Rancho San Rafael

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Rancho San Rafael was a 36,403-acre (147.32 km2) Spanish land grant in the San Rafael Hills, bordering the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco in present-day Los Angeles County, southern California, given in 1784 to Jose Maria Verdugo.


The rancho includes the present day cities of Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, Montrose, Verdugo City; and the city of Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, Cypress Park, Eagle Rock, Garvanza, Glassell Park, Highland Park, and Mount Washington.[1][2][3]

The rancho's boundaries were primarily defined by the Verdugo Mountains on the west, the Crescenta Valley and Rancho La Cañada on the north, the Arroyo Seco on the east, and the Los Angeles River on the south. The boundary followed north along the northeast bank of the L.A. River, and then wrapped westerly around present day Griffith Park to a point near the Travel Town Museum there.[4]


Corporal José María Verdugo (1751–1831), a Spanish soldier who had served with the 1769 Portola-Serra Expedition, received a provisional eight square league grant of the Rancho San Rafael in 1784, from his army commander Governor Pedro Fages, which was confirmed in 1798 by Governor Diego de Borica. In 1798 Verdugo retired from the army to become a full-time rancher. Verdugo died in 1831 and he left his property to his surviving son Julio Antonio Verdugo (1789–1876) and daughter María Catalina Verdugo (1799–1837).

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 was filed with the Public Land Commission in 1852,[5] confirmed by the Commission in 1855, and the grant was patented to Julio and Catalina Verdugo in 1882.[6]

In 1857, Jonathan R. Scott traded Rancho La Cañada to Julio and Catalina Verdugo, heirs of Jose Maria Verdugo, for 4,607 acres (19 km2) acres on the west side of Rancho San Rafael - what is today Burbank. In 1861 Julio and Catalina Verdugo split the rancho between southern (Julio) and northern (Catalina) portions.[7]

In 1861, Julio Verdugo mortgaged a substantial portion of the Rancho to Jacob Elias under terms that he could not afford. By the late 1860s, several parcels of Rancho San Rafael had been either sold, or lost due to foreclosures. Many individuals were claiming ownership to multiple sections of the rancho. In 1871, law partners Alfred Chapman and Andrew Glassell filed a lawsuit, known as "The Great Partition", against thirty-six separate defendants. The plaintiffs contended that there were numerous alleged property owners occupying tracts of land whose boundaries were illegally established. Once the validity of the claims were proven, a partition was demanded. Ultimately, Rancho San Rafael was divided into thirty-one sections given to twenty-eight different people, some of which included members of the Verdugo family.[8]

Name Allotment Notes
Benjamin Dreyfus 8,000 acres (32.4 km2)
Alfred Chapman and Andrew Glassell 5,745 acres (23.2 km2) Lawyers. Location of Glassell Park, Los Angeles.
David Burbank 4,607 acres (18.6 km2) Founder of Burbank. Burbank bought the land from Jonathan R. Scott in 1867.
Catalina and Teodoro Verdugo 3,300 acres (13.4 km2) Member of the Verdugo family. Teodoro was Julio's son.
Prudent Beaudry 1,702 acres (6.9 km2)
Rafaela Verdugo de Sepulveda 909 acres (3.7 km2) Member of the Verdugo family. Rafaela was Julio's daughter and was married to Fernando Sepulveda
Captain C. E. Thom 724 acres (2.9 km2) Founder of Glendale, CA
Julio Verdugo 200 acres (0.8 km2) Member of the Verdugo family.
Maria Sepulveda de Sanchez 100 acres (0.4 km2) Member of the Verdugo family. Maria Sepulveda (stepdaughter of Rafaela, and daughter of Fernando Sepulveda and Maria Josefa Dominguez) was married to Los Angeles County Sheriff 1860–1867, Tomas Avila Sanchez.
Jesse D Hunter Hunter came to California in 1847 with the Mormon Battalion. In 1854 he bought Rancho Cañada de los Nogales and in 1859, the southern tip of Rancho San Rafael.
Ozro W Childs

Historic sites of the Rancho[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Map of old Spanish and Mexican ranchos in Los Angeles County
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Rancho San Rafael
  3. ^ [1] "Eastside Lifestyle," Atwater Village History, Eastside LA Lifestyle
  4. ^ Kielbasa, John R. (1998). "Adobes of Rancho San Rafael". Historic Adobes of Los Angeles County. Pittsburg: Dorrance Publishing Co. ISBN 0-8059-4172-X..
  5. ^ United States. District Court (California : Southern District) Land Case 381 SD
  6. ^ Report of the Surveyor General 1844 - 1886 Archived 2009-05-04 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ The Loss of Rancho San Rafael
  8. ^ The Great Partition Chapman et al. vs Fernando Sepulveda
  9. ^ Casa Adobe De San Rafael (California Historical Land Mark #235)
  10. ^ Catalina Verdugo Adobe (California Historical Land Mark #637)
  11. ^ Catalina Verdugo Adobe
  12. ^ Adobes of Rancho San Rafael
  13. ^ Early days in the rolling hills of Rancho San Rafael by Michael D. White
  14. ^ Verdugo Adobe was preserved by developer by Katherine Yamada, published in the Glendale News-Press

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°08′24″N 118°13′12″W / 34.140°N 118.220°W / 34.140; -118.220