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Then and Now

August 27, 1989|EVELYN De WOLFE | Times Staff Writer

George Earl Carson, 94, scion of Los Angeles' historic Dominguez and Carson families, has fond memories of his childhood in Rancho Dominguez.

"One of my earliest recollections is riding with my grandmother, Maria Victoria Dominguez Carson, in the family carriage. It was black and shiny with a handsome top, brass sidelights and thin rubber tires.

"I remember the beauty and brilliance of the night and the weird call of the many coyotes from the Palos Verdes hills. We were on our way from my parents' house in Redondo Beach to my grandparents home just south of where Compton is now," said the oldest surviving grandchild of the enormous clan created by George Henry Carson and Maria Victoria Dominguez.

Both homes were within the boundaries of Rancho San Pedro, better known as Rancho Dominguez, a 76,000-acre Spanish land grant given to Juan Jose Dominguez in 1784 by King Carlos of Spain, that covered virtually all of what is now the South Bay region.

George Earl Carson was born in his grandparents' home, a two-story Victorian mansion built with 17 rooms to accommodate their large family of 15 children. It was the center of social activity for four decades and frequently brought together the Watson, Del Amo and other branches of the Dominguez family.

Later destroyed, the old homestead was described as the most beautifully furnished of the ranchos in Los Angeles County.

Carson's grandfather, the chief assistant to his father-in-law, Don Manuel Dominguez, devoted full time to the management of the Rancho. After Don Manuel's death, ranch tracts were distributed among Dominguez's six daughters.

The Carson Estate Co. was formed to hold the Carson family properties intact but, following the discovery of oil on Dominguez Hill, the company amended its bylaws to allow direct drilling of wells under contract. Eventually they sold off some of the land.

George Earl remembers going to work for Carson Estate Co. when he was 18 and selling 5-acre parcels at $400 to $550 an acre.

Known for his masterfully crafted and scaled working models of early locomotives that today are features of the Rancho Dominguez Museum, Carson is proud of the new developments that have been built near historic family landmarks.

Where the Carson mansion once stood is now the site of Homestead Business Park, a 13.7-acre technology-oriented development of Carson Estate Co.

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