William Smythe’s Home

William SmytheWilliam Smythe260 Mesa Avenue

A little out of the way from the rest of the heart of San Ysidro, this is where the renown local historian, Joyce Hettich, maintained that William Smythe lived.

William E. Smythe came to the area that he called San Ysidro — named for the patron saint of farming — because he wanted to build his utopian agricultural community, known as Little Landers #1. He believed that industrialization had taken away man’s pride. He would build it back by facilitating man’s ability to sustain himself and his family on 1 acre of land.

To that end, he purchased 15,000 acres of land and named the area “San Ysidro” after the Seville patron saint of farmers. His Little Landers was fraught with problems and lasted from 1909 to 1916. Most of the men who moved into Little Landers had no farming experience. They quibbled amongst themselves about how much money they earned from the agricultural coop. They created bylaws stating that no “Negroes, Orientals or Mexicans” could own land. They faced irrigation problems as well as the worst drought in history. In 1916 a devastating flood washed Little Landers away. When the waters receded, the colonists quickly sold off their properties to anyone willing to buy and they left the area.

Read more about the Little Landers Colony.


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