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Register of the Legal File of Ex-Mission of Santa Catarina
MSS 0124  
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  • Preferred Citation


    Title: Legal File of Ex-Mission of Santa Catarina,
    Date (inclusive): 1856-1916
    Collection number: MSS 0124
    Extent: 0.40 linear feet (3 volumes, 541 pages, in 1 archives box.)
    Repository: Mandeville Special Collections Library, Geisel Library, UC, San Diego
    La Jolla, CA 92093-0175
    Shelf Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Language: English.

    Preferred Citation

    Legal File of Ex-Mission of Santa Catarina, MSS 0124. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.


    Correspondence, legal documents, expense statements, and sales agreements compiled to demonstrate rightful ownership of the lands deriving from the Ex-Mission of Santa Catarina, a large tract of land in northern Baja California originally the possession of the Catholic Church.


    The lands of the Ex-Mission of Santa Catarina are located in northern Baja California, about 70 miles south of San Diego. The lands comprise ca. 1.5 million acres. Prior to the Mexican Revolution, the lands belonged to the Catholic Church and were used for religious purposes. After the Revolution, the lands were appropriated by the Mexican government.
    In 1855, the Mexican government granted ownership of the lands of the ex-mission of Santa Catarina to General Ricardo Palacio for his services to the Government during the Revolution. The grant was made with three conditions. The first condition was that he was to take possession of the land and have it surveyed within three years of the grant. The second condition was that six houses were to be constructed on the property. The last condition was that the land was to be passed on only to a native or naturalized Mexican citizen.
    Beginning in 1861 or 1862, Gen. Palacio passed title of some portion of the land to Manuel Castro, who then sold it to William Denton. Denton, in turn, sold the land to Robert McKay, and McKay sold it to William McCrindle. Meanwhile, the Mexican government claimed to have annulled the original grant to Gen. Palacio because "of lack of compliance with condition of grant and also because the original survey was not filed but only what purported to be a copy. Also because the grant was for 341 leagues, this being contrary to law of 18th August,1824; also because Palacio had sold part of land to Morner who was a foreigner not naturalized, and further because Palacio had not surveyed and settled land by the 20th of June, 1865" (Vol. 3, p. 6). In 1898, the Mexican government reasserted the nullity of the Palacio grant, and it was suggested by one of the investigating attorneys, Y. Sepulveda, "it would be futile to attempt to obtain...benefit from the Palacio Grant" (Vol. 3, p. 6-7). As of 1916, ownership of the land was still being contested, the claim having passed to Antonio Milatovich.


    Accession Processed in 1997

    3 bound volumes containing legal documents, correspondence, and other materials pertaining to the dispute of ownership to the lands of the Ex-Mission of Santa Catarina.
    Letter of Ricardo Palacio to General Blancarte. UCSD MSS 255.
    Antonio Milatovich. Documents relating to land transactions in Baja California, 1841-1886. Bancroft Library, UC, Berkeley.