The history of Corona pre-dates the founding of the town in 1886. The original inhabitants of this region were the Luiseño (or Payomkowishum) and Gabrielino (or Tongva) Indians. Both groups were hunter-gatherers with well established villages in the Corona area, the Gabrielinos to the west near the Santa Ana River where Prado Dam is today and the Luiseños farther south in Temescal Canyon, Lake Elsinore and Temecula areas near natural water resources. The future of these California Indians was forever altered when Spain colonized California in 1769 and later established the San Luis Rey and San Gabriel Missions.The introduction of new diseases and the base treatment of the indigenous population at the hands of the padres resulted in a sharp population decline among the California Indians between 1769 and 1821.
Alta California: 1769 – 1851
In 1769, Portola’s expedition through Alta California where Padre Junipero Serra and Spanish soldier Jose Yorba both would leave their mark on California. Padre Serra established the Franciscan Missions. Jose Yorba left the Spanish Army in 1797 and returned to California in 1800. In 1801, Yorba would be rewarded for his service to Spain with a large land grant along the Santa Ana River.
Jose Yorba’s youngest son, Bernardo, would receive a land grant from the Mexican government in 1825. The 14,000 acres granted to Bernardo lay just east of his father’s Spanish land grant. Later Bernardo acquired an additional 10,000 acres from Governor Jose Figueroa. With this addition, Bernardo Yorba’s property encompassed present day Corona. The two year Mexican-American War came to an end in 1848 with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The treaty specified the cession of Alta California and Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico to the United States. In 1851, California became the 31st state.
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