Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Denton Ranch Collection (Jacume, Baja California Norte, Mexico),
Date (inclusive): 1864 - 1993
1.00 linear feet
(2 archives boxes, 6 oversize folders)
Abstract: Title documents and correspondence related to the ownership of the Denton Ranch, also known as Rancho Jacume, located on the
international border in Baja California Norte, Mexico near La Rumerosa. The collection forms the documentation for the Denton
Family's claim for compensation for the expropriation of the ranch in 1939 during the Cardenas administration.
The collection is divided into three series: 1) TITLE DOCUMENTS, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, and 3) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS.
University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.
La Jolla, California 92093-0175
Collection number: MSS 0115
Language of Material:
Collection materials in English
Collection is open for research.
Denton Ranch Collection (Jacume, Baja California Norte, Mexico), MSS 0115. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.
Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.
Col. William Denton (1828-1907), an English civil engineer, came to California during the Gold Rush, worked for the United
States geodetic survey and later pursued an interest in mining exploration and speculation in Mexico. In 1860, he married
Elena Cano de los Rios of Mulege, Baja California and eventually moved his family to San Diego in 1874. Denton became a naturalized
Mexican citizen in 1896.
In 1885, Col. Denton purchased two thousand five hundred hectars (6,175 acres) of land in Mexico known as "Jacumbo" from Senora
Higinia Tortoledo for five hundred pesos. Rancho Jacume, as it was known locally, was located on the frontier of the Northern
District of Lower California, Mexico on the international border. Col. Denton maintained his residence in San Diego, where
his children were educated, and used Rancho Jacume for cattle grazing.
At the time of his death in 1907, Col. Denton's estate was largely comprised of properties in Baja California, Mexico. He
owned an undivided interest in Rancho Algodones, located on the Colorado River in Baja California; Rancho Jacume; and half
interest in the mines known as Toronjil, Angel de la Guardia, Nueva Esperanza, La Vaca, Tarantula, the Chubasco group, the
Sireno group, Santa Rosa, Alice, Josephina, Ajax and Vulcan. Denton worked in a mining partnership with H.A. Howard of San
Diego, who provided capital for survey expenses, title acquisition, and taxes.
Upon Col. Denton's death, title to the Denton Ranch was divided between his wife, who received a one half interest, and his
children, William Smith Denton, Oscar Alan Denton, Sara Brent Denton Scott, Alexander Marion Denton, Maria S. Denton Showley
and Morgan Gascoigne Denton. Elena Denton willed her property equally to Sara Denton Scott, Maria Soledad Denton Showley,
Morgan Gascoine Denton, and Samuel John Murvin Showley. Oscar Alan Denton occupied the Denton Ranch and administered the
In 1939, the Denton Ranch was expropriated by the Mexican government and ownership transferred to a newly form ejido, or agricultural
collective. Over the next seven years, Maria Denton Showley and her brother, Morgan Denton, pursued a suit with the American
Mexican Claims Commission for compensation and on June 28, 1946 a settlement was reached.
Scope and Content of Collection
The Denton Ranch records contain title documents and correspondence supporting the Denton Family's claim for compensation
to the American Mexican Claims Commission for the 1939 expropriation of the Denton Ranch. The documents trace the chain of
ownership from Senora Higinia Tortoledo, through Colonel William Denton, to Maria Denton Showley and Morgan Denton. The bulk
of the correspondence relates to the compensation claim.The collection is arranged in three series: 1) TITLE DOCUMENTS, 2)
CORRESPONDENCE, and 3) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS.
SERIES 1: TITLE DOCUMENTS
The TITLE DOCUMENTS series contains copies, often holograph, of documents of conveyance, wills, certificates and testimony
which establish clear title to the Denton Ranch. The materials date from 1872 to 1939 and are arranged in chronological order.
Of particular interest is the document which associates Senora Higinia Tortoledo with the property called "Jacumbo" in 1885
(Box 1, Folder 3).
SERIES 2: CORRESPONDENCE
The CORRESPONDENCE series contains all the correspondence in the collection and is arranged chronologically. Included are
letters from Col. William Denton and his wife, Elena and other family members. The bulk of the correspondence dates between
1930 to 1946 and relates to the administration of the estate. Elena Denton, Maria Denton Showley and Morgan Denton are the
major correspondents during this period.
SERIES 3: MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS
In the MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS series are documents related to William Denton's other holdings in Baja California- Rancho
Algodones and various mining properties. Also included is geneaological information on the Denton Family. Finally, an interesting
transcription by Dan Showley of a seaman's diary provides description of Baja California at the time of William Denton's marriage
to Elena Cano de los Rios in 1860.
Maps and materials related to Denton's Baja California mines are located at the San Diego Historical Society.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Denton Family -- Archives
Denton, William, 1828-1907
Showley, Maria Denton
Denton Ranch (Jacume, Baja California Norte, Mexico) -- Archives
Rancho Jacume (Jacume, Baja California Norte, Mexico) -- Archives
Land titles -- Registration and transfer -- Mexico -- Baja California (Peninsula)
Land tenure -- Mexico -- Baja California (Peninsula)
Baja California (Mexico : Peninsula) -- History