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In 1833 Mexican government secularized all of California missions and took them away from control by church (Source). At this time mission system of California had ended. The Mexican government tried to revert land to American Indian control immediately (Source). However, once land was taken from church Spanish and Mexican governments and local factions fought for ownership of real estate in Southern California and surrounding regions. The American Indians were out numbered by ranchers from United States and Mexico who forced American Indians into slavery on their growing private ranches. Some American Indians managed to retreat away from ranch settlements into mountains.
The Mexican government's control of Orange County remained passive between 1821-1846. Mexican Governor Juan B. Alvarado gave following land owners these lands:
- In 1837 Rancho Cienega de las Ranas was granted to José Sepúlveda.
- In 1837 San Juan Cajón de Santa Ana was granted to Juan Pacífico Ontiveros.
- In 1841 Rancho Bolsa Chica was granted to Joaquín Ruiz.
- in 1842 La Bolsa de San Joaquín was granted to Sepúlveda.
- in 1842 Rancho Cañada de Los Alisos was granted to José Serrano.
- in 1842 Rancho Niguel was granted to José Ávila.
- In 1843 Mexican Governor Manuel Micheltorena gave Rios tract to Santiago Rios.
- In 1845 Rancho Potrero Los Piños was granted to Don Juan Forster who also bought San Juan Capistrano Mission for his own personal residence.
- In 1846 Rancho Boca de la Playa was granted to Emigdio Vejar and Rancho Lomas de Santiago was granted to Teodocio Yorba, both by Mexican Governor Pío Pico.
While Mexico controlled California, large rancher owners oversaw development of commercial property, homes and land in Orange County for their own commerce. During that time an influx of United States Americans from Midwest and Eastern United States began to colonize West. There were disturbances between Mexican provincial administrators and United States citizens. Soon thereafter United States and Mexico were in a war. The US - Mexican War lasted from 1846 to 1848. The Mexican government fled as US troops advanced and on February 2, 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in which Mexican government sold 55% of its territory, including Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas, and parts of Colorado, Nevada and Utah for $15 million to compensate for war damages (Source). California became 31st state of United States. A year later in 1849 California gold rush began. At this time Orange County was only a part of real estate in Los Angeles County (Source).
After California became part of US, any land owner who did not have paperwork for their ownership lost possession of their land. Most land owners lost their land since Spain and Mexico did not normally provide adequate paperwork to show proper boundaries for land in California. The US government took land and sold it back at very affordable rates to local farmers and pioneers from Eastern and Midwestern United States who came to California to dwell there.
In 1862, a horrendous set of natural disasters struck Orange County and changed everything. First a flood swept through region and set up perfect conditions for a massive plague academic which became a small pox outbreak that killed many Americans. Not long afterwards within same year a massive drought dried up all of Orange County crops and cattle ranches (Source). The once rich ranchers who received land from Mexican and Spanish government from before US - Mexico War lost all of their cattle and were forced into bankruptcy by huge interest rates set by merciless North American businessmen at a rate of 3% interest due per month on average (Source). Local farmers also went bankrupt and lost their land.
The rest of story had to be cut off in order to fit on this website, but it may be published elsewhere.This history of Orange County, California, was part of an original research project by South California Real Estate Agent John-Robin Middlebrook posted June 11, 2005.
I love Southern California and am familiar with many of its landscapes from the beach to the mountains, from the LA Metro to Orange County, uptown, downtown, Beverly Hills or Huntington Beach. I grew up both surfing, snowboarding, playing football and baseball. I have also traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.