Timeline of Human Occupation and Landownership of Rancho Bernardo
Anthropologists believe that humans first settled in the San Diego area as early as 20,000 years ago along the coast and 12,000 years ago within the desert.
Santa Rosa Island, among the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California, is the site of the oldest known Indian remains discovered in North America dating back to 13,000 BC. Possibly the San Diego area was inhabited by the same ancient Indians, but artifacts have not yet been found.
The climate was much cooler as North American was coming out of an ice age. There is a general warming effect that continues until 3500 BC, after which the region enters shorter patterns of alternating cooler and warmer temperatures. Even when cooler and slightly wetter weather prevails, fauna is considerably the same as it is today - a mixture of semi-desert scrub and sparse conifer woodland. Deer, elk, bear and antelope are more plentiful.
Fluted spear points, hallmarks of Clovis, are uncovered at three sites in the greater San Diego area. Clovis artifacts are well represented in the Mojave Desert and Baja California. With a high likelihood these Paleoindians occupied and thrived in this area for centuries.
The oldest identified inhabitants of the San Diego area are known as the San Dieguito people or Kumeyaay.
La Jollan people or Luiseno, assimilate the original San Dieguito people (or evolve from them). The Luiseno occupy most lands to the north, including San Luis Rey, and inland, including San Pasqual.
Yuman-speaking peoples intrude and assimilate the La Jollan peoples.
Yuman and Shoshonean groups migrate to northern San Diego area. Cahuilla and Cupeno peoples are nearby but are not attributed to occupying this portion of northern San Diego. Luiseno and Kumeyaay remain the strong holders of the immediate area.
Portuguese explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo claims California for the Spanish Empire. Indian occupation remains unchanged.
A band of Spanish soldiers and Franciscan missionaries arrive in San Diego in 1769. The area of San Diego County is given to the authority of the missions. In early 1800’s the name appearing on maps at that time for a parcel of land about 25 miles north of the town of San Diego is “El Paraje O Cañada de San Bernardo.” In English, which means “The place or canyon of Saint Bernard.”
Mexico wins war for its independence from Spain in 1821. Mission lands are now under the control of the new Mexican government.
The Mexican Government offers massive tracts of land to anyone agreeing to settle on and work the lands. The San Bernardo Land Grant of 1842 grants 17,763 acres to English Sea Captain Joseph Snook (Later ‘Don Jose’ Francisco Snook). Snook trades goods between California, Mexico and Peru. He wishes to settle down in California. He becomes both Catholic and a Mexican citizen as requirements to obtain the land.
Snook stocks the ranch with herds of cattle, sheep, horses, mules and oxen. Contemporary writings described Rancho San Bernardo as one of the largest stock-raising operations in the region.
California becomes the Territory of the United States in 1848 after two years of military conflict. Snook dies the same year and bequeaths his ranch and buildings to his wife Maria and siblings. After the death of his brother and then his wife, Rancho San Bernardo is handed down to nieces and nephews living in England. They sell the ranch and its holdings in 1867 to Thomas Fox, representing the interests of James McCoy.
McCoy begins a process of subdividing the rancho. McCoy sold off parts of his acreage to three men, Sylvester Lyman, Omar Oaks, and Charles Wetmore. Lyman and Wetmore, in turn, subdivide their property into smaller ranches.
For the next century, Rancho Bernardo is a stopping-off point for travelers heading between the north and San Diego. It is made up of a collection of private ranches, treeless grazing land, farms, and horse trails.
The Daley Family, San Diego ranchers, buy Rancho San Bernardo. The population of Rancho Bernardo is estimated to be under 500 in 1960.
Developer Harry Summers and business partner W.R. Hawn announce a joint venture with Lawrence and Donald Daley to develop the ranch into a Master Planned Community to be called Rancho Bernardo. 7 Oaks is one of the first communities developed and sold.