SCOPE AND CONTENT
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
Mandeville Special Collections Library, Geisel Library, UC, San Diego
Shelf Location: For current information on the location of these
materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Legal File of Ex-Mission of Santa Catarina, MSS 0124. Mandeville Special Collections
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
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.
SCOPE AND CONTENT
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.