Santa Ana is a city of over twenty-seven square miles with a population of 227,400. (editor's note - now approximately 325,000) It is located thirty-three miles south of Los Angeles and twelve miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. The Santa Ana River and its smaller tributary Santiago Creek are usually dry but are unpredictable in wet years.
The land that became Santa Ana was covered with tall yellow mustard when William H. Spurgeon from Kentucky rode through on horseback October 10, 1869. So high was the wild growth that he climbed a sycamore tree to view the land. He liked what he saw and paid Jacob Ross, Sr., $595 for 74.2 acres. Here he built his city.
Ross had purchased 650 acres from the Yorba family's vast Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana. The rancho was a Spanish land-use grant that had been awarded in 1810 to their ancestor, Jose Antonio Yorba, who had served with Portola's 1769 expedition. Jose Yorba had later returned to settle here. In 1821 Mexican rule followed Spanish, and ownership by the U.S. in 1846 gradually brought in such pioneers as the Ross family.
William H. Spurgeon started his town with twenty-four blocks of about ten lots each and named it Santa Ana. The boundaries were: First St. at the south; West St. (now Broadway) at the west; Seventh St., north; and Spurgeon St., east. He spent the rest of his life in active service for what became his city. He died in 1915 at the age of eighty-eight.
Spurgeon opened a small general store that was also patronized by families to the south and west of town. In 1870 he became postmaster and kept the mail in a wooden shoe box. He became the first mayor when the city incorporated on June 1, 1886. The population was 2,000. The following March the city was reincorporated under the Municipal Corporation Act; it had already increased by 500 residents.
The history of public transportation in Santa Ana also began with William Spurgeon. He built and paid for a road through the mustard fields to make easier access to Anaheim and to meet the Wells Fargo stage with its mail and passengers. In 1874 Wells Fargo opened an office in Santa Ana. By 1887-88 the Santa Fe trains reached Santa Ana. As Jim Sleeper wrote, "ten horse cars went to Tustin and two trains to Fairview, while 41 trains or trolleys touched Santa Ana each day." In 1906 the Red Car from Los Angeles ran right along Fourth St. on the new Pacific Electric line. By the 1950s the route was given up and the tracks were removed. In 1953 the Santa Ana Freeway opened between Broadway and First St.
The town's water supply also began with Spurgeon. In 1869 his artesian well and small water tower supplied the residents' water. Today, from the I-5 Freeway a high Santa Ana water tower can be seen. It holds very little water and today is mainly a landmark. Now thirty percent of the city's water supply is stored underground; since 1928 the other seventy percent is a blend of California Aqueduct water and Colorado River water supplied by the Metropolitan Water District.
Source: City of Santa Ana