Laguna Hills in Orange County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Juan Avila Adobe
The land that today includes the cities of Laguna Hills, Laguna Woods, and a portion of Laguna Niguel, was once called Rancho Niguel. This 13,000 acre rancho, named after a Native American village located along Aliso Creek, was once owned by Don Juan Avila. In his many years as a resident of the area, Juan Avila came to be known for generosity, hospitality, honesty, and prosperous ownership of Rancho Niguel.
Juan Avila was born in Los Angeles to Antonio Ignacio Avlia and Rosa Ruiz de Avila of Santa Barbara. He was the first of the Avila family to settle in Saddleback Valley, where he raised cattle for their hides. In 1833 he married Soledad Yorba; the Avilas later had four children, three girls and one boy. The youngest child, Teofilo Pisano, did not survive childhood, but the three older children, Rosa, Guadlupe, and Manuel Donaciano, lived to marry and have children of their own. On June 21, 1842, Governor Alvarado of California granted Rancho Niguel to Juan Avila as a reward for his dedication to the government as "juez del campo," or judge of the plains. As a result, Juan Avila was given the title of Don and his wife,
During the years following the discovery of gold in California, Avila added to his wealth by selling cattle for beef to the northern miners, earning the nickname "El Rico”, the rich one. Don Juan was known for his kindness. He opened his home to many who traveled along El Camino Real, today the route of the I-5 freeway. Stories are told of lavish fiestas given by the Avila family. Their adobe became a center for community celebrations as well as a place of refuge for people in need. The Avila adobe was also the site of an historic meeting at which Commodore Stockton and Brigadier General Kearney convinced Don Juan Avila to assist the American Army at the Battle of La Mesa during the Mexican American War.
Juan Avila remained Don of Rancho Niguel until 1865 when he sold the property to Juan Forster and moved to a larger residence in the nearby village of San Juan Capistrano. His wife, Solidad Yorba de Avila, died two years later during a smallpox epidemic. Although Juan lived over twenty years follwing his wife's death, he never remarried. Juan Avila died in San Juan Capistrano on December 23, 1889, at the age of 77. His life spanned the period from Spanish Franciscans, to the Mexican Dons, to the American settlers. He will always be remembered as one of the largest landowners of the area, the Don of
Erected 1999 by City of Laguna Hills.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Agriculture • Hispanic Americans • Industry & Commerce • Settlements & Settlers. A significant historical date for this entry is June 21, 1842.
Location. 33° 36.44′ N, 117° 41.822′ W. Marker is in Laguna Hills, California, in Orange County. Marker is on Aliso Creek Bikeway north of Christina Court, on the right when traveling north. From the north end of Christina Court, walk 300 feet north along the bike path. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 24462 Christina Court, Laguna Hills CA 92653, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Mormon Battalion Marker (approx. 0.2 miles away); Aliso Creek Adobes (approx. 0.2 miles away); Sycamore Park (approx. 0.3 miles away); History (approx. one mile away); Fossil Reef (approx. 1.4 miles away); Charlotte and Louise Moulton (approx. 1½ miles away); Whale Fossil (approx. 1½ miles away); Fossil (approx. 1½ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Laguna Hills.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 10, 2020. It was originally submitted on May 8, 2020, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. This page has been viewed 560 times since then and 199 times this year. Last updated on May 10, 2020, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on May 8, 2020, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.