Bear State Books
Exeter, California

Area Histories

Saga of Rancho El Tejon

Saga of Rancho El Tejon is the story of José Jesus Lopez, who was one of the most colorful pioneers to operate a stock ranch in California.

AUTHOR: Frank F. Latta
DETAILS: 295 pp.
ISBN: 1-892622-30-0.
PRICE: $24.95
Price+tax: 26.88

Saga of Rancho El Tejon is the story of José Jesus Lopez, who was one of the most colorful pioneers to operate a stock ranch in California. In 1873, Lopez visited the San Joaquin Valley with a band of sheep. BY 1874, Edward F. Beale, owner of El Tejon Ranchos, purchased part of the Lopez sheep and hired him to handle all of the sheep on the ranchos. He continued in charge of the sheep operation until 1885, when Beale placed him in charge of the entire stock operation. He continued in the employ of Beale until Beale died and the ranchos were sold to a Los Angeles Company. Lopez continued with this company as active, and later consulting cattle boss until his death in 1939.

José Jesus Lopez was one of the most colorful pioneers ever to operate a stock ranch in California. He came from one of the oldest and most numerous California families. It is probable that ancestors of his parents came to Alta California in 1769 with Gaspar de Portolá and Father Junipero Serra. Records show that on September 8, 1771 Juan Francisco Lopez was in the soldier escort and guard at the founding of Mission San Gabriel.

In 1872, after his family had been in California more than one hundred years, Lopez visited the San Joaquin Valley and returned in 1873 with a band of sheep. Not only did he have a good education; he was one of the most able and intelligent Californios of his time. So he was not destined to herd sheep for long. In 1874, Edward F. Beale, owner of El Tejon Ranchos, purchased part of the Lopez sheep and employed him to handle all of the sheep on the ranchos.

The sheep at one time totaled ninety-five thousand head, ranging more than 300,000 acres of land, four Mexican Land Grants, and included Ranchos El Tejon, La Liebre, Castaic and Agua Caliente. Don José continued in charge of the sheep operation until 1885, after Beale had sold most of the sheep and stocked the ranchos with cattle. Beale then placed Don José in charge of the entire stock operation. He continued in the employ of Beale until Beale died and the ranchos were sold to a Los Angeles Company by his son, Truxtun Beale. He also continued with this company as active, and later as consulting cattle boss until the time of his death in 1939.

Frank F. Latta first released “Saga of Rancho El Tejon” in 1976 as a Bicentennial Book. It quickly became The Source of material on not only early Tejon Ranch history, but that of the southern San Joaquin Valley. Read this book and you will know why.

Category: