Great Value for Cerritos Landlords
Cerritos was originally inhabited by Native Americans belonging to the Tongva (or "People of the Earth"). Later, the Tongva would be renamed the "Gabrieleños" by the Spanish settlers after the nearby Mission San Gabriel Arcangel. The Gabrieleños were the largest group of Southern California Indians as well as the most developed in the region. The Gabrieleños lived off the land, deriving food from the animals or plants that could be gathered, snared or hunted, and grinding acorns as a staple.
Beginning in the late 15th century, Spanish explorers arrived in the New World and worked their way to the California coast in 1542. The colonization process included "civilizing" the native populations in California by means of establishing various missions. Soon afterwards, a town called El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula (Los Angeles today) would be founded and prosper with the aid of subjects from New Spain and Native American labor.
One soldier, José Manuel Nieto, was granted a large plot of land by the Spanish King Carlos III, which he named Rancho Los Nietos. It covered 300,000 acres (1,200 km2) of what are today the cities of Cerritos, Long Beach, Lakewood, Downey, Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs, part of Whittier, Huntington Beach, Buena Park and Garden Grove.
The rancho was divided five ways among Nieto's heirs during the nationalization of church property by the Mexican government, with Juan José Nieto retaining the largest plot, called Rancho Los Coyotes. Nieto called the area of Rancho Los Coyotes, where Cerritos is located today, "cerritos" or "little hills", although no natural hills exist in modern-day Cerritos.
After the Mexican-American war, the rancho would eventually wind up in the hands of the Los Angeles and San Bernardino Land Company, which encouraged development and rail lines to be built by Henry E. Huntington and his Pacific Electric Railway company. It was through rapid development, combined with improved transportation systems, that the modern-day city of Artesia was formed in Rancho Los Coyotes in 1875, and from it, the city of Dairy Valley.