George Hansen (1824–1897)
"His was the driving force behind
the creation of Solano Canyon"
George Hansen: Austrian immigrant, Gold Rush prospector, early Los Angeles resident, professional surveyor, Los Angeles City and County Surveyor, large land owner, and mentor to Alfred Solano. And, in the process, his was the primary driving force behind the creation of the Solano Canyon.
Hansen was a native of Flume on the Dalmation coast of the Austrian Empire. He came to California around Cape Horn in 1850, his goal to prospect for gold in the Mother Lode country; but that having failed, he went to Los Angeles in 1853. He borrowed money, purchased surveying equipment, and began the work of surveying and mapping land around Los Angeles. One of his first projects was to lay out the Anaheim townsite for the Los Angeles Vineyard Society of San Francisco, a group of investors.
He took Alfred Solano under his wing, became his mentor and taught him surveying. Eventually, Solano became his ward, and the two men worked together and were in business together (as Hansen & Solano) until Hansen's death in 1897. Unmarried and childless, Hansen left his entire estate to Alfred Solano.
Hansen and Solano surveyed the property purchased from the City by Francisco Solano, Alfred's father, in 1888, 17 years after the death of his father and four years after the death of his mother, Rosa Casanova. Alfred Solano subdivided the estate, 87 acres in all, located in the Stone Quarry Hills, for distribution to the heirs of Francisco and Rosa.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
This is a portion of a map made by George Hansen in 1866. It represents the initial survey of Francisco Solano's purchase from the City of 16.97 acres. Alfred Solano was nine years old at the time; whether he was on the ground with Hansen when this survey was made is not known. The text reads, in part: "Francisco Solano had the tract of 35.65 acres surveyed Aug. 21, 1866 and petitioned the City Government to sell the same, but the City Council resolved to sell only 16 acres ... The City of Los Angeles to Francisco Solano. Sept. 13, 1866. Recorded 18 Oct. 1866"
About the Author
Lawrence Bouett is a retired research scientist and registered professional engineer who now conducts historical and genealogical research full-time. A ninth-generation Californian, his primary historical research interests are Los Angeles in general and the Stone Quarry Hills in particular. His ancestors arrived in California with Portolá in 1769 and came to Los Angeles from Mission San Gabriel with the pobladores on September 4, 1781.
Lawrence Bouett may be contacted directly here.