The History of Hawthorne by Robert S. Hartman

Ancient History - Before the Founding of Hawthorne - Page 4 of 33

Antonio Ygnacio Avila was the first recorded user of the Sausal Redondo and is, therefore, the first known individual to obtain rights, as vague as they may have been, to the area bounded by the present City of Hawthorne. In 1822 he obtained permission from Captain Noriega, Mexican military commander with headquarters in Santa Barbara, to build a corral and keep his stock on the Sausal Redondo. In 1852 when the United States Land Commission held hearings for the purpose of defining precise boundaries, a Jose Antonio Carrillo testified that he had known the land called Sausal Redondo for thirty-two years, that he knew what was recognized as the boundaries, and that Antonio Avilla had been "loaned" the land "about twenty-five years ago". Carrillo also testified that Avila had grazed his 3,000 head of cattle throughout the ranch and had planted the first vineyards, cornfields and fruit trees. The Avila name is well known in California history. Antonio's father, Cornelio Avila, settled in the Pueblo of Los Angeles in 1783 and had five sons. One built the famous Avila adobe on Olvera Street in Los Angeles.

The Sausal Redondo comprised approximately 22,460 acres and included the present cities of Hawthorne, Inglewood, Playa del Rey, Lawndale, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance and Gardena. The first road through the area extended from Los Angeles along the western boundaries of Hawthorne to the salt pond near Redondo Beach. Each week a wagon made the two-day round trip from Los Angeles for the vital supply of salt. Avila built his home near springs in the present city of Inglewood.

In 1833 over the protests of Avila, a Mexican council in charge of land in California, gave provisional title on a small portion of the Sausal Redondo to a Don Ygnacio Machado, who had simply moved into land that Avila was not using. This portion contained no part of Hawthorne and has little importance in this history, other than the fact that the Sausal Redondo was slightly diminished in acreage. In 1837 Governor Alvarado, in the name of Mexico, granted Avila title to the Sausal Redondo. In 1844 Governor Micheltorena gave provisional title to the small portion occupied by Machado which was then called the Rancho Aquaje de la Centinela. This ranch was later purchased from Machado by Bruno Avila, the brother of Antonio.

In 1848 the treaty of Guadalupe Hildalgo was negotiated by Mexico and the United States, and California became a territory of the United States government. In 1850 California was admitted to the Union and the disputes and claims started all over again. In 1851 the government created a board of land commissioners to pass on land titles. Avila's petition was accepted by the commission and in 1855 was confirmed by the United States District Court. For the first time in our history the land was surveyed by government agents, the precise boundaries recorded, and a patent was issued during the administration of President Grant.

Thus, Avila became the first legal and recorded owner of the land of present day Hawthorne.

In 1860, just before the outbreak of the Civil War, Sir Robert Burnett of Crathe's Castle, Scotland, came to California on a visit. Intrigued by the weather and Spanish atmosphere, Sir Robert determined to be a rancher and purchased the Sausal Redondo for $30,000.00 ($1.28 an acre) from the heirs of Avila. (Avila had died in 1858.) The Scottish nobleman took immediate possession of his vast domain and expanded the sheep and cattle raising operations to a marked degree. One of his first projects was a plan to plant thousands of eucalyptus, pepper, and fruit trees.

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