Olive Through the Ages

Timeline of events in Olive: 1769-1869

8000 BC-800 AD  |  1769-1869  |  1871-1891  |  1892-1957  |  1958-Present

1769 July 28-29: Gaspár de Portolá, soldiers, and padres cross the Santa Ana River near present day Olive en route to Monterey,6 on an expedition to secure land in Northern California for Spain before the Russians could claim these territories for Russia.10
1771 Father Junipero Serra designates the site along the Santa Ana River near present day Olive as the location of the fourth California mission. However, after hostile encounters with local Gabrielinos, Mission San Gabriel Arcángel is founded many miles northwest instead. The mission has been at its present site in the San Gabriel Valley since 1774, a distance of more than 30 miles from Olive. Two years later on November 1, 1776, Mission San Juan Capistrano, the seventh California mission, is founded in San Juan Capistrano, Orange County's oldest city.7
1776 January 7: Juan Bautista de Anza and his relief party camp on the southern banks of the Santa Ana River en route to San Diego—from an expedition to found San Francisco—to suppress a native rebellion in which Father Luis Jayme of the Mission was murdered. (Source: historical marker at East Riverdale and Orange-Olive Road)
1801 December 8: Retired career soldier Lieutenant Juan Pablo Grijalva of Sonora, Nueva España (New Spain)—a Spanish territory that is now a part of Mexico—files a petition with Lieutenant Manuel Rodriguez, comandante at San Diego, requesting a large tract of land that included the Olive area. Grijalva is not given a title to land but is instead granted cattle grazing rights9 in the areas of Olive, Orange, Villa Park, Tustin, Santa Ana, and Costa Mesa.8 Together with son-in-law José Antonio Yorba, the two retired soldiers and their families construct adobe houses there and establish Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana. The Olive area and surrounding region is known as "Santa Ana of the Yorbas." Grijalva would die in June 1806.9
1810 July 1: Governor José Joaquín de Arrillaga11 grants 62,512 acres of Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana to José Antonio Yorba and nephew Juan Pablo Peralta—grandson and namesake of the late Grijalva—after Yorba's son Tomás9 obtains permission for this land from Maria Dolores Valencia, Grijalva's widow.8 This would be the only Spanish land grant in Orange County.9
1812 Circa this time, the Yorba settlement of Santa Ana Viejo (Old Santa Ana) is founded below the bend in the Santa Ana River.2 The first adobe is most likely constructed on the lowlands near the Old Santa Ana fieldstone monument.9
1825 January 16: Yorba dies, survived by his second wife Maria Josefa Valencia (daughter of Juan Pablo Grijalva); their sons Tomás, José Antonio II, Bernardo, and Teodocio, and their daughters Isabél, Presentación, and Raymunda.12 Yorba leaves in his will an adobe house, orchard, vineyard, cattle, oxen, sheep, and mules. At Santa Ana Viejo Tomás operates a store, manufactures leather goods and soap, tends to herds of cattle and sheep, and farms and irrigates the land bordering the Santa Ana River. He employs a silversmith, shoemaker, cigarmaker, and hatmaker. Flour is made from grain in the field, and wine and brandy are produced from vineyard grapes.8

The Santa Ana River overflows, flooding the Olive area.9
1847 January 6: Commodore Robert Stockton, General Stephen Watts Kearny, and 600 men of "the Army of the West" camp at Olive two days before their victory against General Andrés Pico and his Californios at the Battle of San Gabriel. This victory would come after their previous defeat by the Californios 85 miles south of Olive at San Pasqual, on December 6, 1846.13 The Battle of San Pasqual, the bloodiest military engagement on California soil, marked the U.S.'s final defeat in the Mexican War before all of California would be acquired as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo,14 signed on February 2, 1848. The Treaty would also give the U.S. the land at present-day Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and parts of Colorado, Nevada, and Utah.15
1860 Desiderio Burruel, son-in-law of Teodocio Yorba—the youngest of José Antonio Yorba's sons—is allotted the land at Olive. The higher land becomes known as "Burruel Point."16 NOTE: Burruel Point has been identified on maps to this day as being situated to the east of Santiago Boulevard, where the road runs north and south. This is not the same Burruel Point location referenced at this Web site.
1861 In this year and in 1862, the Santa Ana River overflows, flooding the Olive area.9
1863 February: Teodocio Yorba dies12 after suffering a stroke and great financial losses as a result of the Great Drought of the Sixties that devastated his land and herds of his livestock.17 With the final remaining offspring of José Antonio Yorba now gone, the Yorba family's rancho life comes to an end.
1868 Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana ceases to exist following a civil suit filed by 100 claimants to the land, questioning the legitimacy of the original land grant. Among the claimants are pioneers James McFadden, William Spurgeon, Columbus Tustin, and Alfred Beck Chapman.17

The land at Santa Ana Viejo is sold and a portion of the area is named the Olive Ranch, possibly for the olive trees planted in the area by the Yorbas.18
1869 The settlement of Santa Ana Viejo loses its name when the present city of Santa Ana is founded by William Spurgeon, who purchases the land from Jacob Ross, Sr. Ross had previously purchased the land at present day Santa Ana from Yorba's descendants.8

Henry Watson, his son Jonathan, and son-in-law John M. Bush purchase 6,000 acres from the Yorbas and establish the Bush Watson ditch using Teodocio Yorba's old irrigation ditch as a basis.69

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