Orange County, California


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Orange County
1848 to 1865


The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends the Mexican-American War and California is ceded to the United States.


President James Buchanan restores mission properties (Mission San Juan Capistrano) to the Catholic Church. The Forster family is forced to move out of the Mission San Juan Capistrano. James Irvine arrives in California a few years after landing in New York as an immigrant escaping the Irish potato famine. He enters the merchandising business catering to aspiring gold miners. The gold rush in Northern California pushes up demand for Southern California cattle.


California is admitted as the 31st state in the United States of America. The future OC falls within the boundary of Los Angeles County. Los Angeles is the county seat to OC for the next 39 years. San Juan Capistrano and Santa Ana are designated townships by the state legislature.


The U.S. Land Commission is formed and Spanish-Mexican land grants are challenged in court.


In a much-celebrated horse race, Pio Pico pits his stallion Sarco against Jose Sepulvedaís Australian mare Black Swan in a wagered nine-mile race. Black Swan wins and nets Sepulveda at least $25,000 and 2,000 head of cattle and sheep.


German settlers arrive in OC with plans to grow grapes.


Bandits terrorize San Juan Capistrano. Sheriff James Barton responds with a posse from Los Angeles but is ambushed. Barton and several of his deputies are killed. Shortly thereafter, a larger posse organized by veteran Mexican War commander Andres Pico, tracks the bandits into the Santa Ana Mountains where most are captured and two of the most notorious members are promptly hanged in Precitos Canyon. The bandit leader, 22-year-old Juan Flores taken captive to Los Angeles where he is condemned by popular vote and publicly hanged. Landowner Juan Pacifico Oliveras sells a portion of Rancho San Juan Cajon de Santa Ana to a group of German immigrants who plan to establish a vineyard colony. The deal is arranged by George Hansen, who represents the German group, and 1,165 acres are sold for $2 per acres to become the new Anaheim Colony. Hansen surveyed the property and, with Indian and Mexican workers, planted 50 vineyard lots each with 400,000 vines (OCís first master-planned community). A five-mile irrigation ditch was dug from the Santa Ana River. The Mother Colony Home is built as Hansenís residence and headquarters.


Pioneer landowner Bernardo Yorba dies.


The Anaheim colonists arrive at San Pedro on the side-wheeler Senator. The Anaheim Colony lots and vineyards had already been developed and awaited them. The first recorded killing of a grizzly bear by an American in OC is made. By 1908, 49 years later, wild grizzlies were completely extinct in OC.


The Anaheim Water Company is formed. The U.S. Coast Survey makes its first attempt survey the Santa Ana River estuary.


Heavy rain begins to fall on Christmas Eve and continues for 30 days. Severe flooding brings heavy losses and damage. Hesperian College (future Chapman University) is founded. The first post office in the Santa Ana Valley opens in Anaheim.


Despite a month of heavy rainfall that started at the end of the previous year, the year delivers the beginning of two years of drought. Thousands of OC cattle die, bringing to close the era of the once mighty rancheros and local cattle industry. A smallpox epidemic breaks out in San Juan Capistrano, killing 199 Indians and spreading throughout Southern California. The Anaheim Colony doesnít suffer such high mortality because the community has a resident physician (the first physician to permanently practice in OC, Dr. John Augustus F. Heryemann) who administers vaccinations. Sam Shrewsbury builds a limekiln in the Santa Ana Mountains resulting in the naming for Limestone Canyon.


The Anaheim Lighter Company is founded to move goods from Anaheim Landing on Alamitos Bay to ships anchored offshore. Its primary purpose is to expedite the shipment of grapes. This is OCís first seaport. The waters adjacent to the landing, however, are found to be too shallow for cargo ships and ships must anchor offshore and transfer cargo by lighter. Benjamin and Thomas Flint, Llewellyn Bixby and James Irvine form an investment partnership to acquire Rancho San Joaquin and some adjacent properties to start a 109,000-acre ranch raising drought resistant sheep.


The year opens with only two permanent settlements in Orange County: San Juan Capistrano and Anaheim. After years in private hands, President Abraham Lincoln orders the final restoration of a portion of the Mission San Juan Capistrano property to the Catholic Church. The Forster family is forced to move out of the mission.



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