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Street named for actress and member of illustrious family

March 04, 2011|By Katherine Yamada
  • This postcard of Rancho Camulos noted that it was the the "Home of Ramona," the fictional heroine of Helen Hunt Jackson's book of the same name. Rancho Camulos was also the family home of Lucretia del Valle who appeared at the opening of Verdugo Woodlands. Del Valle Avenue is named for her. (Courtesy of Glendale Public Library, Special Collections Room)
This postcard of Rancho Camulos noted that it was the the…

Del Valle Avenue, in the Verdugo Woodlands area of Glendale, is named for Lucretia del Valle, granddaughter of the owner of Rancho Camulos, one of the original land grants near what is now Piru. She was also an actress, which is what brought her to Glendale in 1917.

Del Valle’s family home, Rancho Camulos, provided one of the settings for Helen Hunt Jackson’s epic novel, “Ramona.” The incredibly popular story of Ramona, daughter of an Anglo and a Native American who was raised on the fictional Moreno Ranch, brought thousands of tourists here expressly to see the “home” of the fictional Ramona.

Many visited Camulos, where the del Valles lived until 1924.

The 48,000-acre land grant was awarded to Antonio del Valle in 1839. He died just two years later and when the land was divided, his oldest son, Ygnacio, received 1,800 acres near the old Indian village of Camulos. He created a prosperous ranch with thousands of head of cattle and acres of orange groves and vineyards. Many of the local Indians lived and worked there, according to the ranch’s website.

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After Ygnacio del Valle lost his first wife in childbirth, he married a 15-year-old girl, Ysabel Varela. When he died in 1880, she took over the rancho, assisted by her sons. One was Reginaldo, a state senator and father of Lucretia. By 1882, the grounds included a winery, chapel and grape arbor. The fields were thick with crops such as oranges, almonds, walnuts, apricots, wheat and corn.

In January, 1882, writer Helen Hunt Jackson made a short visit to California. Jackson had been appalled by the plight of the American Indians, who were losing their grounds to the expanding movement west. She had written one article on the issue and decided to see for herself how the Indians were being displaced. She visited many locations, including Rancho Camulos.

Several places have claimed to be the inspiration for the Moreno Ranch, but Camulos had writer and historian Charles Fletcher Lummis behind its claim.

Four years after “Ramona” was published, Lummis visited the ranch and published a book “Home of Ramona,” with many photographs, including one of a room that he called Ramona’s bedroom.

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