Mexican Land Grants in San Mateo County

These grants of land in San Mateo County, together with similar grants throughout Mexico and California, were made in the early Spanish colonial days by the governor of California, and ratified by his assembly or junta, although such ratification was not absolutely necessary. It was the aim of the Mexican government to make these grants as a reward for military service, but this was not a set rule and many civilians received such grants. Often they were given verbally and not confirmed until months and sometimes years afterwards, yet the grantees were considered to have valid title to their land.

When the Franciscan fathers established their mission church in San Francisco, they claimed as land appurtenant to the Mission all that portion of San Mateo County which extended to San Mateo Creek. The United States government refused to allow their claims, -and as a result, San Mateo County land titles continue to date back to grants made by the Mexican government, subsequently confirmed by the United States government. A large part of the bay side of the county was included in the following important grants:

Canada del Corte de Madera

A part located in San Mateo County, remainder in Santa Clara County. Granted in 1833 by Jose Figueroa to D. Peralta and Maximo Martinez. Claim filed August 14, 1852; rejected by the Governor’s commission on October 2, 1855, but confirmed by the District Court on April 6, 1858.

Buri Buri

Area 15,739.14 acres. Jose de la Cruz Sanchez et al.. claimant for Buri Buri, in San Mateo County; granted to him September 18, 1835, by Jose Castro. Claim filed March 9, 1852, and confirmed by the Commission on Jan. 31, 1854, and by the District Court on Oct. 16, 1855. An appeal was dismissed May 11, 1858.

Las Pulgas

Area 35,240.47 acres. Maria de la Soledad and Ortega de Arguello, et al., claimants. Granted on December 10, 1835, to Louis Arguello. Claim filed Jan. 21, 1852, which was confirmed by the commission October 2, 1853; again confirmed by the District Court Jan. 26, 1855, and later by the United States Supreme Court. Patented.

San Pedro

Area, 8,926.46 acres. Francisco Sanchez, claimant for San Pedro. This tract was granted to him on January 26, 1839 by Juan B. Alvarado. Claim filed on September 22,1852; was confirmed by the commission on December 13, 1853, and an appeal dismissed March 20, 1857.

Corral de Tierra

Area 4,436.18 acres. Tiburcio Vasquez claimant for Corral de Tierra, was granted his claim on October 5, 1839 by Manuel Jimeno. Claim filed on February 17, 1853, was confirmed by the commission August 15, 1854, and by the District Court April 18, 1859. An appeal was dismissed on June 29, 1859.

Canada de Raymundo

Area 12,545.01 acres. Maria Louisa Greer et al., claimants for Canada de Raymundo. Claim granted August 3, 1840 by Juan B Alvarado to John Copinger. The claim was filed on February 3, 1852 and confirmed by the commission November 29, 1853, and by the District Court on January 14,” 1856. An appeal was dismissed on November 11, 1856.

Canada de Guadalupe y Visitacion y Rodeo Viejo

Area 9,594 – .90 acres. Henry R. Payson, claimant for Canada de Guadalupe y Visitacion v Rodeo Viejo. Granted July 31, 1841 by Juan B. Alvarado to Jacob P. Leese. Claim filed. March 2, 1853; confirmed by the commission January 30, 1855, and by the District Court on June 18, 1856; an appeal dismissed April 1, 1857.

Feliz Rancho

Area 4,448.27 acres. Domingo Feliz was the claimant for the Feliz Rancho. The claim was granted on May 1, 1844 . by Manuel Micheltorena. Claim filed February 17, 1852. It was confirmed by the commission on January 27, 1854; and by the District Court on October 29, 1855. An appeal was dismissed November 18, 1856.

Rancho de San Mateo

Area 6,538.80 acres. W. D. M. Howard, claimant for Rancho de San Mateo. Granted May 5, or May 6, 1846 by Pio Pico to Cayetano Arenas. Claim filed February 7, 1853; and confirmed by’ the commission September 18, 1855. An appeal was dismissed April 6, 1857. Patented.

The Buri Buri Rancho became the property of D. O. Mills.

The Pulgas Grant made to the distinguished Arguello family, extended from the present City of San Mateo to San Francisquito Creek, and included Redwood City.

The San Mateo grant about which much of the history of San Mateo County clings, was made by Pio Pico, the last governor of California under Mexican rule, to his secretary, Cayetano Arenas, in 1846. in compensation for services rendered to the governor during the Mexican War. This was the last Mexican grant made. It was one of the smallest-6,538 acres-hut it was probably the most valuable of all the granted tracts.

It extended from the foothills to the bay and included Coyote Point, about one-half the present city of San Mateo, all of Burlingame and most of Hillsborough, as well as the picturesque twelve-mile chain of Spring Valley Lakes whose waters supply the City of San Francisco.

The San Mateo Rancho became the property of NV. D. M. Howard ; large portions of which are still retained by his descendents. Mr. Howard paid $25,000 for this property and expended a similar sum to enclose this area with a fence. Mr. Burlingame became interested in that portion of this property which subsequently took his name; while William C. Ralston, the famous banker was also a part owner in this section. Mr. Ralston’s interests passed on to Senator Sharon, who in turn granted large tracts to many of the leading citizens of San Francisco, including the Popes, and Henry T. Scott and others whose villas and beautiful grounds are landmarks in this portion of the county.

The history of this grant which is now the most thickly settled portion of the county and the most highly developed, goes back nearly one hundred and twenty years to the time when Borica the seventh governor of all the Californias, Baja and Alta, selected this territory for a cattle ranch to be operated under the direction of the Mexican government. It was called “Rancho del Rey,” or the King’s Ranch.

The reason for the establishment of this ranch was the shortage of cattle in the Californias, and consequently a shortage in beef, hides and tallow. For three years a drought had prevailed so that immense herds of cattle owned by the Mexican government at Monterey had dwindled to 1200 head. This made it very difficult to provide meat for the troops at the Presidio of San Francisco and the crews of the royal vessels touching there.

The Mexican government decided to start another federal cattle ranch-and for this purpose Borica selected the natural pastures of the plains and the grassy slopes to the south of the present site of the City of San Mateo. The boundaries of this ranch were marked off from the maps of Cordoba and Alberni which contained the first surveys of the peninsula.

The ranch prospered and all went well in spite of the strong opposition of the priests at Dolores Mission who objected to this interference with their rights to supply the troops and vessels with beef -at their own prices. They went so far as to make a protest to Spain, but Borica’s action was approved. When the Franciscan fathers discovered that products of the King’s Ranch were to be used only for government supply and would in no way interfere with their monopoly of the extensive trade with foreign ships, they withdrew their opposition.

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