The name Glen Annie Road on Highway 101 north of Santa Barbara attracts the attention of many first-time travelers. Surely someone named the road after his true love.
To me, the name brings up suggestions of arson.
The California saga of the Hollister and Jack families spilled over into at least four coastal counties. Hubbard “Hub” Hollister’s family was linked by marriage to the storied R.E. Jack of the Jack Ranch. Hub Hollister’s wife, Ellen, purchased Rancho El Chorro, the rich lands surrounding Cuesta College, Camp San Luis Obispo and the nearby California Men’s Colony. The extended Hollister family continues to thrive in San Luis Obispo County.
William W. Hollister grew fabulously wealthy by selling mutton to the gold seekers who flocked to California during the Gold Rush. His vast herds of sheep required grasslands for grazing. His ranchos stretched along the Coast Ranges from Santa Clara County south as far as Long Beach where Hollister’s partner, Llewellyn Bixby, purchased the Ranchos Los Cerritos and Los Alamitos.
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Most of W.W.’s land purchases yielded profits far beyond those he derived from the sale of sheep. His Goleta acquisition ended in an enormous lawsuit.
Hollister married Annie James, who was less than half his age, in 1862. The couple moved to his Rancho San Justo near San Juan Bautista.
After subdividing his Rancho San Justo near San Juan Bautista, Hollister moved to a ranch in Tecolote Canyon near Goleta in 1869. He purchased a 5,000-acre portion of the Rancho Dos Pueblos from the estate of Nicolas Den in 1862. He named the ranch Glen Annie, in honor of his wife.
He turned the Glen Annie into what many regarded as Southern California’s most attractive ranch. Surrounded by white picket fencing, the entrance was a redwood arch made in Santa Cruz and shipped to Goleta in 1873. He laid out Hollister Avenue from Santa Barbara, ending at the arch.
W.W. and Annie weren’t a happy couple. Tragedy befell each of their children. W.W. was named in a paternity suit.
Lucy Brown, W.W.’s sister and business partner, “ruled the roost.” To appease the two women, W.W. built a larger home for Annie.
W.W. became a leading citizen of Santa Barbara, promoting the construction of the Goleta Wharf, Hollister Avenue leading to his ranch, Stearns Wharf, Lobero Theater and Arlington Hotel.
Questions surrounding W.W.’s purchase of the ranch arose almost immediately. Nicholas Den had purchased the property from California’s last Mexican governor, Pío Pico, in 1846. There was no documentation of the sale. Den hadn’t resolved the matter by the time of his death in 1862.
Then, some of the Den heirs sued W.W. to recover lands that were illegally sold. The case was debated in the courts for 14 years. It wasn’t settled at the time of W.W.’s death in 1886. In 1890, a decision in favor of the Den heirs was rendered by the California Supreme Court.
Annie was ordered to leave her beautiful home. She fought the decision. Finally, she recognized that she had exhausted every option and decided to leave Glen Annie Ranch.
She moved to a small home on Carrillo Street in Santa Barbara.
One of the legends of Santa Barbara history concerns her departure. A fire broke out in the upper floors of the house shortly after Annie left. Only rubble remained of what had been one of California’s most stunning ranch homes.
Was Annie determined that no one else would occupy the house? I reflect on this question on my frequent trips south of San Luis Obispo, as I drive past the Glen Annie and Dos Pueblos road exits from Highway 101.