Rancho Little Temecula was a 2,233-acre (9.04 km2) Mexican land grant in present day Riverside County, California given in 1845 by Governor Pío Pico to Pablo Apis. The grant was one of the few held by indigenous people. The grant is south of present day Temecula and is bordered on the north by Temecula Creek. At the time of the US Patent, Rancho Little Temecula was a part of San Diego County. The County of Riverside was created by the California Legislature in 1893 by taking land from both San Bernardino and San Diego Counties, and Rancho Little Temecula was from that time inside Riverside County.
Pablo Apis (1792–1854) was born a Luiseño and at age six was among the first indigenous people baptized at the Mission San Luis Rey. Apis learned to read and write in Spanish and eventually rose to a position of leadership in which he was the principal spokesman for the local Luiseños. After the missions became secularized in the 1830s, more indigenous people came to live in Temecula, an outpost of Mission San Luis Rey. Apis was one of the Luiseño leaders who fought to keep the Californios from taking control of the mission. Apis was imprisoned for a short time in 1836 by Pío Pico, at that time administrator of Mission San Luis Rey, for objecting to Pico's management of the mission.
In 1843, Apis was given the Temecula area, including the established village center, by Father Jose Maria Zalvidea, a priest briefly in control of the former mission and its lands. Zalvidea appears to have undertaken an initiative to grant native peoples their village lands—other such grants made by Zalvidea include Rancho Guajome and Rancho Cuca. Apis applied for formal ownership of the one-by-one-half-league Rancho Little Temecula grant in 1845 in return for his assistance to the mission. In 1847, Apis was a participant in the Temecula Massacre.
A claim for Rancho Little Temecula was filed with the Public Land Commission in 1852, but American settlers were not in favor of any indigenous people owning land, and used a variety of procedural tactics to impede the claim's progress. Apis died between 1853 and 1855 before the Commission had decided its fate. In 1856, Isaac Williams, the holder of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino to the north and the parent of grandsons of Apis, helped carry the Little Temecula grant through the court, which decided possession in favor of Apis's daughter and Williams's wife, Maria Antonio Apis. Williams died the same year.
In 1872, Louis Wolf, pioneer storekeeper of Temecula, acquired the Apis grant. The grant was patented to Pablo Apis in 1873. In 1873, Juan Murrieta, Domingo Pujol and Francisco Zanjuro went in together to buy the grant. Two years later, the San Diego County Sheriff forced the indigenous people from their homes in Temecula and led them to what is now known as the Pechanga Indian Reservation.
In 1904 Walter L. Vail, already a successful ranch owner in Arizona, started buying ranch land in the Temecula Valley; buying Rancho Santa Rosa, Rancho Temecula, Rancho Pauba and the northern half of Rancho Little Temecula.
Apis built two adobes on his land; the second is still referred to as the Apis Adobe. The foundation of the building was studied and archaeologically excavated in 1989, in anticipation of new development. In 1990, the adobe site was scraped smooth.