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Historical Notes

Cultural Historic Periods in Bonsall are:

  • Prehistoric (12,000 - 200 years ago)]
  • Early Contact (200 - 100 years ago)
  • Historical (200 - 50 years ago)

The earliest culture group to have lived and hunted food in Bonsall was the San Dieguito Complex, but evidence for their camps is exceedingly rare. Around 7,000 years to 4,000 years ago, desert cultures migrated west over the Peninsular Mountains to gather seed foods and establish seasonal camps. This Pauma Complex may have met the San Dieguito along the San Luis Rey River, because artifacts of both cultures are found in Bonsall.

Around 4,000 years ago, migrating waves of desert Shoshonean speaking cultures crossed the mountains and contacted the Pauma Complex. The San Luis Rey Complex may have resulted from inter-marriage and sharing of cultural traits

San Luis Rey Complex people introduced permanent villages along the wetland drainages of the Santa Margarita and San Luis Rey River. These villages comprised complicated segregation of land uses, such as religious places, horticultural plant harvest sites, crystal and rock quarries, cemeteries, and tracts “owned” by different families. Religious places included painted and ground rock art in caves and shelters, prominent landforms described in their cosmology, and natural landforms where their gods and deities are believed to visit mankind.

The Spanish soldiers and missionaries met the Luiseño Indians of the San Luis Rey Complex in the 1770s. The name Luiseño refers to those indigenous peoples who came under the influence of the Mission San Luis Rey de Francis and since has been applied to their ancestors and descendants. Luiseño villages, camps, and religious sites coincided with mission agricultural ranchos, Mexican land grant ranchos in the 1822-1846 era, and U.S. American ranches up through modern history.

Native Luiseño were driven or evicted from private ranches in the 1880s when reservations were created by congressional and executive laws. Luiseño ranch hands, tenants, and guests continued to re-use ancestral sites up through the Great Depression in the 1930s.

The Mexican land grant, Rancho Monserate, is a prominent historical region of Bonsall and Fallbrook. Vaqueros working on that ranch built adobe, stone, and wood ranch houses in the area. These Californio intermarried with European immigrants in Bonsall in the late 19th century.

The expansion of public roads, rail systems, and development of water districts enabled Bonsall to develop as a distinct community. Pioneer families in modern Bonsall are descended from Native American, Californio, and the later 19th century immigrants of this cultural history.

Today, land development or agricultural activities often obliterate records of past human activities and habitation and in doing so deprive the public of important knowledge regarding the behavior and character of past inhabitants of this land.

Bonsall in 1963

There was a Rocket gas station and garage up on the south turn leaving Bonsall proper. Before the restaurant and liquor store were built on the N.E. corner, there was the old Crossroads Market and gas. The best thing about (Wilson) Perry's was the deep well water he served in the cafe. I remember going in for an orange Nehi after school. Once, while I was hanging out at Perry's, a military convoy stopped in the parking lot. While the drivers were in the store I went out to look at the trucks. They were transporting the experimental X-15 supersonic jet! It was so cool for a little kid to actually touch the truck it was on!

Bonsall in 1977

Dominic Savoca, the "grandfather" of Bonsall, moved to Bonsall in 1977. "You could walk down the middle of Old River Road and not see a car for hours." The town consisted of Perry's Market, where Arco now stands, a real estate office across the road, which is now a vacant lot, and a real estate office on a spot now occupied by the El Establo restaurant.