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Land In Controversy -- Henry Hancock's Survey Map of Rancho Los Nogales and Rancho de La Puente in 1858

Finely executed survey of a large tract of land in the San Gabriel Valley, bearing the name of US Deputy Surveyor Henry Hacock and dated 1858.

The present map shows a large area with a green outline, which seems to include the larger name of Rancho Los Nogales.  Within the green border, a line dissecting the Rancho bears the name Rancho De La Puente on the western side of the line.  Finally, at the top center-right, a smaller section, shown between two rivers, an ears is labeled "Hancock's Survey of Rancho de los Nogales . . ."    This final area (surveyed by Hancock), corresponds to the Plat of Rancho Los Nogales by Hancock dated March 30, 1860, the final survey of the Rancho, as noted by this survey in the Huntington Library:

The present map would seem to be one of the preliminary maps created by Henry Hancock, which framed the controversy over the ownership of the lands within the green border.  The Rancho de los Nogales had originally been granted to Jose Ynes de la Luz Linares (1800 -1846) a Mexican soldier in the garrison of the San Diego Presidio beginning in1825, who received the grant in 1840. Following his death, his widow, Maria de Jesus Bruno Garcia sold a portion of Rancho Nogales to Ricardo Vejar in 1847. By 1857, Vejar had purchased the rest of Rancho Nogales, along with the Rancho de San Jose to the north.  However, during the process of establishing title to the lands under the rules proscribed by the US Government following the annexation of California, Vejar seems to have lost much of his land to others.

The area shown on the map is centered on Walnut, and extends south to Rowland and Otterbein, north to Walnut Valley, Cal Poly Pomona, Spadra and Diamond Bar, east to La Puente and Hacienda Heights.   In historic terms, it includes Phillips Ranch and the future Cal Poly Pomona and parts of Lucky Baldwin's lands in the north, as well a being traversed by the Butterfield Stage Line. It also includes some of the earliest "cultivated" land in Southern California in the south along Walnut Creek.

Hancock's map and preceding survey seems to be a part of the history which resulted in stripping of most of the land ownership rights of the owners of Rancho Nogales.  Curiously, this conclusion is supported by a faint pencil note which can be seen below the structure owned by Cayetano Ybarra in the center of the map (below the word "Los" in Rancho Los Nogales), which seems to read "Land in Controversy".  In fact, within two decades, this large rancho (shown in green outline) had been reduced to a tiny sliver of land labeled "Hancock's survey of Rancho de los Nogales." This same sliver of land would subsequently appear on later regional maps, such as the 1886 Howland & Koeberle Map of a Part of Southern California . . . :

The map is an exacting combination of topographical information, township survey and cadastral map, identifying the claims of early land owners, details of earlier surveys, the locations and residents of structures built on the Rancho and a host of other information. The two main rivers shown on the map are Walnut Creek (traversing the map from the southwest to the north east) and Puente Creek to the south, running through "Cañada de las Carretas". Both are tributaries of the San Gabriel River.

Another defining feature of the map is the notation "Scattering Walnut Trees," immediately west of Hancock's Survey of Rancho de los Nogales .. ."  This is not the City of Walnut (english for Nogales).

The "Road to San Bernardino" is the Butterfield Stage Route (1857-1861).  Shown here, the road passes Louis Phillips ranch buildings and William W. Rubottom's home, both of which would become noteworthy stops on the stage route.

Map Detail

The survey identifies 5 primary names, reflecting the largest land owners within the green outline.  The larger land owners and Ranchos are describe in greater detail in separate essays below.  The land owner names include

  • J(ohn A.) Rowland (see essay below)
  • W(illiam) Workman  (see essay below)
  • (Nepmuceno) Ricardo Vejar (1805-1882)  (see essay below)
  • Cayetano Ybarra (possiby Jose Cayatano de Altagracia Ybarra, son of Ramon Ybarra and grandson of Gil Maria Ybarra)  (see essay below)
  • Gil [Maria] Ybarra Heus (likely short for herederos or heirs in English)  (see essay below)

Other names shown on the map include:

  • Santiago Martinez (with several sheep camps) 373.95 acres and 180.46 acres
  • Juan Andres Martinez -  14.7 acres and 170 acres
  • Ynocente Valdez - (with a store)  68.6 acres, 126.09 acres and 58 09 acres
  • Miguel Casillas - 59 acres, 334.8 acres and 59.50 acres
  • Ramon Velarde - 782.71 acres, 334 acres and 1515.6 acres
  • The home of Miguel Casillas (on either the land of Miguel Casillas or Ramon Velarde)
  • Two homes of Ramon Velarde (on his lands)
  • Antonio Quintana - 576.37 acres, 869.68 acres and 295.31 acres
  • 18.75 acres with 2 or 3 homes of Ricardo Vejar in a square in the center of the map
  • Santiago Martinez "prior to April 24, 1846" - 116 acres (?)
  • Juan de Dios Mora Ybarra "prior to death of Linares February 17, 1846" 436.20 acres and 19.17 acres
  • The home of Jesus Ybarra (Jose de Jesus Silvestre Ybarra?)
  • The home of [Fernando] Manchego (husband of Natividad Ybarra (1834-
  • The home of Leonardo Ybarra (1819-1851)
  • The home of P. Chavis
  • The home of Patricio Chavis 
  • The home of Francisco Vejar (son of Ricardo Vejar) 
  • The 3 homes/buildings of L[ouis] Philipps (Louis Phillips)  (Phillips acquired the southern portion of Rancho San Jose in 1864 -- future site of Phillips Ranch.  By the 1870s, Phillips would be considered the richest man in Los Angeles County).
  • The home or hotel of [William W.] Rubottom (The city of Spadra came out of a 100-acre piece of land sold which Louis Phillips sold to William W. Rubottom. The town site was roughly located where Cal Poly Pomona stands today.)
  • The home of Ramon Vejar (son of Ricardo Vejar)
  • The home of "Santiago"
  • The home of Maria Velarde
  • The home of G. Cummins
  • The home of Teodosio Perez
  • The home of Antonio Quintana
  • The home of "Quintana's son"
  • The home of Jose Martinez

Rancho de los Nogales (Walnut)

Rancho de los Nogales seems to have a complex history.  The history begins with the creation of a 4,340 acre Rancho, which included Brea Canyon and the eastern Walnut Valley, to Jose de la Luz Linares.  After his death the land was transferred in time by Linares' widow, Maria Jesus Garcia de Linares, to Ricardo Vejar, beginning in 1847.  Vejar established a residence and farm on Rancho de los Nogales, which had been assessed to contain 4,500 acres.  However, the final US surveys, finalized in 1860, resulted in the Rancho consisting of only 464 acres, within Rancho de la Puente.

The Ybarra Family and Rancho Rincón de la Brea

Rancho Rincón de la Brea was a 4,452-acre Mexican land grant in present day Los Angeles County, California given in 1841 by Governor Juan Alvarado to Gil Maria Ybarra.  The one square league grant extended southward from San Jose Creek into the hills of Brea Canyon. Known as "Rancho la Canada de la Brea" when application for the grant was originally made in 1841, it was subsequently referred to as "Rancho Rincon de la Brea" and "Rancho de los Ybarras". The rancho was situated in present day unincorporated Los Angeles County: east of Rowland Heights, south of La Puente, west of Diamond Bar, and north of Brea.

Gil Maria Ybarra (1784 –1855) was born in San Diego and had at least sixteen months of education in the San Diego Presidio School in 1795 and 1796 under Manuel Vargas. Gil left the San Diego area in the early 1810's and was appointed síndico of Pueblo de Los Angeles in 1831. As sindico, it was his duty to receive or take charge of property under litigation and liquidated assets of those who were bankrupt. He was alcalde of Los Angeles in 1836-1837. In 1812, Ybarra married María Apolonia Manríquez.  Ybarra built a home on Spring Street in Los Angeles - Spring Street between Ord Street and the Plaza was called Calle de los Ybarras. He was a prominent partisan of the south against Alvarado's government in 1837–1838.

Following the Mexican-American War, a claim for Rancho Rincon de La Brea was filed with the Public Land Commission in 1852, and the grant was patented to Gil Ybarra in 1864.

John Rowland, William Workman and Rancho de la Puente

Rancho de la Puente was Spanish Land Grant rancho in the southern San Gabriel Valley,  established in the late 1700s as an outpost of Mission San Gabriel, extending from San Gabriel River on the west to just west of the 57 Freeway on the east and from Ramona Boulevard/San Bernardino Road on the north to the Puente Hills on the south. It includes parts of the modern communities of Avocado Heights, Bassett, Baldwin Park, San Dimas, Rowland Heights, Hacienda Heights, City of Industry, La Puente, Walnut, Covina, West Covina, and small sections of South El Monte and Irwindale.

The history of the Rancho originates from the Spanish Portola Expedition of 1769-1770. In July, 1769 the party came north through "la abra" (La Habra), "an opening" or pass through the Puente Hills.  Descending down into San Gabriel Valley, the group headed northwest and camped near the San Gabriel River. Father Juan Crespi noted in his diary that the expedition had to build a bridge ("la puente") to cross the stream, thereby giving birth to the name of the region.

At the end of 1841, a group of settlers known as the Workman-Rowland Party arrived in the area from New Mexico, led by American John A. Rowland (1791-1873) and British native William Workman (1799–1876).  In 1842, Rowland petitioned Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado for the lands which would become Rancho La Puente. William Workman, who had been implicated in what was claimed to be an assassination attempt of New Mexico's governor, was not included in the original grant, although a document was issued by Alvarado at the time of the grant, extending the rights and privileges of use of the rancho to Workman. 

Workman and Rowland would serve as part of an American and European military contingent which helped Pio Pico defeat Governor Manuel Micheltorena in an armed standoff at Cahuenga Pass near Los Angeles in February 1845.  Thereafter, Pico issued a new grant to Rancho La Puente. Made in July 1845, the grant extended the size of the rancho to eleven square leagues. When Rowland submitted an affidavit claiming that Workman was inadvertently left off the earlier grant, Pico officially added Workman as co-owner. 

Following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, a claim for Rancho La Puente was filed with the California Land Commission in the Fall 1852. The commission approved the claim in 1854, but the government appealed on the ground that the Pico grant was not legitimate.  Rowland and Workman won two separate appeals, in 1856 and 1862, but with the Civil War, the claim remained in limbo until April 1867, when a final patent patented was issued.

In 1868, two owners formally partitioned the rancho, so that Rowland mainly occupied the northern and eastern part and Workman the western and central portions. Rowland built an adobe on the north side of San Jose Creek the following year. A dozen years later, he razed the structure and built, across the creek, a brick Greek Revival two-story house (the John A. Rowland House) for his second wife, Charlotte M. Gray. Rowland, who built the first private grist mill in the county in 1847, mainly concerned himself with cattle ranching and farming, achieving great success. 

William Workman and his family lived in a temporary shelter through the winter of 1841-42 and then constructed an adobe the following summer. Workman, also a highly successful cattle rancher and farmer, entered business activities (real estate, oil, and banking, among others) with his son-in-law, Francisco P. Temple (F. P. F.), and the two were the wealthiest individuals in Los Angeles County during the first half of the 1870s. 

Santiago Martinez, etc.

 A Santiago Martinez constructed an important adobe home in the region. There were three families of Martinez in the area. Of these Santiago was the best known.  Coming to Los Angeles in 1842 with twenty families from New Mexico, they would be part of the settlement at Politana on the Rancho San Bernardino. In 1845 they had become discontented with this location and asked for La Jabonería. Unable to locate here, Santiago Martinez and several of these families settled  in a group on land alloted them by John Rowland on the Rancho La Puente, which here formed part of the Township of San Jose.  

Santiago Martinez prospered and became an influential man in the community. All went well with this colony of New Mexicans until after the death of John Rowland in 1873, when it was found they had no deeds to their homes, and the title to their lands was disputed. It was finally adjusted by allowing each family a few acres, but small in comparison to their original acre.

Ricardo Vejar

Nepomuceno Ricardo Vejar (1805-1882) was born in SanDiego.  He served as Juez de Campo in Los Angeles in 1833.  In 1837 Vejar and Ygnacio Palomares successfully petitioned Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado for the creation of Rancho San Jose. Palomares took control of the northern part (Rancho San Jose´ Arriba) and Vejar took the southern part (Rancho San Jose´ Abajo). In 1847, Vejar acquired an interest in Rancho Los Nogales, to the south of Rancho San Jose, which is now the city of Walnut. Palomares and Vejar conducted sheep and cattle operations on Rancho San Jose, also growing crops for consumption by the residents of the rancho. In the early 1860s the west coast experienced massive floods follows by several years of drought which dstroyed the sheep and cattle trades in the region. Vejar lost his land by foreclosure to two Los Angeles merchants, Isaac Schlesinger and Hyman Tischler, in 1864. In 1866, Schlesinger and Tischler sold the ranch to Louis Phillips  

Condition Description
Pen and ink on drafting linen. Some minor loss and staining.
Roy M. Fryer: Pomma Valley before the Americans Came. The Quarterly: Historical Society of Southern California , December, 1939, Vol.
21, No. 4 (December, 1939), pp. 91-101
Henry Hancock Biography

Henry Hancock was a Harvard trained lawyer and a land surveyor working in California in the 1850s. He was the owner of Rancho La Brea, which included the La Brea Tar Pits. 

Hancock studied law at Harvard University. Graduating in 1846, he went St. Louis, Missouri, where he became a surveyor. During the Mexican–American War, he was quartermaster of the 1st Regiment Missouri Mounted Volunteers under Colonel Alexander William Doniphan. At the war's end, he returned home to New Hampshire but soon decided to go west.

Hancock travelled from Chicago to San Francisco, arriving in September, 1849, where he opened a law office. He briefly tried gold mining on American River, but in 1850 moved to Los Angeles.

Hancock engaged extensively in government surveying. Following California's annexation into the United States, the land grants given to Californios by the Spanish and Mexican colonial authorities  were required to prove their claims to the new American government. Owners filed claims with the United States Land Commission and had to have their property surveyed and mapped by government surveyors.

Hancock was among the first and most prominent surveyors in Southern California.  He served as Deputy Surveyor for the United States, but is better known for his work representing private claimants.  He surveyed Rancho San Pedro for the Dominguez family, Rancho San Francisco for the Del Valles, Rancho San Jose owned by the Palomares and Vejar families; and Henry Dalton's Rancho Azusa de Dalton.

Hancock also served as the city surveyor for Los Angeles. He was first employed to do survey work for the city in 1853 to 1854. 

On February 5, 1856, the United States Land Commission confirmed four square leagues of land to the City of Los Angeles (using 2.63 miles per league) with the center of the Plaza designated as the center of city land. As United States Deputy Surveyor, Hancock, surveyed the lands confirmed to the City by the United States Land Commission Patent of 1856.

In 1854, Hancock, along with Benjamin Davis Wilson, bought Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas. Hancock was elected to the California State Assembly as a Democrat, representing the 1st District from 1858 to 1860. 

As a lawyer, Henry Hancock worked for the Rocha family to aid them with their efforts to prove their claim to Rancho La Brea. The Rochas finally won their claim, but like so many other Californios, their legal expenses left them broke. In 1860 Jose Jorge Rocha, the son of Don Antonio Jose Rocha, deeded Rancho La Brea to Henry Hancock.

During the American Civil War (1861–1865), when there was considerable Confederate sympathy in Southern California, Hancock sided with the Union. He became major of the 4th California Infantry Regiment and for a time was commanding officer of Camp Drum, established to guard against pro-Confederate activities near Los Angeles. He also was sent to Santa Catalina Island to survey it and chose the location for its Union garrison. 

After the war, Hancock engaged in the commercial development of the asphaltum deposits on Rancho La Brea. He promoted its use for sidewalk and paving purposes, and shipped considerable quantities to San Francisco by schooner.  

In 1863 Hancock married Ida Haraszthy (Ida Hancock Ross), the daughter of Agoston Haraszthy, the "Father of Modern Viticulture in California".