They say that to absorb a community’s culture, you must immerse yourself in the history of that community. Laguna Hills’ story is as fascinating as the other cities in California. Let’s hop into a time machine and drive down the colorful history of Laguna Hills.
Orange County was formerly the home to two tribes of native Americans, whose culture and living goes back thousands of years ago.
The Tongva tribe, also known as the Gabrillino Indians, first occupied the flatlands north of Los Alisos Creek.
The Acjachmen, also known as the Juanenos because they’re close to Mission San Juan Capistrano, lived in the coastal and foothills and the mountains south of Los Alison Creek.
These tribes were a bustling and peaceful community. The members of the tribe harvested acorns, hunted animals on land, fished in the sea and looked for edible grasses and fruits. They also wove baskets and were part of a flourishing trade network stretching from the Channel Islands to the Colorado River.
Laguna Hills started during the Rancho Era because of one of the major land grants developed. The Rancho Era happened shortly after Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1821. Those who served in the government or who had close friends were given vast lands for cattle grazing.
Ranchos then started forming. These were Rancho San Joaquin, Lomas de Santiago, and Rancho Niguel, which covered much of the western part of the Saddleback Valley. In 1842, a certain Don Juan Avila acquired the 13,000-acre Rancho Niguel through the land grant. Rancho Niguel is the present location in Laguna Hills.
The Rancho Era started in the 1780s until the 1880s. It was the time when lands in California were up for grants and sold to subdividers.
From Rancho Niguel to Laguna Hills
In 1874, Lewis Moulton traveled from Boston to California and worked the land and learning the trade of sheep herding. Lewis then established the Moulton Ranch by leasing the properties in Rancho Niguel. After purchasing Rancho Niguel in 1895, he then raised the initial grant to 22,000 acres.
Moulton and Jean Pierre Daguerre then used the land for agricultural business. They used the ranch to raise sheep and cattle and for dry farming. In the early 1960s, the ranch was subdivided, part of which the lands that were subdivided is the place that we now know as Laguna Hills.
In 1987 and on March 5, 1991, incorporation efforts began at Laguna Hills. The purpose of the incorporation was to form the city of Laguna Hills officially. Its goal never failed, with 86% of the residents voting in favor of creating the City of Laguna Hills. On December 20, 1991, was the official date when Laguna Hills was established.
On November 14, 1995, the City Council of Laguna Hills approved the annexation of the North Laguna Hills area. This allowed North Laguna Hills to become a part of the incorporated City on July 1, 1996.
On September 18, 2000, the ‘Westside’ annexation area officially became part of the incorporated City because of the overwhelming support from the 1,800 residents of Laguna Hills. The annexation granted an additional 149 acres of residential land. This includes the Aliso Viejo Community Association’s Sheep Hills Park.
So that was the brief history of Laguna Hills. Did you enjoy our little trip down memory lane? Laguna Hills has proven to be a beautiful place because it all started with a beautiful history. If you’re curious, drop by and visit Laguna Hills now.
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