Our namesake, "Don" Manuel E. Dominguez inherited from his father Jose Cristobal Dominguez over 75,000 acres which was originally granted to his father's uncle Juan Jose Dominguez by the King of Spain in 1784. The land holding covered an area that ran from Redondo Beach in the west, to Compton in the east and the harbor in the south. The rancho spread out across what is now Compton, Gardena, Carson, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Palos Verdes Estates, Lomita, Rolling Hills Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City, and part of Long Beach.
Manuel took sole ownership of the property and built a new adobe structure where he lived with his wife, Maria Engracia, and their children. The family used the land to graze cattle and raise crops. The adobe structure, recently renovated, has been listed as California Historical Landmark No. 152. His brand, a lemon shaped mark, became a highly recognized symbol on the ears of his cattle. He was very involved in local politics and served as mayor of Los Angeles on three seperate occassions as well as becoming on of the first county supervisors and delegate to the first constitutional convention of California in 1849.
It was Don Manuel's intent to keep the legacy of Rancho San Pedro intact and in the hands of the Dominguez familiy as much as possible. However, land sales did take place including 4,600 acres in the northwest portion of the rancho where a wagon train of ten families led by Griffith Dickenson Compton arrived to settle. On September 7, 1867, the town of Comptonville was founded and named in honor of their leader. The name was shortened to Compton two years later.
Manuel Dominguez' legacy included contributing a land grant to the Los Angeles and San Pedro Railroad Company to establish a rail line through his property there by being very much a part of the "industrialization" of Southern California. The railroad, now the Atchison-Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, continues to move cargo from the harbor at Wilminton to industries in Los Angeles.
Don Manuel was well respected by Californios and Americans alike. On October 11, 1882 Manuel Dominguez died at his adobe home in Rancho San Pedro. He was buried at Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles. Dona Maria Engracia Cota de Dominguez followed her husband in death only months later. Rancho San Pedro was left to their six surviving daughters. At the time of his death, Rancho San Pedro was reduced to 27,500 acres.
The Dominguez Ranch adobe is currently a museum dedicated to the life and times of Don Manuel Dominguez and his heirs who carried on the rich traditions of the early Spanish colonial rancho well into the twentieth century. The marshy cienegas, flowing fields, and rolling hills of Rancho San Pedro have been transformed into neighborhood homes, schools, shopping malls, business districts, industrial areas, oil refineries, and a major internation harbor. The 170 year old adobe is probably on e of the best preserved and visually appealing historic building in California.