Columbus Tustin

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Columbus Tustin

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
Death: July 23, 1883 (56-57)
Tustin, CA, United States
Place of Burial: Santa Ana, Orange County, California, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Samuel Charles Tustin, Sr. and Mary Frances Tustin
Husband of Mary Tustin
Father of Martha Curry; Samuel Tustin; Fannie L. Platt; Mary Jane Nicholas and Ella Curry
Brother of Charles Samuel Tustin; Wesley J. Tustin; Samuel Tustin, Jr.; William Isaac Tustin; John Tustin and 3 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Columbus Tustin

Most people outside of Orange County (and perhaps many inside) have never heard of the place, but Tustin is over 100 years old, and its story is a good example of what went on in Orange County. It’s a nice, quiet, politically conservative area right in the heart of the fastest growing county in the United States. Progress in Tustin has been like the ticking of a clock in a thunderstorm. It all started with Columbus Tustin who founded the city over a hundred years ago, and at that time he had to give the land away to get people to move in. Mr. Tustin was born in Pennsylvania in 1826, and he moved West a step at a time until he wound up in Oregon and eventually in California. For awhile he was a buggy builder in Petaluma. History then traces him to Orange County where he and Nelson Orange Stafford purchased 1,359 acres of undivided land in 1868. Legal battles raged as purchasers of rancho land sought formal division of the acreage so they could develop it. The court finally approved the divisions. Columbus Tustin ended up taking title to 839.9 acres bordered on the west by what is now known as Lyon Street and on the east by Newport Avenue. Columbus Tustin struggled to turn a plot of land populated by Sycamore trees, rampant yellow mustard and wild flowers into the city of his dreams. The land was purchased from a Spanish land grant for $2 an acre. Tustin set aside land for a school and soon his five children and others in the community called it Tustin City. A post office was established with Tustin as postmaster. Several stores, a saloon and a blacksmith shop opened. Houses, mostly shacks, began to appear. Tustin offered a free lot to anyone who would build a house on it. By the following June he had sold 13 spacious lots and generously given away 12 others. This dizzying spiral of development was capped in 1872 with the opening of the school house, a post office, Columbus Tustin, postmaster, and the first store, C. Tustin, proprietor. The upstairs of this first commercial building (at Main and C Streets) provided for public gatherings, exhibitions and the Union Church Prayer Meetings. Appropriately, it was called “Tustin Hall”. Tustin made its first bid to become a metropolis, and bring fame to its founder, in the land boom of the 1880’s. Property values soared when the railroads came west, and Columbus Tustin was jubilant at the prospect of luring the Southern Pacific to build a station in his city. Rivalry between Tustin and William Spurgeon, the developer of Santa Ana, was intense. They both wanted the railorad terminal extension from Anaheim. Unfortunately Spurgeon outmaneuvered Tustin and Santa Ana got the depot. Disheartened, Columbus Tustin fell into decline and died on July 27, 1883. Tustin’s founder did not live to see his dream come to full fruition. But to his townfold he left a rich legacy. To his family he left: one horse, 7 years old; one horse, 30 years old; one new spring wagon, one cultivator, one plow, one cow and two dozen lots in Tustin City. We hope he knows his city finally achieved success. Columbus Tustin, the founder of Tustin City, is buried in the Santa Ana Cemetery, off of Santa Clara and Tustin Avenue, Santa Ana.

Source: http://www.tustinhistory.com/Newsletters/23027B_TAHS.pdf

Tustin was born to Samuel Charles Tustin and his wife, the former Mary Frances Flannagan, in Philadelphia in 1826. Eleven years later he moved to Marshall County, Ill., with his parents and eight siblings. Then, 10 years later, to Oregon where the family stayed for two years before moving south to Sacramento, then to Petaluma.

Columbus dabbled in several businesses. He mined for gold in Placerville with his brother. He acquired an interest in Gold Hill, a Nevada quartz mill which crushed quartz to extract the gold. He tried farming. Finally, he turned to carriage-making with a firm owned by N.O. Stafford and John Fritsch.

Before long he embarked on another venture, traveling south with Stafford to look for real estate in Southern California where the ranchos were being divided and sold. The two men bought 1,359 acres of undivided land in 1868 from J.E. Bacon and Isaac Johnson. Legal battles were raging as purchasers of rancho land sought formal partition (division) of the acreage so they could develop it. The court eventually approved partition.

Tustin ended up taking title to 839.9 acres bordered on the west by what is Lyon Street today and on the east by Newport Avenue. It is thought that Tustin, after having surveyed a town site of about 100 acres, in blocks 300 feet square, divided into lots 150 x 50 feet, formally established Tustin City about 1870 with a plat map that is no longer in existence.

Another version of how the town got its name is credited to Stella Nau, who told the story that during the first year or so after C. Tustin bought the land people would refer to it as Tustin's land or they would say, "See Tustin if you wish to buy property," thus conveying to the hearer that the name of the place was Tustin. They came looking for a town called Tustin and gradually the settlement became known by that name.

Regardless, settlers began to congregate here, purchasing mostly small tracts of five to 20 acres. Many resold their land, but some stayed and helped to develop Tustin City.

Tustin set aside land for a school and soon his five children and others in the community were attending Sycamore School. A post office was established with Tustin as postmaster. Several stores, a saloon and a blacksmith shop opened. Houses, mostly shacks, began to appear. Tustin offered a free lot to anyone who would build a house on it.

Rivalry between Tustin and William Spurgeon, the developer of Santa Ana, was intense. They both wanted the terminal for the extension of the Southern Pacific Railway from Anaheim. Unfortunately, Spurgeon outmaneuvered Tustin and Santa Ana got the depot. Tustin would remain a small town, Santa Ana would become a city. Columbus Tustin died in 1883 a bitterly disappointed man.

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Columbus Tustin's Timeline

1826
1826
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
1862
1862
California, United States
1865
October 1865
California, United States
1868
June 1868
California, United States
1883
July 23, 1883
Age 57
Tustin, CA, United States
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Santa Ana, Orange County, California, United States