La Habra Valley and Its People

La Habra Valley and Its People”

 Before A Single House Rose In La Habra
A young boy living in the La Habra Valley in 1764 would be part of small band of Indians who came to the grasslands in the valley to hunt dove, quail and other birds living on the insects in the grass, or rabbits and antelopes nibbling on the grasses, or  to fish for crayfish, and small fish that lived in the three creeks which drained the hillsides on the north side of the Valley much as they do today.

Coyote Creek comes down the hills east of Harbor, turns to the west and runs  across the central part of the valley collecting all the runoff from the hills and Heights west of Harbor up to Hacienda where it can become a roaring river before heading south and eventually crossing Beach Blvd. towards La Mirada to the ocean. La Mirada Creek flows out of Hacienda Canyon and could be fished in until July, August and September.  Far to the east was Brea Canyon  draining the hills to the east of what is today La Habra.

A girl from the same tribe might go with her mother to the Puente Hills where the Coast Live Oaks grew and gathered acorns and then spend the next day smashing them to bits to be cooked in water over a fire into a gruel providing good nourishment if not much taste.  While she was in the hills where the oaks grew, she and the other women might stop at the lake which was there almost year round and wash themselves and their clothes.

In 1769 the whole group might have joined the 63 Spanish soldiers in  Father Crespi’s expedition looking for land to  raise animals and grow crops.The local natives showed the men a natural path to the San Gabriel Valley, passing the lake in the hills, following what we call today Old Fullerton Road, and going down through Powder Canyon to  the San Gabriel Valley. This, Esther Cramer, La Habra’s pre-eminent historian, believed was called “La Abra” by the Spaniards and gave La Habra its name.

Spain ruled Mexico at that time and the Catholic priests were founding the missions on behalf of the Spanish Church, and the Spanish King and claimed the land they explored for themselves.

Mexico Wins Independence From Spain and La Habra Valley Began To Change
In 1821 the Valley celebrated Mexico’s successful War of Independence from Spain which concluded on September 16. Mexico took most of the land dedicated to the missions and proceeded to divide the Baja and Alta California into vast ranchos owned by individuals. Rancho Cañada de La Habra occupied over 6,600 acres of land in the valley and the Mexican government granted it to Mariano Roldan who raised huge herds of cattle on it.

cattleFor almost 30 years regular rains insured plenty of food for the cattle and the herds increased enormously until cattle were a glut on the market and market prices began to drop disastrously low. Then in 1848 came the Mexican-American War and by 1850 the western part of Mexico’s Alta California state became California, the 31st state of the United States of America.

Mexican ranchers were used to casual business arrangements when making or receiving  loans which were only done among family and friends. They gladly entered into loans expecting similar casualness with those who knew and took full advantage of the U.S. law governing ownership, proof of ownership, and prompt repayment of loans. Few had the money available it would take to prove their claims of ownership or defend those claims in a California court.  To raise money to save their claims they sold more cattle lowering the price more. It was in this manner that Andrés Pico, who took over the land from Roldan, was forced to sell his rancho in the La Habra Valley to Abel Stearns.

Fortune did not smile on Stearns for long either. Before Christmas in 1861 rains came to the Valley and continued for the next 30 days. Coyote Creek became a river deepening its ravine through the valley. Below Los Coyotes Hills, the swamp-like area around what is now Imperial Highway became a huge lake and hundreds of cattle drowned in the quickly moving waters of the creek or the deep water of the lake. The remaining cattle fed on the clover, mustard, and grasses which covered the land and were sent to market as fast as they were ready so the rancher could have some funds, but it caused the market price to plummet again.

Following the flood came two years of drought when little rain fell, and the Santa Ana winds blew. Rancho de La Habra sold thousands of starving cattle for their hides and horns only. Ranch hands killed the cattle where they stood leaving cattle carcasses to covering the valley. Travelers in stage coaches reported seeing sunbleached bones from San Diego to Los Angeles.

Just like the old tales say, disaster came in threes for the Valley residents. After the floods, and the droughts came the small pox epidemic, killing many of the Native Americans and others working on the rancho.

sheep
The Basque And Their Sheep Come To La Habra

In 1870 Stearns needed money desperately and leased the hills and much of the valley to Basque shepherds. Domingo Bastanchury had come to San Francisco after a six month trip at sea―leaving his home in the French Pyrenees, sailing around Cape Horn and finally up the west coast of South and a great deal of North America. He quickly found work as a shepherd and in 10 years had acquired his own flock.  Hearing of Stearns need for money, Bastanchury made an offer. A fellow countryman, Jose Sansinena arrived in Los Angeles in 1872 . Domingo hired Jose to help with his flocks of sheep which grazed on the land from the north side of Coyote Hills to the south past Sunny Hills. Sansinena quickly became a partner in the ranch

In 1889 Sansinena married and purchased the land north of the Road to Whittier  (now Whittier Blvd.) up to the top of the Puente Hills. Visitors coming to the La Habra Valley then saw sheep covering the bare hills everywhere. Each year Bastanchury and Sansinena would drive their flocks–up to 30,000 strong–north to market in San Francisco. The drive took 3 months so as to not cause the animals to lose too much weight.

farm animalsTheir wives stayed home in charge of  the ranch making sure its crops, horses, cows and pigs and the sheep for next year’s flocks were cared for properly. Mrs. Bastanchury reportedly talked of there being just one house between hers and Los Angeles and how she could hear the wooden wheels of the carts creaking when they set out along the deeply rutted path from Los Angeles to La Habra Valley.
The greatest change made to agriculture in the Valley occurred in 1884 when the Santa Fe Railroad brought its first passengers to the La Habra  Station in Fullerton. Farmers could now haul their produce to that station or the Pacific Electric station in La Mirada, and they could be shipped to the northern and eastern markets.

1890s Land Boom Brings Many To The Valley
Then in 1889 Orange County officially separated from Los Angeles with Coyote Creek becoming the defining boundary. A land boom started around Los Angeles and the coastal areas in the 1880s finally reached La Habra Valley in the 1890s. Robert Northam, a sales agent for the Stearns Ranchos planted the first grove of walnut trees that lasted more than a year or two in La Habra in 1891. His old friend, Ide Stone, became his foreman. Stone bought for himself an additional 80 acres east of the intersection of Harbor and Imperial.

Other farmers discovered they could grow grain crops like barley if the winter had left enough moisture in the heavy clay soil. Those settling in the southern portion of the Valley were able to dig wells without having to go very deep and discovered enough water to maintain a crop of barley or a grove of trees as well as the family’s vegetables and animals.

Willets J. Hole, a successful Indiana businessman, moved to Whittier in the early 1890s in hopes that the drier climate would cure his wife Mary’s asthma.  He joined the Whittier Land Company as a salesman along with S.W. Barton, the head of the company. The two of them purchased 1,000 acres of land five miles east of Whittier with strong prospects for water. Hole and Barton had little trouble convincing eager farmers to invest in the land. Priced at $65 to $75 an acre, land in La Habra Valley cost less than it did in other areas.

Hole purchased 100 acres for himself and his family which included a very young daughter, Agnes Marion, and proceeded to build a model ranch to show others what could be done in La Habra. Hole and others of the Whittier Land Company entered into an agreement to tap into a water source on Jose Sansinena’ property in the Puente Hills. Union Oil had found water while drilling for oil in the eastern Puente Hills. Hole planned to drill into the hillside at the level where Union hit water and transport the water to his property at the bottom of the hill between Citrus Drive and Walnut.  He even built a 100,000 gallon reservoir and laid pipe only to discover it was illegal to transport water from one watershed to another.

Not one to give up, Hole had several smaller wells dug and built a pumping plant on Coyote Creek. Those provided enough water for his own ranch where he had planted citrus and lined the long entrance to his house with palm trees and which gave Hole extra water to sell to others.

hole homeOn a hill Hole built a $10,000 two-story home for his ranch from the bricks made on his property and dried in the kiln he built there. It was one of the most palatial houses in the county with multiple verandas and a sweeping view of the valley in front of the house. It became a center of entertainment for many visitors from all over Los Angeles and Orange County.

Schooling  In La Habra Valley And Beyond
His daughter Agnes needed to go to school, and Hole decided the barn in which other children were going to school would not do. Hole and a number of others wanted a real school for their children. By 1896 La Habra had one of the finest rural school buildings in the area and had hired an experienced teacher from Whittier to teach the first through eighth grades in the school.  Students came from Brea to attend the school and from what became the East Whittier and the Lowell School district until those areas decided to form their own district, early in the next century.

first schoolA student at the school might ride her or his horse to school each day. The school, which was on the site where Washington School is today, had a trough so other riders  or carriages coming to town could also water their horses. Others had no horse and walk several miles to school or hitched a ride in someone’s wagon or carriage. The teacher had 30 or more students scattered among the eight grades. Older students were called upon to tutor the younger ones, while the teacher taught another age group a new lesson.

When children finished eight grade, they either went to work or continued their schooling. Many  boys were needed on the farm or ranch and went to work at 13 or 14. Girls might be needed at home to take care of younger children, do the household chores and let her mother work. Many families knew even more than a 100 years ago that education mattered and insisted their children continued to high school. That meant going to Fullerton Union High School, the only public high school in all of North Orange County. To get there someone drove a horse- or mule-drawn cart and picked up students at various stops arranged at the beginning of the year. Some probably once again rode their own horses. It was no small measure of commitment to education to simply get to high school in those days.

In 1915 the La Habra school district, with 150 students already, decided to build a much larger school behind the original one. It eventually became Washington School and the old school building was moved off the property. That left a depression in the ground in front of the school which often filled with water during rainy days and led to much high jinks among the most adventurous students.

It was 1920 before the school district built another school out of old army barracks at the corner of California and Second Street for the Spanish-speaking children―the stated purpose was  to make sure they learned English. It was called the West Side school and the one on Washington’s present site was called the East Side School. At the West Side School children were punished if the teacher heard them speaking Spanish on the playground or in talking to one another.. The children who attended the school camp came from Campo Colorado and Campo Corona. Their fathers picked lemons and oranges in the citrus groves. Their mothers frequently worked picking flowers at Blue Hills in La Mirada where farmers of Japanese descent grew plants and flowers for the Los Angeles flower market. Or the mothers cleaned houses for the ranchers’ wives or packed and graded fruit and vegetables at Hunt’s during the harvest.

All the agricultural work was seasonal, so when grapes were ready to be picked, or nuts, or cotton and other crops were ripe and ready up north and there was little work in this valley, many of the families would pull the children out of school and the whole family would head to where they knew there was work. If the children were old enough to pull a cotton bag, or reach the grapes, they picked right along with their parents. Frequently families left before school was out and didn’t return until the end of October or much later.

In many instances the family camped in a field near a creek and cooked over a fire set on the ground or in a barrel if they found one. Someone in the family had a truck and loaded everyone and everything they needed into it and off they went to Fresno and then further north.

Again some families focused on education and made sure their children were back at the campo in time to start the next school year, but for others the choice was between being able to feed the family or go to school.

The West Side School became Wilson School in 1923 when the La Habra district decided to build a school on Walnut near Greenwood for the expanding population in town. It became Lincoln  School and is now the district office. It cost $55,000 to build while Wilson cost only $15,000. A point that was never ignored by the Mexican students. At this point the East Side school became Washington  continuing to educate those from the east side of town from first through sixth grade, and all the children of the community went there for seventh and eighth grades.

In 1946 four Mexican fathers sued the Westminster School District in Orange County for not allowing their children to go to the neighborhood school and for sending them to a separate school for Spanish speakers. Known as the Mendez vs. Westminster  case it occurred before the more famous Brown vs. the Board of Education when the U.S. Supreme Court declared separate schools based on race could never be equal and therefore were unconstitutional.  In California the district court found separate schools for Spanish speakers had denied the students equal treatment under the law and violated the 14th Amendment. The 9th Circuit federal court upheld the district count’s opinion.  Wilson School closed in 1950.

By 1954 there were enough high school students in La Habra for the Fullerton Joint Union High School to open a high school here. How did La Habra  grow so big it needed its own high school?

walnut First Came Walnuts
In La Habra Valley farmers depended on rain to deliver the water or if they were lucky they could drill a well and find water to irrigate their crops. In the 1890s Stephen M. Smith, the owner of a general store and post office in Rivera (one half of what is now Pico Rivera) came to La Habra hunting dove, quail and rabbits and noticed an abundance of mustard growing tall in the Valley. In 1895 he bought 100 acres for $60 an acre centered around what is now the four corners of La Habra Blvd. and Beach which was only on a wagon trail from Brea through La Habra to La Mirada back then.

Convinced the mustard indicated plenty of moisture, he and his family set to work planting young English Walnut trees which were grown successfully in Rivera. Between the rows of walnuts they planted corn, peas, tomatoes and melons.  Soon others copied him and La Habra had many walnut groves. Smith built a packing shed on his land and as production grew Smith made sure a packing house was built near the Pacific Electric rail lines.

Crews of pickers arrived in September, camped in the groves and helped shake the walnuts from the trees with long poles. The workers then gathered the nuts and tore the green husks off before they washed, bleached and dried the nuts in their shells and packed them in burlap bags. In 1919 La Habra Walnut Association shipped 300 tons of walnuts by rail. That’s 600,000 pounds sold at 30¢ a pound for the really good ones.

Many plants or trees grown in the area were very successful for 20 years or so before a truly harmful pest arrived and grew prevalent enough to make crowing the crop too risky to destroying the crop. For walnuts it was the coddling moth which ended the growing of these trees in La Habra Valley. The Smiths stayed on their land and replaced their walnuts with citrus until the mid-1950s when they sold much of their land for shopping centers and homes.  Today Costco occupies one of the four corners.

watermelonOn the east side of La Habra, it was the Warne family with five sons who came to La Habra in 1894 and bought 100 acres at the southeast corner of Harbor and La Habra for $35 an acre, building a two-story house on barren pasture land.  They were able to drill 100 feet down to find clean water and which made it possible to grow apple, peach and apricot trees along with the largest watermelon patch in the Valley.
They also made money selling water to others in the Valley.

Many of the ranches were much smaller, between 10 and 40 acres, and the owners had second jobs to  support and feed their families. All of them probably had barns housing some animals such as a horse, a mule,  a milk cow, and chickens for eggs and food.  Some raised cattle for food, and many also raised rabbits.  Most of these early La Habrans whether English, Basque, or Spanish-speaking relished a rabbit stew.


lemon tree

Then Came Water and Citrus  (Lemons  and Oranges) Trees
These ranches may have grown barley or stone fruits such as peaches and apricots, or walnuts, but eventually they switched to citrus trees, mostly lemon trees, but also oranges. What started as one or two conversions to citrus orchards became  common when the La Habra Water Company was formed and shares in the California Domestic Water Company were sold to farmers in the La Habra Valley. Cal Domestic installed the water lines that moved water from the Basset area in the San Gabriel Valley to the pumping plant in East Whittier and then to the farmers in La Habra. In 1903 reservoirs were built in La Habra and farmers who had bought company stock began receiving water.

The groves needed to be watered regularly. An orange or lemon grower bought shares of water stock from the California Domestic Water Company. Each bought enough shares to cover the number of acres needing to be watered―five shares for five acres or 25 shares for twenty-five acres―and frequently extra shares in case it was needed.  A share cost $100 in the 1920s but by the 1940s a share cost $1,000. A share entitled you to specific amount of water measured in acre-feet.

Each grove had a 1 ½ foot diameter pipe cement pipe standing out of the ground at the head of a row of trees. Small gates covered the holes and could be raised or lowered on the sides of the pipe. Beneath those holes were furrows where the water could flow along a rows of trees.

Each ranch had a large cement tub which was a reservoir.  The Cal Domestic man in charge of water measured the amount of water flow that went into the reservoir and then set the flow at the appropriate amount. Water flowed at a maximum during daylight hours so the rancher, his family members and any workers he had could watch it and make sure it didn’t leak out of the furrows. At night it was turned down. Then the man from the water company would return after the number of hours it should take for the rancher to get the water his stock allowed him to use and turn the flow off.  The company was not responsible for any leaks in the furrows. Along with a break in a furrow allowing the water to spread away from the trees, there was always the danger a gopher had burrowed a tunnel that would take the water deep underground and away from trees or a mole had created a whole different route for the water to follow.

By 1911 there were so much land in citrus production the La Habra Farmers’ Club decided to form the La Habra Citrus Association which joined the California Fruit Growers Exchange and marketed its fruit under the famous Sunkist label. In 1912 the La Habra Citrus Association built the La Habra Packing House on Euclid near the railroad tracks
lh packing house

Packers were recruited from the local community and were mostly women.  When the oil fields were going full blast in the Puente Hills fields and on the Murphy Oil site in Coyote Hills, many of the families lived in La Habra and wives of those oil workers also worked in the packing houses. Packers sorted the fruit by grade according to size and lack of blemishes. The largest and best oranges were all wrapped and carefully packed in orange crates with the Sunkist label very visible. The oranges were graded by sizes and priced accordingly. A crate of Sunkist top grade oranges was truly a welcomed gift any time.

By 1914 Index Orchards, part of the Mutual Orange Distributors From Riverside, took over the old walnut packing house by the railroad tracks at what is now Beach Blvd. and built its own packing house for citrus.  The 250 ranches to the north in the Heights and to the west in the Lowell area took their crops to this one.

The La Habra Packing House’s members had 1,200 acres in citrus in 1912. Between 1912 and 1915 they packed fruit from ranches as far away as Yorba Linda. In 1916 the same members owned 1,400 acres in production and shipped over 500 railroad cars, while Index added another 100 cars. Domingo Bastanchury while not getting rid of his sheep planted and maintained in 1915 the largest orange grove in the world.

pickersCitrus Workers  Lived In Campo Colorado and Campo Corona
The La Habra Citrus Association  used local crews, but soon found it needed many more pickers. Crews were recruited from Mexico or among Mexican work crews in other industries. After World War I ended in 1918 the association built 25 houses and rented them to the laborers and their families in an area that came to be called Campo Colorado or the Red Camp.  The homes were built from redwood lumber used for railroad cars and had a reddish tint. Eventually there were 69 houses in the Red Camp which occupied the west side of Monte Vista south of the railroad tracks about half way to Lambert.  Coyote Creek ran in a deep ditch at the southern end of the camp. Today there is a mobile home park there.

Juan Luna was born in Juchipila, Zacatecas in 1900. In 1912 at the urging of his father, his older brother, Rafael Luna, and his cousin Tacho left their homes to make their way to the U.S. Mexico was in the midst of a revolution with violence breaking out in different areas and Rafael’s father, a muleteer, didn’t want his son caught up in the vicious fighting between Pancho Villa’s and the Federales troops. The cousin, Antonio Luna, eventually obtained a job in East Whittier making bricks and lived and worked on the Murphy Ranch. When the La Habra Citrus Association formed, Antonio went on to work for it as a foreman. Rafael, having joined him in Whittier,  then came to La Habra in 1916  and went to work for the La Habra Citrus Association. He became the third foreman, behind Mr. Pease and Porfirio Duarte.  Foremen decided who worked where and how often in the orchards.

When Rafael’s brother, Juan Luna, turned 17 and the violence continued in Zacatecas. Juan too made his way north and found his way to Campo Colorado. Many others from their small community also found their way to the camp. He also went to work for the Citrus Association and was known as the top picker.  Eventually he became a supervisor of crews also. Picking oranges was a skilled job.

Pickers carried a sack around their neck and under one shoulder, climbed ladders 20 feet high or taller which rested against the tree’s branches and then had to cut the fruit from the stem being careful not to damage the skin which make the orange of little value.  When the bag was full they had to descend the ladder and drop the oranges gently into the very large box. A tally of how much each man picked was kept each day as they empty their bag into the box at the end of the row of trees near where they were picking. They were paid according to the amount they picked. The boxes would be collected at the end of the day and taken to the packing house to be washed, sorted, and packed.

A young boy living in the camp might join the men of the family in the groves and gathered the fruit on the ground and pick fruit off the low tree limbs. The men called the young kids jokingly ratas as they scampered around under the trees filling their own sacks.

A girl living in the camp would help her mother with the laundry, making sure little kids stayed a way from the fire needed to heat the water, or hoe and weed the garden, or tend to the younger kids.  Often she  might be in charge of the house and children because mother had gone to town to clean house or to work somewhere else.

Picking citrus, whether lemons or oranges was seasonal work. One of the most sought after jobs eventually became gaining a position on the staff at Rose Hills Cemetery maintaining the grounds and excavating the graves. That work went on all year long.

There were three streets in the camp named A, B and C. Juan Luna’s family lived at #9 on A Street with his wife, Josefina, and their four children. Placed right next to the showers, it was a prized house. Eventually it had a porch, a flower garden and other amenities. Juan’s two sons a from a previous relationship  lived on their own in other houses in the camp.

Each house had a kitchen, bedroom and living room and cold running water. Each used an outhouse for the bathroom, and the camp had public showers with one side for the men and another for the women.  The children in the house were sometimes responsible for gathering wood to keep the stove going and heat the water.  If there were a number of children in the family, the girls might sleep in the bedroom  while their mother and father slept in the living room and so did the boys.

For washing clothes the women would build a big fire under a large tub and heat the water before putting in the clothes.  They used wash boards to scrub the dirt out of the clothes and hand turned wringers to get the water out.  Then they had to hang the clothes out to dry and hope it didn’t rain during the whole process.  Doing the wash was a full day’s work and followed by a day of ironing.

Across from Campo Colorado was the Campo Corona, named for Carlos Corona, an early land salesman who was in charge of selling the Mc Fadden Ranch land to many of the families arriving in La Habra. That area included Fourth and Fifth Street and McFadden and supported four different stores, a restaurant or two in a home using the living room as a dining area, and two gas stations.

Tadeo Gomez owned a store on Fourth Street that was well known for its fruit flavored snow cones. People came from far away to get one on a hot day. Tadeo came to La Habra when the silver mining in Julian, Arizona ceased.  In the 1950s Tadeo was one of several La Habrans who worked for Leo Fender building guitars in Fullerton. If Tadeo’s name is on the neck of the guitar, it makes the guitar very expensive because it means it is one of the original Fenders made in the early ‘50s. His wife, Petra managed the store while Tadeo worked. Tadeo’s brother, Cirillo, owned a store on Fifth Street.  Robert Luna worked for Fender for 40 years before he retired.

The women formed the Guadalupanas who took care of various religious duties such as preparing those who had died for burial and maintaining a vigil or leading a Rosary until the priest who traveled between Mexican settlements could get there.  They prepared first the community center located on the south side of the shower  in the Red Camp for the Sunday service and later the church on 4th Street. The women’s social life would center around the camp and the church, while the men gathered their news at one of the bars, the garage, or the barber shop.

At the same time trucks from Los Angeles came out and bringing bread, meat, and vegetables to sell in the camps.  There were no phones in the area for many years.  A man they all called, “Mama, Mama” would drive out in  van stuffed with clothing for every age and size along with other white goods and call out, “Mama, Mama what do you need today?”  and rattled off whatever bargains he had. He would also let some whom he knew well buy on credit. In the open field between the Campo Colorado and Beach Blvd. Mike Francis (known as the Frenchman) owned land south of the Red Camp  and along Lambert and in one of those fields he and Rafael Luna who lived at the far end of C Street had some milk cows. Juan Luna would get up at 4 a.m. and deliver milk to both camps.

The residents of either camp did not really consider themselves part of La Habra. At that time Monte Vista ended at the creek, and Idaho at what is now Lambert. By 1920 there were enough Mexican immigrants living in the camps, that the La Habra School District which had expanded the La Habra Elementary decided it needed a special school for the Spanish speaking children where they could learn English. Cruz Reynoso, who later attended that school and became a California Supreme Court Judge and university professor, will tell you even if you already spoke English but were of Mexican heritage you were sent to the special East Side School.

The children who lived in Alta Vista, an area on the hill south of Las Lomas and east Idaho also went to Wilson School.  In the Great Depression of the 1930s  The Bastanchurys were forced to cut back the number of the people living and working on the Bastanchury Ranch in the Tia Juanita camp.  She gave them very little time to leave the ranch. These people move to Alta Vista directly above Imperial Highway which didn’t really exist at that time.  Mrs. Bastanchury still collected rent from the people in Alta Vista. Below it  was a almost a swamp for many years in the area where the post office on Imperial is now  was a lake with an island where someone kept monkeys much to the delight of the children of the area. The monkeys weren’t there long, but everyone who lived in the area remembers the monkey island.

The Alta Vista children would get to Wilson School by going around the dump (now called Vista Grande Park) at Idaho and Lambert and take note of what had been added to the collection in the alley and Its People”

By Jane Williams

Images downloaded by Google Images
Over 18 years of typing and editing Esther Ridgway Cramer’s twice
monthly history columns into the La Habra Journal 90631, I absorbed a
great deal of La Habra history. In that process I read both editions of
her book, La Habra, The Pass Through The Hills. In doing so I learned
much of the history that is in this story. When I had a question as to
date, a person’s name, or some other fact concerning those of European
descent, I would check one of Esther’s books.

So while Esther’s writing is clearly reflected in this history and we
all are dependent upon the arduous researching and interviewing she did
to produce her books and columns, she bears no responsibility for what
is written here. That rest solely with me, and Esther will haunt me
nightly if I messed it up too much.

I will be eternally grateful for her generosity in sharing her
knowledge with the La Habra Journal 90631′s readers, with me and now
with all of you.

Over those same years many of the original inhabitants of Campo
Colorado, Campo Corona and Alta Vista shared their tales of growing up
in the separate world that was theirs and which many still cherish. They
are tales of survivorship, of close family ties, of friendships, and of
courage and triumph.
Jane Williams