Map of the lands owned by the Breen family in San Juan Valley, San Benito, California.
The lands shown were owned by Edward Breen and John Breen, two of the sons of Patrick Breen and Margaret Breen, survivors of the Donner Party. It was Patrick Breen who maintained the journal of the party's experiences, which have immortalized the Donner Party's attempted crossing of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the winter of 1846-47. The Breen's were 1 of 2 families to survive without losing a family member.
On one side of the document is the map, on the opposite side is manuscript writing which reads, "Estate of E J Breen Dec'd. To F. P. McCray Dr. To subdividing the E J Breen tract in San Juan Valley containing 654.37 Acres. 19 days at $10.00. = $190.00. Received Payment," and signed F.P. McCray (the surveyor of the land). The letterhead reads, "Estate of E.J. Breen, Deceased.
The Breen family was among the survivors of the Donner Party. Patrick Breen and his wife Margaret Breen had seven children. This document is a surveyor's map of the land tracts of two of their sons Edward (1833-1890) and John (1832-1903). Their father Patrick Breen is famous for the diary he kept during the family's harrowing journey from November 20, 1846 to March 1, 1847, the only record of the daily events at the mountain camps.
After their rescue the family settled in San Juan Bautista. Over the years, Patrick acquired a great deal of property and he and his sons became prominent early settlers of what was then Monterey County. Edward became a prominent rancher and farmer in San Benito County, and John discovered $10,000 worth of gold in the San Juan mountains. With the money they purchased the Castro Adobe and other properties.
F.P. McCray was a surveyor in the Hollister area, active from the 1870s onward. He was elected the first county surveyor of San Benito County on March 26, 1874. The San Benito Advance of September 30, 1876 notes that McCray was active in the survey of the eastern boundary line separating the newly formed San Benito County (February 12, 1874) from Merced and Fresno Counties, having just completed a 100 mile section of the official survey of the county, with Assessor Hayden Dowdy.
He prepared an Assessor's Map of the city of Monterey in February 1884 and also surveyed the Johnson Addition on Monterey in the same year. In October 1885, McCray and Walter James prepared the engineering plans for improving the Buena Vista Lake Reservoir System, including a 6 mile levee separating Kern Lake and Buena Vista Lake. In 1886, McCray conducted the survey and subdivision which created the town of Paso Robles, California. As late as 1906, McCray is noted as having conducted the first official survey of the town of Gustine, California.