Lomita Real Estate
The following history of Lomita was written by Lomita resident, Brian C. Keith.
Early History of Lomita
The earliest known inhabitants of Southern California probably arrived before 9000BC, based on radiocarbon dates of artifacts found on the Channel Islands.
Evidence of the earliest known indigenous inhabitants of Lomita and environs, the Gabrielino Indians, has been found in a village they called Suangna, or “Place of the Rushes”, near what is now the intersection of 230th Street and Utility Way in Carson. Remnants of this village remained even as late as the 1850s.
Lomita’s part in the Spanish period of California’s history begins in 1542, when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed into Bahia de los Humos, or Bay of Smoke as he called it, followed by Sebastian Viscaino in 1603, who renamed it San Pedro Harbor, after Saint Peter.
Things remained relatively quiet until 1784, when a Spanish soldier named Juan Jose Dominguez, a member of the Portola Expedition, requested and received permission to use 75,000 acres of land in Southern California from Don Pedro Fages, the Spanish Governor of California. Rancho San Pedro, the first land grant to be bestowed in California by King Charles III of Spain, stretched from the Los Angeles river to the Pacific Ocean and included what would become the cities of Carson, Torrance, Redondo Beach, Lomita, Wilmington, and parts of San Pedro.
At about the same time, the Sepulvedas established and started raising cattle on Rancho Los Palos Verdes, which caused quite a stir with the Dominguez family, as the Sepulvedas hadn’t actually received a land grant. They quarreled often, part of present day Lomita laying at the boundary of their dispute, which they didn’t resolve until 1841, when the Sepulvedas finally acquired and signed a deed.
The rancheros flourished until the 1860s, when a series of natural disasters hit Southern California:
- Too much rain in 1861
- Too little in 1862
- A paralyzing small pox epidemic in 1862
- The ravaging of grazing lands by swarms of grasshoppers in 1863
- No rain in 1864
- The utter destruction of the region’s cattle herds by 1865
The rancheros foundered. Due to delinquent taxes and mortgage foreclosures, Rancho Los Palos Verdes was divided up and sold to 17 different buyers in 1882. Most of the land that consitutes present day Lomita was sold to a farmer named Ben Weston and the Ranch Water Company, which sheep farmer Nathaniel Andrew Narbonne, who was born in Salem, Massachusetts, owned. Narbonne received 3,500 acres.
Narbonne had moved to Lomita from Sacramento’s gold rush country in 1852. He had initially worked with General Phineas Banning in Wilmington and later, with partner Ben Weston, grew wheat and raised sheep on Santa Catalina Island.
Municipal History of Lomita
Although there’s no question that Lomita derives its name from the Spanish for “little hills,” there is apparently some disagreement over just who originally bestowed the name.
One source claims Lomita was named by the early promoters of the district as they surveyed it from a hillside in Rancho Palos Verdes. Another source claims that “Lomita del Toro”, or “little hills of the bull,” appears on an early surveyor’s map of Rancho San Pedro, just a few miles east of the present day city, implying that Lomita inherited its name from the local fauna.