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Morgan Hill History

Peaceful Costanoan Indians lived in Morgan Hill before Spanish soldiers arrived in 1776. Under Spanish and Mexican land grants dating back to 1778, a vast stretch of land that includes present day Morgan Hill remained one of the largest Spanish land grants for nearly three quarters of a century.

The first English-speaking community coalesced around the Morgan Hill Ranch in 1845. Martin Murphy Sr. purchased 9000 acres known as the Rancho Ojo de Aqua de la Coche. Murphy had been a leader of the first party of pioneers to cross the Sierra Nevada range at Truckee Pass. The Murphy family settled in the valley below El Toro Mountain. By 1870, Martin Murphy's seven sons and daughters had bought more than 70,000 acres.

In 1851, Murphy's youngest son, Daniel, married Maria Fisher, heiress to the neighboring 19,000-acre Rancho Laguna Seca. Their daughter Diana clandestinely married Hiram Morgan Hill in 1882. When Daniel Murphy died, Diana inherited 4,500 acres of their original rancho in the shadow of El Toro.

Diana and Hiram Morgan Hill built the Villa Mira Monte between the railroad and Monterey Road in 1886. When the first Southern Pacific station was built in 1898, the railroad called the area Huntington. Visitors, however, would ask for the train stop at "Morgan Hill's Ranch," which is where the name Morgan Hill came from.

By 1896, the growing community had a population of 250 with a post office, depot, two hotels, a restaurant and several churches and shops. The 1906 incorporation of the city was controversial. The newspaper printed many editorials supporting the issue, but opponents feared higher taxes. Incorporation won by a vote of 65-36, and Morgan Hill became incorporated November 10, 1906. By 1909, Morgan Hill's population had grown from 250 to 1000.

In the 1980s, the city enacted a growth management plan to preserve Morgan Hill's small town charm.





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