Sunday, February 9, 2014
Within a short time of establishing two garrisons at San Diego and Monterey, along with the first four mission, Don Pedro Fages, the governor of California, awards grants of land to several leatherjacket soldiers who wished to retire. The grants were given for their outstanding and loyal service to the crown. The first three were granted in 1784.
Rancho San Pedro was granted to Juan José Dominguez, a soldier in the Portolá Expedition, 48,000 acres where the river joined the sea. Fages then granted 167,000 acres to Manuel Nieto, another member of the Portolá Expedition which was names Rancho Los Nietos that included what is now Long Beach, Downey, Whittier, and part of Los Angeles. The third grant of 36,400 acres went to José María Verdugo who was a leatherjacket soldier in the expedition led by Don Fernando Rivera – who had been the military commandant of California for 15 years before the arrival of Portolá. He named his grant Rancho San Rafael that includes current Glendale and part of Los Angeles.
The next grant did not occur until 1794 and during the Spanish period, only 22 grants were made. They were:
Nuestra Señora del Refugio 1794 Diego de Borica José Francisco Ortega [Portolá Expedition] 26,529 acres (107 km2) 154 SD Refugio State Beach Santa Barbara Rancho_
Los_Feliz 1795 Diego de Borica Jose Vicente Feliz 6,647 acres (27 km2) 133 SD Los Feliz Los Angeles
Simi 1795 Diego de Borica Patricio, Miguel, and Francisco Javier Pico 113,009 acres (457 km2) 103 SD Simi Valley, Moorpark Ventura
Buena Vista 1795 Diego de Borica José Maria Soberanes and Joaquin Castro 8,446 acres (34 km2) 204 SD Monterey Monterey
Las Pulgas [The Fleas] 1795 Diego de Borica José Dario Argüello and Luis Antonio Argüello [Rivera Expedition] 35,240 acres (143 km2) 54 ND San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos, Menlo Park San Mateo
Las Virgenes 1802 José Joaquín de Arrillaga Miguel Ortega 17,760 acres (72 km2) 265 SD Agoura Hills Los Angeles
El Conejo 1802 José Joaquín de Arrillaga Ygnacio Rodriguez and Jose Polanco 48,672 acres (197 km2) 107 SD Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks, Lake Sherwood, Westlake Village, Oak Park Ventura
Las Animas 1803 José Joaquín de Arrillaga Feliz Berenguer José Mariano Castro 24,066 acres (97 km2) 136 ND Gilroy Santa Clara
Topanga Malibu Sequit 1804 José Joaquín de Arrillaga José Bartolomé Tapia [son of Felipe Santiago] 13,300 acres (54 km2) 147 SD Malibu Los Angeles
Los Palos Verdes 1809 José Joaquín de Arrillaga José Dolores Sepúlveda [son of Juan José] 31,629 acres (128 km2) 273 SD Palos Verdes Los Angeles
San Ysidro 1809 José Joaquín de Arrillaga Ygnacio Ortega 13,066 acres (53 km2) [note 10] Gilroy Santa Clara
San Antonio 1810 José Joaquín de Arrillaga Antonio María Lugo [son of Francisco Salvador, escort of Los Angeles Pobladores] 29,513 acres (119 km2) 9 SD Bell, South Gate Los Angeles
Santiago de Santa Ana 1810 José Joaquín de Arrillaga José Antonio Yorba [Fages' Catalonian Volunteer] and Juan Pablo Peralta [son of soldado de cuera] 63,414 acres (257 km2) 346 SD Santa Ana, Irvine Orange
San Antonio 1820 Pablo Vicente de Solá Luís María Peralta [de Anza party who enlisted] 44,800 acres (181 km2) 98 ND, 99 ND, 100 ND Alameda, Berkeley, Oakland, San Leandro Alameda
Rincon de los Bueyes 1821 Pablo Vicente de Solá Bernardo Higuera and Cornelio Lopez 3,127 acres (13 km2) 131 SD Culver City, Baldwin Hills Los Angeles
Vega del Rio del Pajaro 1821 Pablo Vicente de Solá Antonio Maria Castro 4,310 acres (17 km2) 245 SD Monterey, Watsonville Monterey
Los Tularcitos 1821 Pablo Vicente de Solá José Loreto Higuera 4,394 acres (18 km2) 228 ND Milpitas Santa Clara
Sausal Redondo 1821 Pablo Vicente de Solá Antonio Ygnacio Avila [ son of Cornelio escort of Los Angeles pobladores] 22,458 acres (91 km2) 354 SD Manhattan Beach, Lawndale Los Angeles
Cañada de los Pinos 1821 Pablo Vicente de Solá Seminary of Santa Inés 35,499 acres (144 km2) 388 SD Santa Inés Santa Barbara.
Los Feliz Blvd.
and so on.
And, going through the hundreds of land grants during the Mexican years, more familiar names appear. Sadly, those grants were often given in return for political favors and money. And they all infringed upon missions lands, leaving them poorer and less productive. When the Mexican government forced secularization – against the wishes of the natives – many of the grants forced the Indians to flee to the hills or enter into a form of slavery to the ranch owners. By 1846, when the Americans came and took possession of California, the missions were in ruins and the majority of ranchers were illiterate and had no life beyond raising horses and cattle. And many of the land grants given by Governor Pio Pico were challenged as being illegal.
And this is what was left