Badillo brothers a story of dashed coffee dreams

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! COVINA – All the dashing Badillo brothers left behind in the city is their name on a street. They wanted to create a coffee plantation but saw that dream die hard when they didn’t find the right climate here, or enough water, to grow it. Julian and Antonio Badillo were well-to-do coffee plantation owners from Costa Rica who came to the San Gabriel Valley around 1875. Donald Pflueger, in his book, “Covina” said the brothers came at the urging of John Hollenbeck, a prominent Los Angeles man who met them in Costa Rica. “Although Mr. Hollenbeck did not understand the cultivation of coffee, he conceived the idea of establishing a coffee plantation in the San Gabriel Valley and approached the Badillo brothers on the matter,” Pflueger wrote. So on to California the Badillos went with their families. The brothers bought 5,500 acres of Rancho La Puente from John Rowland’s widow, Charlotte, for $4 an acre, according to Barbara Ann Hall, member of the Covina Valley Historical Society and curator of the city’s Vintage Years display. Hall said about 2,000 acres of that property is now Covina. The Badillos built two houses: One was on the corner of Hollenbeck Avenue and San Bernardino Road while the other was west of where the John Houser residence later stood. Joseph Swift Phillips, who founded Covina, later lived in the house built by Julian Badillo. The brothers planted barley on many acres and coffee on 100 acres of their Costa Rica Ranch. When the first coffee plants died, they tried again. But that coffee crop failed as well. “Although they knew the coffee business, they didn’t know the climate of Covina. We are semi-arid,” Hall said. Agriculture in the Valley then was dry farming, which meant a complete dependence on rain, she said. After two years, Julian Badillo left for Tempe, Ariz., while Antonio Badillo stayed here, planting barley and tobacco and raising hogs. They weren’t successful ventures. “He borrowed very, very heavily and lost the land in a mortgage foreclosure,” Hall said. Hollenbeck bought the property in 1879 for $16,692 and, a year later, deeded 100 acres to Antonio Badillo. The Valley’s early settlers not only had to deal with water and weather woes but also horse thieves. The Badillos weren’t immune to this problem. Several of their horses were stolen. When a constable and neighbor of the Badillos found the missing horses – and the thief – in Arizona it made the papers in April 1885. In 1885, Badillo sold his 100 acres for $12,000 and left for San Francisco with his family. But his name doesn’t appear in that city’s directory from 1885 to 1888. The brothers were described as “dashing” in one book but so far photos of them have eluded historians. Their name lives on in the street that goes through most of the property they owned. At the corner of San Bernardino Road and Hollenbeck Avenue also lies a plaque which tells the story of the Badillos. It mentions that Julian Badillo built his house at the corner that would later house Phillips. There is another alternative ending to this tale of lost coffee dreams. In a piece about Covina history, an E.B. Rice wrote that after selling Daniel Houser the 100 acres, Antonio Badillo returned to Costa Rica with his family and bought a coffee plantation. Perhaps this time, his dream held. [email protected] (626) 962-8811,Ext. 2718last_img read more