Indiana Colony

By Levi Clancy for לוי on

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A group of friends from Indianapolis, Indiana decided to flee the harsh Midwest winters. Led by Dr. Thomas Elliott, they hired David Barry to find suitable fruit growing land in Southern California. Barry found 1500 acres of fertile land in western San Pasqual Ranch, a lot of land that would determine Pasadena's future development.

Railroads Open1869-1885Union Pacific Railroad's transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869 and made travel to the West a practical reality. Over 70,000 annual visitors took the railroad to San Francisco, and many of these travelers took a steamer or stagecoach to Southern California. Southern Pacific Railway completed a railroad to Los Angeles in 1876, and ten years later Santa Fe completed its line. This resulted in a fare war that culminated when a passenger could travel from Missouri Valley to Los Angeles for a dollar. Pasadena's first train arrived in 1885 upon rails built by Los Angeles and San Gabriel Railroad Company.
1872Prompted by his wife's ailing health, Dr. Thomas Elliot decided to move to a warmer climate. The Elliots and a group of their friends sent an exploratory party headed by Mr. William Berry to California to buy farming land. After much exploration, Mr. Berry decided that Rancho San Pasqual had the most desirable land.
1873San Gabriel Orange Grove Association formed to purchase approximately 4,000 acres from Wilson and Griffin. They actually paid for 2,500 acres and were given the other 1,500 for free. This area is today Altadena. The original name of these colonists from Indiana, Ohio, Iowa and Michigan was The Indiana Colony of California. Upon deciding to farm citrus, particularly oranges, they changed their name to The San Gabriel Orange Grove Association.
Indiana Colony1874 01 27Twenty-seven members of the Indiana families gathered on Reservoir Hill (across the street from where the Fenyes Mansion is today) and held a lottery to divide land followed by a picnic. The land was divided into 100 15-acre lots sold at $250 per lot, draw a lottery to determine each family's lot and then enjoyed a picnic. These colonists titled the area The Indiana Colony of California, even though a few members were from Ohio, Iowa and Michigan. This name was eventually changed to The San Gabriel Orange Grove Association when it was agreed that the colony would be a citrus grove.
1874The Indiana Colony's first homes were built and the colony's first child -- Helen Wentworth -- was born. Orange Grove Avenue was constructed. School was held at home of W. T. Clapp and taught by his daughter Jennie.