Prior to the arrival of Spanish colonists, the area of the Santa Clara Valley was inhabited by the Ohlone people for more than 6,000 years. In the area of what is now Morgan Hill, the Matalan tribe lived in a hunter-gatherer society.
Before the area was colonized as part of the Alta California province of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, the 1772 Spanish expedition, led by Pedro Fages and Father Juan Crespí, camped in what is now Morgan Hill, alongside Llagas Creek. The location of their camp subsequently became a popular campsite for Spanish soldiers on their way from New Spain to Alta California. With the founding of Mission Santa Clara de Asís, in 1777, the lands of present-day Morgan Hill were granted to the Roman Catholic Church.
Following Mexico’s independence from Spain, land was redistributed to Mexican citizens across California and the land encompassing modern-day Morgan Hill was granted to Juan Maria Hernandez, in 1835. In 1845, Martin Murphy, Sr., an Irish-born American pioneer, acquired the area and named it Rancho Ojo del Agua de la Coche.
In 1850, Martin Murphy, Sr.’s youngest son, Daniel Murphy, married Maria Fisher, heiress of the neighboring 19,000-acre (7,700 ha) Rancho Laguna Seca, thus combining the two estates. In 1853, Martin Murphy, Sr.’s father, Bernard Murphy, died leaving the majority of the estate to Martin Murphy, Sr., but a substantial portion to a Martin Murphy, Sr.’s mother, Catherine, who then married James Dunne. By 1870, the Murphy family had acquired around 70,000 acres (28,000 ha) of the Morgan Hill area. In the history of Morgan Hill, the Murphy, Dunne, and Hill families are of the most prominent significance.
On November 10, 1906, the planned community, a result of the divisions of C. H. Phillips, was incorporated as the Town of Morgan Hill. Hiram Morgan and Diana Hill’s only child, Diana Murphy Hill, married the French nobleman, Baron Hadouin de Reinach-Werth, and thus Baron Hadouin started to help manage Hiram Morgan Hill’s properties between California and Nevada. However, the baron was called back to France to serve in the military and never returned. In 1913, Hiram Morgan Hill died at his Elko estate in Nevada, thus leaving his properties to his daughter. Diana Murphy Hill later remarried, in 1916, to Sir George Rhodes, thus causing the Murphy heiress of the Morgan Hill estate to relocate to the United Kingdom, taking her and Hiram Morgan Hill’s daughter, Diana Murphy Hill, thus finally selling off the Villa Mira Monte and ending the Hill family presence in the community named after them.