Bare Hills Become Orchards as Pioneers Plan Future: Yorba Lindans Work Together To Develop Ideal Community
Yorba Linda Star, October 17, 1947, page 1
Thirty-eight years ago there was one house on the rolling sagebrush covered land that is now the beautiful evergreen orchard land of Yorba Linda. James Conley’s home still standing, still a home, but now almost hidden behind row upon row of beautiful Valencia orange trees. It was a good home, built to last, built to remain a part of the community which would eventually spring up around it, built with a long look into the future.
The Conley house was not the first habitation in the area; it was the first of a new era. Preceding it was the historic Yorba hacienda, the center of life for many miles around, a complete community in itself, with 100 rooms for the Yorba family and their many retainers, surrounded by the little homes of the hundred or more Indians who assisted in the work of the rancho. This heart of one of the large Spanish land grants made to the builders of the new world contained a room for a goldsmith, a weaving room, a blacksmith shop, a leather room, a pharmacist’s shop, the shoemaker’s room, a bakery, distillery, flour mill, many, many store rooms, a chapel for religious worship. These tell of just a few of the variety of activities that made up community life in that “little city in a big home,” the Yorba hacienda.
Senor Jose Yorba was the owner of the grant of land direct from the King of Spain. The land included 225,000 acres and extended from Rincon in San Diego county to the ocean. All of Riverside and Corona and the Santiago Rancho were a part of the Yorba grant. The history of the gay spanish [sic] life began to fade with the change to American law and American people. It passed into history finally as late as 1926, when the last six rooms of the old adobe ruins were torn down to make way for barley fields.
Much of what is now Yorba Linda became the property of Sam Kraemer, who married Angelina Yorba, descendant of the original family. Other owners in the tract whose names remain to us were James W. Shanklin and William Bailey, who set out much of his land to grapes and deciduous fruits and employed some in grazing. This piece was acquired by Jacob Stern on October 26, 1906, and was used for growing hay, although there is some belief that he planted a few citrus trees.
The land adjoining Yorba Linda townsite on the south was patented to Bernardo Yorba on July 25, 1865, and was later conveyed to Jacob Stern in 1907, giving him the entire tract.
Jacob Stern subdivided and sold the land. It was his brother Gus Stern, so the annals record who named it Yorba Linda; Yorba for the first owner; Linda for the then thriving town to the north. The Spanish interpretations probably did enter into it in the naming of Olinda, which could have been formed by “oleo”, oil, and Linda, “beautiful.” The map of the tract was filed March 25, 1908.
Yorba Lindans today often wonder why, on many of the available road maps of Southern California and some of the official surveyor’s maps, the name “Carlton” is shown in large letters, right next to Yorba Linda, which is very small. Well, it takes a lot of work to keep a map up to date, and in spite of what you may see there now, Carlton really did exist. Carlton townsite lived and died before Yorba Linda was born.
Just when Carlton started is not definite, but the map of the townsite was filed Jan. 19, 1883. A Los Angeles and Pasadena development company got control of the piece of land east of where the Santa Fe later ran its tracks to Olinda for oil, north of the present Pacific Electric track, and, as a previous record keeper tells it, “by all the arts known to real estate promoters and boosters,” induced many people to invest in the “prosperous community which was to arise.” It did arise. At the peak of Carlton’s brief existence there were 27 buildings–business and residence–and some of them were two-story brick structures. But the project and all the hopes and dreams of investors withered and died. . . prey to the natural enemy of all Southern California pioneers. . .the enemy which Yorba Linda successfully defied. . . lack of water. The company had hoped to impound water in the canyon to the north, but failed.
The Southern Pacific began a road and built a grade through Carlton, from Anaheim to Chino during that year when the town looked as if it were here to stay, but when the company failed the S.P. turned back.
Water is a Must
Communities do not grow in Southern California unless this failure of our natural resources is adjusted. For the type of agriculture which has proven of greatest success in this territory water must be provided in abundance. During the first years of Yorba Linda, water was carried two miles by horse and wagon, (what intrepid settlers they were!) but the community “took”, its permanence was assured, only when water was piped to the ranches and the homes.
The first big adventure in providing water for development was initiated in 1877, when the Cajon Irrigation Company was incorporated and began the mighty task of building the Cajon Canal. In ’84 this company consolidated with the North Anaheim Canal Company, the Farmers’ Ditch Company and the Anaheim Water Company to form the Anaheim Union Water Water [sic] Company, which is still in existence and serving a large section of the surrounding country.
Then Yorba Linda Began
Yorba Linda, as a townsite, begins more or less with the promotion of the Janss Investment Company, a Los Angeles real estate development firm which acquired the land from Jacob Stern. Probably Stern was associated with the company, because he was one of the original company stockholders of the first water development. The second house in town was built by the Janss Co. for its employees. The third was the Corbit house, on El Cajon.
Lemons were introduced to Yorba Linda in 1909, when a man named Haag, who was employed by the Pacific Electric Company, planted a small grove on El Cajon. It now belongs to Mrs. S. A. Merritt. Oranges arrived the following year, when the eastern half of the Collins place on Orange Drive (that name was a natural) was planted by Fred Quigley and Hoyt Corbit for Ed Simmons of Bisbee, Arizona in 1910. From those beginnings Yorba Linda became the thriving citrus community it is today.
There was no water, no gas, no electricity, no school, no church, no services or stores of any kind. . .but these things came quickly, and until they did the settlers survived on faith. They hauled their water in barrels, they sent their children to Olinda, by foot, to school, and they “got by” without. . .until the town became a town in the accepted meaning of the term.
The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company put service into the tract in the summer of 1911; the Southern California Edison Company followed with electricity in 1912 and 13. A grocery and general merchandise store was built on Olinda Street in 1912, by Mr. Pullen. Prior to that time most of the trading was done in Olinda, and in Placentia.
The first American flag to fly over Yorba Linda, semi-officially at least, was that which little Edwin Brooks won as a reward for obtaining subscriptions to the Christian Herald. It appeared on Memorial Day, 1911, on top of the small barn on Lakeview Ave.
“Wherever a Few Shall Be Banded Together.”
The desire for religious activity, completely absent the first year, was expressed more and more frequently as groups gathered together and talked over the progress of their town. It was not until the Sunday afternoon of June 4, 1911, that those who were anxious to start the community’s religious life took their first steps in that direction, and established a Sunday school in the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. L. Stuart, offered to them in memory of their little boy who had recently passed away. Rev. Millet of Olinda offered to come as often as possible and Rev. Marsh of the Whittier Congregational Church held services several times while vacationing here. When the first school was finished in October, the Sunday school moved its meeting place there, and Rev. Orr, who had come to Olinda, took up the work, preaching here every other Sunday afternoon. Mrs. Laura Townsend, superintendent of the evangelistic work for the Friends Church in Whitter, also began helping on December 1. Both pastors urged organization into one church, and finally a sufficient number made known their willingness to join the Friends Church, and began plans for a building. The Friends Church of Whittier gave $600 and that of Pasadena $100, and the Janss Investment Company gave $100 and a lot. Everyone, regardless of creed, pitched in and did the work and provided the rest of the money.
On August 10, 1912, the church opened with 67 members, and the first pastor was obtained a year later: Rev. W. E. Graves. When the church started the members of the union Sunday school decided it needed their support and voted to discontinue their activities in the school and accept the invitation to join that of the church. Soon senior and intermediate C. E. societies were formed. The arsonage was built in the summer of 1912, Rev. Bertram being the first to occupy it.
A handful of Presbyterians began holding services in the school house in 1916, and by the spring of 1917 succeeded in obtaining a lot and erecting a beautiful little edifice, which was dedicated as a United Presbyterian Church in July of that year. This later became the Methodist Church of today.
Education Will Not Wait
The townsfolk started early to assure their children the education an up-to-date community provides, but the county superintendent of schools couldn’t work fast enough. In reply to their petition for a school district, sent in January, 1911, he wrote that there was not time that year to get through all the legal formalities necessary. They wrote again in June, but because a new petition was necessary they were told they would have to wait until September, 1912. And five Yorba Linda children were walking 3 miles to Olinda! Yorba Linda’s reply was immediate and forceful and the superintendent recognized that action had better be forthcoming. As a result the Yorba Linda School District was formed in the fall of 1911: all the townspeople subscribed either money or work, and a temporary schoolhouse was ready for occupancy, except for seats, by September 12.
The county superintendent selected H. P. Turner, H. P. Brooks and Plummer Stuart to serve as a temporary school board.
Bonds for $10,000 were voted and sold to a Los Angeles firm. Plans for a brick building had been accepted from an architect when it was discovered that the taxable valuation of Yorba Linda property was not sufficient to vote bonds in such an amount. Another election was held and bonds for $8,000 were voted. Trustees were elected: E. R. West, H. P. Turner and J. M. Quigley.
The first little school was held in the little house which is now the Water Company office. It has been rebuilt since then. When the enrollment overran this building Mr. M. A. Quigley put a couple of small houses together on the little knoll where the Terrace apartments are now, known as “Quigleyville” then, and that tided the town over until the fine new school was built on School Street.
That little one-room schoolhouse on Olinda was also the birthplace of the Citrus Association, the Chamber of Commerce, a literary society, the Woman’s Club, and housed the Sunday school. A bit of amusement, or embarrassment, as the case may be, was caused when a survey was made and the schoolhouse was discovered to stand wrong end in.
Yorba Linda joined the Fullerton Union High School District October 3, 1914 with more than 20 high school pupils starting off on the first bus. In 1915 Yorba Linda Elementary School had a graduating class of eight pupils.
Library District Formed
Those interested in the advancement of knowledge gathered together early in 1912 and organized the work of forming a Yorba Linda Library District. The election was held on October 1, 1913, and the County board [sic] of Supervisors appointed H. P. Turner, Theo. Stanley and Mrs. G. W. Corbitt as the first trustees.
The Yorba Linda Woman’s Club was organized, principally under the leadership of Mrs. Julia Vernon, its first president, on February 22, 1912, and became a member of the Federation of Womens’ Clubs. The Chamber of Commerce got its start a year later, Feb. 10, 1913.
Things happened pretty fast during these first years. The Post Office started in H. C. Pullen’s store on Olinda St. Then one day the post office inspector arrived unannounced and found no one in attendance. He went over to the hardware store, had a chat with Esther Buckmaster, and very soon the P. O. was moved to Buckmaster’s Hardware, with Esther Buckmaster in charge. What is now the library building was later built to house the post office and dry goods store by Lillie Jones, now Mrs. George Harris of Los Angeles. Then it moved away to the Halloway building across the street, next door to the Janeway Grocery Store, with Carrie Drake as postmaster.
The next move found the mail center located in its new home built by F. W. Stahler on Main Street and its last was to the present location.
After the First Five Years
By January 1916 three-quarters of the original 3500 acres comprising the tract were planted to lemons and oranges, and a good percentage were coming into bearing. The business district boasted two general merchandise stores, a hardware, a confectionary store, barber shop, blacksmith shop, a lumberyard and two large packing houses. Many small bungalows were being built for rentals and the demand was good. The population was estimated at 500.
Birth of The STAR
In 1917 Yorba Linda’s first two-story building, Bert Halloway’s on Olinda Street, was completed and a garage and furniture store moved in. Later that year the town really got a feeling of having grown up when Mr. Douglas of La Habra took an office in the Halloway building for the publication of The Yorba Linda STAR. Miss Wanda Davis was put in charge of the office and it is said she did a very good job.
In February 1917 the new “banking house” opened for business in temporary offices in the building occupied by the Water Company on Olinda, and the whole town turned out. The new bank building on Main Street was started. Ley Hall was completed by Mr. Ley, the barber, who had contracts with Modern Woodmen, Royal Neighbors, Eastern Star Masonic Lodge, Chamber of Commerce and the Women’s Club to use the building for meetings. This is now the Masonic Hall. The drug store was opened at that time by Mr. Kaeuffer of Los Angeles. Mrs. Augusta Jepson opened a restaurant in Halloway’s Cash Grocery or right next door.
Keeping pace with the changing times Lloyd Buckmaster built a garage next door to the blacksmith shop, where Ken Loucks is located now. Oil was first discovered on the tract in 1916 and high hopes of a great development lasted for years.
And so the beautiful little ranching community of Yorba Linda and the business district which serves it and makes it a town was carved out of rolling barrenness by pioneers who had the vision to see producing acres, comfortable homes, all the facilities necessary to the more abundant life in a high-geared modern world.