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  1. Do you have general information about the history of the city of Claremont?
  2. What Indians lived in this area?
  3. Where can I find photographs of the Claremont area from the 1870s to the present?
  4. What role did citriculture/agriculture play in Claremont's history?
  5. Do you have information on the history of the Claremont Colleges?

Claremont Santa Fe Depot, c. 1926. Photograph taken c. 1990s 1. Do you have general information about the history of the city of Claremont?

Nomadic Native Americans first inhabited the area which would eventually become the city of Claremont. In 1769 Spanish explorers traversed Southern California from San Diego to Monterey and in 1771 the Catholic Church established the Mission San Gabriel, with lands extending from San Pedro Bay to the San William 'Tooch' Thomas Martin, first Anglo settler in Claremont, c. 1910 Bernardino Mountains. Some fifty years later, Spain relinquished California to newly independent Mexico, and in 1834, the state secularized all church lands.

Ygnacio Palomares and Ricardo Vejar, who were raising their many horses and cattle in crowded Los Angeles, eyed the now vacant mission lands and in 1837 applied to the governor of California for a grant of land in the area "known by the name of San Josi." The governor approved their request and the two (later joined by Palomares' brother-in-law Luis Arenas) moved to Rancho San Josi, constructing adobe homes, planting vegetables, and grazing their cattle and sheep near present-day Claremont. Their families remained in the vicinity for many years, retaining title to the lands even after the United States annexed California in 1848. The first American to take up permanent residence close by was W.T. "Tooch" Martin, who purchased 156 acres near the mesa now called Indian Hill in 1871.

School bus in Claremont, c. 1920 By the late 1880s, larger numbers of American settlers were migrating westward, assisted by expanding railroads. In 1887, the Santa Fe Railroad Company finished the San Bernardino to Los Angeles section of its Chicago to Los Angeles line. Expecting a population explosion, land developers mapped out about thirty town sites along that stretch of the rail line. The Pacific Land Improvement Company bought 365 acres and staked out plots to sell in a new community which its Boston-based board of directors chose to name Claremont, "to indicate its clear mountain air and water"-or perhaps just with the thought of Claremont, New Hampshire, in mind. The company constructed a few homes and a spacious hotel for visitors. But after a few sales, the real estate market collapsed and Claremont appeared to be a town without a future. Meanwhile, in nearby Pomona, a fledgling college started by the Congregational Churches in Southern California was outgrowing its quarters but had not yet been able to build new facilities. The land company's trustees offered Pomona College its vacant hotel and surrounding land at a bargain price and the college accepted.

Bentley's grocery store in Claremont, 1917

Running out of room in the college's one building, the faculty soon built their own homes and became the backbone of the community. Claremont, a California town set amongst sagebrush, oak trees, and artesian wells, quickly took on many of the characteristics of the New England towns that nurtured the small Eastern colleges which Pomona College hoped to emulate. Orange trees arrived in Claremont about the same time as the college. Together the citrus industry and the educational institution ensured the continued viability of the community, helped in the early 1900s by the arrival of electric railway service placing Claremont on a line between San Bernardino and Los Angeles.

Graduating class at Claremont Grammar School, 1919 Agricultural jobs for Mexicans and Asians added a bit of diversity to Claremont early in the twentieth century and a conscious decision to become a retirement community also had its influence. But the size and character of the city changed little until World War II. After the war, Claremont's annual growth rate skyrocketed, peaking in 1960-1965 when the city was adding more than 1500 people per year. In 1954, the San Bernardino Freeway opened, furnishing an easy outlet to Los Angeles. At the same time, pollution and population growth contributed to the citrus industry's decline. Residential and commercial uses for land now took precedence. Approaching the end of the twentieth century, the population of Claremont had become more diverse ethnically and occupationally, with many residents commuting daily to other parts of Southern California. Pomona College, having evolved into the cornerstone of a group of colleges, nevertheless remained a focal point of the community.

Website Links:

Pomona College Library, 1913

Claremont bank and Masonic temple, 1913

Print Sources:

  • Citizens National Bank, Claremont, California. Claremont ... Then and Now. Claremont, CA: 1954.
  • Claremont, Profile of a City. Claremont, CA: League of Women Voters of Claremont, 1994.
  • The Historical Volume and Reference Works: Los Angeles County. Arlington, CA: Historical Publishers, 1962-65.
  • Wright, Judy. Claremont: A Pictorial History. Claremont, CA: Claremont Historic Resources Center, 1999.
  • Pictorial Memories of Southern California's Inland Valley. Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. Marceline: Heritage House Publishing, 1995.

Images:

  • Claremont Santa Fe Depot, c. 1926. Photograph taken c. 1990s
    [Courtesy of Claremont Heritage Historical Society]
  • William 'Tooch' Thomas Martin, first Anglo settler in Claremont, c. 1910. He was also a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
    [Courtesy of Claremont Heritage Historical Society]
  • School bus in Claremont, c. 1920
    [Courtesy of Claremont Heritage Historical Society]
  • Bentley's grocery store in Claremont, 1917
    [Courtesy of Claremont Heritage Historical Society]
  • Graduating class at Claremont Grammar School, 1919
    [County of Los Angeles Public Library]
  • Pomona College Library, 1913
    [County of Los Angeles Public Library]
  • Claremont bank and Masonic temple, 1913
    [County of Los Angeles Public Library]
  • Claremont Grammar School, 1913
    [County of Los Angeles Public Library]
  • Claremont High School, 1913
    [County of Los Angeles Public Library]
  • El Camino Citrus Association packing house, 1913
    [County of Los Angeles Public Library]
  • Pearson's Hall of Science, Pomona College, 1913
    [County of Los Angeles Public Library]
Claremont Grammar School, 1913 Claremont High School, 1913

El Camino Citrus Association packing house, 1913         Pearson's Hall of Science, Pomona College, 1913

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2. What Indians lived in this area?

The Native Americans who wandered the lands near present-day Claremont were called the "Serrano" Indians after the Spanish term meaning "mountaineer, highlander." In particular, they are known to have lived for a time on the mesa known as Indian Hill. A nomadic people, they normally settled near water and no doubt found the branch of San Antonio Creek and the artesian springs nearby to be good sources of water. Living in circular, domed brush homes, they ate acorns and hunted rabbits, deer, and bear in the bog and mountains in the vicinity. The Spanish forced the Serrano from their lands in the early 1800s, and they found themselves with few options other than working for the ranchers who took up residence in the area. In 1862 and 1873, smallpox epidemics ravaged the local Indian population and those few who survived had abandoned Indian Hill by the mid 1880s.

Website Links:

Print Sources:

  • Johnston, Francis J. The Serrano Indians of Southern California. Banning, CA: Malki Museum Press, 1980.
  • Handbook of North American Indians, edited by William C. Stuyvesant/Volume 8: California, edited by Robert F. Heizer. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1978.
  • Claremont, Profile of a City. Claremont, CA: League of Women Voters of Claremont, 1994.

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3. Where can I find photographs of the Claremont area from the 1870s to the present?

Historical photographs of the Claremont area can be found at the Claremont Heritage Historical Society and the Honnold Library of the Claremont Colleges.

    Claremont Heritage Historical Society
    590 W. Bonita Avenue
    Claremont, CA 91711
    (909) 621-0848
     
    Honnold Library
    747 Dartmouth Avenue
    Claremont, CA 91711
    (909) 621-8045

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Stone pump house on citrus ranch, photograph c. 1990s 4. What role did citriculture/agriculture play in Claremont's history?

In 1888, Peter J. Dreher planted the first orange trees in Claremont. Four years later, he was marketing some three hundred boxes of oranges annually. Possessing very little experience growing oranges and facing high packing and shipping costs, Dreher teamed up with other area growers to establish the Claremont California Fruit Growers Association. Under the direction of the association, oranges were carefully graded and packed, with close attention to the quality of the fruit chosen for shipping. The efforts of the Claremont association, along with those of a similar association in Riverside, represented the start of the California Sunkist marketing system.

Citrus crate label for the Valley View Brand of the College Heights Orange and Lemon Association of Claremont, c. 1930

Meanwhile, the citrus industry became one of the bulwarks of the community. Claremont was a fine area for growing citrus, with plenty of water nearby, a good climate, and proper soil (once the many rocks in the ground had been cleared). By 1900, orange, lemon, and grapefruit groves crowded the countryside around Claremont. At one time, there were four packing houses and an ice and pre-cooling plant clustered around Claremont's railroad tracks. Inside, workers, mostly immigrants and often women, sorted and graded the fruit. To arrange for a sufficient supply of water for the trees, the town's citrus growers created cooperative water companies. Prospering for more than fifty years, the citrus industry lost its importance in the aftermath of World War II as residential homes and commercial development swallowed the former citrus groves.

Website Links:

Indian Hill Citrus Association packing house and pre-cooling plant, c. 1920

Print Sources:

  • Heritage of Gold: The First 100 Years of Sunkist Growers, Inc., 1893-1993. Los Angeles, CA: Sunkist Growers, Inc., 1994.
  • Moses, Herman Vincent. The Flying Wedge of Cooperation: G. Harold Powell, California Orange Growers, and the Corporate Reconstruction of American Agriculture, 1904-1922. Ph.D. dissertation. Riverside, CA: University of California, Riverside, 1994.
  • Claremont, Profile of a City. Claremont, CA: League of Women Voters of Claremont, 1994.

Employees of the College Heights Lemon House in Claremont, 1949

Images:

  • Stone pump house on citrus ranch, photograph c. 1990s
    [Courtesy of Claremont Heritage Historical Society]
  • Citrus crate label for the Valley View Brand of the College Heights Orange and Lemon Association of Claremont, c. 1930
    [Courtesy of Claremont Heritage Historical Society]
  • Indian Hill Citrus Association packing house and pre-cooling plant, c. 1920
    [Courtesy of Claremont Heritage Historical Society]
  • Employees of the College Heights Lemon House in Claremont, 1949
    [Courtesy of Claremont Heritage Historical Society]

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Honnold Mudd Library of the Claremont Colleges, 2000 5. Do you have information on the history of the Claremont Colleges?

After a brief sojourn in nearby Pomona, Pomona College, a small liberal arts institution established by the Congregational Churches of Southern California, moved permanently to Claremont in 1888. In the early 1920s, the college was flourishing and some believed it should expand to accommodate more students. Its president, Dr. James A. Blaisdell, argued against the idea of creating "one great undifferentiated university" and hoped instead to develop a system along the lines of that used by Oxford and Cambridge in England, that is "a group of institutions divided into small colleges . . . around a library and other utilities which they would use in common."

In 1925, the Claremont Colleges were incorporated. In the years that followed, a handful of new colleges sprang up. Scripps College, a liberal arts school for women, opened its doors in 1926 using seed money from Ellen Browning Scripps. The end of World War II and the subsequent GI Bill spurred the creation of the Claremont Scripps College, one of the Claremont Colleges, 2000 Men's College in 1946, with a focus on business, public administration, and training for other professional careers. The college first admitted women in 1976 and since 1981 has been known as Claremont McKenna College.

As Southern California became more industry-oriented, Harvey Seeley Mudd pushed for the establishment of a college devoted to science and engineering. In 1955, just after he died, Harvey Mudd College began operations, welcoming men and women with an interest in the sciences and engineering. In 1963, the state's quickly growing population and the relative scarcity of women at the Claremont Colleges (there were roughly 700 more men than women enrolled at the time) prompted the establishment of a second women's institution, Pitzer College, with special emphasis on the social and behavioral sciences. Pitzer College began admitting men in 1970.

Since 1925, the Claremont Colleges have also included a small graduate school. While operating as independent academic centers, all of the institutions share such facilities as a library, auditorium, and medical center. In addition, the Claremont Colleges maintain relations with five affiliated institutions in Claremont: the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, School of Theology at Claremont, Francis Bacon Library, Thomas Rivera Center, and Robert J. Bernard Field Station. For more information on the Claremont Colleges, see the following sources:

Website Links:

Harvey Mudd College, one of the Claremont Colleges, 2000

Print Sources:

  • Drake, Frances Bernard. Two Men and an Idea: Robert Bernard with James Blaisdell, Partners in Pioneering the Group Plan of the Claremont Colleges. Claremont, CA: Claremont University Center, 1996.
  • Claremont, Profile of a City. Claremont, CA: League of Women Voters of Claremont, 1994.

Images:

  • Honnold Mudd Library of the Claremont Colleges, 2000
    [County of Los Angeles Public Library]
  • Scripps College, one of the Claremont Colleges, 2000
    [County of Los Angeles Public Library]
  • Harvey Mudd College, one of the Claremont Colleges, 2000
    [County of Los Angeles Public Library]

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