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Detailed 1869 Survey of the Steele Family Ranch and part of Rancho Punta Del Año Nuevo.

Fantastic early California survey of the southern part of Rancho Punta Del Año Nuevo (now mostly covered with Año Nuevo State Park), on the Pacific coast north of Santa Cruz, covering the famed Steele Ranch.

Oriented with east at the top, the survey was initially executed in 1869 by W.B. Treadwell, an enigmatic figure worthy of further research, at the time that the land was purchased by the Steele family for the dairy farming operation. It was probably updated over time as the land was slowly subdivided. A later table of field notes is recorded for the south line of the Ramsey Tract.

Beginning in the 1850's,  the Steele Brothers pioneered one of the first large-scale commercial cheese and dairy businesses in California. They extended their operations from Point Reyes to Rancho Punta de Año Nuevo in 1862. The 7000 acre Steele Ranch consisted of five dairies extending from Gazos Creek to Point Año Nuevo. For a century the Steele Brothers' dairy ranches were of major importance in California's agricultural development. They called their land "cow heaven."  During the Civil War, the Steele brothers auctioned a giant 20-foot round of cheese to benefit the Union war effort. President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant received slices. 

Land cover and topography are illustrated in the survey (with pleasingly-rendered sections of sand dunes). The scant dwellings of the area are also shown, though one wonders if fewer people live on this land today than lived on it in 1869.

The map illustrates "Waddell's Tramway", which was constructed by William White Waddell in 1861 to lead from a sawmill to a wharf north of what is now called Waddell's Beach.

Rancho Punta Del Año Nuevo

The rancho covered by this survey was a large Mexican land grant in San Mateo County dating from 1842 when it was given by Governor Juan B. Alvarado to Simeon Castro. The grant covered 17,753 acres and extended from Rancho Butano and Arroyo de Los Frijoles in the north to Point Año Nuevo in the south. Following the California Land Act of 1851, the grant was claimed by and patented (in 1857) to Maria Antonia Pico de Castro and the heirs of Simeon Castro.

The land was purchased by Clark & Coburn of San Francisco in 1862 and subsequently leased to the Rensselaer, Isaac, and Edgar Steele to run a dairy enterprise. In 1869, the Steele family purchased approximately 7,000 acres south of Gazos Creek. The area covered by this survey is 7060.47 acres.

The houses of I.C. Steele (presumably Isaac) and R.E. Steele (Rennselaer) are shown on the survey.

The Steele Ranch Papers were donated to the Green Library at Stanford by Mrs. Catherine Baumgarten Steele in 1972.

W.B. Treadwell

Treadwell was born in New York around 1848 and moved with his wife and four children to California. Several records give his occupation as "Lawyer" or "Attorney", especially from the 1870s onward, however, contemporary newspapers make note of his mapmaking habit as well. He was apparently a fairly stable and upstanding citizen, however in 1885 he was prosecuted for embezzlement. Curiously, a February 13, 1885 article in The San Francisco Examiner notes that the Superior Court of Lake County had overturned his conviction on the basis that "the first decision was not warranted by the evidence." However, the next year he was apparently on the wrong side of the law again, having been convicted of embezzlement (again?) and sentenced to four years at San Quentin, where he arrived on May 4th, 1886. Evidently, the conviction was still controversial, as he was pardoned by Governor George Stoneman on December 30th of that same year.

The present Treadwell should not be confused with J.B. Treadwell, who surveyed mining claims in Nevada in the 1870s.

Condition Description
Manuscript survey map on wove paper, executed in black and red ink, with pencil annotations. Fraying horizontal crease