Yorba Linda High School groundbreaking ceremony
by Kathleen Yorba-Jorgensen
It is indeed an honor and a privilege to be asked to speak here today for the Groundbreaking Ceremony of YORBA LINDA HIGH SCHOOL on behalf of The Yorba Family as well as all the other founding family members represented here today.
My name is Kathleen Yorba-Jorgensen and I am a resident of the beautiful city of Yorba Linda where I have lived for over 8 years with my husband Rob, stepson Andrew and son Loren Yorba. I am also a 6th generation Californian and a direct descendent of my Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Don Jose Antonio Yorba, one of the oldest family names in California.
At 21 years of age, Jose Antonio enlisted in the Spanish Army as a member of the Royal Catalan Volunteers and was shipped to “New Spain” (The Mexico of today) in 1767. He served as a corporal under the command of Captain Gaspar de Portola who led an expedition to ensure the colonizing and Christianization of the territory for Spain. Also included in the expedition was Father Junipero Serra who was the founder of the mission system throughout the entire state of California from San Diego to San Francisco.
Jose Antonio lived through the entire Spanish Regime in California from conquest to defeat, a period of 40 years. A Royalist and devout Catholic, he had served the crown and church well and in 1810 was awarded an enormous land grand from the King of Spain. The very land we are standing on today was a small part of the 62,500 acres that stretched from the south side of the Santa Ana River to the ocean which is now known as Newport Beach.
With great strength and an even greater love for the land, Jose Antonio and his son Don Bernardo Yorba shaped the land into Orange County’s first successful rancho known as Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana. Bernardo, being my Grandfather’s most industrious and innovative son out of 4 was Franciscan educated and well read unlike his father who left Spain without a formal education and was illiterate. Bernardo built the first irrigation system, established the first cemetery and built the first public school off mission grounds in Orange County.
For nearly 2 centuries the name Yorba has been stamped indelibly on the history of Orange County and specifically Yorba Linda. It stands for courage, pride, industriousness, integrity and graciousness: all traits that enabled our family founders to build one of the first Great Ranchos in California. The history of my family and the legacy of my ancestors is an extraordinary one of which I take great pride.
Today is a very special day for my family and the city of Yorba Linda. Today we break the ground to begin the building of our beautiful and long awaited high school for our children and their children and theirs and so on. A dream is being fulfilled for the entire city as well as Don Bernardo’s hopes and dreams for a better future in utilizing the land he so loved with the building of Yorba Linda’s first High School.