Local History

An intimate group photo of the prosperous Yorba Family and friends. Among those are important community figures Don Miguel Yorba (third from the right) and a young Coleman Travis (far right), for whom Travis Ranch School was named after.
In 1834, Don Bernardo Yorba built his hacienda Rancho San Antonio, named after his favorite patron Saint. The Capistrano Mission priests gifted him with an image of Saint Antonio. It was believed that prayers offered to Saint Antonio caused healings from various illnesses. His residence was a two-story building of adobe and included approximately 50 rooms. This provided space for his 21 children, their schoolrooms, various workers, and more. It was considered one of the greatest rancheros of the golden Hacienda age. Don Bernardo Yorba was at heart a loving father, husband, farmer, and rancher who worked hard to provide for his family, while also cultivating the land building a church, cemetery, and school for his children.
A family portrait of the extended Yorba family. With his passing in 1858, Don Bernardo Yorba left behind a large prosperous rancho and flourishing family. He had 21 children in total and many Yorba descendants are still in the community today.
Gertrude Welch started the Yorba Linda Library in 1913 and was the first Librarian. She was previously an Assistant Librarian in New York and was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. T.B. Welch, prominent Yorba Linda citizens. The nearest public library during this time was eight miles away via horse and buggy in Fullerton and she felt the town of Yorba Linda deserved one as well. She graciously offered her services as Librarian for six months without pay to help the Board of Trustees set up Library operations in the meantime. Here she is sitting on an ostrich celebrating Christmas with her uncle.
The Yorba Linda Public Library was founded in 1913 through the efforts of Gertrude Welch, Yorba Linda’s first Librarian. However, on March 3, 1914, the Library was incorporated as the Yorba Linda Library District, which was the first library district ever in California. The Yorba Linda School District granted permission for the library to use a 300-square foot room in the grammar school on School Street. When the library first opened, a fee of fifty cents a year was charged for a borrower’s card to anyone over fifteen years of age. Only two books could be checked out at a time for one week with an overdue fine of two cents a day if returned late. The library was open two days a week, Tuesday and Friday from 3 p.m. until dark. The Yorba Linda Library District lasted until July 1985, when it became a department of the City of Yorba Linda and was renamed the Yorba Linda Public Library, which stands to this day.
On February 22, 1912, 32 women held the first meeting of the Federation of Women which was to become the Yorba Linda Woman’s Club. Julia Vernon was the first President. Hannah Milhaus Nixon was a founding member. Her son, Richard Nixon, was the first child born to a member of the Woman’s Club and is being held in the lower left-hand corner of the photo by Mrs. Vernon. His mother, Hannah Milhaus Nixon, another founding member, is in black to his left standing. These early pioneers beautified the City by planting trees, naming streets, and helping to bring electricity to Yorba Linda. Many members of the Woman’s Club also donated books and money to help start the library.
The Yorba Linda Woman’s Club had a club house built and dedicated on May 9, 1922. The club house was used for meetings and events but it was also used by many other organizations. The building was later destroyed by a fire on November 19, 1976, but in the spirit of Yorba Linda, the Woman’s Club persevered and continued to hold meetings in the Yorba Linda Public Library Multipurpose Room.
The Vernon family were instrumental in the development of Yorba Linda. Julie and Marion Vernon were the proud parents of five children. After moving to Yorba Linda in 1911, buying land and building a home on Eureka Avenue, Julie Vernon founded the Yorba Linda Woman’s Club. Under her leadership, the women set about beautifying the developing little town with pine and acacia trees, which still flourish to this day. Marsha Vernon, shown on the left, and Marie Vernon, shown on the right, along with their father, were also active in woman’s work under their mother’s tutelage. Marie Vernon ended up becoming a devoted teacher while Marsha Vernon had fine artistic ability creating beautiful flower arrangements. In addition, the other children also set out to do great things: Charles Vernon worked for the Yorba Linda Star for many years, Lee Vernon attended theological seminary and went into the ministry, and Ted Vernon operated a local grocery store.
This panoramic northern view from the top of Reservoir Hill shows the abundant and fruitful farmland of Yorba Linda. The two recognizable landmarks in the distance are the Friends Church and the Packing House; this is now the present-day location of the Packing House Square Shopping Center located on Yorba Linda Boulevard and Imperial Highway while the Friends Church still stands today on School Street between Lemon Drive and Arroyo.
A portrait of Vicente Yorba, grandson to Don Bernardo Yorba, the successful rancher and businessman for whom the town was named. True to his grandfather’s name and legacy, Vicente Yorba held a reputation for being orderly and respectful. In this portrait, Yorba invokes the days of his grandfather as he surveys his family’s land on horseback.
The Yorba Linda Lake was an 83-acre reservoir built in 1910. Fishing, shown on the left, and other recreational activities took place during this time. Goldfish, carp, bluegills, and bass were among the many fish that could be found in the lake. The lake was drained in 1969 with homes built around it. The dry lake bed was preserved through the efforts of the Lake Bed Association, which planted young trees and watered them, often on horseback conjuring up the old west of yesteryear. It is now a series of hiking and horse trails located just east of Lakeview Boulevard in the southwest corner of Yorba Linda.
The Great Depression did not heavily impact Yorba Linda due to its self-sufficiency in the agricultural community. The main fruits distributed were oranges and lemons. Yorba Linda Citrus Association Packing House workers assemble for a group portrait showcasing the availability of work in the area.
The Yorba Linda Citrus Association Packing House dates back to May 3, 1930, and was considered the most up-to-date packing house of its time. On June 29, 1929, a fire unfortunately destroyed the original wood-framed packing house along with 103,000 boxes of fruit. Nevertheless, the resiliency of Yorba Linda prevailed as the association immediately built a new concrete one on the same spot, 19200 Yorba Linda Blvd, less than a year later. The building stands to this day and is being used by a variety of local businesses.