Storke, Eastern Portion

A Memorial and Biographical History of the Counties of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura, California


by Yda Addis Storke

Published in 1891 in Chicago by the Lewis Publishing Co.



(Pages 203-209)



The lower Santa Clara Valley, bordering on the ocean, comprises the ranchos San Miguel, Santa Paula y Saticoy, Santa Clara del Norte, La Colonia, and part of Guadalasca, besides Government lands. Through the hills skirting the eastern flank of the in main expanse break two fine valleys, with wooded hills and cultivated dales. The more northerly of these contains the ranchos Las Posas and Simi; the southern, being El Conejo Valley, embraces the ranchos Callejos, El Conejo, and the upper end of the Guadalasca. Close down to the channel of the Santa Clara on the north come the Santa Barbara Mountains, jagged and distorted, while to the south, above Santa Paula, they are much lower and more rounded, although still mostly untillable. The northern slopes are set with groves of pine and live-oak; the southern are covered with grass, flowers and the honey-bearing sage. The principal trees along the sod., courses are sycamore, walnut, cottonwood, and some inferior varieties of pine.


The Rancho La Colonia, or Rio de Santa Clara, as finally confirmed, comprises a tract of about 48,883 acres, lying south of Rancho Santa Clara del Norte, and north and west of the Pacific Ocean, the Guadalasca Rancho, and a small piece of Government land. This tract was granted in 1837 to eight old soldiers, by Governor ALVARADO, the record of possession bearing date September 28, 1840. The commissioners rejected this claim in 1854, but the grant was declared valid, reversing the former decision, in 1857, thus confirming the land to Valentine COTA, although it was also claimed by the widow of Joseph CHAPMAN, of the Ortega Rancho affair.

During the '60's many squatters settled upon this track and its boundaries were modified by various surveys. It was first cultivated in 1867 when Christian BORCHARD and his son settled on the rancho, in old adobe house formerly occupied by the GONZALES family, of the original grantees, and planted crops of wheat and barley, the first grain sown in Ventura County, thirty acres of each being sown in the spring of 1868. The barley yielded eighteen cartels to the acre; the wheat rusted and was left standing. This rancho was so thickly covered with wild mustard that two men, in two and one-half months, gathered with an old-fashioned header, twenty-five tons of mustard seed, which sold for 2 cents per pound. This section bas been steadily settled, and that with an industrious and excellent class of citizen. "Tom" SCOTT, the railroad king, who purchased this rancho from the Spanish owners, in 1869 sold it for $150,000 to Thomas R. BARD, under whose auspices it has been improved greatly. The Colonia includes most of the Santa Clara Valley, oceanward.


Hueneme is situated upon a projection of the Colonia Rancho, a point running into the sea, some twelve miles south of San Buenaventura, and the same distance north of Point Magu.

The town was started in June, 1870, by W. E. BARNARD, G. S. GILBERT and H. P. FLINT. It was declared that the town would be overflowed at high tide, and cut off from the surrounding country by the neighboring swamps and morasses. Moreover, the proprietors of the Colonia Rancho claimed the land, and tried to dispossess the founders of the new town.

The Hueneme Lighter Company began to make shipments of lumber in June, 1870, in connection with the steamer Kalorama, and, against all predictions to the contrary, this enterprise proved eminently successful. Daring the first year 60,000 sacks of grain were shipped by means of the lighters. Still there were some losses, notably that of some costly machinery destined for the oil works, and therefore, with a view to the possibilities of future traffic, T. R. BARD and R. C. SURDAM obtained the right to construct a wharf at this point, and the work was begun and finished within the month, that of August, 1871. The wharf was 900 feet long, reaching to water eighteen feet deep. It was connected by tramway with the shore, where was built a warehouse, also corrals for stock. At once this wharf was made the medium of a very heavy business. The board of supervisors fixed the inanimate rates of wharfage, which was moderate.

Already in 1871, much attention had been attracted to the artesian wells about Hueneme. One owned by T. R. BARD, although but 147 feet deep, threw up such an immense volume of water it flooded several acres, and flumes had to be constructed to carry away the surplus water.

The first two houses in this town were built in 1871, by Messrs. THOMPSON and JUDSON. The town was laid out by T. R. BARD. The Pioneer Hotel was built in 1971 by D. D. McCOY, who then removed hither from San Buenaventura

Shortly after the settlement at Hueneme, T. R. BARD, who had purchased the Colonia Rancho in 1869, denied that the site of the town was public land, as claimed by its founders, and to enforce his claim he set a party to fence in the proposed wharf site. Enraged by this measure, the settlers assumed threatening attitude with regard to the fence-builders, and it is probable that blood-shed was prevented only by the fact that Mr. BARD's party possessed fire-arms, while the settlers were without them. They finally dispersed, and later both claimants gave bonds for a title to the land when the owner-ship should be established by issue of  the case then pending before the United States authorities.

After this difficulty was adjusted, the new town received numerous additions, and within a year after its founding it had seventeen families and forty-eight school census children. Several stores and a second hotel were opened this year.

In September, 1872, Hueneme contained one grocery, one fruit and confectionery store, two of general merchandise, one restaurant, two lumber yards, one livery stable, one carpenter shop, two blacksmith shops, two barber shops, one hotel, and one private school. Many vessels were loading or discharging at the wharf'. There were shipped this year 86,900 rentals of grain.

On May 5, 1873, was established the Hueneme public school district, also road districts for the vicinity, and many artesian wells were sunk hereabouts during this summer. During this year 145,000 centals of grain were shipped hence.

In 1874 Hueneme had become a lively town, with several large stores, and most of the trades represented.

The shipments of grain this year were 198,500 centals.

In 1877 was established a matanza, or slaughter-yard, to kill and utilise cattle and sheep which otherwise would probably perish during the disastrous season already begun.

In 1878 were received 264,336 sacks of grain, of which 140,217 sacks were shipped during the year. Other shipments were: 4,070 hogs, 32 calves, 53 boxes eggs, 862 barrels petroleum, 1,228 bales hay, 1,231 bales wool, 37,735 pounds rock soap, 2,224 sacks mustard, 1,002 sacks beans, 6,880 sacks corn, 50 sacks wheat, 3,893 sacks barley, 190 tons miscellaneous freight. There were received about 1,000 tons of freight, besides 800,000 feet of lumber.

In April, 1879, was organized the Hueneme Lodge of Good Templars, No. 236.

During the year ending March 31, 1880, there were shipped from Hueneme 16,888 sacks of corn, 232,995 sacks barley, 2,012 sacks flaxseed, 352 sacks rye, 21,479 sacks wheat, 3,156 make beans, 406 sacks mustard, 140 sacks oats, 149 boxes eggs, 418 sheep, 10,035 hogs, 64,000 pounds of wool.

In view of the growing business, the wharf was now extended to a total length of about 1,500 feet.

The receipts of the business for that year $20,100.92; expenditures, $10,461.96; earnings, $9,638.96, or about 1 1-6 per month on the cost.

In 1883 Hueneme contained a hotel, several business houses, a telegraph office, postoffice, wharf and steamship offices, good school-house and some twenty-five dwellings. There were four large warehouses, with au aggregate capacity of about 300,000 sacks, or 684,120 cubic feet.

In the earlier months of 1884, a waterspout appeared on the ocean before Hueneme, whence it passed to the land, tearing up trees, and wrecking to total demolishment the house of H. F. COFFMAN, the occupants escaping injury as by a miracle.

            For the year ending March, 1886, the shipments over the Hueneme wharf were as follows, Sacks barley, 121,336; wheat, 53,628; corn, 8,291; beans, 2,035; walnuts, 111; mustard seed 153; cases honey, 481; bales wool, 722 1/2; bales hay, 172; bogs, 5,300; sheep 3,147; lambs, 599; boxes butter, 50; cases eggs, 479; coops live fowls, 72; hides, 213; bundles pelts, 70; barrels tallow, 23; sacks castor beans, 13; miscellaneous packages, 841.

Over the Hueneme wharf were exported during the year ending March, 1887, products as follows: Sacks barley, 394,024; sacks wheat 80,174; sacks corn, 23,426; sacks oats, 12; sacks beans, 1,286; sacks walnuts, 81; sacks mustard seed, 1,004; clover seed, 201; potatoes, 2,880; onions, 167; bales wool, 1,352; bales hay, 139; cases honey, 2,803; cases eggs, 427; bead hogs, 7,005; head sheep, 7,443; lambs, 207; boxes butter, 40; coops live fowls, 49; hides, 216; bundles pelts, 60; barrels tallow, 44; miscellaneous packages, 105.

During the year ending March 31, 1888, there was shipped from the port of Hueneme, of corn, 12,534 sacks; wheat, 16,073 sacks; barley 508,118 sacks; mustard seed, 3,934 sacks; beans, 1,556 sacks; eggs, 387 cases; pelts, 304 bundles; hides, 116 bundles; wool, 1,023 bales; hogs, 2,249 head; honey, 2,803 cases; potatoes, 2,597 sacks; sheep and lambs, 8,339 head; butter, 146 cases; tallow, 26 barrels; hay, 102 bales; fowls, 158 coops; castor beans, 12 sacks; onions, 167 seeks; petroleum, 1,785 barrels. During this yen, 169 steamers, 23 schooners and 44 steam schooners, making a total of 236 vessels, touched at this port.

The town site is almost level, with only a sandy beach between it and the sea. The climate is mild and the air very pure and free from malaria. This is the "embarcadero" or sea shipping point for a large back country.

The rich agricultural and grazing lands of the Simi, Conejo and Santa Clara ranchos, the Colonia Rancho, and Pleasant Valley, lie behind it. The Hueneme light-house is situated one mile west of the wharf. It is a two-story brick structure, combining the Swiss with the Elizabethan style. It contains ten large rooms, with closets, offices, etc., being designed to accommodate two families. The revolving light is of the fourth order, red flash, with fine French prisms and concentrators. It is fifty feet above the sea level and is perceptible from forty miles away. It consumes about three gallons of oil per week. A record is kept of all details, time of lighting and of extinguishing the lamp, etc. The light was first shown December 15, 1874. The successive keepers have been: Samuel ENSIGN, J. A. McFARLAND and E H. PINNEY.

Hueneme has post, express and telegraph offices and daily mail by stage from Ventura. There are two hotels, one school—a $9,000 building—one church, one weekly newspaper, the Herald, three stores of general merchandise, one for furniture, one drug store, one tobacconist, one blacksmith, one carpenter-shop, one barber, one bakery, one agricultural implement depot, one saddlery and harness-shop, one grain, wool, and produce depot, one insurance agent, one livery stable, one lumber yard, one meat market, one painter, one plumber, one stove and tinware house, two notaries public, two attorneys at law, one physician and one dentist. Here is situated the mammoth tank, of 36,000 barrels capacity, into which a line of four-inch pipes conveys the oil from the wells in the mountains, and whence it is piped into vessels built expressly for transporting it to San Francisco, San Pedro, etc.


This rancho lies in the extreme southern part of Ventura, southeast of the Colonia.

            It borders on Los Angeles County about two miles, on the coast about eight miles, and extends about ten miles into the interior. The place is historical, being the site of Xucu or "The Town of the Canoes," described in the voyage of Cabrillo, 300 years since, this having been the most densely-populated portion of the coast. In one of the valleys, La Jolla, seems to have been a favorite ground of the Indians, if being rich in kitchen middens, bones, etc., and having a trail, worn deep, from the landing over the hill. The Guadalasca was a grant of 30,593.85 acres, made May 6, 1846, to Ysabel YORBA, whose title was confirmed by the United States Land Commissioners. Of this estate, 23,000 acres were purchased some years since by William Richard BROOME, an English gentleman of leisure, living in Santa Barbara. Several thousands of these acres are on the fertile Colonia plain, where flowing wells of artesian water can be had at 100 to 150 feet deep. "The Estero" is the termination of the Guadalasca Creek, being a basin some four miles long, in some parts 1,000 feet wide, and deep enough to float large vessels. Near Point Mugu is a landing for vessels, safe in any weather, and considered one of the best harbors on the coast. The mountains here abound in game, such as bear, deer, California lions, wild cats, coyotes, rabbits, hare, and quail, while the sea is here swarming with fine fish and shell-fish, as in the days when sea products here supported the dense aboriginal population.


This rancho occupies the lower end of the Las Posas and Simi Valley, debouching upon the great Santa Clara plain. Las Poses, embracing 26,623 acres of land, was granted to Jose CARRILLO May 15, 1824, and confirmed to Jose de la GUERRA y NORIEGA being held by him and his heirs until 1870, when it was sold to a company, who have kept it undivided until the present day, raising wheat, barley, corn and stock.

At the date of sale, the Las Poses and the Simi, containing an aggregate of about 123,000 acres, were sold for $550,000, being assessed at the same time at but $172,000.

The rancho is located about twelve miles east of Hueneme, within sight of the ocean, in the southern part of Ventura County. The property is crossed by the proposed Los Angeles and Hueneme Railroad, and will be, when that road is completed, about fifty miles by rail from the metropolis of Southern California. The great Simi ranch borders it on the east, the Calleguas on the south, the Santa Clara del Norte on the west, and a range of mountains on the north.

Las Poses could rake in every resident of Ventura County, give each voter of the county ten acres of land, and leave nearly 1,000 acres on which to build the towns. Considering the fact that this county is as thickly populated outside the villages as perhaps any in the State, the foregoing statement gives the reader some idea of the extent of this great ranch.

Probably 12,000 acres of the Las Poses are arable, 13,000 suitable for grazing, and the mountain land availing only for bee-keeping. It has no timber. The wide fields are mostly unfenced. Most of the farming is cared on by renters, who raise wheat, barley, corn, and beans, grown without irrigation. All the grains and semi-topical fruits succeed here, and there are several thousand acres perfectly adapted to the growth of the orange, lemon, fig, almond, and apricot. Artesian water is easily obtainable.

On a part of this Rancho, Peter RICE, the owner of a farm of 280 acres, has an orchard, bearing all kinds of fruit, including oranges and lemons, walnuts, figs, grapes, apricots, prunes and peaches.

The sale of the SCOTT estate lands on the adjoining rancho, La Colonia, in July and August, 1888, aggregated over $525,000, in five days.


The Simi Rancho is a vast tract of 96,000 acres, completely walled in by continuous ranges of hills and mountains, on all sides save the west, where lies the narrow valley of the Las Posas Rancho. To the north lies the upper Santa Clara Valley, and to the south the Conejo Valley, on the south and east being also the Santa Susana range, separating the Simi from Los Angeles County. The Simi was formerly tolled San Jose de Gracia. It was granted to Patricio JAVIER and Miguel PICO, in 1795, by Governor BORICA. In April, 1812, when ALVARADO revived, or renewed, the claim to NORIEGA, it contained 92,341.35 acres. It contained 114,000 acres between sixty and seventy years since. Since that time, to settle a dispute as to title 15/113 of the whole, comprising about 14,000 acres, were conveyed to Eugene SULLIVAN. This portion, comprehending the homestead of the de la GUERRA family, now known as the Tapo Rancho, lies in the northeast corner of the Simi Valley. To Mr. CHAFEE were sold other 2,000 acres of the Simi, leaving the rest in the ownership of Andrew GREY. Of this tract, only about 11,000 acres are suitable for farming; 67,000 acres are grazing land; and 20,000 acres are available for bee-raising only. The altitude of the valley is about 700 feet above sea-level.       

Having passed into the hands of  "Tom" SCOTT, this rancho, on his death, remained in use only for grain farming and sheep and cattle raising, as the executors of the estate could not dispose of it in small parcels, and the heirs seemed not inclined to put it on the market. Of  late it has passed into the hands of the Simi Land and Water Company, of Los Angeles, who have divided it into stock ranges, containing from 1,000 to 10,000 acres each, at from $5 to $15 per acre, each division being supplied with abundant water from the living springs which are found in almost every part of the Simi.

It is understood that there is abundant water on the Simi for the irrigation of all fruit land which will need irrigation. No crop ever raised there has ever been irrigated. Some of the best fruit land on the rancho has flowing water tributary to it which can be piped at small expense. This water will be supplied as the needs of settlers may require. On the ordinary farming lands in the valleys water is easily reached by boring a short distance, and in many places artesian wells can be found.

The climate of Simi is most desirable, and it is destined to become an important health resort for persons afflicted with weak lungs or throat trouble. The elevation of the valleys average over 1,000 feet above the sea level, and the air is pure and dry, at the same time the temperature is even and pleasant. The ocean breeze begins to blow gently in the morning and continues through the day, making their air pleasant in the warmest days of summer. At the eastern end of the rancho it a beautiful oak grove of about 2,000 acres, which affords a charming place for camping and picnic parties, an attraction not often found in this part of the State.

Land on the Simi can now be bought in tracts to suit at $5 to $15 for stock ranges, and from $20 to $75 for farms and colony tracts. At present the nearest railroad point is San Fernando, a station on the Southern Pacific Railroad, twenty miles north of Los Angeles.

The Simi Hotel is twelve miles west of this point. Visitors can go to San Fernando by rail from Ventura or Los Angeles, and thence to Simi by four-horse stage.


        The Tapo Rancho, before mentioned as having been set off from the Simi, belongs to the estate of Francisco de la GUERRA. It has been established for more than sixty years. Lying at the northeastern part of the Simi Rancho, only some 1,500 of its 14,000 acres are arable, the rest being grazing land. This rancho, being protected by a mountain wall, is peculiarly adapted to fruit-growing. Superior wines and brandies have been made from a vineyard here, planted nearly fifty years ago.


        This is a little village located near where the ranchos Santa Clara del Norte, Las Posas and La Colonia come together at the west end of what is known as Pleasant Valley. Past this hamlet goes a great deal of local travel. The village has a postoffice, one church, one store, one smithy, and a small number of dwellings. Adjoining Pleasant Valley is the magnificent Calleguas Rancho of 22,000 acres and close to Springville is the large stock rancho of GRIES & BELL.


This lies over the hills, south of the Las Posas, and east of La Colonia (from which it is separated by Government lands), north of the Guadalasca, and west of El Conejo. The extension of Pleasant Valley forms a portion of it. This was granted to Jose Pedro RUIZ in May, 1847, the area called for being 9,998.29 acres, of which about half is fit for stock-raising only. The rest is arable, producing excellent flax and cereals, corn being considered the best crop. Much of this rancho contains living springs, which appear in many places, but which have not been utilized, although irrigating a large surface, which they render peculiarly suitable to fruit-raising. A small vineyard here produces wine of excellent quality.


The Conejo (Rabbit) Rancho was granted by Governor SOLA to Jose de la GUERRA y NORIEGA, October 12, 1822. It contained 48,674.56 acres. It lies east of the Calleguas and Guadalasca ranchos, and south of the Simi which also borders it on the east. Los Angeles bounds it on the east and south. It is cradled between the Guadalasca or Conejo range south and westward. The Susana hills extension on the north, and the Susana and Santa Monica mountains on the east. The altitude is about 700 feet. The soil is a deep and rich black loam. The grazing lands are unsurpassed, and the canons and mountains afford fine bee-pasturage. In 1872–'73 H. W. MILLS purchased one-half of the Conejo grant from the heirs of Captain Jose de la GUERRA. In 1882 were sold at $5 per acre 2,200 acres of the Newbury tract, and in the same year 6,000 acres above Newbury Park were sold to RUSSELL Brothers for $15,000. Of this rancho 1,800 acres are fertile and even-surfaced. The water here is good. The distance of this section from Hueneme is twenty-five miles.


In the southern end of Ventura County. and in the lower part of the Conejo Rancho, is located the town of Newbury Park—or rather there is in this beautiful little valley a postoffice known by that name, at which a score or more of prosperous families get their daily mail. The postoffice is located in an old building belonging to the RUSSEL Brothers, on the old stage route from Lot Angeles to Ventura, about fifty miles from the former and thirty from the latter. The inhabitants of this locality are farmers living for six or eight miles up and down the old stage road, and in the "Potrero," a narrow canon leading out of the larger valley, hemmed in by ragged hills and covered by some of the finest forest trees to be found in Southern California. The territory covered by the ranches in this vicinity embraces about 30,000 acres, mostly devoted to stock-raising. The country is diversified, as is the greater part of California. Along the roads, which are extra good, are here and there pretty farm houses, and large barns filled to overflowing with farm products. On the hills are fat cattle and fine horses. Good fences, good roads and good buildings, all speak of thrift and industry.

The valleys being well covered with large oak trees, the drive through them is delightful. Upon the rancho of A. D. and H. M. RUSSELL, embracing 6,000 acres, are kept 500 head of cattle, 100 horses and 500 hogs.

W. H. CROLLEY has a rancho of 2,260 acres, which in two years, under his care, has been brought—from a property that did not make enough to pay taxes—into the most thrifty condition, showing what a little care and good judgment can do in a short time on California soil. He keeps about forty fine horses, 200 Durham cattle and fifty hogs, besides good quantity of poultry, all of which does very well.

O. A. WADLEIGH, from Canada rents the EDWARDS rancho of 6,400 acres and is carrying on the dairy business. He keeps 125 cows, 150 hogs and a large lot of poultry.

R. O. HUNT has a splendid little rancho of about 1,000 acres, on which he raises all kinds of crops and keeps all kinds of stock. He raises a great deal of poultry - chickens. ducks and turkeys. He says he never saw a place where poultry did as well or could be raised as easily, or where it would pay as well.

            H. HADSELL, from Chicago, and his brother, N.D. HADSELL, from Ohio, have a nice little farm of 200 acres, on which they raise wheat and various other crops with success. They are planting fruit trees of all kinds, which are making most remarkable growth.

            H.T. STEBBINS, from Ohio, who has lived on the Conejo for fourteen years, has a charming little place of eighty acres, divided into tillage and pasture, where he keeps twenty horses, twenty-five cattle and 120 hogs, besides a liberal supply of fine poultry. Mr. Stebbins says he has killed 350 deer on this ranch since he has lived here. From his porch he looks out upon the rugged mountains of the Coast Range; the "Triunfo,"  where it is said the Mexicans fought a successful battle with the Indians years ago, and up the lovely Potrero Valley.

            Three miles further up is the 8,000-acre rancho of "the Banning boys," where 500 to 1,000 cattle are kept and fattened for market.

            The only means of public transportation into this valley are the mail-carts.


           This is the name of an old settlement on the Conejo Rancho, some eight or nine miles from Newbury Park. It is situated in a quiet valley of great fertility, abundantly watered, and surrounded by hills whose slope furnish fine grazing. There are here a postoffice, hotel, store, blacksmith shop, tannery, Chinese laundry, a good school-house, and one or two church organizations. Here lives Mr. BORCHARD, the pioneer grower of wheat in Ventura County. He now is engaged in general farming, and also makes butter by the ton. Game is very plentiful in this section.