The History of Menifee, CA

Native American Settlement

The area now known as Menifee has a long history of habitation by Native American tribes. Archaeological evidence indicates the region was settled by the Luiseño people as early as 5000 BC. They lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, relying on acorns and pine nuts as staple foods.

The Luiseño established permanent villages with ceremonial structures in and around what is now Menifee, including a large village called Seiad that was located very near present-day Menifee. The Luiseño people named the Menifee Valley “Menifee” which meant “place of plenty.”

Spanish Colonization

In 1774, Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza led an expedition through Menifee as part of Spain’s colonization of Alta California. They encountered Luiseño villages and made early references to the Menifee Valley area.

Spain began establishing missions in Alta California in 1769. In 1819, the Pala Asistencia was established as a sub-mission under the San Luis Rey Mission to convert local Native Americans to Catholicism and cultivate the Menifee Valley area for agriculture to support the mission population.

Founding of Menifee

Origin of Name

Menifee is named after pioneer Menifee David Wilson, who moved to the area in the mid-1880s. Wilson owned the property around present-day Menifee and built a general store, blacksmith shop, and the first Post Office in the area under the name “Menifee.”

The name “Menifee” stuck as more homesteaders moved into the fertile valley area. The growing town became known as Menifee Valley and was officially incorporated under the name Menifee in 2008.

Early Homesteaders

Some of Menifee’s first homesteaders in addition to Menifee David Wilson included:

  • Luther Menifee Wilson (son of Menifee David Wilson) – settled in Menifee in the late 1800s after his father’s death and was influential in Menifee’s early development
  • The Zeiders Family – some of the most prominent early Menifee farming and landowners
  • The Kritzer Family
  • The Kirby Family
  • The Bishop Family
  • The Leber Family

These early pioneer farm families cultivated thousands of acres of land in Menifee and laid the foundations for the town’s development.

20th Century Developments

Agriculture and Mining

Menifee’s economy in the early 20th century was dominated by agriculture and mining. Key crops included alfalfa, wheat, oats, citrus fruits, olives, and apricots.

Minerals such as granite, limestone, silica quartz, clay, and feldspar were also mined commercially in the area.

By the 1950s, Menifee had become regionally important as a producer of farm crops and mining resources. Agriculture and mining interests spurred the development of processing facilities like grain mills, packing houses, and a granite processing plant.

Infrastructure Improvements

In the early-to-mid 1900s major infrastructure projects helped connect Menifee to the larger Southern California region:

  • 1912 – The Santa Fe Railroad extended a rail line through Menifee, building the Menifee Station and allowing transport of goods to markets throughout the country
  • Early 1920s – Provident Irrigation District established to develop irrigation canals and deliver water, allowing more intensive agriculture
  • 1953 – Menifee’s first paved roads including Newport Road and Scott Road
  • 1958 – Interstate 215 is built near Menifee, improved regional automobile access

Population Growth

Menifee’s population began to increase more substantially in the 1960s as the Southern California region as a whole grew. Its population has risen rapidly:

YearPopulation
19601,013
19701,729
19802,462
20007,300
201077,519

This population boom was driven by Menifee’s affordable land and housing markets compared to coastal areas, and access to regional transportation routes.

21st Century Menifee

Cityhood

As population exploded, inhabitants desired more local control and services. After several failed incorporation attempts, the citizen group Youth, Vision, Victory sponsored another incorporation measure which was approved by voters in 2008.

On October 1st, 2008, The City of Menifee was officially established, becoming Riverside County’s 26th city.

Continued Growth

Menifee has continued rapid population grown since its incorporation:

  • Estimated 2023 population: 102,114
  • Projected 2030 population: 130,000+

This has led to considerable suburban expansion, commercial development, and community amenities like:

  • New housing and shopping centers
  • Additional healthcare facilities
  • Expanded public services and local government
  • New public schools and Mt. San Jacinto College Menifee campus
  • Development of parks and recreation spaces

Future Opportunities

As it nears 15 years as an incorporated city, Menifee’s leaders and inhabitants continue working to improve livability and quality of life while shaping the community’s future direction regarding:

  • Economic Development – Attracting businesses and jobs in healthcare, technology, finance, manufacturing and other sectors
  • Infrastructure – Additional housing, roads, drainage channels and other foundations for supporting population
  • Recreation/Culture – City-led events, potential library, recreation spaces, public art, and facilities like performing arts venues
  • Public Services – Improving availability and access to services like law enforcement, community centers, senior care, and youth programs

If current strong growth continues, Menifee seems poised to enter its second decade as an influential and prominent city within one of California’s most important population and economic regions.

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Directions

  • The first set of directions starts by taking the I-215 S highway towards San Diego. Take exit 33 for Scott Rd and turn right. Drive east on Scott Rd for 4 miles then turn left into the business park. Go to the end of the side street and turn into the parking lot on your right. Suite 110 is the second door of the brown building.
  • Another way to get there is to take I-215 S and exit on McCall Blvd. Turn left onto McCall and continue for 3.2 miles. Turn right onto Newport Rd and after 2.6 miles turn left onto Scott Rd. Drive 1 mile on Scott Rd going east then turn left into the business park. Go to the end of the side street and turn into the parking lot on your right. Suite 110 is the second door of the brown building.
  • The third option is to take Highway 79 S for 17 miles then exit onto Domenigoni Pkwy. Turn right and continue west for 5.3 miles before turning left onto Newport Rd. After 2.1 miles turn right onto Scott Rd then drive east for 1 mile. Turn left into the business park, drive to the end of the side street and turn into the parking lot on your right. Suite 110 is the second door of the brown building.