Today Placentia is part of the vast suburban Orange County sprawl that extends eastward from Los Angeles into Southern California’s “Inland Empire.” This landscape of homes and shopping centers was a windswept wilderness until a Mexican land grant helped transform it into ranches that dry-farmed hay and irrigated fruits and vegetables. The arrival of the Valencia orange and the discovery of oil reshaped the future of Placentia again as groves and derricks covered the land in the first half of the 20th century. The railroad also arrived, followed by more oil discovery to the east and the coming of laborers of Mexican heritage, who formed a community to the south. Schools, churches, and civic buildings remained ancillary to the predominantly agrarian society and economy that existed through the World War II era.
About the Author
The Placentia Historical Committee is an official group formed by the City of Placentia in 1985 to advise its government on matters of understanding, preserving, and celebrating the city’s history. The committee, led by longtime residents Jeanette Gardner and Lawrence de Graaf, organized the city’s archives into this nostalgic window on Placentia’s past, to a time when Orange County truly reflected its name.
Table of Contents
Native Americans and European Pioneers 9
A Community of Farmers 19
Agricultural Development 29
Rural Life and Early Schools 45
Town, Trade, and Transportation 61
Community Leaders and Government 73
An Empire of Oranges 85
The Oil Era 99
Schools and Churches 107
Community Life 119