Building the Community
Diagram of Fort San Bernardino erected 1851 (LAPL PhotoBase)
With land secured, the settlers set to work building their new community. Within two months over 100 buildings were erected.

Then news arrived of an imminent Indian attack. Renegades in the San Bernardino, San Gabriel and Coastal mountain ranges were to be amassing in the hills around San Gorgonio.

The Mormon reaction was quick. Teams of oxen were used to drag all the buildings into a line 700 feet long. This served as the west wall of a stockade. 12 foot poles, cut from the trees lining the several creeks in the area, completed the stockade.

As the walls were nearly finished, Cheif Juan Antonio arrived. He was leader of the Cauhilla tribe living in the San Gorgonio Pass area. His band had an agreement with the Lugo family to protect Rancho San Bernardino. He informed the Mormon leaders that he and 25 of his men had captured the leader of the renegades and turned him over to US federal authorities.

Cahuilla Hut -1926 by Edward S. Curtis
(Photo courtesy Northewestern University Library)
The stockade was never needed. The Lugos had used the Rancho for cattle exclusively. The wheat fields, olives, grape vines and other agriculture of the Mormons proved less attractive to the raiders from the North.

Most of the 400 settlers lived in the 8 acres of the stockade for the next two years. Most inhabitants put the needs of the community over personal interests. It was generally agreed that everyone shared the responsibility to help pay off the debt for the land. They worked community fields and pooled resources to accomplish the goal.