The Giddings Family and Mountain View

By Mark Goldschmidt

In 1874 Levi W. Giddings and his family of 12, including married sons and daughters, set out from Marshalltown, Iowa to Omaha some two hundred miles away in four covered wagons. There they loaded horses and wagons onto a boxcar on a train bound for California, disembarked in Sacramento, then drove south to the Indiana Colony (which would soon become Pasadena), arriving in the summer of 1874.
Sarah Noble Ives wrote in her 1938 history Altadena (published by the Altadena Historical and Beautification Society):

“They purchased…the old Millard claim, about one hundred acres in all, and settled there in 1878. This location was at the mouth of Millard Cañon, at the head of Lincoln Avenue, a rough wagon road in that day. … The Giddings had water from Millard Cañon, and the lived at first in small cottages. They set out citrus fruit, shade trees, cherries, and a strawberry patch. They planted two chestnuts brought out in their pockets, which grew to be lofty trees. They did in these early days, a great deal of the first breaking of the land, or ploughing, for the Orange Grove Association and others. They lived on the bench of land that came to be called “Gidding’s Heights.”

The first Giddings house, built in 1874 by Levi and Luna Giddings. The approximate location is the current intersection of Lincoln and Loma Alta. Note the tent-house on the left. Photo: Altadena Heritage Society.

Eugene Giddings built this much fancier home in 1886; probable location was the current Loma Alta Park. Photo: Altadena Heritage Society.

Beginning in the 1880s, Pasadena was at the center of a land boom driven by westward expansion and a rail connection to the Trans Continental Railroad in Sacramento. Many came for the climate, which was not only pleasant but also healthful for consumptives; tuberculosis was widespread in the 19th century. Many new arrivals were quite well off, and land that was formerly considered worthless was selling for high prices. The Giddings extensive clan, having arrived a few year earlier, bought land, worked hard, and prospered mightily.

Levi’s son, Eugene, purchased 100 acres just uphill from the family’s land and planted grapes. He named his place “La Viña”, and the name endures. Eugene, an avid hunter, cut a trail up a branch of Millard Cañon to the top of a mountain just west and named it Giddings Peak honoring his illustrious grand-uncle, Joshua Reed Giddings, a pre-Civil War anti-slavery congressman.