Rancho Azusa de Duarte
After Spain gave up its military struggle to keep Mexico as part of its empire, the government of Mexico secularized the missions within its territory (Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California), leaving the missions with a small amount of land in order to grow food and cattle to support the friars and their Native American converts.
The Mexican government sold much of the newly available land and sometimes awarded parcels to soldiers who had fought in the Mexican army against the Spanish. In 1841, such a grant was given Andres Avelino Duarte.
Andres Avelino Duarte was born at the Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1805. He went into the army as his father had. Eventually, he was assigned to Mission San Gabriel. He married Maria Gertrudes Florentina Valenzuela around 1827.
In 1841, Andres Duarte retired from the military and submitted a petition to Governor Juan Alvarado for land in the upper San Gabriel Valley. What he received was 6,596-acres of land that included parts of Arcadia, Monrovia, Irwindale, Azusa, Baldwin Park, and all of Bradbury and Duarte.
Duarte built an adobe on the property and lived in it with his family.
From 1846-1848, Mexico and its territories were at war with the United States, a war which Mexico lost. The territories Mexico had owned, including California, became part of the United States. This was one of the nails in the coffin of the ranchos of California.
Their Spanish and Mexican owners had to prove they owned the land they had lived on for decades. The Mexican records were, of course in Spanish. Many of the rancho owners spoke no English. Some of the records were missing. Lawyers had to be hired. Duarte, along with many others, filed a claim for his property. And like many of the other rancho owners, Duarte experienced a constant drain on his finances which necessitated selling off parcels of his land. After the first large sale of 220 acres, Duarte divided most of the rest into 40-acres lots and sold them off to the much of the remainder of the rancho into 40-acre lots and sold them individually. Even though Duarte finally got the patent for his rancho in 1878, it was too late; he had sold off almost the entire rancho.
John D. Bicknell was one of the purchasers of a section of Rancho Azusa de Duarte, specifically Section 25 which is in the extreme section western sections of the Rancho. This area extends the boundary of Monrovia to Shamrock Avenue. Subsequent purchases extended the eastern boundary to just east of Sombrero Road between Lemon and Orange Avenues.