Students of Goleta Valley Junior High can be proud of their diverse heritage. The known history of Goleta begins almost 500 years ago. Fifty years, almost to the day, after Columbus touched the shores of the new world, October 15, 1542, Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo landed in the Goleta area. Cabrillo, like Columbus, sailed for Spain and claimed this land for Spain. Two heavily populated Native American villages were sighted by the Spanish and named Dos Pueblos.
After sailing to the northern reaches of California, Cabrillo returned and died of complications of a broken arm. Some authorities believe he was buried on San Miguel Island; however, local Canalinos claimed to have witnessed the burial of Cabrillo on Mescalitan Island, now a hill just east of the Santa Barbara Airport.
Fortunately for the Canalino, the Spanish did not return for over two hundred years. When Spanish troops under Gaspar de Portola arrived in 1769, disastrous times hit the Canalino. Accompanying Spanish soldiers, missionaries, and settlers not only forced their way of life on them, but unintentionally brought diseases that would destroy the Native Americans who had no immunity to the afflictions of white men. A chain of missions and presidios were founded on the California coast by Padre Junipero Serra and others within a few years.
From 1786 the Goleta area, called “The Royal Rancho”,was governed by the Padres of the Santa Barbara Mission and soldiers from the Presidio.
In 1810 Padre Miguel Hidalgo, the father of the Mexican Revolution, rang the church bells of Delores starting the long struggle that culminated in Mexican Independence from Spain in 1821. For the next twenty-five years, Goleta and all the present southwest United States were part of Mexico.
It appears that the name “Goleta” was acquired early in the Mexican period. It is generally believed a Spanish schooner (a Goleta) sank in the Goleta slough that once encircled Mescalitan Island. The location of that ship was named Goleta. We do know Daniel Hill acquired a Mexican grant for “Rancho Goleta”, the Ranch of the Schooner in 1845.
California became part of the United States in 1848 and a State in 1850. Increased immigration from the eastern U.S. and foreign countries decreased the size of ranches and increased the number of farms in the Goleta area. Rich alluvial soil had been carried down from the Santa Ynez Range producing superb crops and produce. Many ranchers and farmers left their legacy. Winchester, Hollister, Hill, Ellwood, Cooper, More, Patterson, Stow, Storke, Sexton, Kellogg, Tucker are a few family names you may locate with place names.
The original town of Goleta was located on the corner of the present Hollister and Patterson Avenues, near the present Goleta Valley Hospital. The area around Fairview and Hollister was named La Patera. The arrival of the first railroad in 1884 helped to relocate Goleta. The Goleta area remained rural until after World War II. War industries and military bases introduced eastern workers and servicemen to mild climate and opportunities of the California coast.
Like much of Southern California, Goleta blossomed with housing tracts and industry after the war, causing the need for new schools. San Marcos High School opened in 1958, La Colina Junior High in 1958 and Goleta Valley Junior High School in 1964. GVJHS provided an education for over 1400 students in seventh, eighth and ninth grades on a crowded campus. When Dos Pueblos High School opened in 1967, it relieved part of the crowded conditions at GVJHS by taking the ninth grade.
GVJHS students chose the Spanish galleon and the anchor as their symbols. In 1967, the school was presented an anchor on a 99 year lease by the U.S. Navy. You will find this anchor, which was made in Boston about 1900, appropriately mounted near the front entrance to our school.
On the northeast corner of Nicolas Den’s Rancho Goleta, home of the Kuyamu and Mikiwi tribes, land of Cabrillo, de Portola, Serra and Fremont, ranchers and farmers, stands Goleta Valley Junior High School. The staff of GVJHS is pleased with the opportunities students have been provided and the excellent record of its graduates.