Jose Sepulveda Elementary
History of Name
EL REFUGIO: THE WEST SANTA ANA HOME OF DOMINGO YORBA AND JOSE ANDRES SEPULVEDA
Some of the most dramatic and exciting events of the rancho days happened at El Refugio, in what is now West Santa Ana. For those who picture the Santa Ana Valley as lifeless and deserted until William Spurgeon purchased the land for his new town in 1869, the legacy left by the Spanish ranchero owners comes as a surprise.
Domingo de la Resurrecci6n Yorba, born in March 1826, inherited El Refugio from his father, Jose Antonio Yorba II, after his death on January 19, 1849. Five years later, in 1854, Domingo sold his house and his interest in the Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana to Jose Andres Sepulveda, the owner of Rancho San Joaquin. Terry Stephenson, in Shadows of Old Saddleback says "The Sepulveda ranch house, called El Refugio, was the gathering place for many a fiesta, many a rodeo, and many a fandango."
Jose Andres Sepulveda, who was living on the Rancho Bolsa de San Joaquin by 1836, seemed to leap from one adventure to another. He had a home in downtown Los Angeles, in addition
to homes on the San Joaquin (which became the Irvine Ranch) and, after 1854, at El Refugio. Saddleback Ancestors notes that Jose Andres became famous for the extravagance of his fiestas and the excellence of his race horses. Money from his productive ranch properties flowed into his hands but flowed out again almost as quickly, thanks to his penchant for gambling and unrivaled hospitality.
The eldest son among the 12 children of Don Francisco Sepulveda and his wife, Ramona Serrano, Jose Andres Sepulveda spent a great deal of time in Los Angeles, where he was involved politically for several years. By 1851 he was the owner of 102,000 acres of land in Los Angeles County, including his holdings in what is now Orange County. He became very prosperous as a result of the increased need for cattle during the gold rush days.
Don Jose's greatest love was horses and horse racing. He owned hundreds of horses and loved to ride. The race between an Australian mare, Black Swan, and Pico's stallion, Sarco, will go down in history as one of the most legendary races of Southern California. Held on March 1, 1852, the race inspired much excitement among early California residents and, according to Thomas D. Mott, almost everyone living between San Luis Obispo and San Diego attended. Black Swan won the nine-mile-long race, which took place in Los Angeles, by 75 yards.
Robert Glass Cleland notes in The Irvine Ranch that "the wagers included twenty-five thousand dollars in cash...five hundred calves, and five hundred sheep."
After the race Don Jose bought Black Swan and took her to San Joaquin. Within a year the mare stepped on a nail, contracted lockjaw, and died.
Referring to Sepulveda's purchase of El Refugio, Cleland reports in The Irvine Ranch that "...In 1854 Jose Sepulveda paid Domingo Yorba, one of the largest claimants (to the Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana) $6,000 in cash, 100 heifers, 50 steers, and 50 fillies for his share of land and livestock...Domingo Yorba and his wife thus conveyed to Jose Sepulveda 'the land of the Rancho Santa Ana where they, the grantees, at present live to where the River of the said Rancho of Santa Ana runs, including the houses, corrals, and fences to them belonging."
By the time Jose Andres and Francisca moved to the adobe at El Refugio, they were the parents of at least 14 children, ranging in age from three to 27 years of age.
Opening of School 1987-88
New Building Dedicated 1990