Fine example of the Diseño map for Rancho Nueva Helvetia, John Sutter's Rancho at the confluence of the Sacramento River and American River.
Vioget's map provides a remarkable look at Sutter's Rancho Nueva Helvetia as of 1843, extending to "Los Tres Picos" in the north and the 'Establa de Nueva Helvetia" (Sutter's Fort), locating a number of smaller Ranchos and Rancheria's up the Plumas River, including Rancho de Hock and Rancheria Hock, which would later be acquired by Sutter and become his home in 1850.
The present example of the map is one of a few known examples of copies of Jean Jacques Vioget's original 1843 Diseño maps for Rancho Nueva Helvetia. Vioget, one of the earliest San Francisco Surveyors, prepared two manuscript Diseño maps for Sutter, one in 1841 (before Sutter's grant from the Mexican Government was completed) and this map in 1843, which includes additional place names not in the 1841 map, following the completion of his grant. The present tracing was utilized in one of the court cases which established Sutter's ownership of the land in 1854, after California's admission to the Union, as part of the process of confirming title to the former Mexican Land Grants and establishing the formal legal boundaries of the land grants.
The present example was previously offered for sale by Warren Howell of John Howell Books in 1979, at which time the firm obtained a letter from Robert H. Becker (Assistnat Director of the Bancroft Library and author of Designs in the Land, (1969), the definitive work on the Diseño maps of California. Becker identified this map copy of the map as a copy of map no. 38 in his book, with an original set on deposit at te National Archives, with the copies previously filed in the United States District Court now residing in the Bancroft's collection. A copy of Becker's letter and a description of the map, is included with the map.
John Sutter (born Johann August Sutter) was born in Germany in 1803. After a brief career in the Swiss Army and as a shop keeper, he came to America in 1834. Sutter arrived in New York in July 1834, before heading west to St. Louis, where he worked for several years as a merchant and innkeeper. In April 1838, he joined a trapping party headed for the West Coast, arriving at Fort Vancouver in October 1838.
From Fort Vancouver, Sutter sailed to Honolulu in December 1838. In Honolulu, he persuaded a group of Hawaiian businessmen to back a business venture in California. He left Honolulu in April 1839, sailing first to Sitka, Alaska and then on to Monterey. After meeting with Governor Alvarado in Monterey, he charted three boats and sailed into San Francisco Bay and up the American River on August 1, 1839, landing at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River (named by Sutter), where Sutter established his first encampment.
In August 1840, Sutter became a Mexican citizen, in order to qualify for a land grant, which he received on June 18, 1841. The land comprised a 49,000 acre portion of Sobrante Land Grant and a contiguous grant of land which Sutter named "New Heletia." Work began on Sutter's fort as early as 1840. John Bidwell arrived from Missouri to help Sutter with the management of his fort, which would grow to include herds of cattle, horses, a fur trading business, distillery, flour mill, bakery, blacksmith shop, carpentry shop and a boat launch, with service to San Francisco.
As part of the continuing growth of Sutter's empire, he contracted with James Marshall to build a sawmill on the south fork of the American River, 50 miles east of Sutter's fort. On January 24, 1848, during construction of the sawmill, Marshall discovered gold. The resulting gold rush was the catalyst for the growth of California, but also began the demise of Sutter, who struggled to maintain workers and later lost considerable sums of money trying to provide mercantile services to the miners flocking to the area. By the beginning of 1850, Sutter had sold his ranch to Alden Bayly and relocated to his Hock Farm property, near Yuba City.
A fine example of one of the most historically important Mexican Land Grants in Alta California. The map was previously offered for sale by John Howell Books in 1979 for $550.00.