The Zaferia village of the early 1900s was one of the last vestiges of the old Californio days of the Ranchos in Los Angeles County. Situated in what would have been a high valley between Rancho Los Alamitos’ adobe farmhouse property and the imposing peak of Signal Hill, Zaferia was a sleepy enclave where Bixby Ranch laborers lived and held small truck farms. These mostly Mexican families worked on the Rancho for the Bixby family in various capacities; they leased land from Fred Bixby in the fields surrounding the rancho, which included what they called Zaferia. Bixby would buy their produce and crops from them if they wanted, but they were never obligated to sell to him.
Children of the ranch hands either went to the Bixby ranch school (vaguely recorded in a LBUSD Chronology as “one mile north of Bixby Ranch” or to an early school established at Anaheim Road at Temple, called the Alamitos Heights School (established in 1898). Later, many children of these early families attended Bryant school on Termino.
The name “Zaferia” has been credited as a Spanish word meaning “little village,” but no dictionary supports that theory. There was supposedly a man named R.H. Zaferia who lived in Long Beach and was on the early school board, but, again, there is no supporting data that he lived in the village or was of any great importance. Spain has a Zaferia Pass in Andalucia – could that be the origin? Zaferia also has Greek roots. So, the mystery of the name remains.
Whatever the origins, the earliest reference to Zaferia on any maps or in printed form was in 1904 when Henry Huntington and his Pacific Electric Rail Road laid track on a diagonal from Willowville through the mustard fields to Seal Beach and beyond. One can surmise that the little village of Zaferia held enough of a population and – most important - potential for commerce that the P.E.R.R. management thought it worthy of its own depot.