History of Hemet
The area in which Hemet is located was first inhabited by members of the Cahuilla Indian tribe. Then, in the early 1800's, it became a cattle ranch for Mission San Luis Rey and was called Rancho San Jacinto. When the missions were broken up by the Mexican government, the land was awarded to Jose Antonio Estudillo in 1842.
The City of Hemet owes its inception and initial growth to two ironic events and the dedication of two wealthy men. The first event was the visit that Ramona author Helen Hunt Jackson made to the San Jacinto Valley in 1883 to gather material on the Sobobas, a group of Mission Indians living on the east side of the San Jacinto River. Jackson and her interpreter Abbott Kinney met Charles Thomas and Hancock McClung Johnston who owned ranches in the San Jacinto Mountains where they raised race horses in what was then called Hemet Valley.
On January 27, 1887, the Lake Hemet Company and the Hemet Land Company were formed by Johnston, Judson, Mayberry and Whittier. They built the dam (122 ½ feet) and reservoir in the mountains to supply water to the lands of the Hemet Land Company, the Estudillo tract and two town sites, Hemet and South San Jacinto the now Lake Hemet.
Santa Fe Company was the first official train into the valley in April 1888 to Mayberry's town site and then turned north, ending at a spot one-half mile from the town of San Jacinto. By 1893, 39 families and businesses in the town of Hemet were buying domestic water from the Lake Hemet Water Company, and farmers were using irrigation water on their alfalfa fields, fruit orchards and row crops, particularly potatoes.
On November 14, 1909, T.S. Brown, a Hemet real estate agent, urged the town resident to vote for incorporation. On January 20, 1910, residents voted to incorporate as a city, under the name CITY OF HEMET. Brown was elected Hemet's first mayor.
From 1923 onward, with only brief interruptions during the Depression and during World War II, the people of Hemet and San Jacinto had joined to stage Helen Hunt Jackson’s Ramona outdoor pageant each spring.
The famous Ryan School of Aeronautics, which trained about 6,000 fliers for the Army Air Force between 1940 and 1944 Still exists today as the Hemet Ryan Airport, the site of the original Ryan Flight School.
In the early 1960's saw the development of mobile home subdivisions, and retirement housing developments such as Del Webb’s, Hemet became well known as a retirement community. Hemet also has become home to significant numbers of younger families who provide services to the senior population or who are simply fleeing the more urbanized areas of Southern California. The economy is based primarily on service to the senior community and ancillary services such as financial institutions and the health care professions.
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