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California Colony of Indiana

Recognized worldwide for the Tournament of Roses parade, the city of Pasadena, California has a Hoosier connection that’s not as well known. This Southern California city situated just north of downtown Los Angeles was started in the 1870s by a group of winter-weary Hoosiers seeking a more temperate clime. In 1873, a group of more than a hundred Hoosier families, led by Dr. Thomas Balcher Elliott, dispatched Elliott’s brother-in-law Daniel M. Berry to scout out suitable property to purchase and settle in Southern California. Just before Christmas, the group–calling themselves the California Colony of Indiana –acquired almost 4,000 acres of what had been the San Pasqual Ranch, for $25,000.

Doing business as the San Gabriel Orange Grove Association, the group intended to establish an agricultural community in their new home, learning from the resident Chinese and Mexican laborers how to grow oranges, apricots, figs, and nuts.

Though “Indiana Colony” and “Indianola” were names proposed for the settlement, they decided in 1875 upon “Pasadena,” based on a Chippewa word meaning “crown of the valley.” Ironically, even the event for which Pasadena has become most celebrated bespeaks the city’s Midwestern roots. The Tournament of Roses was begun in 1890 as a way to celebrate the New Year in a sunny new land.

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