Intended to be a hotel when it was built in
1872, this building was used as a general
store after the builder went bankrupt.
Lysander Utt bought the business from H.H.
Dickerman and opened Utt’s Pioneer Store in
As Jan. 1, 1870,
approached, Columbus Tustin was making plans for
his share of the undivided Rancho Santiago de
Santa Ana property he and Nelson Stafford had
purchased for $5,000 in the summer of 1868.
After the court
approved partitioning the rancho, he and
Stafford took title to a specific parcel of land
which they promptly divided in half. Tustin
acquired just over 839 acres from the original
purchase and purchased an additional 159 acres
from Stafford for $400. His total cost for just
under a thousand acres was $2,900, a bargain by
destined to become the nucleus of today’s Tustin
extended from the present day Lyon Street to
Newport Avenue. Sycamore, elderberry and alder
trees, yellow mustard, wild flowers and prickly
pear cactus and cholla covered it. The only
inhabitants were deer, squirrel, badgers,
rabbits, owls, doves and small game.
Most people think
Columbus Tustin gave his name to the town, but
Mrs. Montgomery G. Rice, granddaughter of
Charles Wilcox, an early Tustin resident,
disputed this. She claimed that Stella Preble
Nau, daughter of another Tustin pioneer, always
said the name Tustin was given to the community
because in the beginning people referred to it
as Tustin’s land or would say “See Tustin to buy
property” and gradually the place became known
by that name.
Tustin is thought
to have filed the original plat map for Tustin
City in 1870 or 1871, but there is no firm
record of it. There is a record however of his
sister Barbara being the first person to
purchase land from him. She bought 117 acres on
Aug. 1, 1870, for $2,400. She later sold it back
to him and bought and subdivided 50 acres near B
Street. In a 1871 purchase, she acquired 50
acres near McFadden.
purchased property. Most were speculators who
bought large blocks of land, but did not
establish homes or businesses to strengthen the
However, by 1874
people were beginning to take root in Tustin.
Writing in “The History of Orange County”
published by Mrs. J.E. Pleasants in 1931, C.E.
Utt recalled that when his family arrived in
June, 1874, there was a school and the Sycamore
School District had been established with about
a dozen families living within its boundaries.
giving a lot to anyone who would build on it,
and soon there were three stores, a meat market,
a tin shop, a saloon and a grist mill. This
prosperity ended in 1877 when the Southern
Pacific Railway extended its line from Anaheim.
Santa Ana, not Tustin, won the competition for
the terminus. Businesses left and Tustin became,
in Utt’s words, a “dead city.”
The post office
and Utt’s Pioneer Store continued to serve the
residents. Gradually, Tustin began to rebuild,
bolstered by the boom of the 1880s. New
businesses opened, including The Bank of Tustin
in 1887. The First Advent Christian Church
organized in 1880. Tustin Presbyterian Church
opened its first sanctuary in 1884.
The tide had
turned and Tustin was on its way to becoming the
successful city it is today.