. Letts’ birthplace) and Westwood Village have all been platted on parts of the rancho. The moving-picture industry has expanded into the property and several of the largest studios are located there. Now the University of California at Los Angeles is being built on the rancho, and already opened as one of the greatest institutions of learning.

B. D. Wilson, John Wolfskill and Arthur Letts all profited by their farsightedness, but none had the vision and none could foresee Rancho San Jose de Buenos Ayres as it is today.


The priceless, romantic history of early California is everywhere being more and more appreciated. It evidences itself in the names of our cities, in our landmarks which are at last being preserved and even in our architecture.

If “The Romance of the Ranchos” can add its bit to perpetuating this glorious chapter in California history the writer will feel the time and effort well worthwhile.


Title Insurance Building Spring Street between Fourth and Fifth


Title Insurance and Trust Company

California’s Largest Title Insurance Company

Title Insurance and Trust Company is the oldest and largest Title Insurance Company west of Chicago. It is the oldest Trust Company in the Pacific Southwest. It has been serving the people of Los Angeles County for thirty-eight years.

Although founded in 1893, the Company’s records are much older than that, for they cover the period from the early Spanish days to the present time. The history of every parcel of land in the County is recorded in the books and maps of the Company’s title plant, and in its old records safely stored in its archives vault.

This great store house of real estate information, called the title plant, is the Company’s most valuable possession. It is from these invaluable records, many of which are originals, that the material used in compiling “The Romance of the Ranchos” has been derived.

This real estate information has been indexed and classified so that the Company’s examiners may find the necessary information in the least possible time. Millions of dollars have been expended in creating this great plant which is not surpassed by any in the nation.

Great as has been the cost and the amount of labor expended—this title plant is not finished—it never will be finished.

Each business day of the year 1500 to 2000 documents affecting Los Angeles County real estate titles are filed in the Recorder’s office 39 and by 11:30 p.m.—on the day of filing—all have been “posted” on the Company’s books.

Much of the “posting,” much of the map making in the title plant has no connection with present orders. Some of the work done today may be used tomorrow, some of it may not be used for many years. An important part of the personnel in this great business machine, which we call the title plant, is engaged solely in the preparation for future work.

But when the call comes, the plant is ready.

This plant was created to give the people of Los Angeles County accurate service in the searching and insuring of titles. It serves owner—buyer—lender—borrower.

From this plant, the Company issues policies of title insurance protecting the ownership of real property. Step by step, these policies, through a series of improvements extending throughout the entire history of the Company, have been developed into the highest type of title protection offered anywhere.


The modern escrow system was originated by this Company. It was designed to make real estate transactions convenient and safe. A highly trained personnel and complete and convenient facilities provide efficient service to buyer and to seller.


The Company acts as executor and trustee under wills, as administrator of estates, and in all other trust capacities.

It offers at a nominal cost an “all-inclusive” declaration of trust, which is exceedingly flexible. Life insurance policies may be placed 40 in this trust, thereby protecting the beneficiary from loss, and to this trust from time to time there may be added real or personal property.

The Company has had long experience in the management of estates. If you name the Company as executor under your will, you will be assured that your beneficiaries will receive considerate and courteous attention and that your trust estate will be wisely managed and profitably invested.

Trust Department

High-resolution Map

Transcriber’s Notes