Agua Mansa Road

Twenty or thirty families of early settlers arrived from New Mexico about 1842 - "a sufficient number to keep the hostile Indians in check,"1 according to Elliott's History. They settled on the north bank of the Santa Ana River, near Mt. Slover, and named the place Agua Mansa for "gentle water" that flowed in the river.

The name became ironic, for it was flood water from this same river - far from "gentle", that destroyed most of the homes and farms of the colonists in 1862, and wiped out records of their land claims. After the flood, the colony deteriorated. Though, the adobe building known as the Parish Church or Chapel built in 1854 was still in use in 1883. Today, negotiations are under way for acquisition of the site by the San Bernardino County Museum; hopefully, it will include the graveyard and chapel site.

Image of the Church at Agua Mansa, built in 1854
Church at Agua Mansa, built in 1854

According to Elliott, the bell at the Agua Mansa Chapel was cast from old spoons, trinkets and metal gathered up by the parishioners, and made at the Asistencia. Father Caballeria said the bell was moved to the church of The Holy Rosary in Colton. It is now on display at the Mission Inn in Riverside. The Chapel graveyard contains the graves of the Trujillo, Rubidoux and many other pioneer families. Most of the wooden markers have been destroyed by fire, and vandals have decimated the stones.

Image of Don Louis Rubidoux
Don Louis Rubidoux

Ignacio Moya was appointed first Alcalde or mayor of Agua Mansa, but he resigned and the people appointed Don Louis Rubidoux to succeed him. His jurisdiction included La Placita de Los Trujillos, a tiny settlement one-mile southwest of Agua Mansa.2

  1. Elliott, Wallace W. History of San Bernardino and San Diego Counties, San Francisco, 1883; reproduced by Riverside Museum Press, Riverside, Calif., 1965.
  2. Beattie, George William and Helen Pruitt, Heritage of the Valley, San Pasquale Press, Pasadena, Calif. 1939.

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