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Who’s In A Name?

Ever wonder if your city or town is named after someone? I did, and here are some of the California cities that are named after people:

Bakersfield — Thomas Baker, a lawyer and former colonel in the militia of his home state of Ohio, came to California during the Gold Rush (1848-1855) and settled near the Kern River. His place became known as Baker’s Field, a stopover for travelers who likely were either trying to get over the mountains to Los Angeles or had just completed going over the mountains from Los Angeles.

Burbank — I was certain it was named after Luther Burbank (1849-1926), noted botanist, horticulturist and pioneer in agricultural science. But I was wrong. It’s named for a dentist, David.

Cudahy — Michael Cudahy (1841-1910) was an industrialist who, with two brothers, formed Cudahy Packing Company.

Davis — Perhaps most known for the University of California there, the agricultural city was named after local farmer Jerome Davis (and the UC sports teams are nicknamed the Aggies).

Hayward — William Dutton Hayward (1815-1891) grew up on a Massachusetts farm, came to California during the Gold Rush (1848) and settled in Northern California.

Huntington Beach/Huntington Park — Henry Huntington (1850-1927) was an American railroad magnate and collector of art and rare books. The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens is on his former estate in San Marino, near Pasadena, and there is a hotel in Pasadena named for him as well.

Irvine — The Orange County city ranked by Businessweek in 2011 as the fifth best city to live in is named for landowner James Irvine (1827-1886). Born in Ireland, he came to the United States after the potato crop failed in 1845. Three years later, he came to California during the Gold Rush and later invested in San Francisco real estate.

Lebec — The town in southwest Kern County is named for Peter Lebecque, a French trader killed by a bear in 1837.

Livermore — Robert Livermore (1799-1858) was was an English rancher and landowner influential in the early days of California. His holdings eventually formed the basis of the city that bears his name.

Modesto — William Chapman Ralston (1826-1875) was a San Francisco businessman and financier who founded the Bank of California. He was said to be a modest man, which I find interesting since he got wealthy from the Nevada Comstock Lode then died poor following the Panic of 1873.

Perris — Although pronounced the same, it’s not named in any way for the French capital. Fred T. Perris (1837-1916) was chief engineer of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. He oversaw the last leg of the Second Transcontinental Railroad, from Barstow to Los Angeles. He also layed track from Riverside to San Diego, and various towns sprung up along the route, including the one that bears his name.

Reedley — Civil War hero Thomas Law Reed settled here to provide wheat for Gold Rush miners in the mid-1800s. His donation of land for a railroad station established the town as the center of the San Joaquin Valley’s booming wheat business. Railroad officials commemorated his vision by naming the fledgling city in his honor.

Torrance — Jared Sidney Torrance (1853-1921) was a real estate developer who saw the value of creating a mixed industrial-residential community south of Los Angeles — where Torrance now exists.

Vacaville — The city was founded Dec. 13, 1851, by William McDaniel on a part of the 1843 Mexican land grant Rancho Los Putos, purchased from Manuel Cabeza Vaca. The city was once a Pony Express stop.

Van Nuys — Isaac Newton Van Nuys (1836-1912) was an American businessman, farmer and rancher who owned the entire southern part of the San Fernando Valley–an area 15 miles long and six miles wide that would include the area named for him. But he’s not the founder.

Yorba Linda — Bernardo Yorba (1800-1858) was a native of Spanish/Mexican California who became one of the most successful ranchers in Alta California, with thousands of cattle and horses grazing on land grants totaling more than 35,000 acres. Yorba built a large adobe hacienda, Hacienda de San Antonio, near the present-day city in which RIchard Nixon was born.

You can have as much fun as I did looking up cities in your state. Or not.

Until next time! Use the right words!


November 21, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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