The land now famous for the Tournament of Roses, the Rose Bowl, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, andCalifornia Institute of Technology, was once occupied by the Hahamog-na Tribe of Indians. Subsisting on local game and vegetation, the Hahamognas lived in villages scattered along the Arroyo Seco and the canyons from the mountains down to the South Pasadena area. With the arrival of the Spaniards and the establishment of the San Gabriel Mission on September 8, 1771, the Indians were subjugated, converted, and forced to labor for the mission.
The San Gabriel Mission, the fourth in California, grew to be prosperous, with abundant orchards, vineyards and herds. The vast lands which it administered for the Spanish Crown were divided into ranchos. After the rule of California passed from Spain to Mexico, the Mexican government in 1833 secularized the mission lands and awarded them to individuals. The northeast corner of San Gabriel Mission, consisting of the 14,000 acres known as Rancho el Rincon de San Pascual, had previously been gifted in 1826 by the padres to Doña Eulalia Pérez de Guillen, noted for her advanced age as well as her devoted service to the mission. On February 18, 1835, it was formally granted by the Mexican government to her husband, Don Juan
Mariné. He and his sons subsequently lost the land which changed ownership a few more times before being granted on November 28, 1843, by Governor Manuel Micheltorena to his good friend, Colonel Manuel Garfias, son of a distinguished Mexican family.
In 1852, two years after California was admitted as a state to the Union, Garfias built an adobe hacienda on the east bank of the Arroyo, where he and his family proceeded to live in grand style, until he could not meet the interest payment due on a loan. Title to the land was then transferred in 1859 to his lenders, Dr. John S. Griffin and Benjamin "Don Benito" Wilson. Portions of the Rancho San Pasqual were thereafter sold, leaving Griffin and Wilson with 5,328 acres in 1873.