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Granted to:  Juan Bautista Alvarado in 1843 by Governor Manuel Micheltorena

Size:  12,563 acres

Location:  San Diego County

El Rincón del Diablo means "the devil's corner."  We do not know who chose this name nor why it was chosen.  El Rincón del Diablo Rancho was a large rancho located in a fertile valley.  Its first owner, Don Juan Alvarado, had the same name as a former governor of California and was distantly related to him.  Alvarado and his wife lived here until about 1850.  After a number of other owners, the Escondido Land & Town Company purchased the rancho and divided it into small farms.  In 1888 the town of Escondido was incorporated on the former El Rincón del Diablo Rancho.


Granted to:  Edward F. Stokes and José Joaquin Ortega in 1844 by Governor Manuel Micheltorena

Size:  17,719 acres

Location:  San Diego County

The land where Santa Ysabel Rancho was located was originally the site of an Indian ranchería (village) where hundreds of Indians lived.  After Mission San Diego was built, the padres used the land for grazing their cattle and sheep.  They built a little adobe chapel here for the Indians.

Edward Stokes was the captain of an English merchant ship that traded along the California coast.  Stokes left his ship and settled in California.  He married Doña Refugio Ortega, whose father was the government official in charge of Mission San Diego after it was taken from the Catholic Church.  Captain Stokes changed his name to Don Eduardo Stokes.  Although Edward Stokes had become a Spanish Don, he continued to dress as an English squire, and was often seen wearing a black velvet English hunting coat.

Don Eduardo became the owner of two large ranchos.  Santa Ysabel Rancho he owned jointly with his father-in-law.  The other, Santa María Rancho, later became the city of Ramona.


Granted to:  Raimundo Olivas in 1841 by Governor Juan B. Alvarado

Size:  4,693 acres

Location:  Ventura County

Raimundo Olivas, born in Los Angeles in 1801, went north to Santa Barbara as a young man looking for adventure.  He married Feodora Lopez and they had 21 children.  They built a fine two-story adobe house on their rancho, near the present-day city of Ventura.  The house had a balcony and veranda looking out over a walled garden and the marshlands.  Here they entertained friends in a grand style for many years.

The Olivas wealth must have been known, for in 1855 they were reportedly the victims of banditry, robbed of $75,000 in gold and treasures.  They had just sold a large number of cattle and sheep, and payment in gold was hidden in the ranch house.  A peddler came by the ranch and was offered the usual hospitality and lodging.  Rumor says that he was really a spy for the band of robbers led by Joaquin Murietta, and that he opened the doors during the night for the robbers.  In the morning, the $75,000 was gone, never recovered by the Olivas family.

The Olivas ranch house was donated to the City of Ventura in 1963 and it has been preserved as California Historical Landmark No. 115.


Granted to:  Francisco Solano in 1842 by Governor Juan B. Alvarado

Size:  17,755 acres

Location:  Solano County

Francisco Solano was the name given to Sem Yeto, a chief over a number of Indian villages in the area.  He accepted the new name from Padre Altimira, founder of the Mission San Francisco Solano, which was named for a Franciscan missionary who died in Peru in 1610.  Chief Solano proved to be a friend to the mission, and later to General Mariano Vallejo, who founded the town of Sonoma.

In 1837, Chief Solano asked the Mexican government for some land, saying that it belonged "to him by hereditary right from his ancestors," and he wished "to revalidate his right."  A temporary grant was issued, and Solano named his land Rancho Suisun for one of the groups over which he was chief.  Vallejo later purchased the rancho from him.


Granted to:  William Goodwin Dana in 1837 by Governor Juan B. Alvarado

Size:  37,888 acres

Location:  San Luis Obispo County

Captain William Dana had been born in Boston in 1797.  He was a cousin of Richard Henry Dana, Jr., the author of Two Years Before the Mast, which described the hide trade in California.  At the age of 18, William sailed to China on a merchant ship, later visiting California and settling in Santa Barbara in 1825.  He married María Carrillo, daughter of a leading Spanish family, and applied for a land grant.       

The name of Rancho Nipomo comes from an Indian word meaning "foot of the mountain."  In 1839 Captain Dana moved onto his rancho and built a 13-room adobe house on a little hill with a wide view.  This ranch house was the stopping place for travelers on the El Camino Real route.  John C. Frémont was one who enjoyed the Captain's hospitality.

One of Captain Dana's sons, Frederico, lived in the house on Rancho Nipomo until 1902.  The house was later given to the San Luis Obispo County Historical Society.


Granted to:  Juan B. Alvarado in 1844 by Governor Manuel Micheltorena

Size:  44,380 acres

Location:  Merced & Mariposa Counties

Rancho Mariposas, granted to Juan B. Alvarado after his six years of service as the Mexican governor of California, was one of very few grants of land in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  Rancho Mariposas (the Ranch of the Butterflies) gave its name to the county when California became a state.

In 1847 Captain John C. Frémont purchased Rancho Mariposas for $3,000.   Frémont feared that his wife, Jessie, would not be happy so far away from a town, but Jessie loved the natural beauty of the area.

When Rancho Mariposas was granted, it was in what is now Merced County.  However, it was a so-called "floating rancho."  After gold was discovered in the Mariposa hills in 1848, Frémont "floated" his rancho into a new location that had a lot of gold.  He soon became wealthy. 

Frémont left Rancho Mariposas in 1850 to become a U.S. senator.  In 1855 the Supreme Court upheld his claim to the rancho, which was still producing gold.  Later, however, he lost the land in another court battle.

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