Los Angeles County
1848 to 1865
The Treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed and the Mexican-American War ends.
California is ceded over to the United States (February 2). Governor
Mason appoints Stephen C. Foster to be Alcalde (Mayor) of Los
becomes the first American elected to the town council. U.S. Army Lt.
E.O.C. Ord conducts the first American survey of Los Angeles. A city
water department is established.
is established as one of California’s original counties (February 18).
The county government is established following the first county
election in April. Los Angeles is incorporated as an American city
(April 4). Alpheus P. Hodges becomes Los Angeles’ first American
elected mayor. Los Angeles gets its first Post Office. Los Angeles’
first Protestant church services (Methodist) are held by the Rev. J.
W. Brier. The first African-American to settle in Los Angeles is,
Peter Biggs, a barber and escaped slave. The first U.S. Census is
taken in Los Angeles County. Two Chinese men are listed in the census.
Los Angeles’ first hotel, The Bella Union, is built. Los Angeles
County is the nation's number one wine-producing county.
Anglo American born in California, John Gregg Nichols, is born in Los
Angeles. The newspaper La Estrella (The Star) makes its first
appearance. It is printed in English and Spanish and continues to be
published until the early 1860’s. El Monte becomes the first fully
American settlement established in Los Angeles County. The first Los
Angeles City police force is organized. Cupeño Indians revolt under
Chief Antonio Garra resulting in the death of five white sheepherders.
Chief Garra is captured and executed by a firing squad. Phineas
Banning establishes the first stage line in Southern California.
Bridget Mason (Biddy Mason) arrives in San Bernardino as a slave in a
Mormon household. Apparently the householder was not aware or did not
care that California was a "Free" state. Mason goes on to win her
freedom and become a successful Los Angeles businesswomen, landowner
The first Los
Angeles public school system is established. Former slave Peter Biggs
opens the first barbershop in Los Angeles. The first county
supervisors are elected to office. The Land Act of 1852 is used to
wrest control of the original land grants from the rancheros.
Entrepreneurs Phineas Banning and D.W. Alexander establish a stage
line between Los Angeles and San Pedro.
Bernardino County is established from part of Los Angeles County. The
County of Los Angeles builds its first public building...a jail.
first superintendent of schools is appointed. Rabbi A.W. Edelman holds
the first Jewish services in Los Angeles. Crime in Los Angeles rises
to one murder per day.
The first permanent
school in Los Angeles, Schoolhouse No. 1, is built at the northwest corner of Second and
Spring Streets. An earthquake causes extensive damage in almost every
house in Los Angeles. The "Los Angeles Rangers" organizes for the
expressed purpose of fighting "Mexican bandits". Mayor Stephen G.
Foster of Los Angeles, a physician, resigns his office to join a lynch
mob. After the lynching, Foster resumes his office.
A Los Angeles
deputy constable kills a man named Ruiz in a scuffle over a guitar.
The Los Angeles Spanish-speaking community, feeling as it has endured
one too many abuses by the Anglo community, marches on city jail to
demand justice. Former slave Biddy Mason obtains her freedom in court
and moves herself and her daughters to Los Angeles. She goes on to
become a successful Los Angeles businesswomen, landowner and
feels the Great Fort Tejon
Earthquake, which, at 7.9
on the Richter Scale, is the largest earthquake ever recorded in U.S.
history. Only two deaths are connected to the earthquake. Los Angeles
Sheriff James Barton and three of his deputies are killed in an
attempt to capture a fugitive Mexican guerilla in San Juan Capistrano.
The fugitive is later captured and hanged. Wells Fargo & Company opens
an office in Los Angeles. Stagecoach baron Phineas Banning founds
Wilmington. The Los Angeles Water
Works is formed and a water wheel begins operating at the Zanja
Henry Crab of Los Angeles organizes an attempt to "liberate" the
Mexican state of Sonora from Mexico. He is captured by Mexican
authorities and executed. The last four Protestant ministers in Los
Angeles, a Methodist, a Baptist, a Presbyterian, and an Episcopalian,
finding a lack of interest in their church services, close their
respective churches and leave the city. Los Angeles is linked with San
Francisco and St. Louis by stagecoach. Abel Sterns and Phineas Banning
begin development of the harbor at Wilmington. Four members of the
Sisters of Charity open the first hospital in Los Angeles on Buena
Vista Street. The Sisters arrived in California a few years earlier at
the request of the Bishop of Los Angeles and Monterey.
library in Los Angeles, a small reading room, opens. Protestant
ministers return to Los Angeles. President James Buchanan restores the
neglected mission properties (Mission San Gabriel and Mission San
Fernando) to the Catholic Church.
is linked to San Francisco by telegraph. Traditional Mexican bull and
bear fights are outlawed in Los Angeles. Baseball becomes the popular
sport. Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln is soundly defeated in
Los Angeles County, but carries California as a whole. Los Angeles
County Sheriff Tomas Sanchez enlists in the Confederate Army.
becomes quickly divided between Union and Confederate sympathies at
the start of the Civil War. San Pedro harbor receives its first
freight schooner, opening it as a cargo harbor. Holiday season rains
bring terrible flooding to the area. Much of the San Fernando Valley
continue to flood the area. Later, however, the first of several great
droughts begins. The droughts persist over the next two years
resulting in the loss of 70% of Los Angeles County livestock and the
end of the old ranching industry. In order to protect Union interests
in Southern California, Fort Drum is established to house a garrison
of U.S. Army troops.
establishes a board of health. An explosion rips through the steamer
Ada Hancock in Wilmington Harbor, killing 26 of the 53 passengers
aboard. Los Angeles ceases its celebration of July 4th for
the first of two years due to wide spread sympathies with the
Confederacy among its citizens. Judge Hastings of Los Angeles travels
to the Confederate capital in Richmond, Virginia, to pledge to
Confederate President Jefferson Davis an army of Californians. The
offer never materializes. The City
of Los Angeles establishes a public animal pound.
of smallpox decimates the Indian populations in Southern California.
By 1870, almost all Indians in the area had died. Dr. J.S. Griffin,
the Los Angeles city health officer during the smallpox outbreak, is
offered city land at greatly reduced prices instead of money. This
land would later become known as East Los Angeles and even later as
Lincoln Heights. The first permanent Protestant church in Los Angeles
Vincent’s College is founded. It would later become Loyola University.
Los Angeles County’s first "dry" community, Comptonville, is
established. It is named after founder G.E. Compton.