2013 04 03

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Excerpts from “Arcadia and the Forgotten Guapa,” by Walter T. Garner


This file is excerpted from a document, written about 1940 by Walter Taylor Garner (1877-1949), that was transcribed in 1967 and reprinted in 1981. Bound copies of the transcription are available from Jurupa Mountains Cultural Center in Jurupa Valley (north of Mission Boulevard between Glen Avon and Sunnyslope:  7621 Granite Hill Drive, Riverside CA 92509; (951) 685-5818).

   An Introduction, bound with the transcription, tells how the Center acquired Garner’s document. Louis Thomas, a local Riverside and Jurupa historian, met Cecil Galloway at the Center. Galloway “provided the Center Museum with considerable information about the area. Among the thoughtful gifts to the Center Museum was an original document written by Walter T. Garner about 1930.” It must have been written somewhat later, however, since it mentions the 1938 flood that washed away the Hamner Avenue bridge at Norco.


Arcadia and the Forgotten Guapa


In my childhood I heard strange tales of the Guapa, also called the Guapia or Juapa, a district located in the river valley of the Santa Ana River. It extended from the point where the bridge now crosses the stream on the road to Arlington [Van Buren Boulevard bridge near De Anza Narrows], in a southwesterly direction to a point some distance below the Auburndale bridge on the road between Chino and Corona.

   In the year 1838, Juan Bandini made claim to the Jurupa Grant, which included the Guapa or Juapa.

   Juan Bandini had a daughter, the fair, the beautiful, the kind and thoughtful Arcadia. She was “the apple of his eye.” He built her a house on the bluff, a splendid house for that time. This was the first house on the Guapa and was Bandini’s headquarters on the Jurupa, the official name of the grant.

Bandini’s 1838 residence on Jurupa mesa may have resembled this more recent adobe.
Background photo by LPM, foreground from Fotolia image..


   In after years as you stood on the river flats, where the squatters had once had their homes, and looked up at the bluffs, you could see the broken walls of the old Bandini adobe where Arcadia had lived as a girl.


Part 1 Guapa Rancho and Guapa Springs

According to Garner, the springs of Guapa were located where Cucamonga Creek “comes through the bluff.” This is consistent with other documents, especially the 1888 irrigation map that shows “ciénegas” flowing into a dam and grist mill (also mentioned elsewhere) on Cucamonga Creek near its junction with the Santa Ana River.

This detail from an 1888 irrigation survey map shows present-day central Eastvale (with main roads added for orientation) at the southwest corner of Jurupa land grant. The Pomona and Elsinore Railroad was graded but never completed. Between Chandler and Schleisman is the probable site of Guapa Springs, a popular resting place before 1800 on trails across the desert from Sonora to San Gabriel Mission.

   Jane Davies Gunther in “Riverside County Place Names” (1984) begins, as does Garner, with a broader description of Guapa as a San Gabriel Mission ranch district, during the Mission era prior to Mexican independence in 1822, and probably even earlier as an Indian settlement. But the name came to be best known as applied to the springs, a popular rest stop on the Old Spanish Trail.

The Guapa as a Mission Rancho

By 1822, the Guapa had become a Mission Rancho. The first mention of the place, which was to become one of the wealthier ranchos of the Mission San Gabriel, was made in the diary of Father José Sanchez. As he was exploring the interior of Southern California in 1821, he and his party, as they were riding from San Bernardino Asistencia to San Gabriel, stopped and rested at a place called Guapa.

   The second mention of the name is in 1822 when Father Payeros referred to Guapa as being six leagues from the station of San Bernardino.

   The center of the rancho was near two large springs which made a fine stream at that time, but are very weak now. The springs are located where the storm drain of the Cucamonga wash comes through the bluff.

   These are the springs of Guapa.

   The first road or trail came into the valley near what is now Pomona and skirted the foot of the Chino Hills to the point where the end of Euclid is now. It then turned more to the east and followed the valley of the Santa Ana River to the Asistencia [at present-day Redlands]. In following the road, the early travelers were always near wood, grass, and water.

The Old Spanish Road

The first road or trail that came into the valley was a very roundabout road, but, after the Asistencia was built [1819], the Spanish army made a more direct road across the Cucamonga Desert by way of what is now the northern part of Pomona. This road crossed Euclid Avenue in Ontario near where Chaffey College is now located [approximating present-day I-10]. The main road went on in a southeasterly direction to the northern slope of the Jurupa Hills [south of Fontana], where the Declez quarry is now located. It was then called “Point of the Hill,” and any person on the hill could view the road for a great distance in either direction. There were springs in the hills which furnished some water for those traveling, but they were not very large. The road passed along the northern slope of the hills to the valley of the Santa Ana River [at Colton]. There it joined the first, or river, road. It then followed the river valley to the Asistencia of San Bernardino.


Part 2 Old Bandini House Site at Present Day Eastvale

Bandini’s first house at present-day Eastvale is mentioned in the record of the December 1838 Jurupa land grant survey. Some recent descriptions confuse this house with the Bandini-Cota Adobe a few miles farther west on El Rincon grant, or even with the Robidoux house constructed much later and much farther east on Rancho Jurupa.

   Garner’s description of the location of the Old Bandini House, and the relics he observed at the site, is fairly consistent with George William Beattie’s October 1931 letter to Corona historian Janet Williams Gould [Corona Library, Heritage Room]. The house was at the edge of the bluff north of the river, west of present-day Eastvale Fire Station, but documents vary with regard to the distance from Hamner Avenue.

   Garner describes the site as 500 feet west of Hamner and close enough to be totally obliterated during reconstruction of the road after the 1938 flood. In contrast, the inscription on Gould’s 1933 memorial marker located the site 3,000 feet west. This number was based on Beattie’s statement, in his October 1931 letter to Gould, that he found the ruins about a thousand yards southwest of Hamner. Beattie’s letter in turn might have referred to a prior conversation with Garner: “I can tell you where traces of what were pointed out to me as the Bandini house and its belongings were found.”

   Garner’s 500 feet figure seems consistent with the “House” marked on Hancock’s 1856 survey map, which appears very close to the Hamner alignment. Tom Patterson [Landmarks 1964, p 17] compromises with: “Historians have recently pinpointed the site as approximately 1,000 feet west of Hamner.”

Bandini’s First House on Rancho Jurupa

In order to receive a grant there were certain rules to be complied with. The land must be measured, a house built, the place stocked with cattle and horses; care must be given to the Indians who lived on the land, and someone must live on the place.

   Juan Bandini was a very energetic man. While running the lines of his rancho, he was at the same time building his house and stocking his rancho with horses and cattle. He built his first house on the north bluff of the Santa Ana River, north of what is now Norco. The house stood about five hundred feet west of Adams Avenue [now Hamner] where it comes over the river bluff. It was called the Old Bandini House or the First House of Bandini.

   All the water for the household needs had to be carried up the bluff. All the work that could be done was done at the lagoon at the foot of the bluff.

   [Parts of the description in the two following paragraphs may reflect confusion with the Bandini-Cota Adobe on El Rincon grant, constructed within the following two years. Logs were hauled for this second Bandini house from a later grant of land in the mountains.]

   The house was of adobe made on the place and of timber brought from the San Bernardino Mountains. It was about fifty feet long and twenty-five feet wide, extending north and south. It had a flat roof made of dry grass and willow branches, covered with brea (tar) from the natural tar pits.

   In my youth [about 1890?], I knew an old Indian called Duarte, who in his boyhood days helped build the house of Bandini. He told me many things about early days; for instance, that when Bandini came from Mission San Gabriel, he brought with him many horses, cattle, and oxen, also wooden wagons on which he hauled logs from the mountains to build his house. Duarte also said there were a large number of small children in the family and that Arcadia, the eldest at about thirteen years of age, was a very intelligent young woman whom Don Juan and La Señora consulted on many things. The family were all wonderfully dressed and had many strange things, at least strange to him.

   Living for some time in his first house, Bandini later built the Cota house. The old house, taken over by Bandini’s servants, was kept in good repair for a number of years and people lived in it until about 1880. When the roof was later taken off to be used in building another house, the adobe soon melted down. There is nothing now to show where the house on the Guapa, the headquarters of Juan Bandini on the Jurupa, once stood. And thereby hangs a tale:

   According to the old stories, Juan Murietta was a nephew of the wife of Jose Maria Valdez, superintendent on the Cucamonga Rancho. [Juan Murietta (1844-1936) was a peaceful shepherd whose older brother Esequial (Ezekiel) founded the town of Murietta in southwest Riverside County. They were unrelated to the semi-fictional Gold Rush era bandit Joaquin Murietta.] Murietta made many of his holdups on the old Spanish Road near what is now the Declez quarry. Here he could watch from the hill and see the road for some miles in both directions. He is supposed to have buried some of his stolen gold near the Old Bandini House. I myself have seen holes dug around the house by people who were seeking the buried treasure. At that time the walls were all but gone, but there was a great deal of broken pottery, such as dishes and cups and saucers, where the house had stood. Later the Norco Bridge [now Hamner] was built and then came the big flood of 1938, which swept away the road. After this the state engineers raised the road about four or five feet from the north bank to the bridge. They took their material from the top of the bluff, where the first house of Bandini had stood, taking it all away and then some, so that the treasure of Juan Murietta may be buried in the grade – who knows?

Later Residents Near Bandini Old Adobe Site

Settlers had come into the Guapa about the time of the Civil War. One family named Bittle came about 1860 or so, living below the Bandini house, north of [present-day] Norco on the river flats, in their big wagons. The father of the family died and was buried there, and then, in the spring the family moved on.

   During the [Civil] war a number of the deserters from the Army camped out along the river. One of them lived to be an old man and was well known in Corona. He was the first American to live on the Guapa, but other settlers soon moved in. They would live for a few days or weeks in the old abandoned Bandini house, or leave their supplies there while they were building their own homes. Most of their houses were good frame buildings.

   By 1867 they had started a school in a house owned by Mr. Sam Pine; its first teacher was T. J. Ellis, its second H. C. Brooks. The school district was first called Juappa, spelled with two p’s. The next year the name was changed to Juapa. The district lapsed in 1879 [the same year the title to Jurupa-Stearns was confirmed], at which time the schoolhouse was on the river flat one half mile west of Adams Avenue [Hamner] just below the Bandini house.

   Most of the people lived on the north side of the river. Remaining high after a storm, it could not be crossed for days, and children who lived on the south side of the river often stayed with families on the north side till the river subsided.

   The Pine family, coming to the river in 1861 and living in the old Bandini house while they were building for themselves, lived on the Guapa for two or three years; then they moved to some government land on the west line of Rincon.

   On the south side were Jacob and Joshua Casteel and one of their sisters who had married John St. Marrie, a Frenchman from Quebec.

   Margaret Walkinshaw, now Mrs. McCarty, lived in the old Bandini house for a short time and tells, as Arcadia did, of the difficulty of carrying water up the cliff to do the household work. But also there were good times to remember – picnics, dances, and religious gatherings.

   As the Casteel and St. Marrie families broke up and left the Ranch, the Guapa began to look the same as it had when Arcadia and her Indian servants had passed over it fifty years before. Only the broken walls remained of the Bandini house. However, a great change was on the way. Men were wondering if there was not some way to get water on the dry plains of Jurupa Rancho. There was, but it took a long time – thirty years or more, with many failures.

   Milton Vale put down a well and built a house, only to find that he was just inside of the Grant line, so he lost his claim. The place, known for years as the Vale Ranch, is now the Imbach Ranch [west of Archibald at Cloverdale/Limonite – may have influenced adoption of the School District name East Vale].

   A new plan was thought of. It was to gather the river water below the narrows – where underground water was forced to the surface through the valley’s contraction – into a large canal five or six miles long high up on the northern slope. This would place a large part of the western end of the Jurupa under irrigation.

   The land to be irrigated was located to the east, north, and west of the Fuller Ranch and was called the Kingston Tract. The Fuller brothers were at that time there, but they had very small holdings and were not interested in the Kingston Tract. [Inconsistent? Other sources imply that Fuller ranch originally (c. 1891) included land south of present-day Schleisman between Sumner and Hamner that came to be included in Kingston tract before 1915.] Their place was known as the Fuller Ranch or Pioneer Trucking Company, for they had located their horses and mules on the good pasture of the river bottom. Their brother-in-law, Fred Zucker, had a store in Old Cucamonga, and the post office at South Cucamonga was called Zucker until it was changed to Guasti.

The ditch, started in 1891, was a costly affair. There were a number of arroyos to cross, some four or five hundred feet wide and quite deep, needing a trestle fifteen to eighteen feet high.

   A number of streets were graded at this time: Adams [Hamner], Cleveland [Scholar Way], Harrison, Citrus, and others. A number of parcels of land were also contracted for.

   Mr. Woods and his two sons came in 1891, setting out 125 acres of prunes – prunes were bringing $75 a ton at that time. Promised 1000 inches of water for the 700 acres they had contracted for; for a time they had plenty of water, but, when the trees were about two years old, the water was turned off. A severe north wind blew the flume down. It was not rebuilt. The company, having spent all it could afford to, made no effort to keep up the ditch, so there was no water for the settlers. For several years the Woods family struggled to keep the trees alive by hauling water, but were at last forced to give up and move away. Their neighbors had already done so, for, due to three dry years, they had not been able to even get their seed back.

   At this time there was great excitement over the Cana Agrio (sour cane) plant, which grew in the sand hills on the Cucamonga plains. It was thought to be good for making a fluid for tanning leather. Gangs of men dug up the roots and hauled them to what is now Fontana. They cut off the eye for planting, and then cut, dried, and sacked the roots and shipped them out of the country. A large sum of money was spent before it was found out that the project would not pay. However, it had enabled the settlers to earn a little money.

   The people of the district carried on dry grain farming for a number of years, but, about 1904, they began to drill wells. Finding that there was plenty of water underground, they put in pumps. The first pumps were very cumbersome, but later the new turbines were used. They literally poured the water out of the ground, and soon there were many prosperous ranches in the Eastvale, Mountain View, Union Joint, and Glen Avon districts. Among the early settlers who had pumps were Oscar Ford, Martin Van Wig, and W. F. Eldridge.

   The Eastvale School District was formed in 1893 to take in all of the Kingston Tract and the old [school] district of Juapa, which had lapsed in 1879. The trustees were O. B. Fuller and Dave Yount. Among the pupils were the Grotzinger children. The mother was Julia Casteel, who had gone to school in the early Juapa and [La?] Sierra districts and had been forced to leave, when the Grant was turned over to the Stearns Rancho [1879 – the year she turned 12]. She had now come back and lived in the Eastvale section for the next fifty years [Julia Grotzinger, born in 1867, is listed in public records including US Census 1940 at Temescal Township. She died in 1951].