The United States was only a few years old and California was still under Spanish rule when Jose Maria Verdugo applied for permission to graze his cattle and horses in our fertile valleys.
Verdugo, a native of Loreto, in Baja California, was serving as a military guard at the mission at San Gabriel. In 1784 he received one of the first land grants made in Alta California by the King of Spain and one of the largest ever issued during the Spanish occupation.
That land now incorporates a good part of present day Glendale, Burbank, Eagle Rock, Highland Park, the west part of Pasadena and the area in the triangle formed by the junction of the Arroyo Seco and the Los Angeles River, according to Carroll W. Parcher in his chronicle, “Glendale Community Book.”
The huge land grant remained intact for less than 100 years. Jose Maria Verdugo left the rancho to his son, Julio, and daughter, Catalina. They shared the land, often selling off parcels as funds were needed. At one point, Julio took out a mortgage to build a new house and later defaulted on the loan, leading to extensive court proceedings brought by those land purchasers. Those proceedings led to the eventual break-up of the land grant.