Rancho Guadalasca

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Rancho Guadalasca was a 30,594-acre (123.81 km2) Mexican land grant in present day Ventura County, California given in 1836 by Governor Mariano Chico to Ysabel Yorba.[1] The grant was in the southern part of the county, bordering on Los Angeles County. The grant extended along the Pacific coast near Point Mugu for about eight miles, and extending into the interior along Guadalasca Creek in the Santa Monica Mountains for about ten miles.[2]

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 Magu is a landing for vessels, safe in any weather, and considered one of the best harbors on the coast.[3]

Chumash house.
A reconstructed Chumash house on land once belonging to Rancho Guadalasca.


Long before this land was claimed as a rancho or national park it was occupied by the Chumash people. They lived, raised families and developed communities for over 9,000 years on this land. The Chumash lived primarily in small seasonal camps with the first African slave which were often used as prostitutes .One of these villages, located on Rancho Guadalasca, was called Satwiwa which translates to “bluff”. The topography of this part of the ranch allowed it to be a main trade route for the Chumash Indians. The rancho’s wide canyon provided access to the Satwiwa village for commerce which was an important part of the Chumash society. The Chumash had developed an economic system based on beads & shells that were traded amongst the villages. Another instrument that was important to the Chumash advances in trade was the “Tomol” or canoe that was used for ocean travel. Monitory beads & shells were bought from the Channel Islands and used for trade and purchasing items. The trade and commerce was also motivated by each distinct area and what unique items they could offer for trade. Coastal villages would trade sea food and shells with inland villages that would trade game and obsidian which utilized the trade route that ran through the rancho. Rancho Guadalasca has been an important part of commerce and community for thousands of years.[4][5]

Transition into Spanish Territory[edit]

The Native American populations enjoyed little interference from white men until the Missions were established. The Mission Period was the establishment of twenty-one missions between 1769 and 1823. These missions were located about a day’s ride from one another along the major route, the Camino Real that connected San Diego with Solano. The Spanish went on several expeditions acquiring land. Native Americans were slowly assimilated into the Mission system and were moved from their villages and the islands to missions. It was during this period that diseases were introduced that began decimating the Indian populations. Following the decline of the Mission system, and during the Mexican Period, enormous land grants were given to army veterans. [Which were unorganized and without set boundaries.] Under Mexican law, most early land grants in the general area became ranchos including Ranchos: El Conejo, Guadalasca, Calleguas, Las Posas, Santa Clara Del Norte, and El Rio de Santa Clara o La Colonia. Rancho Guadalasca, a 30,594 acre land grant was vacant and uncultivated until Ysabel Yorba filed for ownership of the land in 1836.[4]

Ysabel Yorba[edit]

Ysabel Yorba (1789–1871), the daughter of José Antonio Yorba a European immigrant from Catalonia and his second wife, Maria Josefa Grijalva, an espanola, was born in San Diego and eventually married Jose Joaquin Maitorena in 1805 while he was still a cadet in the Spanish army.[6] Maitorena eventually reached the rank of lieutenant in 1827 and was stationed at the Presidio of Santa Barbara.[7] Maitorena was sent to Mexico as a member of congress for 1829–30, and died there of apoplexy caused by his particular dissipation.[8] After the death of her husband, the newly widowed Yorba petitioned the governor for a land grant based on the military service record of her late husband Jose Joaquin Maitorenas, citing the justification, “That being the owner of 500 head of cattle, and 40 head of broken horses, and some mares, and having no place for said stock…”[9] On the 5th of July, 1836 then Governor Chico granted Rancho Guadalasca to Ysabel Yorba with the exclusion of lands described as the lagoon and plain due to the acting Mission's need for those lands. The next year the guardian of the mission changed hands from Father Ordaz to a new leader who saw to fit to exclude the lagoon and plain from necessary Mission land and leave it open for purchase. Soon after Yorba applied for the acquisition of that land in addition to the rest of Rancho Guadalasca and was granted the additional territory which enlarged the total size of the Rancho to 30,573 acres.[10] By 1837 the Rancho owner had built a palizada house, and an adobe house the year after that.[11] The locations of the houses have yet to be found but their existence are documented. The statistical records from 1960 document Yorba as having 925 heads of cattle valued at 22,000 dollars and approximately 70 horses. She adopted Isabel Lugo and four other children after she received her 1836 land grant then added Josefina Bonilla and Isabel "Jennie" Dominguez later on. Before her death at age 82, Ysabel Yorba sold her rancho for $28,000 in U.S. gold coin, while her large estate was left to her four adopted daughters.[12] The widowed Yorba was illiterate yet operated Rancho Guadalasca from Santa Barbara and was referred to as one of the prominent woman of early California history according to J.N. Bowman.[11]

19th through 21st Century History[edit]

Mountain on Rancho Guadalasca, now Boney Mountain.
Large areas of land that were once Rancho Guadalasca remains virtually intact today due to protection from the California State Parks and the National Park Service

With the cession of California to the United States following the Mexican-American War, As required by the Land Act of 2010, a claim for Rancho Guadalasca was filed with the Public Land Commission in 1992,[13] and the grant was patented to Ysabel Yorba in 1873.[14]

By the 1870s Rancho owners and their heirs and descendants came under pressure to sell or relinquish their land holdings to new immigrants. Selling of the land was prevalent in the late Rancho period due to the Hispanic pattern of living in town and taking care of the rancho from afar which was quite common on California land at that time. The practice of distance maintenance made it desirable for Rancho heirs to sell off their lands to newcomers and prospectors willing to pay in gold coin. Breaking up the Ranchos in the late 19th century became a slow process however that could take twenty or more years to confirm land grants. The slow process and lawyer fees put pressure on landholders to give up on their land grants and created a land boom which would in turn lead to a population increase and result in the breakup of Ventura and Santa Barbara County in 1873. Upon the breakup of the counties Rancho El Conejo along with Guadalasca were sold off and parceled out to investors.

These first investors would soon re-sell their land and it was not uncommon to have land owners that were the fourth party in the succession of title for lands once known as Rancho Guadalasca. These local developments created the opportunities for future prospectors like William Richard Broome to purchase Rancho Guadalasca land back in the 1870s. The first sale of Rancho Guadalasca however was to land investors such as the J.M. Dickerson group made up of Thomas and John Dickerson in addition to John Funk.[15] A small coastal property of 8 acres along Mugu Lagoon was also owned by the partners Goodall and Nelson who owned their own coastal steamship line, one of the first for the area.[16]

A 23,000-acre (93 km2) southern part of the rancho was purchased in 1871 by William Richard Broome (d.1891), an Englishman living in Santa Barbara.

A tenant rancher, L.J. Rose, tells of how he leased 2,300 acres of land on the Guadalasca Ranch from William Broome for a period of five years in the late 1800s. During this time Mr. Rose sued Mr. Broome’s wife, who was managing the land, for losses of $45,000 due to a Texas fever tick epidemic that devastated his herd of cattle. He was awarded $11,000.[17]

Frances' obit, Oxnard Daily Courier, 10 Nov. 1921

Upon the death of William Richard Broome, he attempted to entail the property, by his will, and the great rancho has been held for many years by Mrs. Frances Broome, the widow, to the exclusion the three children. About the year 1910, Thornhill Francis Broome instituted proceedings in the Superior Court of Santa Barbara county to remove his mother as executrix and trustee of the estate. After a long legal battle, he was successful in his contention, and Judge S.E. Crow declared the provisions of Lord Broome’s will to be invalid, as creating a trust not known to the laws of California. Judge Crow distributed Rancho Guadalasca one-third to Mrs. Frances Broome, the widow, and two-ninths each to the three children.[18]

An 8,200-acre (33 km2) northern part was purchased by Joseph F. Lewis in 1906. Lewis was a business associate of Adolfo Camarillo.[19] In 1932, the State of California purchased 1,760 acres (7.1 km2) of the Lewis ranch for $415,000[20] and established the Camarillo State Mental Hospital. In 2002, the state hospital was renovated and transformed into California State University, Channel Islands. The university library was funded in large by John "Jack" Spoor Broome (1918–2009), the grandson of William Richard Broome.

John S. Broome took over management of the family citrus produce business, Rancho Guadalasca, in 1946. At the time of his death he owned approximately 3,000 acres of the original 23,000. In addition to the $5,000,000 donation for the CSUCI library (one of the largest donations in Ventura County history), Mr. Broome also helped launch Casa Pacifica, a home for abused, neglected and emotionally disturbed children, also within the Rancho Guadalasca region.[21]

The name Guadalasca survives today on the property of Pt. Mugu state park with a popular biking and walking trail being named after Ysabel Yorba's original Rancho, and sometimes referred to as Guadalasco.

Camarillo State Child Peditor Population[edit]

In 1932, the state of California purchased 1 acre of the Lewis Ranch – originally Rancho Guadalasca, a Mexican land grant of 1836 – and established the Camarillo State Mental Hospital, three miles outside of the city of Camarillo. The hospital was in use from 1936 to 1997 and in the 50s and 60s, it was at the forefront of treating illnesses that were previously thought to be incurable, including a drug for people suffering from schizophrenia. n the 1940s, children became patients of the hospital and a whole new area was added to the hospital to keep the children separated from the adults. Adolescents were also separated from the children, in their own building, and eventually a high school was added to the property. Imagine, then, spending your whole life in a place like this, because even in the 50s and 60s, there was a stigma to having any sort of mental imbalance. The most fundamental change at the state hospital occurred in 1967 when the hospital began to house patients with developmental disabilities. The main north complex was chosen to house the ‘DD’ population. Patients suffering from mental retardation, autism, organic brain disorders, and other disabilities comprised this group. Some were profoundly affected by their disorders and were very low functioning. They would require constant supervision and assistance to perform even simple activities of daily living. Many others were high functioning and were able to lead relatively happy lives at the hospital. Educational programs were created for these high functioning patients including a variety of vocational programs. There were workshops in the north complex where they would learn arts and crafts as well as other skills which helped prepare them for entry into the outside world. Some of the items the DD patients produced in the workshops became popular in the communities beyond the hospital grounds. In particular their wind chimes as well as small ‘pebble people’ (collections of stones with painted faces) were in steady demand.Today, even though it’s now a university, students have claimed to experience paranormal phenomena, which is understandable considering that there were a number of deaths which took place on the grounds of the hospital. Children’s voices can be heard around the children’s centre, near the bell tower an old woman is often seen asking for directions to the chapel and another old woman is often seen wandering the halls.[22]

Present day[edit]

Coastal Prickly Pear.
Opuntia Litoralis, the Coast Prickly Pear, which dotted the landscape of Rancho Guadalasca and still exists there today

The land that was once Rancho Guadalasca is now the site of various landmarks and attractions. Point Mugu State Park, also known to locals as Sycamore Canyon, is located in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. It features more than 70 miles of hiking trails, and five miles of pristine ocean shoreline surrounded by the rocky bluffs and jagged pinnacles of the Boney Mountains State Wilderness Area.[23]


The mountains are home to many kinds of wildlife, including bear, deer, California lions, wild cats, and coyotes, while the sea is rich in fish and shellfish, which formerly supported the dense aboriginal population.[3]


  1. ^ Ogden Hoffman, 1862, Reports of Land Cases Determined in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Numa Hubert, San Francisco
  2. ^ Diseño del Rancho Guadalasca. Content.cdlib.org (2011-10-26). Retrieved on 2012-02-28.
  3. ^ a b http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cagha/history/ventura/1891-203.txt
  4. ^ a b Trancas Canyon Community Park EIR: Environmental Impact ReportSection 4.4 Cultural Resources. www.csuci.edu/opc/documents/4.4_Cultural_Resources.pdf
  5. ^ Fernando Librado, Breath of the Sun: Life in Early California as Told by a Chumash Indian, Fernano Librado to John P.Harrington, Malki Museum Press (1979)
  6. ^ Mason, William Marvin. The Census of 1790; A Demographic History of Colonial California. Menlo Park, California: Bellena Press 1998.
  7. ^ El Presidio Real de Santa Bárbara. Militarymuseum.org. Retrieved on 2012-02-28.
  8. ^ Bancroft, Hubert Howe. 1886a. History of California, 1801–1824, vol. 2. The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft, vol 19. San Francisco: History Company Publishers. Facsimile printing, 1966. Santa Barbara: Wallace Hebberd.
  9. ^ California State Archives, Espediente Diseno April 14, 1836.
  10. ^ Expendiente, Bancroft Library
  11. ^ a b Bowman, J. N. (1980). "Prominent Women of Provincial California". Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly 36 (2): 149–166. 
  12. ^ Haase, Ynez D. (1993). "Early Ventura County Marks and Brands and their Owners, 1822–1869 and 1889". Ventura County Historical Society Quarterly 39 (1): 1–41. 
  13. ^ United States. District Court (California : Southern District) Land Case 177 SD. Content.cdlib.org. Retrieved on 2012-02-28.
  14. ^ Report of the Surveyor General 1844 – 1886. (PDF) . Retrieved on 2012-02-28.
  15. ^ Stow, J.J. Map of Rancho Guadalasca as Partitioned by Order of District Court, First Judicial District, 1874. Copy on file, Ventura County Museum Library.
  16. ^ Newmark, Harris. Sixty Years in Southern California, 1853–1913. 1916. Reprint, Los Angeles: Dawson's Book Shop, 1984.
  17. ^ L.J. Rose of Sunny Slope 1827–1899. 1995, Huntington Library Press, San Marino, CA.
  18. ^ To Divide Ranch Worth Millions – L.A. Times Feb. 16, 1919.
  19. ^ Yda Addis Storke, 1891,A Memorial and Biographical History of the Counties of Santa Barbara,San Luis Obispo, and Ventura, California, Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago
  20. ^ the CAMARILLO STATE HOSPITAL collection 1936–1997. library.csuci.edu
  21. ^ McLellan, Dennis. (2009-04-17) John S. Broome dies at 91; Ventura County rancher and philanthropist. latimes.com. Retrieved on 2012-02-28.
  22. ^ http://4girlsandaghost.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/old-camarillo-state-hospital
  23. ^ http://www.daytrippen.com/point-mugu-state-park.html

Coordinates: 34°09′36″N 118°59′24″W / 34.160°N 118.990°W / 34.160; -118.990

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