Chino’s handful of voters in 1889 were faced with a proposition to create a new Pomona County of which the new community would be a part. Had the proposition passed and been accepted by the state, we might now be in a separate county with Ontario, Cucamonga, Etiwanda and Los Angeles County from Azusa east to Pomona.
County boundaries were an issue several times during Chino’s formidable stages. The people of Rincon south of Mr. Gird’s new town here were part of inclusion in a new Riverside County, which was to be split from San Bernardino County, which itself had split off from Los Angeles County in 1853.
The New Chino School District, now Chino Valley Unified, was formed when the Chino Ranch split from the original Chino School District which covered an area west of San Bernardino city. Residents of Mr. Gird’s new town wanted their own judicial district with constable and court, so called for the formation of the Chino township which had been a part of the Rincon township. This was at a time when there were only about 20,000 people in all of San Bernardino County.
In December 1892, a convention was called to consider the 1889 proposal for the formation of San Antonio County. Richard Gird and two others from Chino served on the committee. Chino and Pomona voters approved it, Ontario and Cucamonga voters were divided. The enabling bill lost in the legislature, which did approve the formation of Riverside County.
County division came up again in 1907, still before the town was incorporated. Champion publisher John Reed, an ardent prohibitionist who saw it as a way to stop alcohol sales, went all out to support the new Pomona County. Reporting on a rain soaked parade and rally held in Ontario he wrote:
“Á fellow who claimed to be a deputy assessor butted in and tried to disturb the meeting. He asked several questions and made some sarcastic remarks, impudently smoking a cigar at the same time. It was evident that he was trying to raise trouble, so the chairman (said) if the gent tried to disturb the meeting any more the men around him would be requested to assist him out of the hall.”
Despite all the local theatrics, the petitions were found inadequate in Los Angeles County, where the board of supervisors would have had to approve an election. New petitions were drawn but didn’t seem to gain much. In Chino, E.J. Marshall, an important voice in the affairs of Mr. Gird’s ranch, and the sugar factory owners did not support county division.
Meanwhile Ontario swiped a piece of Rancho Chino’s northeast area, and that city lost interest in county division. Drum beater Reed became ill and retired from the Champion, and in a few weeks of 1908 the campaign seemed to fade away.
Except for some efforts around Redlands to break away in later years, splitting the huge county remained dormant until a division advocated by residents of the high desert made the ballot in 1988. The Mojave County proposal was defeated by 66% countywide, although it won in the proposal area.
All history is full of certain events which changed it. Locally we might have become a different place if Chino hadn’t been chosen for a new state prison in the late thirties, if Bibleland had been built in Los Serranos as proposed in the 1950s, if the Pomona Freeway hadn’t been depressed when it was built in the later sixties, if politics hadn’t divided Chino and Chino Hills at the Chino Creek channel instead of the 71 Freeway alignment, and if the Chino Hills International Airport had been built as proposed.