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.
After the war between the United States and Mexico ended, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed on February 2, 1848. Article X of this treaty states, 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”.
However, when the United States Senate ratified the treaty they deleted Article X and, instead, the United States Congress passed the Land Act of 1851 to adjudicate land holdings in California. While the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo stated that “All grants…shall be respected as valid…”, the Land Act of 1851 stated that these lands were to be considered in possession of the United States Government until a patent was issued to the holder of the grant. A patent is a document which transfers property from the federal government to a private party as opposed to a deed which transfers property between private parties. Each holder of a Mexican Land Grant was required to have his land surveyed by the United States Government at the landholder’s expense. The survey had to then be confirmed by the Board of Land Commissioners and submitted to the General Land Office in Washington, D.C. who then issued a patent transferring ownership of the land from the United States Government to the recipient.
The survey of the Rancho Santa Rosa was carried out by Brice M. Henry, Deputy Surveyor, in April, 1858 and was approved by the United States Surveyor General’s Office on May 3, 1859. The property was patented to Julian Estrada on March 18, 1865.
When the rancho was actually surveyed by the U. S. Government, it was found to contain much more than the original three leagues so smaller borders were established which actually contained 13,184 acres. These borders began at a point near Leffingwell’s Landing and followed the coast south to a point a little south of Harmony. From here, the border followed a straight line about to Harmony and then another straight line to a point about a mile northeast of Harmony. At this point, the border followed a straight line northwest to Santa Rosa Creek and then down the creek to a point behind where Cambria Tax and Financial Services is, across Main Street from Heart Glass Gallery where Hampton’s 76 station used to be. The border then ran in a northerly direction, parallel to Bridge Street to a point about a half mile northwest of Scott Rock and then due west to the point of beginning.