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Bishop Ranch History
updated: Aug 16, 2014, 1:00 PM

By Tom Modugno

When passing through the heart of Goleta on the 101, you can't help but notice a large open space on the mountain side of the freeway, between Los Carneros and Storke. This is referred to by locals as Bishop Ranch.

Over the past few years, this beautiful piece of land has been the object of major controversy, with developers pushing hard to pave it over and the locals fighting to keep it agriculture.

But this is not the first time these majestic oaks have seen humans fighting over this land.

Some say this man went to his grave early because of it. Colonel William Welles Hollister fell in love with the Goleta Valley the first time he saw it in 1854. He was on the last leg of a 2,000 mile sheep drive from Ohio to Monterrey, Ca. and as they passed through, he made a vow to one day live here. He went on to make a fortune with his Ohio wool in San Benito County, and in the 1860's returned to Santa Barbara, buying up several Mexican land grants, including the Lompoco, San Julian, and Nuestra SeƱora del Refugio, today known as Hollister Ranch. But he still had his sights set on the Tecolotito Canyon in Goleta.

The land he lusted after was owned by this guy, Nicholas A. Den. In 1862, Den died suddenly at only 50 years old, and the Tecolotito Canyon was passed off to one of this ten children. That same year marked the beginning of one of Goleta's worst droughts, and it all but destroyed the cattle hide and tallow business, the main source of income for the Den family.

The Den family lawyer, C.E. Huse, suggested they sell some of their land to help raise some much needed money. Hollister had already expressed interest in buying Tecolotito Canyon, but Nicholas Den's will prohibited the sale of any of the children's land until they were of age. Hollister offered to pay $10 per acre for the 5,100 acres surrounding Tecolotito Creek. An incredible offer, since at the time the going rate was only 10 cents per acre! Hollister was so in love with the land, he ignored warnings from his advisors, that told him to get the deal approved by a probate court first. He wanted it ASAP, and the Den family eagerly accepted his generous offer.

Hollister promptly named his long desired ranch "Glenn Annie," and went to work to make it a national showplace. He built barns, shops, a carriage house and a mansion for his wife Annie on a knoll overlooking the Goleta Slough. He built the first fence in the Goleta Valley and imported many rare trees to plant around the mansion, some of which are still visible from the freeway. Three of Goleta's streams ran through Glenn Annie, and the incredibly fertile virgin soil was soon covered with orchards of walnuts, lemons, limes and oranges.

Read the full article on GoletaHistory.com


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