History of San Gabriel

The oldest settlement in Los Angeles County and second oldest community in all of California after San Diego, San Gabriel lies in the San Gabriel Valley in the shadow of the San Gabriel Mountains. All three took their names from Mission San Gabriel Arcangel, one of twenty-one missions established by the Spanish in the late eighteenth century and the seed of present-day San Gabriel. Mission San Gabriel left a permanent imprint on Southern California. The arrival of Spanish missionaries permanently displaced the area’s Native American inhabitants, but also permanently influenced the future of California, stimulating what would prove to be a rich agricultural industry.

Eventually, Mexican political interests interfered with the mission’s work, leading to the dispersion of its extensive land holdings and the dissolution of its influence. Ranchers and farmers assumed prominence as the nineteenth century progressed. A trickle of Americans heading west late in the century evolved into a continuous expansion of San Gabriel’s population in the 1900s, marked by a significant growth spurt in the 1940s and a new suburban look in the second half of the century. By 2000, San Gabriel was a prosperous community of more than 40,000.


The Victorian house was built in 1887 for Reverend George Finley Bovard who later became the fourth president of the University of Southern California.Milton Scott Wilson purchased the house in 1893. He served as Justice of the Peace for the San Gabriel Township and many weddings took place n his parlor. In 1904. his daughter, Mary Leticia, married Edwin Hayes who helped organize the first San Gabriel City Council and the San Gabriel Union Church.Their daughter, Mary Ruth Hayes (1907-1990), was born in the house and lived there all her life. She was a teacher and administrator in the school district for more than forty years. She willed the home and its contents to the San Gabriel Historical Association. The home reflects the lives of one family in San Gabriel for nearly 100 years.The small stone milk house was used as a jail on weekends to hold revelers from local saloons until they could be taken to the Los Angeles County Jail on Monday morning.  It was later moved to the Wilson-Hayes property.
Dedicated April 29, 2006
by Ramona Parlor #109 Rosemarie Lippman, President
The Native Sons of the Golden West
Thomas J. Sears II, Grand President