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
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,
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.
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.
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,
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,
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.
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
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
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
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
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.