Rancho Little Temecula

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Rancho Little Temecula was a 2,233-acre (9.04 km2) Mexican land grant in present-day Riverside County, California given in 1845 by Governor Pío Pico to Pablo Apis.[1][2] The grant was one of the few held by indigenous people.[3] The grant is south of present-day Temecula and is bordered on the north by Temecula Creek. At the time of the US patent, Rancho Little Temecula was a part of San Diego County. Riverside County was created by the California Legislature in 1893 by taking land from both San Bernardino and San Diego Counties.[4]


Pablo Apis (1792–1854) was born a Luiseño and at age six was among the first indigenous people baptized at the Mission San Luis Rey.[2] Apis learned to read and write in Spanish and eventually rose to a position of leadership in which he was the principal spokesman for the local Luiseños.[2] After the missions became secularized in the 1830s, more indigenous people came to live in Temecula, an outpost of Mission San Luis Rey. Apis was one of the Luiseño leaders who fought to keep the Californios from taking control of the mission.[3] Apis was imprisoned for a short time in 1836 by Pío Pico, at that time administrator of Mission San Luis Rey, for objecting to Pico's management of the mission.[2][5]

In 1843, Apis was given the Temecula area, including the established village center, by Father Jose Maria Zalvidea, a priest briefly in control of the former mission and its lands.[2] Zalvidea appears to have undertaken an initiative to grant native peoples their village lands—other such grants made by Zalvidea include Rancho Guajome and Rancho Cuca. Apis applied for formal ownership of the one-by-one-half-league Rancho Little Temecula grant in 1845 in return for his assistance to the mission.[6] In 1847, Apis was a participant in the Temecula Massacre.[7]

With the cession of California to the United States following the Mexican–American War, the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided that the land grants would be honored. As required by the Land Act of 1851, a claim for Rancho Little Temecula was filed with the Public Land Commission in 1852,[8] but American settlers were not in favor of any indigenous people owning land, and used a variety of procedural tactics to impede the claim's progress.[2] Apis died between 1853 and 1855 before the Commission had decided its fate. In 1856, Isaac Williams, the holder of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino to the north and the parent of grandsons of Apis, helped carry the Little Temecula grant through the court, which decided possession in favor of Apis's daughter and Williams's wife, Maria Antonio Apis.[2] Williams died the same year.

In 1872, Louis Wolf, pioneer storekeeper of Temecula, acquired the Apis grant.[9] The grant was patented to Pablo Apis in 1873.[10] In 1873, Juan Murrieta, Domingo Pujol and Francisco Zanjuro went in together to buy the grant.[2] Two years later, the San Diego County Sheriff forced the indigenous people from their homes in Temecula and led them to what is now known as the Pechanga Indian Reservation.[2]

In 1904 Walter L. Vail, already a successful ranch owner in Arizona, started buying ranch land in the Temecula Valley; buying Rancho Santa Rosa, Rancho Temecula, Rancho Pauba and the northern half of Rancho Little Temecula.

Historic sites of the Rancho[edit]

Apis Adobe[edit]

Apis built two adobes on his land; the second is still referred to as the Apis Adobe. Apis built the later adobe house on the south side of Temecula Creek at the point where the road, part of the Southern Emigrant Trail, crossed the creek to the north side of the creek, just upstream from the Luiseño village on the creek. In 1858, the Apis Adobe had become the location of the Temecula stagecoach station of the Butterfield Overland Mail.[11][12] The foundation of the building was studied and archaeologically excavated in 1989, in anticipation of new development. In 1990, the adobe site was bulldozed.[3][13]

Wolf Store[edit]

The Wolf Store was built by Louis Wolf on the north bank of Temecula Creek, on the west side of the place where the old road from Los Angeles to Fort Yuma crossed the creek. It was directly across the creek from the old Luiseño village and northwest of the Apis Adobe, the former Butterfeild Overland Mail stage station. It was the center of the old settlement of Temecula before the town relocated to the west along the railroad. Later the building was incorporated into the Vail Ranch headquarters; the store still remains, but is in need of restoration.[14]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ a b c d e f g h i Pablo Apis
  3. ^ a b c Bibb, Leland E. (Fall 1991). "Pablo Apis and Temecula". The Journal of San Diego History. The San Diego Foundation. Retrieved January 28, 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Mexican Ranchos in Temecula Valley Archived 2010-04-10 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Leland E. Bibb, Pablo Apis and Temecula, The Journal of San Diego History, Fall 1991, Volume 37, Number 4
  6. ^ Hoover, Mildred B.; Rensch, Hero; Rensch, Ethel; Abeloe, William N. (1966). Historic Spots in California. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-4482-9.
  7. ^ Tom Hudson, Sam Hicks, 1970,They Passed This Way: Tales of Historic Temecula Valley at the Crossroads of California's Southern Immigrant Trail, Temecula, CA, Laguna House
  8. ^ United States. District Court (California : Southern District) Land Case 55 SD
  9. ^ Stern, Norton B., King of Temecula Louis Wolf, Southern California Quarterly, Spring 1976, pages 63–74
  10. ^ Report of the Surveyor General 1844–1886 Archived 2013-03-20 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Leland E. Bibb, "Pablo Apis and Temecula", The Journal of San Diego History, Fall 1991, Volume 37, Number 4, p.260 Map of the Apis Grant, Temecula and vicinity, showing the relationship of the Apis Adobe to modern highways and downtown Temecula.
  12. ^ Bibb, "Pablo Apis and Temecula", The Journal of San Diego History, p. 264
  13. ^ Bibb, "Pablo Apis and Temecula", Page 258. The west wing of the Apis Adobe as exposed in the archaeological excavations of 1989. The patio is to the right. It is thought that 'Pablo's private room' was the one in the rear.
  14. ^ Map of the village of Temecula and vicinity, showing the several historical sites which clustered around the mission-era pond. Bibb, Leland E. (Fall 1991). "Pablo Apis and Temecula". The Journal of San Diego History (The San Diego Foundation). Retrieved January 28, 2010.

Coordinates: 33°28′12″N 117°06′00″W / 33.470°N 117.100°W / 33.470; -117.100