Erlinda serrano

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Long before Corona had a Serrano Drive, my grand-uncle, Leandro Serrano, was living in the area. In fact, he came to the Temescal Valley long before there was even a South Riverside or Corona, and he is credited with having established the first non-Indian settlement in what is now Riverside County.

But my family story really started in Spain in 1743, where my great grandfather, Francisco was born. As a young man, he came to Mexico with a Spanish expedition, and there he married my great grandmother, Marie Silva.

Francisco was a soldier in Padre Junipero Serra’s first expedition from Mexico to establish missions in California. He and Marie settled in California where they raised their family of which Leandro was their eldest son, and Jose, my grandfather was their youngest son.

In 1818 the padres of San Luis Rey sent Leandro to the Temescal Valley to live and work with the Luiseno and Gabrielino Indians who had villages nearby. He was respected by the Indians, and the padres knew his presence would help prevent trouble. First, with the help of the Indians, Leandro began to drive out the bears and mountain cats from the area. Then he bought in cattle and sheep from the mission and built tanning vats for the hides. The hides were hauled by wagon to Dana Point for trading. The hides sold for 25 cents each and were shipped to New York. In return, they would purchase spices, linens, and furniture from the ship.

In 1824, Leandro built an adobe home near where Glen Ivy now is located and brought his wife, the former Presentacion Yorba, and their children to live. Soon he planted olive, apple, and peach trees. These were followed by vineyards and wheat and corn fields. Though there is nothing left of this adobe today, a bronze tablet has been placed on a boulder over the hearthstone to mark the site. This boulder also represents the 22,192 acre Rancho Temescal.

Before Leandro died in 1852, he attempted to get a grant for his land, but his claim was denied in 1853. The United States court determined that the padre in San Luis Rey had only given him a grazing permit not a land grant.

My grandfather, Jose was born in 1804 and married my grandmother, Petra Avila, in 1829. They had 10 children; one of their sons was my father, Francisco.

Jose and his family made their home in Orange County having obtained a large Mexican land grant and title to the 10,5668 acre Rancho Canada de los Alisos in 1842. Today the El Toro Marine Base is located on this site. While living at the Rancho in El Toro, my father, Francisco, married my mother, Concepcion, and in August 1879, I, Erlinda Serrano was born. Not long after that, the Rancho was sold, and we moved to Rincon, later known as Prado.

I had 10 brothers and sisters, all living to adulthood but for one who died at the age of 12 years. Only two of my brothers married. We were raised in a large adobe home behind a white picket fence, and we all enjoyed life on the ranch.

With enough sons to look after the ranch lands, my father opened a general store in Rincon which he and my mother ran. He also owned and operated, with my brothers, a combined general and hardware store in Corona on Sixth Street between Main and Washburn.

In those days a trip to Corona was by horse and buggy, and the streets were dusty with no sidewalks and few stores. There was not anything in Norco except for howling coyotes and rattlers.

My mother and father died at the Rincon/Prado ranch. All of my brothers and sisters except for my two married brothers, stayed on the ranch until the dam went in taking most of the Serrano ranch land. We then moved to Norco where we raised chickens and cows, and sold eggs, and homemade cheese.

Our family was very musical, particularly talented in singing as well as playing the piano, organ, violin and guitar. On many occasions, my brothers would provide an orchestra for dancing at the local residences.

I passed away in 1964, leaving two brothers, Joaquin and Juan, and a niece, Agueda. They have since joined me here at Sunnyslope. We left behind a house filled with family heirlooms and mementos, among them some very old religious statues used on the altar at the ranch, many family pictures, and the old organ. And, oh, yes, a street in Corona named Serrano Drive.

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