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The area around Visalia was first settled by the Yokuts and Mono Native American tribes thousands of years ago. It is unknown when the first Europeans arrived, but by the 1850s land had been patented to William D. Brewer, Robert T. Ridley, and Manuel Jimeno (the largest portion). When California achieved statehood in 1850, Tulare County did not exist; it was split from Mariposa County in 1852. The county seat moved from Exeter to Visalia in 1854; this new settlement became known as "Visalia" after Andrew Hamilton Freeman founded a town site on Mission Creek named "Mission Villa.