Welcome to the Orange County Historical Society
The Orange County Historical Society (OCHS) is a non-profit group which collects, preserves and shares the history of Orange County, California for the benefit of its members and the general public. To navigate the OCHS Website, use the menus and links in the top and left panels, or click Site Map. Check back often to find the latest Society news.

It's Membership Renewal Time!

It’s membership renewal time. If you haven’t renewed your membership, you’ll miss out on receiving your free copy of the newest Orange Countiana – published this fall, as well was our newsletter and other membership benefits. Not to mention, we’ll miss your support of all the work we do to preserve and celebrate Orange County history. Please click “Become a Member” to pay online or print out a mail-in form.


November 2016 Meeting Program: 

Garden Grove: A History of the Big Strawberry

Speaker: Jim Tortolano

7:30 pm on Thursday, November 10th - Trinity Episcopal Church


 Author Jim Tortolano will discuss the colorful history of Garden Grove at the next meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, Nov. 10, 2015, 7:30 p.m at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. Tortolano’s book, Garden Grove: A History of the Big Strawberry, was published in 2015. This event is open to the general public at no cost.

The first pioneers began settling the Garden Grove area in the late 1860s – the era when the ranchos were breaking up and parcels of land were being sold to farmers and developers alike. In 1876, Alonzo Gerry Cook laid out the small crossroads townsite of Garden Grove – a name first applied a year earlier to the local school district. This section of the Santa Ana Valley was largely barren land, with barely a tree to its name, much less a garden. But Cook was determined that through hard work the town would soon live up to its name. And indeed, it would.

Over the decades, the community would reinvent itself numerous times, adapting to changes in agriculture and population, decline and development, disaster and triumph. When the railroad arrived in 1905, the population doubled. The town flourished as an agricultural hub thanks to the bounties of oranges, walnuts, chili peppers and the crop that earned the city’s nickname—the strawberry.

The resilient little town bounced back after extensive damage in both the Long Beach earthquake of 1933 and the flood of 1938. During the post-WWII years Garden Grove was among the fastest growing communities in America, and it finally incorporated as a city in 1956. Today, the city has a diverse population of over 170,883.

Our speaker, Jim Tortolano, is a Garden Grove resident and veteran journalist, who has worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram, Orange County Evening News and Los Angeles Times in editing and reporting jobs, and served as editor and co-owner of Garden Grove Journal for 30 years. He is currently a professor of journalism at Golden West College, and was previously a military reservist and television sports broadcaster.



We’re proud to announce that the society has a new office/archive/research center on the grounds of the historic Heritage Museum of OC in Santa Ana.  The photo above shows the full two-story building.  (We’re currently only in the first floor space.)

The office will serve as our new headquarters and safely store all our various Orange County books, historical papers, images, and artifacts. Once we establish a trained volunteer staff for the office, the facility will enable members and historians to view and research our collection.

General and board meetings will continue to be held at the Trinity Episcopal Church on Canal Street in Orange.

If you need more information or are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact us at info@orangecountyhistory.org.


Past Meetings & Events

List of Past Meetings and Events
from 1919 to 2015


Followup on
Recent OCHS Activities

Calico Trip photos and videos

Blue Light Mine History Hike photos


Orange Countiana I - XI


Jim Sleeper's
Orange County Almanac of Historical Oddities

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