The McFadden Letters

William McFadden was the second white settler to arrive in Placentia around 1870. He was an educated man, the first teacher in the area and a mover and shaker in affairs of early Placentia. In the History Room there is an assortment of letters from the McFaddens; Sarah Jane and her husband William McCormick McFadden, to their sons as they entered Stanford University in 1899. There are also letters between their children after the deaths of their parents. These are preserved for posterity as a record of documented family affairs in the earliest days of 1900. Jean Christiansen who handled Ysidora McFadden Brower's affairs contributed these originals to the Placentia History Room. Ysidora, granddaughter of William and Sarah, died in 1998. The letters were written from 1899, about 1911. A telegram notifying Tom in Bellingham, Washington, of the death of his brother Will is also included. Will died in 1912.


After their parents died in 1902 and in 1908, the surviving children attempted to manage the ranch. There was wrangling among the boys and their older sister Carrie as they formed a corporation. Since they did not all live in the immediate vicinity of the Ranch, the discussions were handled by mail. While there appear to be gaps in the correspondence, it is a most interesting account of what happens in big families when a large estate remains. It also includes much detail of the ranching activities and the problems caused to the crops by the weather. It is interesting to know that from another source, we found that the property remained in the family until 1949. In the 1960's apartments replaced it.


There is an oral history by Robert McFadden, the youngest son, wherein he describes his childhood on the Ranch. It is in the collection at CSUF and at the Placentia Library. The McFadden Ranch was on Placentia Avenue where it intersects Madison Avenue.