Ever notice a certain bronze plaque on your way into the El Toro Public Library? For those who’ve been too hurried or distracted to take a look, here’s what it says:
The Prothero Family, who have lived in the El Toro area since 1900, donated the land for this building.
Then as now, family was an important word in the community. And as we continue to learn more about old El Toro, we find the Protheros were very much a part of that pioneer family history. So much so that they’ll be the focus of the next Saddleback Area Historical Society (SAHS) meeting, at 2 p.m. April 10 at Heritage Hill, right here in Lake Forest.
But more about that in a minute; for now, here’s some background on the Prothero family.
To begin with, Clara Mason Fox mentions them numerous times in her 1939 A History of El Toro. “Still another grain farmer to turn to ranching was John Prothero,” she wrote. “In 1908 he traded his farm outfit to A. C. Twist for the upper part of his El Toro holding, including , on the knoll.” Land was also purchased from the Cook and Victor tract, bringing the ranch to more than 40 acres. This was then planted with walnut and apricots.
When John Prothero passed away a few years later, Fox added, “He left one son, Raymond, who has spent his life here. When grown to manhood he bought 17 acres from Norman Hoyle. He married Doris Bargsten of Orange and built a good home. He is interested also in the O. D. Scott ranch, and has recently purchased 10 acres from Walter Cornelius.”
Quite the land-acquiring entrepreneur, that Raymond Prothero. But, as noted at the beginning of this story, all to the eventual advantage of those who currently use and appreciate our El Toro Library.
Now take a look at the 1922 wedding photo of Raymond and Doris, as well as a family photo, many years later, with their four children, Eleanor, Ray Jr., Ted and Earl. We’ll be talking more about this branch of the Prothero family in future El Toro & More installments. But, for now, I’ll just mention that young Earl would grow up to marry a lady by the name of Joanne, and it is their son Steve who will be speaking about his family at the April 10 SAHS meeting.
I also should note that the society’s Annual Tea is being held that day, and all who attend are encouraged to bring their own cup, saucer, plate and—if possible—a contribution of tea sandwiches, cakes, cookies or similar items. It’s a special event to be sure. If you’d like to attend but want to know a bit more before doing so, contact SAHS president Marian Norris at (949)581-0822.