Dalton Avenue

Azusa lies on land once owned by Henry Dalton (1803-1884), an Englishman who went from riches to rags as he fought to retain his vast San Gabriel Valley holdings. Born in London, Dalton sailed to Lima, Peru as a young man. There he became a merchant enriched by sea trade. He came to Los Angeles in December 1843; a year later, he bought portions of Rancho Azusa and Rancho San José from Luis Arenas. The former he dubbed Rancho Azusa de Dalton, to differentiate it from Rancho Azusa de Duarte. Eventually Dalton would grow crops and raise cattle on four big ranchos spread out over 45,000 acres. In 1847, he married 15-year-old María Guadalupe Zamorano (1832-1914), with whom he would have eleven children. Unfortunately, like so many people who snapped up California land during Mexican rule, Dalton had a disastrous time proving ownership after CA’s 1850 statehood and spent decades battling both squatters and bureaucrats. (His frustration is immortalized in the 1880 U.S. Census, in which his profession is listed as “Fighting for his rights”.) Dalton ultimately lost his legal disputes, his fortune, and nearly all of his land. Rancho Azusa de Dalton wound up in the hands of Jonathan Sayre Slauson, who established the town of Azusa in 1887. Pop music trivia: One of Dalton’s great-great-granddaughters is singer Linda Ronstadt.