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Reopening a Chapter of Local History

 

The George Rogers family, circa 1880, considered the father of downtown. The old ranch house George Rogers built in 1880, now site of City Hall.

The George Rogers family, circa 1880, considered the father of downtown.
The old ranch house George Rogers built in 1880, now site of City Hall.

Homesteader descendent Carol Lloyd will share stories of her family’s rich and long history in Laguna Beach on Tuesday, April 29, during a 7 p.m. Laguna Beach Historical Society presentation at City Hall.

The retired teacher’s great, great, great grandfather Henry Rogers was the area’s fifth homestead family, granted 160 acres by President Rutherford B. Hayes in the Bluebird Canyon part of town in 1879.

Roger’s son, George, in 1880 went on to acquire a 155-acre homestead in the downtown area, paying $1,000 in gold, and building a ranch house where City Hall now stands. He and his daughter planted the aging pepper tree that shades the entry. In 1888, after improving his land for five years, required of settlers in exchange for the land grants, George Rogers began subdividing his land into lots and named the downtown streets including Forest, Beach and Ocean Avenues.

Beryl Viebeck’s homesteader map.

Beryl Viebeck’s homesteader map.

More than a century later, Beryl Wilson Viebeck, Lloyd’s mother, unearthed the town’s early origins with original research. She traveled to Sacramento to peruse U.S. Department of Interior records and found documentation about the 39 original Laguna homesteaders, including her own relative. She compiled her information in a handwritten 1996 map.

The untrained historian’s quest for Laguna history sprang from a handwritten speech delivered by her grandmother in the 1930s to the Laguna Beach Woman’s Club. In it, she  described the acquisition of the family land under the homestead act of 1862, signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln.

Viebec’s map, indicating the names and plots of the homesteading families, will be for sale. Proceeds will benefit the Laguna Beach Historical Society and the Alzheimer’s Association.

 

 

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