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Easter Ranch

Granted to:  Juan Mariné in 1834 by Governor José Figueroa

Size:  15,533 acres

Location:  Los Angeles County

Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portolá and his soldiers were crossing the hills in this area on Easter Sunday in 1770.  The fields were glowing with golden poppy blooms.  A soldier exclaimed that the hills looked like they were covered by a grand altar cloth -- La Sabinalla de San Pascual, meaning "the altar cloth of the Holy Easter." 


Mission San Gabriel was founded in 1771 on the banks of the San Gabriel River.  Many Indian villages were located along the streams and canyons of these hills.  The Indians allowed the mission padres to use the land between the mission and the mountains for grazing their cattle and sheep.  The padres called the area El Rincón de San Pascual, meaning "Country of the Holy Easter."


Juan Mariné (sometimes written as Mariner), a native of Spain,  had come to California in 1795 with the Spanish Army.  He had the rank of lieutenant when he retired from the army in 1821.

Mariné chose to live at Mission San Gabriel after his retirement.  He became friends with Father José Bernardo Sánchez who was in charge of the mission. 

He also became friends with Doña Eulalia Pérez de Guillen, a Spanish woman who had lived and worked at the mission for many years.  She had served as a chaperon of the Indian girls and as keeper of the keys to the mission treasury.  Doña Eulalia had been married to María Antonio Sepúlveda and had six children.  In 1833, Doña Eulalia and Juan Mariné were married.


In July 1833, more than  a year before Mission San Gabriel was secularized (land taken from the Catholic Church), Juan Mariné sent a petition to the governor.  He said that he had been living on a piece of land at the mission since 1831, and that he would like to own this land. 

Some accounts say that Doña Eulalia had been given this land by the padres in 1827, in recognition of her service to the mission.  Whether or not this is true, Governor Figueroa granted Mariné's request.  The grant was confirmed in 1834.  It was Doña Eulalia who named it Rancho San Pascual.


Doña Eulalia and Don Juan had only a few years in which to enjoy their rancho together.  In 1838, Juan Mariné died.  Doña Eulalia kept the house and garden.  Fruito Mariné, a son of Mariné's by a previous marriage, came from Mexico to take over the rest of the rancho.

Some time later, Doña Eulalia went back to live at Mission San Gabriel.  She died there in 1878 at the reported age of 143 years.

Unfortunately, neither Juan Mariné nor his heirs had followed the Mexican land laws that said the rancho must be used for cattle or else be cultivated as farm land.  The law stated that if a ranchero failed to so use the land, he would lose it.

In 1840, Mariné's grant to Rancho San Pascual was challenged by José Pérez and Enrique Sepúlveda, who claimed that the land had been abandoned for the previous four years.


Governor Juan B. Alvarado granted Rancho San Pascual to Pérez and Sepúlveda in 1840.  They each built a small house on the land.

Pérez died in 1841.  By 1843 Sepúlveda had moved away from the rancho.  Once again Rancho San Pascual was abandoned.  This time, Manuel Garfias asked to have the land.  He received the grant from Governor Manuel Micheltorena in November 1843.


Manuel Garfias was an officer in the Mexican Army.  He paid $70 to Sepúlveda and $100 to the widow of Pérez for the two small houses.  And he went to live on Rancho San Pascual.

In January 1847, Mexican troops withdrew to Rancho San Pascual after they were defeated by the Americans at the Battle of La Mesa.  Soon after this, California was under United States control.

When California became a state, all land claims had to be presented to the U.S. Land Commission to be reviewed.  When the three members of the Land Commission arrived in Los Angeles in 1852, Don Manuel greeted them warmly.  He wanted them to confirm his ownership of Rancho San Pascual, so he gave a grand ball in their honor at his home in Los Angeles.  His claim was later approved. 


Now Don Manuel built a new house on his rancho, near the springs where there had once been an Indian village.  Known as the "Garfias hacienda," it was considered to be one of the finest homes in California in the late 1850s.

The Garfias house was a one-and-a-half story adobe building.  The walls, which were two feet thick, were plastered inside and out.  The floors were board planks.  Green blinds -- a sign of elegance in those days -- covered the windows.

Many guests were invited to come out from Los Angeles to visit at the hacienda.  But the grand house was the beginning of the end for Manuel Garfias. 

Garfias had to borrow money to pay for his big house.  He wasn't very good at managing the rancho, and Rancho San Pascual did not have the best grazing land for cattle.  When dry weather kept the grass from growing, Garfias lost many cattle.  About this time he decided that he liked politics better than ranching, anyway.

By 1859, Garfias had so many debts that he had to sell his rancho.  The new owner was Benjamin D. Wilson.


Benjamin Wilson (for whom an avenue, a mountain, a canyon, and a lake in California were named) had come west with fur trappers in 1841.  Soon after purchasing Rancho San Pascual, Wilson sold a half-interest in it to Dr. John S. Griffin, who had been a chief medical officer with the American Army.

Wilson and Griffin sold off parts of the rancho from time to time.  In 1873, Griffin sold all his remaining land -- 4,000 acres -- to the San Gabriel Orange Grove Association for $25,000.  The Association subdivided the land into 15-acre parcels.

On January 27, 1874, families who had shares in the San Gabriel Orange Grove Association gathered on the former Rancho San Pascual.  It was a beautiful day for a picnic lunch.  After lunch, names were called and the lots were assigned.

Within four months there were houses, an irrigation system, a reservoir to store water, and orchards planted.  Rancho San Pascual had become the city of Pasadena.

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