Orella Ranch History
Orella Ranch has a long and interesting history. In pre-European times there was a Chumash village near the present Orella Ranch named Qasil. It is said to have been located near the ocean bluff east of Refugio Beach. The first European to step foot on this land would have been José Francisco Ortega in 1769 (Portolá expedition).
José Francisco Ortega would later be granted a land concession, which was called Rancho Nuestra Señora del Refugio (Our Lady of Refuge). Over 26,000 acres, the land grant stretched from Refugio all the way to Cojo east of Pt. Conception. Many years later (1841) during the Mexican period, José Francisco Ortega’s grandson, also named José (Dolores) Ortega, would be granted an adjacent land grant named Rancho Cañada del Corral. This land grant included the current Orella Ranch and the remainder of Venadito Canyon (Little Deer) as well as Corral Canyon (there is an old stone corral in the far reaches of that canyon) and El Capitán Canyon (for Captain José Francisco Ortega).
The man for whom the current ranch was named (Bruno Francisco Orella) first leased the land from Juan Camarillo in the 1860s. Purchased in 1866 the land has remained in the family ever since. Upon Bruno’s death in 1901 his holdings were split among his 11 children. As the family story has been told the children drew straws to see who would receive which piece of land. It was Fermín Orella who inherited what today is known as Orella Ranch.
Fermín Orella however was not a farmer. He became a physician and lived in San Francisco. It was his nephew Martin Erro who came to farm Orella Ranch. Fermín had no children and gave Orella Ranch to Martin Erro. He continued to farm it until his death in 1960. Many vintage photos of this era remain in the family collection.
From dry farming (lima beans and tomatoes for market, and hay and Sudan grass for his horses and cattle) to cattle grazing, Martin Erro left to his wife, Mrs. Louise MacIntyre Erro, a farming and ranching legacy. Louise Erro in turn left the ranch to her daughter Luzena Violet Erro Tautrim and family who continued to run a cow-calf operation on the property. Upon their death their son Mark Tautrim took over the responsibilities and he depends greatly upon his two children, Kimberly and Guner to continue the legacy. Orella Ranch is considered by all of the family to be a wonderful heritage to be passed on from generation to generation.