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Pomona Valley Historical Collection

Information about the resources available in Cal Poly Pomona's Pomona Valley Historical Collection and guidelines for using the collections.


Mexico began awarding land grants known as ranchos in the 1830s to prominent men in Alta California. The ranchos in the Pomona Valley included

  • Rancho San Jose--now the cities of Pomona, Claremont, La Verne, San Dimas, and Glendora
  • Rancho Cucamonga--now the cities of Ontario, Upland (North Ontario), and Rancho Cucamonga (Etiwanda, Alta Loma, and Cucamonga)
  • Rancho Los Nogales--now the city of Diamond Bar and the western portion of the city of Walnut
  • Rancho La Puente--now the cities of Baldwin Park, San Dimas, Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights, La Puente, Covina, West Covina, El Monte, Irwindale, and Walnut


Rancho San Jose - In early 1837, two friends, Ygnacio (Ignacio) Palomares and Ricardo Vejar, active political members and ranchers of the Los Angeles Pueblo, petitioned the Mexican governor of California, Juan Alvarado, for ownership of the Rancho San Jose. Vejar lost his land in the 1860s and it eventually passed to Louis Philips in 1866. The city of Spadra came out of a 100-acre piece of land sold which Louis Phillips sold to William W. Rubottom. The town site was roughly located where Cal Poly Pomona stands today.

Felipe Antonio Vejar, nephew of Ricardo Vejar. Felipe Antonio Vejar, nephew of Ricardo Vejar. The younger Vejar was born around 1867, farmed in Spadra alongside his father Francisco (1829-1880), and was later a rancher in nearby Lordsbug (now La Verne).

Rancho Cucamonga lay to the east of Rancho San Jose and was granted in 1839 to Tiburcio Tapia. Jose Maria Valdez was appointed steward of the rancho and grew corn and grapes. It was sold in 1858 to John Rains, who in turn recruited Elijah Dunlap to start a vineyard. It was sold again in 1870, this time to Isaias Hellman, who sold portions of the property to investors while retaining some land for his own winery. Two of theses investors were George and William Chaffey, who founded and began developing the communities of Etiwanda and Ontario in 1881 and 1882, respectively.

The area continued to be used for winemaking well into the 20th century. More information about the wine industry in the region may be found in the LibGuide for the Southern California Wine and Wine Industry Collection.

The Pomona Valley's southwestern portion was traditionally the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, granted to Antonio Maria Lugo in 1841. Lugo sold the ranch to his son-in-law Isaac Williams in 1842. On September 26-27, 1846, the Mexican-American War entered California at the "Battle of Chino," a small skirmish at Williams' home. As a security measure, Williams housed a detachment of American soldiers at his adobe, a decision which instead resulted in an attack on the home by Californios lead by William's brother-in-law, Jose del Carmen Lugo. At the end of the battle, 1 Califonio had died and 5 others across both sides were left wounded. 

Williams died in 1856 and the rancho eventually passed to Richard Gird. In 1887, Gird subdivided his total land holdings and began the sale of 10-acre plots. The town of Chino was founded in 1910 and the city of Chino Hills incorporated in 1991.

To the south of Rancho San Jose was Rancho Los Nogales, granted to Jose De La Cruz Linares in 1840. Ricardo Vejar purchased the land from Linares' widow in 1847. Rancher Louis Phillips purchased both ranchos in 1866, and sold plots to prospective settlers. The northern portion of Rancho Los Nogales became the town of Spadra and another portion was purchased by Frederick Lewis in 1918 and became his Diamond Bar Ranch, later incorporated as the City of Diamond Bar in 1989.

Rancho La Puente was granted to John A. Rowland and William Workman in 1842. The northwest portion of the land is now the eastern San Gabriel Valley and the southeastern portion is now the western Pomona Valley. The land was initially used to raise cattle, grapes, wheat, and fruits, but expanded to include citrus and walnut's as the area's population grew. Residential and commercial development in the area boomed in the 1950s and many modern day cities were established.