Fame for Immigrant Boy Started Bastanchury Ranch

Roch Bradshaw
Santa Ana Journal, April 23, 1936

An immigrant boy without education who grew up at Aldudes, Basses-Pyrenees, France, came to Orange County in 1860 and built up a property near Fullerton which became the largest citrus grove in the world.

The immigrant boy was born in 1839, long before Civil War in this country, and he passed away in 1909; but Domingo Bastanchury has left his name indelibly impressed on Orange County history. His achievement was brought into the limelight again yesterday with news that the largest tax payment ever recorded in Orange County was made on the huge citrus property. The payment was $201,520.68.

Nowadays the grove is operated under the name of the Sunny Hills Ranch company, but it is still familiarly known as the Bastanchury Ranch.

Domingo Bastanchury came around Cape Horn to California in 1860. For several years he worked as a sheep herder; then he acquired a band of sheep for himself. At one time he had between 15,000 and 20,000 sheep grazing all over Southern California.

bastanchury ranch fullerton
Bastanchury Ranch, Fullerton
Courtesy the Orange County Archives

Later, as the range was cut up by private ownership, he began to acquire his own land. He got 1,200 acres south of what is now Fullerton and later bought 6,000 acres northwest of Fullerton. His holdings in the La Habra valley are said at one time to have been between 8,000 and 10,000 acres. On this land he grazed his sheep.

Mr. Bastanchury was married at Los Angeles on July 16, 1874, to Maria Oxarat, who was born in 1848 at the place of her husband’s birth, and came to California in 1873. The Armor history of 1921 recalls that:

“Mrs. Bastanchury shared with her husband all the trials and hardships incident to pioneer life on the plains of Southern California and while he was in the mountains with his sheep, she was alone with her little family, her nearest neighbors being several miles away.

“She well remembered the county when there was no sign of the present town of Fullerton; all trading was done in Los Angeles or Anaheim. There were only two houses between her home place and Los Angeles, and where now hundreds of autos travel the main road between Los Angeles and Fullerton, in the early days there would not be more than one team a week.”

The pioneer couple became the parents of four sons, Gaston A., Joseph F., John B. and Dominic J. Bastanchury. Mr. Bastanchury died July 21, 1909, at the ranch home built by himself and Mrs. Bastanchury in 1906. Mrs. Bastanchury still lives in her home near Fullerton.

After 1910 the greatest development of the orange grove occurred, being carried out by the family. The Armor history recalls that all told about 3,000 acres were planted to citrus.

Under the Sunny Hills Ranch Company a refinancing plan is being carried out. The property was sold six months ago on the courthouse steps to bondholders who held about $1,500,000 in delinquent bonds. After this sale the bondholders incorporated as the Sunny Hills Ranch Company. The large tax payment yesterday was made possible through the refinancing plan.