Yorba Linda History

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close this bookYorba Linda - Its History
View the documentDedication
View the documentAcknowledgments
View the documentPreface
View the documentChapter 1 - The Indians
View the documentChapter 2 - The Hacienda Era
View the documentChapter 3 - Carlton
View the documentChapter 4 - The Pioneers
View the documentChapter 5 - The Business District "Down Town”
View the documentChapter 6 - Recreation and Celebrations
View the documentChapter 7 - Water
View the documentChapter 8 - The School Story
View the documentChapter 9 - The Library
View the documentChapter 10 - The Churches
View the documentChapter 11 - Organizations
View the documentChapter 12 - Incorporation
View the documentChapter 13 - Richard M. Nixon
View the documentChapter 14 - Famous Citizens
View the documentChapter 15 - A Forward Look
View the documentChapter 16 - Yorba Linda - What Now?

Chapter 10 - The Churches

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During the first two years of life on the Yorba Linda tract, the citizens were so busy getting homes built, groves set out, gardens planted, livestock cared for and all the labors and demands of life in a brand new community, that no thought of a place of worship had materialized.

One day the children of the neighborhood were playing a game and a housewife paused to see what was going on. The children were playing `Sunday School'. They had chosen a leader and were sitting in rows following his directions as to songs and other church like activity. The onlooker felt a sense of shame for herself and all adults of the village and quickly communicated her message with the result that the pioneers met to decide what could be done to organize a regular Sunday School.

The W. L. Stuart family, having lost a son by death just previous to this happening, offered the use of their home for the Sunday School. And so it was that on June 4, 1911, twenty interested neighbors gathered at the Stuart home and organized a Union Sunday School. Mr. B. F. Dorsey was elected as superintendent with Mr. P. F. Stuart assistant. Mr. N. T. Brooks was made secretary and treasurer. Mrs. Edith Stuart was pianist and Mrs. Bertha Brooks chorister. There were a few quarterlies and a half dozen Bibles at the meeting, so the gathering was divided into two classes, adult and juniors, and the lesson was studied. [89]

A Rev. Millet of Olinda heard of the activity of the people in the new settlement and volunteered his help as often as convenient to come and preach. A Rev. Marsh of the Congregational Church in Whittier, visiting in the community, also offered to come and preach, which he did several times.

By now the attendance had grown and more classes were added so that more space was needed. But this was in the process of being supplied, for remember, a school house was under construction at this same time, being planned, built and financed by citizens of the community. And on Sunday, October first of that year, the fledgling church met in the little new school house which still stands on Olinda Street and houses the offices of the Yorba Linda County Water Company. Attendance increased considerably with the use of the new building. The Rev. Orr had been sent by his conference to Olinda and he preached regularly on alternate Sunday afternoons in Yorba Linda.

Change is the order of existence and the Union Sunday School and church service was soon superseded by another organization.


A number of the original settlers of Yorba Linda came here from Whittier where they had left relatives and friends. There was a well established Friends' Church (sometimes called Quakers) in Whittier and when they learned of the group in Yorba Linda holding services under no organized denomination they sent their Superintendent of Evangelistic Work, Laura Townsend, to the group here.

At a meeting of those interested, which included the Rev. Orr, who had been coming from Olinda on alternate Sundays to preach to the group in the school house, it was decided that it would be best to organize under an established church. The Friends' Church was the one chosen.

Immediately plans were made to build a church. The response was a remarkable one. There were some Methodists, some Presbyterians and others of various denominations, but this made no difference. All worked together to erect a church. There were [90] several carpenters in the interested group and so there was expert help. The Janss Investment Company donated the land on which to build the church and $100. The Whittier Church gave $800 for lumber. The Pasadena Friends' Church gave $100. Practically all of the labor was donated by citizens of the tract. This took place in the early fall of 1911.

In the year that followed the church was erected, the men giving of their time and doing the hard work while the women furnished meals and helped whenever possible.

On August 10, 1912, those willing to become members met and organized with a membership of sixty-seven. A list of twenty charter members of the Monthly Meeting of Friends is in our Scrap Book History. The Nixons, Walkers, Stewarts, Truebloods, Stanleys, Phineys, McClures, and Fred Johnson are on the list.

On August 11, 1912, the first meeting was to be held in the new church and the congregation and membership was to be organized and the church dedicated. Much preparation had gone into the planning of this auspicious Sunday. Cora Marshburn Sydnor has written an account of the day in which she has managed to capture the flavor of the era, the character of the participants, the humor, the heartache and the austerity of the times.

She tells that a vicious Santana wind had been blowing for several days. The little new fruit trees stood like dry sticks in the ground. Dr. Marshburn, rising earlier than usual, aroused his family and announced that every able bodied person must carry water to the suffering trees until time for the meeting. Everyone did. Someone at the meeting commented on how quietly those little Marshburn boys sat throughout the lengthy meeting. And they did. They couldn't do otherwise!

The Theodore Stanley family were from Ohio and belonged to the more conservative Friends there. Mr. Stanley was displeased when he saw a steeple on the new church and when he went inside and discovered an organ, a much too worldly thing to be in a Quaker church, he became vocal but was soon calmed and hushed by his good wife, Anna. It was an election year and many of the [91] men were gathered in groups on the street discussing the three presidential candidates, William Howard Taft, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. Much as they hated to leave the debating they all arrived at the meeting on time.

W. E. Graves was the first pastor at a salary of $40 per month, $25 of which was paid by the Whittier Church. And so the Friends' Church was duly inaugurated and set on its way. That early membership of sixty-seven was increased greatly so that in September of 1924 the cornerstone for a new church at the north end of Main Street was laid. In the cornerstone were placed a Bible, an American flag, a membership list, the names of the building committee and names of officers of the various activities of the local church, the names of contributors to the building fund and a copy of The Yorba Linda Star.

By 1962 the membership had grown until it was too large for the size of the church facilities, although a new educational unit was added on the north of the church during the pastorate of Paul Miller in 1955 and another two-story structure was built to the south of the church in 1958 while Keith Sarver was pastor. This phenomenal growth resulted in the establishment of a second Friends Church, built on Rose Drive on the west side of town.

Dedication services of the Rose Drive Friends Church were held on Sunday, April 28, 1963. The pastor was C. W. Perry. His wife was Mary Marshburn, a local and talented young woman. They are serving the church here at the time of this writing and their membership has grown to where it has almost reached full capacity. The original church has acquired land on the heights above Lakeview Avenue on the west and there they will build a beautiful new church in the future.

We could not leave the story of this remarkable organization without telling of the outstanding work it has accomplished in the mission field and in launching young people into the ministry. Among those going into such work from the local church are Furnas Trueblood, Lee Vernon, Ralph Rollins, Roy Knight, Glen Shaffer, Charles Cox, William F. and Maria Walker Henley [92] (Alaska), Raymond Janeway (Honduras), Paul and Patsy Miller (Alaska), and Waynell Rich Wing (Guatemala).

Sheldon Newkirk has the distinction of having served the local church for the longest term of service. The church has been blessed with a large number of people having special musical talent. Paul Ross and Ruth Hainlin are among the most outstanding.

Glen Shaffer is the present pastor of the First Church, a Yorba Linda boy who went into the ministry several years ago. Robert Fulton is Youth Director and Daniel Roach is Choir Director. Mr. Roach has served in this capacity for twelve years and singing under his direction is a most pleasing experience. The Woman's organization of the church, formerly called the Friends Woman's Missionary Society is now called the United Society of Friends Women. The Friends' Church has always maintained excellent leadership.


In the building of the Friends Church there were a number of people in Yorba Linda village who belonged to other denominations, but who had given wholeheartedly to the building and establishment of the Friends Church in 1912.

In 1916 there were a few who were either former members of or who favored the Presbyterian denomination. Among these were the families of T. B. Welch, P. J. Stewart, Theodore Stanley, W. Vetter, Ed Kaub and Jim Cole, among others. This group of people began holding meetings in the school house. A Miss Allen who was sent here by the extension board of the United Presbyterian Church was in charge of the meetings. Several different ministers were sent to fill the pulpit until the arrival of the Rev. Mr. Truin of Pittsburg who remained for six months.

New members were taken into the church during the year 1917 and plans were drawn for building a church. The membership was small for such an undertaking but they were a dedicated group. Dr. English of Riverside, President of the Extension Board of the church, was in charge of the architectural plan and the [93] furnishings. Mr. Ed Kaub was the contractor. There was financial help from the mother church and the local membership gave financially and donated labor, so that later in 1917 a beautiful little church was completed and dedicated. This is the building that stands at the corner of Lemon Drive and School Street. The Methodists, who later bought the church enlarged and remodeled it, but kept mainly to the original architectural style.

The Rev. Mr. McDonald was the first permanent minister. The Presbyterians continued to function for four years but in 1921 they sold the church building to the Methodist Church then organizing. There has been no Presbyterian Church in Yorba Linda since that time to the present.


In the year 1920 there was a small group of people who had previous affiliation with the Methodist Church and who felt that it was time they should organize and establish a church of that denomination in Yorba Linda.

So in October of that year they met together in the downstairs hall of the Masonic building and formed the First Methodist Church of Yorba Linda with an active membership of thirty-one members. In April of 1921 the church building of the United Presbyterian people was purchased for $3,000 and the small congregation established itself in this location at the corner of Lemon Drive and School Street, where they remained for forty-two years. The first trustees were E. Kaub, Elmer Haays, W. A. Vetter, A. R. Lupton and Geo. W. Corbit. Mr. John Jacob Kaub who had done the carpentry on the church for the Presbyterian people, loaned money to the Methodists for both church and parsonage.

The Ladies' Aid Society (forerunner of the Woman's Society of Christian Service) was organized in 1921 with twenty-six active members. Mrs. Bennick, a grocer's wife, was the first president. The Woman's Foreign Missionary Society was organized on March 11, 1923, with twenty-one members and Mrs. Minnie Shepperd as president. [94]

Ground for a parsonage was bought from C. W. Morris for $3,000. This seemed an exorbitant price at the time, but it was on Yorba Linda Boulevard (where the dress shop and milk station now stand) and no suitable ground closer to the church was for sale. This was in a day when a parsonage must be within easy walking distance of the church. The parsonage was built in 1923 during the pastorate of the Rev. Burton Y. Neal. Mrs. Arthur Pickering (Cecil) was president of the Aid Society during the building and furnishing of the parsonage and the amount of work done by Mrs. Pickering and the society's members was prodigious. They bought furniture for the five rooms for $300. Forty-five years ago three hundred dollars bought far, far more than it does in this year of 1968.

These women were determined and resourceful. Their husbands erected a screened room with dirt floor in which the women served lunches and homemade ice cream and cake for two weeks in April, 1924. The husbands froze the ice cream and helped in any way they could. They used a coal oil, three-burner stove to keep the food warm which they had cooked at home. They earned money in other ways throughout the years by selling extracts, metal sponges and other novelties. They quilted and knotted quilts and comforters, sold dime lunches, kept penny banks, held food sales and bazaars and served dinners. They bathed the feet of their Lord with the sweat of the brows and gave of their time and labor to establish His church and pay its expenses. In 1949 they turned the parsonage over to the trustees of the church completely free of debt.

In 1940 the woman's organization of the Methodist Church underwent a total conference change and the name became Woman's Society of Christian Service, which name it holds today and reaches into all parts of the world in its missionary, evangelical and Christian social concerns interests. When the local Methodist women reorganized under the new name there were thirty-six charter members and Mrs. W. L. Lytle (Loretta) was president. [95]

The church was enlarged and remodeled during the pastorate of the Rev. Grover C. Ralston (uncle of the present pastor, Norris Barnes.) The newly enlarged church was dedicated on September 28, 1930. The first marriage in the refurbished sanctuary was that of James Hudson and Miss Helen May, daughter of Mrs. Olive May. Three infants, Robert Day, Jack Adams and Billy Adams (now deceased) were baptized on the day of dedication. Robert Day has been head usher of the present church for a number of years at this time. In December of 1941 the church mortgage was paid and the church was free of debt. The Rev. C. A. Norcross was pastor at the time.

Three cottages were either moved in or built on land directly west of the church and were used for Sunday School rooms and a nursery. Two class rooms were made in the tower leading to the steeple.

The Rev. Forest Woodside served the church as pastor during the five years from 1943 through 1948. Both Mr. and Mrs. Woodside were efficient workers in the church and will be affectionately remembered by the ones who worked under their leadership.

In 1947 a Hammond organ was installed in the sanctuary by the members as a memorial to George Martin, a former member and soldier of World War II who was killed accidentally on the day of his return home from the service. His family bought a set of electronic chimes which were connected with the organ and added to its effectiveness. Carpeting was laid in the sanctuary by the Pickering family as a memorial to Mr. A. C. Pickering

In 1950 the church property was valued at $20,000 and parsonage at $5,000. Active church members numbered two hundred twenty-three and Sunday School enrollment two hundred twenty. These figures were listed in the conference minutes of 1950, and were compiled by Cecil Pickering, Fannie Corbit and Charles Selover, during the pastorate of the Rev. J.J. Woodson. [96]

The Rev. Marvin Davis was pastor for five years following J. J. Woodson, from 1951 to 1956. During his pastorate the church celebrated its thirty-fifth anniversary with a homecoming dinner and special ceremonies on September 25, 1955. This event was one greatly enjoyed and drew old friends from a radius of many miles to participate.

The Rev. Morris Singer served as pastor in 1956-1957. He was followed by the Rev. Jarvis Brown who served for eight years, the longest service of any pastor to date.

Much change took place during Jarvis Brown's pastorate. The church had grown to such proportions that more room was mandatory, especially in the educational department. Two acres were purchased on Lakeview Avenue but were considered too small to accommodate the expected growth. This property was sold and three and one half acres were bought on north Plumosa. Some land on Ohio Street and Yorba Linda Boulevard was offered for sale at a price thought to be advantageous. Nine and one-fourth acres were in this piece and three acres were sold from it, also the three and one half acres on Plumosa.

Three buildings were erected on this land, two educational buildings and one multipurpose building, housing a sanctuary and "overflow" room, a kitchen, choir room, church office, pastor's study, three restrooms and three class rooms. The sanctuary room and overflow room are used as dining room when needed. The center building also houses a church library which, under Mrs. Howard Lindow, Librarian, has become as useful and useable as those of much larger churches. Bishop Kennedy of the Los Angeles area of the Methodist Church was present to preside at the dedication ceremonies of the new building, which took place November 24, 1963.

At this writing, plans are drawn and moving forward for a badly needed permanent sanctuary to be built north of the present all purpose building and placed at the corner of the property at the conjunction of Ohio Street and Yorba Linda Blvd. There is much enthusiasm for this undertaking and the plan for financing was to sell church notes bearing 6½% and 7% interest [97] The cost was estimated at $225,000 which included a $25,000 pipe organ. The full amount of the notes was sold during one week.

The present membership of the church is slightly over six hundred. They are proud of their record of achievement in the church, especially among the youth. Each summer for several years youth have gone out on work missions, helping to build churches and doing other types of work for underprivileged people. The first mission was in 1957, when Eleanor Bircher was chosen to go on a tour of five states visiting Methodist Missions and observing their work.

Since then the youth have made pilgrimages to San Quintin, Mexico, where they built a church for a small Methodist congregation, painted it and took a piano for the services. They helped dig a well for the people of the little village and took a quantity of food and clothing for the villagers on several of the trips they made. In the summer of 1967 three of the youth, Linda Singer, Linda Nicholson and Rob Cromwell went to Greece and worked on the island of Crete building a retaining wall for the child center there. One year Marilyn Mole and Gerald Bircher, two other dedicated youth, went to Mexico and worked on painting and repairing a Methodist Church school in Mexico City. Dennis Van Vliet spent a summer in Israel not long ago, where he worked with the youth there, helping with work to be done. Beverly Van Vliet spent some time in England at one time working with youth there. On all of these missions the young people must finance their ventures. The entire Methodist Youth Fellowship (M. Y. F.) work at many types of jobs to provide money to finance the trips for their chosen delegates.

When the James Guardia family came to Yorba Linda, the members of M. Y. F. were working on financing their project in San Quintin, Mexico. Mr. Guardia, a native of Bolivia, was impressed with the fact that a group of youth would be so concerned about people of another country. Being fluent in Spanish he offered services for their trip. So successful were the Guardias in helping and guiding the youth on this expedition that they [98] have continued in their leadership and the story of success is an inspiring one.

The present pastor of the United Methodist Church is the Rev. Norris Barnes. He and his wife, Dorothy, live with their six children, Jeanine, Grace, Clifford, Maureen, Lorena and Kathryn at 17761 Meadowview Drive, in the parsonage bought during the pastorate of Jarvis Brown. Norris Barnes is an inspiring leader and the church is moving ahead. Fred Hampton, a fine musician, is organist and Mr. Will Gross is choir director. His musicianship is evident in the choir's performance. In 1969 the Minister of Youth is John Hyma who follows Jeffrey Jones in that position. The Rev. Bernard Mott, a retired minister, does fine work as Minister of Visitation. The church maintains a nonprofit day nursery which has proved its value during the years it has been in session. Mrs. Sterling Higgins is the nursery school director. Mrs. Dagmar Larson is the church secretary, and, as every church member knows, the church secretary is at the switchboard of all church activity. The members appreciate Mrs. Larson and her interest.

The work of this church moves at such a momentum that it is difficult to mention all its activities but space demands that we bring its story to a close.


The people of the First Baptist Church purchased the church buildings at the corner of Lemon Drive and School Street from the Methodist congregation in 1963, the Methodists having started a new church home on Yorba Linda Boulevard at Ohio Street.

The pastor of this fledgling congregation was and is the Rev. Joseph Guthrie, a man of outstanding friendliness and goodwill which has been most valuable to his people in this Christian work of establishing a new church in a growing community.

They began holding services in April of 1963. The Methodists could not occupy their new quarters until in September, and so the two congregations shared the church quarters for the intervening months in complete harmony, setting up their schedules [99] of meetings so as to avoid conflict of the time element. As soon as they had the complete use of the church these energetic Baptist people began the cleaning and refurbishing of the church buildings and grounds. Soon the buildings were a gleaming white and the grounds were green and well kept. Inside, painting and cleaning was kept up with women and men working wherever their services were needed and the final result is most eye pleasing.

But the spiritual work has not been neglected and their main purpose of creating a spirit of worship and an outreaching manifestation of cooperation and goodwill to other churches and to individuals seeking help is recognized by anyone coming in contact with them. They became a chartered church on January 5, 1964 with a membership of 78. They now, in 1968, have more than doubled this with a total of 165.


The Messiah Lutheran Church which was organized and met in the Masonic Hall for several months was established on October 18, 1964, at their new church's location facing on Liverpool Street and north of Yorba Linda Boulevard.

The pastor, the Rev. Otto Nielson was the minister at the opening of the church and has remained in continuous service since that time. The church opened with a membership of ninety-nine and has increased to four hundred seventy-five in less than four years. This speaks for itself as to the leadership of Pastor Nielson and the zeal of the membership.

The sanctuary of the church, besides having a beautiful interior has one outstanding characteristic and that is its acoustical quality. The voice carries clearly in this room without effort on the part of the speaker and musicians have found it of such fine quality that requests have come from a singing group to use the church for making recordings. The people of the congregation hope to start soon on the second phase of their building program as they need more room for educational facilities. [100]


The congregation of the Faith Baptist Church has been meeting in the auditorium of the Richard Nixon School since May, 1965.


A third Baptist Church is located on Rose Drive near the intersection with Citrus Avenue. This church is on the east side of Rose Drive. Its pastor is the Rev. Carroll Gibson. The group first met in the Kraemer Junior High School building in Placentia and had fourteen interested people at its first meeting in March of 1964. They continued as a mission church under the sponsorship of the First Southern Baptist Church until after they moved into their new building on Rose Drive.

They were formally organized as an independent church of that denomination on October 1, 1967 when their membership had grown to one hundred sixty-two. They own two and one half acres at the church site and have completed but one of a planned group of four buildings in their projected design to completely utilize the possibilities of their land.


In the summer of 1964, two students of Christian Science, feeling the need for a local church, contacted other Christian Scientists living in the area of Yorba Linda. An organizational meeting was held in October 1964, and plans were made to establish a Christian Science group. The Masonic Hall on Main Street in Yorba Linda was chosen as a location for services. The official name designated by The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, was Group of Christian Scientists, Yorba Linda. In preparation for the first service, First and Second Readers and a Board of Directors were elected by the membership, and a Sunday School Superintendent appointed.

The first services were held on Sunday, December 13, 1964, which included Sunday School and church service. The Sunday services are comprised of readings from the King James Version [101] of the Bible, read by the Second Reader, and correlative passages from the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, are read by the First Reader. On December 16, the first Wednesday testimony meeting was held which included readings from the Bible and Science and Health, testimonies of healing, and experiences and remarks on Christian Science. These services are held the same as in all Christian Science churches throughout the world.

In March 1966, formal notification was received from headquarters in Boston, that this informal group holding services had been recognized as Christian Science Society, Yorba Linda.

The Society now holds services at 4862 Olinda Street, and maintains a Reading Room which is open to the public.


The Moravian Church has a history that goes back for over two hundred years. It is a Protestant Christian sect established in Bohemia in 1722, by Moravians, who were at that time a part of Czechoslovakia. Methodist John Wesley underwent an unusual spiritual experience while attending a meeting at a Moravian Church.

The Yorba Linda Moravians are located on Old Ranch Road, where they first bought a parsonage and have held meetings there until their church sanctuary is ready for their use. Their pastor's name is the Rev. Gordon A. Stoltz. Their church is now under construction at the southern end of Fairmont Street and near Old Ranch Road.


The congregation under the name of the Yorba Linda Church of Christ has been meeting in the Woman's Club House on Yorba Linda Boulevard for about two years. Its pastor is Glenn McCoy. The congregation has doubled in number during the two years at their present location. Land has been purchased [102] by these people on North Eureka Avenue and they plan to build sometime in the future.


The Catholic Church had plans at one time for a school and Church on Buena Vista Avenue, but was not able to get a variance because of the access and road conditions.

However, at the time of this writing, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese, headquartered in Los Angeles, has purchased three and one-half acres at the eastern extension of Yorba Linda Boulevard and north of the Edison substation. There it is planned to erect a church and class rooms for released time education until such time as they are able to expand. They expect to have the buildings completed in the summer or fall of 1969. [103]

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