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In the Santa Ana River watershed, there was a settlement called Wapijangna by the Tongva. Mission San Gabriel was founded in 1771 and baptized some residents of Wapijanga. The Spanish crown claimed the land until Mexican independence was achieved. In Mexico, possession was given to the Mexican government.
Twenty years later, Juan Bautista Alvarado, the Mexican governor of Alta California granted Rancho Santa Ana del Chino (Rancho Santa Ana del Chino) to Antonio Maria Lugo, a prominent member of the Lugo family. His successor, Governor Micheltorena granted three additional leagues to Isaac Williams, the son-in-law of Lugo, who assumed control of the rancho two years later. Williams owned large numbers of horses and cattle which attracted both unscrupulous whites as well as Native Americans to his rancho. James Beckwourth was one of these men. He posed as an otter hunter to stay at Rancho Chino in order to locate the animals. Walker was then informed.
The Battle of Chino was fought at Williams' rancho during the Mexican-American War. The battle was over before the Mormon Battalion arrived. They were sent by the United States to work in the rancho's agricultural harvest.