Archive for the ‘Missions and Ranchos’ Category

Land Grant Terminology

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Act of Possession – A ceremony performed after approval of a Mexican land grant in which the new owner and Mexican government officials participated. It occurred on the actual grant property in front of witnesses following the survey by the local alcalde. A brief description of the Acts of Possession for the Rancho Piedra Blanca can be found here. (more…)

Rancho San Simeon

Friday, December 24th, 2010

In 1821, Mexico declared its independence from Spain and, in 1834, Mexico’s Secularization Laws were ratified under the governorship of Jose Figueroa. The Mexican government then began transferring the mission lands to private individuals through the Mexican Land Grant system. Jose Ramon Estrada applied to governor Juan Alvarado for a grant of the Rancho San Simeon and his application was approved on December 1, 1842. (more…)

Rancho Piedra Blanca

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

On January 18, 1840, the Mexican governor of Alta California, Juan B. Alvarado, granted about 49,000 acres of the Rancho Piedra Blanca to Don Jose de Jesus Pico. The Rancho Piedra Blanca was described in the original grant to Pico as “…bounded by the arroya named ‘del Pinalito’ by that known by the name of ‘San Carpogaro’ by the sea and by the big mountain…” The arroyo del “Pinal” or “Padre Juan” lies about a mile south of the south fork of Pico Creek. The alcalde, Jose Mariano Bonilla, caused juridical measurement of the tract to be made on September 25, 1842. (more…)

John Wilson

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

John Downes Wilson, better known as Captain John Wilson, was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1798. By the time he was 30 he was master of the Thomas Nowlan, a ship trading in hides and tallow on the California coast. From 1828 to 1843 he was captain of several ships in this trade including the Ayacucho, a ship described in some detail by Richard Henry Dana in his book Two Years Before the Mast. After his sailing days he became a land holder and cattle rancher, ultimately becoming one of the biggest land holders in California. Although he was born a protestant, he converted to Catholicism in order to conform to Mexican law which restricted land ownership to Catholics. To this end he was sometimes known as Juan Wilson or even Juan Huilsons. (more…)

Land Grants After the Mexican War

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

The war between the United States and Mexico was formally ended when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed on February 2, 1848. Article X of this treaty stated, in part, “All grants of land made by the Mexican government or by the competent authorities, in territories previously appertaining to Mexico, and remaining for the future within the limits of the United States, shall be respected as valid, to the same extent that the same grants would be valid, if the said territories had remained within the limits of Mexico.” Simply stated, if one owned a land grant issued by the Mexican government before the war, and that grant was within the boundaries of the United States after the war, both nations agreed that the grant ownership would continue undisturbed. (more…)

Rancho Santa Rosa

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Following the normal procedure for obtaining a Mexican Land Grant, Don Julian Estrada submitted a diseño, or sketch map, of his proposed grant to the Mexican governor of California, Juan B. Alvarado. According to this drawing, his rancho would extend from the ocean to the mountains and was bordered on the north by Santa Rosa Creek and on the south by Arroyo Aquage which ran approximately through the present-day town of Harmony and contained three leagues or about 13,290 acres. Based on this diseño, he received the grant on January 18, 1841. (more…)

Mexican Land Grants in California

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

After the Mexican revolution and subsequent secularization of the missions, more than 800 land grants were issued by the Mexican governors of California to prominent citizens. These grants of property were entirely free to the grantees but a certain process was required for the grant to become finalized. (more…)

Mission San Miguel

Monday, October 5th, 2009

For thousands of years the land on which Cambria now stands was occupied by indigenous peoples. After the Spanish discovered New Spain (Mexico) they began to explore the new world and, in 1542, the Viceroy of Mexico, Don Antonio de Mendoza, dispatched Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese navigator, to begin his exploration of the coast of California. His three ships left Navidad on the west coast of Mexico on June 27 of that year and followed the coast north to the bay of San Diego which he called Port San Miguel. Because many of the names Cabrillo gave to the significant features of the coastline have since been changed, and because of the difficulties he had in accurately establishing the latitude of his ship, it is not clear exactly how far north his expedition traveled. However, it is virtually certain that they passed the site of present day Cambria. (more…)