Title: Henry Dalton Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1819-1942,
Date (bulk): bulk 1840-1883
Extent: 2,430 pieces, including bills and receipts, but excluding miscellaneous printed pieces and ephemera.
The Huntington Library
San Marino, California 91108
The Henry Dalton papers were acquired from Mrs. Roger P. Dalton, January 24, 1958.
Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information
please go to following
In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission
from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical
property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances,
the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate
curator for further information.
[Identification of item], Henry Dalton Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
Henry Dalton was born in London on October 8, 1804. On July 7, 1819, at age 14, he was apprenticed to Winnall Thomas Dalton
as merchant tailor for a period of seven years. In 1827 he was in Peru, where he purchased for $3000.00 certain articles in
corner Public House in Callao, apparently for commercial purposes. He engaged in coastal trade and commerce in Peru and Mexico,
extending his interests in Mexico when he contracted for the purchase of the estate of the Marques de San Miguel de Aguayo.
Through 1842 Dalton's business correspondence, although including Peruvian interests, was written from cities on the Pacific
coast of Mexico, while his coastal trade was extended northward to San Diego, San Pedro and Los Angeles. He acquired property
in both San Pedro and Los Angeles as early as 1843, from which time he appears to have been definitely established in California.
In 1844 he purchased Rancho Azusa from its original grantee Luis Arenas; thereafter interested himself more in ranching than
in shipping, although he maintained his commercial establishment in Los Angeles as an outlet for the surplus production of
his various ranches. After 1846, when he charted a cargo vessel between Callao, Peru and California, he seems to have diminished
his trading relations with Peru, but he never abandoned his Mexican contacts.
Acquisition of land in California progressed rapidly after the Azusa purchase. In 1845 Pio Pico granted two extensions to
Rancho Azusa, one of which had been part of the San Gabriel Mission lands. Henry Dalton gradually accumulated properties until
he became the owner of five ranches: Azusa, San Francisquito, San Jose and Addition, and Santa Anita. Other miscellaneous
properties were acquired in and near Los Angeles. Santa Anita was sold in 1854; Francisquito was disposed of in small tracts
between 1867 and 1875. Azusa was lost to the squatters through a series of highly questionable court decisions. San Jose and
Addition became entangled in land litigation and were lost, while the miscellaneous property was gradually sold or lost as
Henry Dalton was married in 1847 to María Guadalupe Zamorano, daughter of María Luisa Arguello de Zamorano and Agustín Vicente
Zamorano. Dalton was 43 years of age, his bride 15. The couple had eleven children, seven of which outlived their father:
Winnall Augustin, Luisa, Soyla, Henry Francisco, Elena, Valentine, and Joseph Russell.
Dalton had three major dedications during his lifetime after establishing himself in California: the welfare of his family,
his fight to keep his lands, and his efforts to obtain an equitable settlement in his claims before the Mexican government.
These Mexican claims arose out of two events: damages to property sustained during the Mexican-American war of 1845-1848,
during which he not only was in sympathy with the Mexican cause, but placed a considerable sum of money and supplies at the
disposal of the Mexican governor of California. He also suffered material damages, as well as the loss of livestock stolen
from ranchos Azusa and Santa Anita, when the troops of Fremont and Stockton entered Los Angeles. The second event occasioning
claims in Mexico stemmed from the purchase he had made in 1840 of the lands forming part of the estate of the Marques de Aguayo,
but to which he had never been given either clear title or possession. The Mexican government readily accepted the validity
of both claims, and made payment in bonds which proved to be unredeemable during Dalton's lifetime because of the precarious
condition of the Mexican economy. Thus the Mexican claims, like the California land litigation lasted many years: the former
from 1846 until after Henry Dalton's death, being continued by his heirs; the latter from the early 1850s, culminating in
the loss of Azusa in 1881.
Dalton never abandoned the hope of recovering at least part of the lost lands, and attempted on several occasions to repurchase
sections of his ranches. This was an ambitious project, since he was deeply mortgaged during the entire period
of litigation, largely because of the expenses caused by squatter claims on Azusa after 1858, the date of the erroneous and
detrimental Hancock Survey. The mortgages were held by F. L. A. Pioche, later by the Pioche estate heirs.
Many of the Dalton papers are personal, concerned with purely family matters. This aspect becomes even more accentuated after
Dalton's death in 1884, and we are able to watch the separate branches of the family grow and develop. Marriages, births,
divorce, death, joys and anguish, show through the family letters.