NOTE: Marcellie (Fuller) Thompson b 1920 recorded an oral history in 1982, giving her recollections of life at the Eastvale “RanchO” after 1931. The tape and a transcript (by Diane Wright, June 2012) are located at Corona Public Library, Heritage Collection.
FROM “CORONA CALIFORNIA COMMENTARIES
by Stanley Reynolds and Fred Eldridge
(Heritage Committee, Friends of Corona Public Library), 1986
Written for Corona Centennial 1986
EASTVALE – THE FULLER RANCH
The Eastvale Precinct, some seven miles north of Corona, was and is bordered on the east by Hamner Ave., on the north by Cloverdale and on the west by Archibald Ave. It was in the early days a general farming area, alfalfa, grain hay, black eye peas and threshed grain. Although Corona and Eastvale did not physically join each other, Eastvale citizens had Corona mailing addresses.
To those farmers, Corona was their home town. Most of the farmers worked modest-sized farms, with the exception of the Fuller Rancho, which at its peak contained about 5,000 acres, most of which bordered the Santa Ana River on the north side. Its history was unique in that area. Mrs. Marcellie F. Thompson was the granddaughter of Charles Henry Fuller, the first Fuller to be in charge of the rancho.
Mrs. Thompson wrote that her grandfather pioneered the Pioneer Transfer Co., a trucking and transportation company in the late 1800s.
The town of Fullerton, she said, was named after her grandfather and his brothers who came west from Iowa to settle in Southern California. [Not true: WIKI: “Fullerton CA” states the town was named for George Fullerton (who was not related). – LPM] “My grandparents had one son, Olive Ransome Fuller. He was always known by his initials, ‘O.R.,” she said.
“= [MFT quote:]
In 1898, when my father was 18, he came to California and worked with his father for a long time before going into business for himself. Grandfather bought the ranch about the time World War I ended. He was in ailing health in the 1920s, and my father, O.R. Fuller, bought the ranch in 1925 or 1926. My father also purchased additional acreage in the area to bring the total to 3,000 acres. In later years, he leased river bottom land from the government, which is why the ranch was said to have 5,000 acres under cultivation. He named the ranch Fuller RanchO. RanchO, with capitals at each end, was the way he had it on all letterheads.
My father and my mother, Ione, had the home, now occupied by a boys home, built in 1928. They named their home “Casa Orone” combining their names.
A cabinet-maker from Italy hand-carved all the beams and balconies. The original rugs and most of the furniture were imported from Spain. Until 1932, we only were on the ranch weekends and vacations.
We lived in Hollywood. At the ranch, a manager saw to raising the crops, and running the dairy. My father had several automobile dealerships for Auburn, Cord, and Duisenberg automobiles in Southern California. During World War I, he had a dealership in Los Angeles, selling White trucks. After that, he founded what was called the Motor Transit Bus Co. throughout California. In 1928, he sold out to Greyhound for $3,000,000, which was a lot of money in those days.
In 1932 when the Great Depression really hit, Dad lost a fortune in the automobile business. It was then that we moved to Corona. It was a struggle to hold on to the ranch, but Dad was a very determined man. He worked hard at making a go of ranching. He built up dairy home-delivery routes in Pomona, Ontario, and San Bernardino, which he sold to Knudsen, about 1940.
In 1939 and 1940, he raised over 100,000 turkeys, which he marketed. In 1938, he decided to sell view lots along a lake front he had along the Santa Ana River. The first one was sold to Charley Grapewin, a prominent motion picture character actor in his day.
Other lots were sold, including lots to a Hollywood talent scout, a film director, an oilman from Long Beach, a shipbuilder from Long Beach and a mortician from Long Beach.
After my father’s death, I built a home on Grapewin Ave., which I sold in the late 1950s to Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Cropper. When Mrs. Grapewin died, Charley sold his home to a Dr. Schnack, of Honolulu, Hawaii.
A guest ranch was then opened, known as the Fuller RanchO. That was in June 1937. During World War II, it was a popular meeting place for many of the doctors, nurses, patients from the Naval Hospital in Norco.
Dad died at home of cancer in August 1946, mother in 1951. To settle my mother’s estate, the family home and the remaining acreage had to be sold. The buyer, Mr. Koda, a dairyman, purchased the property in 1954.
P.S. I worked as a hostess at the ranch from June 1938 to June 1939. Hollywood celebrities visited. A motion picture was made at the ranch and at the lake. Visitors, among others, were W.C. Fields, Jack Oakie, Groucho Marx, Red Skelton, Spencer Tracy, Mary Pickford, Buddy Rogers, Jeanette McDonald, Gene Raymond, Rochelle Hudson, Claire Trevor, Ken Murray, and Walter Garson Kanin.
It makes me sad to think about the ranch being in the Fuller family for so long, but now being owned by others who would never have the feeling for it that we had.
=” [End of MFT quote]
Other than the Fuller RanchO, the remaining farms in the Eastvale area were essentially modest spreads, with few, if any, exceeding 350 acres in size. Since those early days, Archibald Ave., on the west border of the area, is almost solidly in dairies, the milk being shipped into Los Angeles.
With the exception of the sandy soil on the extreme east side of the area, the Eastvale soil was fertile and productive. Farmers rotated crops of alfalfa and grain, something which has changed somewhat since.
Potatoes have been tried, without much luck. The Harada family, however, purchased the 361-acre Premier Ranch, owned by W.F. Eldridge on the east side of the area for over 50 years, and went heavily into vegetables, a radical change in the area’s traditional framing practices. The Japanese Haradas produce some beautiful crops.
In the early days, there was little vegetation between Eastvale and Mira Loma. The winter Santa Anas roared down the Cajon Pass, picking up a substantial amount of the light, sandy soil and sending it on to Orange County. There were times when this was awful. One farmer noted in his diary the following sentence:
“This was the 60th consecutive day of strong north winds.”
Sixty days of air full of sand so thick it seemed that one could hardly see his hands before his face.
The Eastvale originals, however, were made of stern stuff. With few exceptions, they stuck it out until age forced them to sell or move.