top of page

Major Ward Bradford

by Diann Marsh, from Santa Ana, An Illustrated History, (1994 Heritage Publishing. Excerpt used with permission).

Major Ward Bradford, along with his partner, William Spurgeon, was the co-founder of Santa Ana. Little has been written about Bradford's life and adventures, however. He tells his story in an autobiography entitled Life of Major Ward Bradford. a small book he self-published in 1894 when he was 85 years old. Herein he describes his version of the founding of Santa Ana:


"I went down the coast visiting all of the towns from Oakland to San Diego. I settled in Los Angeles County and bought 300 acres of land for $7 an acre, and in company with William Spurgeon, bought 60 acres at the same price, which I wished to lay out a town. I hired a surveyor, staked off a town plot and called it Santa Ana. I then built a small store house for Mr. Spurgeon and a house for myself. I offered lots free if persons would build them at once. I then agreed to sell them another lot adjoining the first for $15. In this way our town improved rapidly.


"But soon a man by the name of Tustin laid off a town on a larger scale one mile and a half east of us, and a Mr. Chapman laid off the third town about the same distance northeast of us. This brought the three towns in a triangle about equal distances apart. They were named Santa Ana, Tustinville and Orange. This created a deadlock, as it was well known that the county could not support three towns in such close proximity to each other, while the thriving town of Anaheim was within seven miles of us. This deadlock remained for some time. Finding that there was not much change, I became impatient, sold out my interest in the town, and left for San Diego County, which county I traveled quite extensively."


As you can see, Major Bradford takes a lot of singular credit for the founding of Santa Ana. However, one particular portion of his statement is probably accurate. He claims that he built a small store house for Mr. Spurgeon as well as a house for himself. He mentions in several parts of his autobiography that he built houses in several new settlements and, more often than not, he would sell out and move on when the settlement was established. William Spurgeon was involved in commerce and, as far as is known, he did nor claim to be in charge of the construction of the first buildings. Thus, it does appear reasonable that Major Bradford did build the Spurgeon Store and the first house.

bottom of page