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Property Ownership
 

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Between 1821 and 1846, the Mexican government encouraged settlement of California by granting huge tracts of land, known as ranchos, to Mexican citizens who petitioned the governor.  A sketch-map (called a diseño)accompanied each petition, showing the general boundaries of the requested land grant.

When the United States took possession of California and other Mexican lands in 1848, it was bound by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to honor the legitimate land claims of Mexican citizens residing in those captured territories – including California’s ranchos.  Unfortunately, fraudulent claims and vague mapping practices made establishing clear ownership of a rancho a difficult process. 

The U.S. Senate passed the Land Act of 1851 in an attempt to help clarify title to these lands.  The act provided for a Board of Land Commissioners to settle each claim, and also charged the U.S. Surveyor General with surveying those land grants confirmed by the commission.  The commission ultimately approved 553 claims, totaling approximately 8,850,000 acres.


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This diseño depicts Rancho de Castec, consisting of approximately  22,178 acres of land in what is now Kern County.  The Mexican government granted this tract to Jose M. Covarrubias  in 1842, for the purposes of establishing a cattle ranch. In 1861, President  Lincoln appointed Edward F. Beale to the post of U.S. Surveyor General for California and Nevada.  Beale used this  position to acquire four Mexican land grants in California between 1865 and 1866, including Rancho de Castec. The  Rancho de Castec grant encompassed Fort Tejon, established in 1854 by the U.S.  Army to protect and control the Native American population of the area.  Fifteen of the officers who served at Fort  Tejon eventually became Civil War generals, and Union infantry and cavalry  regiments were stationed at the fort during the course of the war.  Fort Tejon was abandoned in 1864, but the  property comprised of the former land grants remains the largest private landholding in the state of California to this day. Diseño, Spanish Archives, Secretary of State  Records, California State Archives.

This diseño depicts Rancho de Castec, consisting of approximately 22,178 acres of land in what is now Kern County.  The Mexican government granted this tract to Jose M. Covarrubias in 1842, for the purposes of establishing a cattle ranch.

In 1861, President Lincoln appointed Edward F. Beale to the post of U.S. Surveyor General for California and Nevada.  Beale used this position to acquire four Mexican land grants in California between 1865 and 1866, including Rancho de Castec.

The Rancho de Castec grant encompassed Fort Tejon, established in 1854 by the U.S. Army to protect and control the Native American population of the area.  Fifteen of the officers who served at Fort Tejon eventually became Civil War generals, and Union infantry and cavalry regiments were stationed at the fort during the course of the war.  Fort Tejon was abandoned in 1864, but the property comprised of the former land grants remains the largest private landholding in the state of California to this day.

Diseño, Spanish Archives, Secretary of State Records, California State Archives



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