California became a state in 1850. Settlers could lay claim to land by homestead, timber, mining and pre-emption rights. John and Amanda Brite were the first permanent settlers in the Tehachapi area, arriving in 1854 from Texas, building a mission style log cabin near present day Tehachapi. After four years they sold the land and built an adobe house in what is now known as Brite Valley.
Other settlers such as George Cumming, Francois Chanac, Grant Price Cuddeback, P.D. Green, the Fickerts, Wiggins, Smiths, Harts, Hicks, Freemans, Bodens, and Tungates soon arrived, settling in Brite Valley, Bear Valley and Cummings Valley where they raised cattle and grain.
In 1866 Kern County was formed from parts of Tulare and Los Angeles counties. James E. Williams came to the Tehachapi Valley in 1867. By 1869 he had built a house on a large parcel of land to which he laid claim, laying out a town site he called Williamsburg and building a hotel and blacksmith. The names of three streets are known, Bullion Street, Tehichipa and Main Street. The Grange Society was established and entered the mercantile trade, Mr. Tyler operated a drug store and by May 1876 three doctors were practicing in Tehichipa, Dr. McClanahan, Dr. Labon Alverson and Dr. William B. Brink.
A public tax-supported school was built. Louisa Jewett was the first teacher,
being the third public school teacher in Kern County. In 1870, Louisa married Angus Crites. The original Tehichipa to Bakersfield toll road ran in front of their house in Hart Flat. Their son, Arthur Crites, wrote about the early settlers as well as tales about the Tehachapi Valley and old Tehichipa. He wrote that every man carried his six-shooter and this area, into the latter part of the 19th century, was known throughout Kern County as "that rough place."
In the early 1870s, gold bullion was hauled from the Cerro Gordo Mine in the Owens Valley to San Pedro to be loaded on ships enroute to San Francisco. In 1872 it was found quicker to haul the bullion through Tehichipa to the railhead at Caliente and ship it to San Francisco by rail.