About This Place
San Marcos is a suburb of San Diego in the North County section of San Diego County, California. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 83,781. Outside the San Diego region, it is best known as the home of California State University, San Marcos. The city is bordered by Escondido to the east, Encinitas to the Southwest, Carlsbad to the west, and Vista to the northwest.
According to historical legends, the San Luis Rey Mission flocks were robbed by a small band of Indians in the late 18th century. Fleeing the Spanish troops, the Indians escaped to the hills. While pursuing the Indians, the Spaniards came upon a fertile valley in 1797 which was named Los Vallecitos de San Marcos (Little Valleys of Saint Mark) to honor the day of discovery: April 25, “St. Mark’s Day”. On April 22, 1840, Governor Juan B. Alvarado granted Rancho Vallecitos de San Marcos to his relative, Jose María Alvarado. Jose Alvarado was killed at the Pauma Massacre in 1846, and the land was left to his wife; she then sold the land to Lorenzo Soto. In the late 1850s, Soto sold part of his land to Cave Couts and his family was soon raising livestock. Although Cave Couts owned the land, Major Gustavus French Merriam from Topeka, Kansas made the first permanent settlement. Merriam homesteaded 160 acres (0.65 km2) in the north Twin Oaks Valley and began wine and honey production.
After Major Merriam’s settlement, German and Dutch immigrants began moving into the area in the early 1880s. Then in 1883 a few miles south of the settlement, John H. Barham founded the first town in the area. By 1884, the town of Barham had a post office, blacksmith, feed store and a weekly newspaper. In 1887 the San Marcos Land Company bought almost all of the San Marcos land formerly owned by the Couts family and promptly divided the land into tracts. Soon the beautiful hills began attracting home-seekers.