Rancho San Jose was a 22,340-acre (90.4 km2) Mexican land grant in northeastern Los Angeles County given in 1837 by Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado to Ygnacio Palomares and Ricardo Vejar. Today, the communities of Pomona, LaVerne, San Dimas, Diamond Bar, Azusa, Covina, Walnut, Glendora, and Claremont are located in whole or part on land that was once part of the Rancho San Jose.
Ygnacio Palomares and Ricardo Vejar, owned a considerable number of horses and cattle, which they kept at Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas owned by Maria Rita Valdez de Villa. The place was too crowded for the livestock of three families, so Palomares and Vejar sought their own land. In 1837, Mexican Governor Alvarado granted Rancho San Jose to Palomares and Vejar. The Rancho was created from land from the secularized Mission San Gabriel Arcángel. The boundaries were laid out by Palomares and Vejar on March 19, 1837, the feast day of St. Joseph, thus leading the men to name the ranch after the saint.Father José Maria de Zalvidea accompanied the party from the San Gabriel Mission, performing the first Christian religious ceremony in the Pomona Valley when he performed a benediction for settlers of the rancho under an oak tree located at what is now 458 Kenoak Place in Pomona.
Luis Arenas, Ygnacio Palomares' brother-in-law, joined up with Palomares and Vejar, and they petitioned Governor Alvarado for additional grazing lands. They were granted the one square league addition, which became known as the Rancho San Jose Addition, in 1840. In 1846, Arenas sold his one third share of Rancho San Jose to Henry Dalton of Rancho Azusa de Dalton.
With the cession of California to the United States following the Mexican-American War, the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided that the land grants would be honored. As required by the Land Act of 1851, a claim for Rancho San Jose was filed with the Public Land Commission in 1852, and the grant was patented at 22,340 acres (90.4 km2) to Dalton, Palomares and Vejar in 1875. A claim for the Rancho San Jose Addition was filed with the Land Commission in 1852, and the grant was patented at 4,431 acres (17.9 km2) to Dalton, Palomares and Vejar in 1875.
Palomares and Vejar conducted sheep and cattle operations on Rancho San Jose, also growing crops for consumption by the residents of the rancho. In the early 1860s the west coast experienced an epic flood, followed by several years of severe drought which decimated the ranch's population of sheep and cattle. On top of which a smallpox epidemic claimed the lives of 3 of the Palomare's children. Ygancio Palomares died in 1864, and his widow began selling the ranch land in 1865 finally selling the Adobe in 1874 and moving in with her children. Vejar lost his share by foreclosure to two Los Angeles merchants, Isaac Schlesinger and Hyman Tischler, in 1864. In 1866, Schlesinger and Tischler sold the ranch to Louis Phillips.
Due in part to the slower growth of eastern Los Angeles County, and the early activities of the Historical Society of Pomona Valley, many of the historic buildings of the Rancho San Jose remain in existence today, several of them operated by the Historical Society. Historic sites of Rancho San Jose include the following:
Ygnacio Palomares (February 2, 1811-November 25, 1864) was a Californio, born near Mission San Fernando in Alta California, one of thirteen children. He was the son of José Cristobal Palomares and Maria Benedicta Saez, one of Los Angeles' most prominent families and considered Spanish aristocracy. Ygnacio Palomares married Maria Concepcion Lopez in 1832 and they had eight children: Luis José, José Tomas, Teresa, Francisco, Maria Josefa, Maria de Jesus, Manuel, and Carolina Concepcion. Ygnacio Palomares was active in Los Angeles politics in the 1830s and 1840s. He served as Juez de Campo (Country Judge) in 1834, and in 1840. He served as Juez de Paz (Justice of the Peace) in 1841 and during this time made some unpopular decisions, including a controversial verdict in the murder of Nicolas Fink. His investigation led to the arrest of a woman, who in turn provided three male accomplices that were found guilty. In the lead up to the trial, he issued a ban on public meetings, declared a nightly curfew and posted soldiers to guard the jail. He was a regidor (councilman) in 1835, and again in 1838. He was an elector in 1843, voting for Santa Ana for the President of Mexico. In 1844, he was Captain of the Defensores (militia) and the following year he served as an alternate in the assembly. He was elected the last Mexican California mayor of Los Angeles in 1848, but held the position briefly due to Colonel Jonathan Stevenson considering him intolerable and anti-American. After his tenure as mayor, he settled into his Rancho San José adobe. Among his contributions to the new American landscape was the capture of the Alvitre brothers, sought for the murder of American James Ellington.
Nepomuceno Ricardo Vejar (1805-1882) was born in San Diego, the son of Francisco Salvador Vejar, a soldier in San Diego. The family moved to Los Angeles (Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas) in 1810. Ricardo Vejar served as Juez de Campo (Country Judge) in Los Angeles in 1833. Vejar's sister, Magdalena Vejar, was married to Jorge Morrillo, grantee of Rancho Potrero de Felipe Lugo. Ricardo Vejar married Maria Bendita Soto. Vejar owned a one third share of Rancho San Jose and was also the owner of Rancho Los Nogales. Vejar was compelled to give up the deed to his section of Rancho San Jose to his creditors in 1864. He lived the rest of his years in the Spadra area with his family. He died in poverty in 1882.
Luis Arenas came to California, possibly in 1834, with a group of colonists. He was married to Josefa Palomares (1815-1901), the sister of Ygnacio Palomares. He was the alcalde of Los Angeles in 1838. On November 8, 1841, Luis Arenas received the Rancho El Susa land grant from Governor (pro-tem) Manuel Jimeno. In 1844 Henry Dalton purchased El Susa from Arenas, and also Arenas one third interest in Rancho San Jose. Arenas was a grantee of Rancho Pauba in 1844, and Rancho Los Huecos in 1846. His son, Cayetano Arenas, was secretary to Governor Pio Pico and was the grantee of Rancho San Mateo.