Inventory of the Halleck, Peachy & Billings Collection, 1837-1861

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Manuscripts Department
The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2203
Fax: (626) 449-5720
© 2000
The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.

Inventory of the Halleck, Peachy & Billings Collection, 1837-1861

The Huntington Library

San Marino, California

Contact Information

  • Manuscripts Department
  • The Huntington Library
  • 1151 Oxford Road
  • San Marino, California 91108
  • Phone: (626) 405-2203
  • Fax: (626) 449-5720
  • Email:
  • URL:
Processed by:
The Huntington Library staff
© 2000 The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Halleck, Peachy & Billings Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1837-1861
Creator: Halleck, Peachy & Billings
Extent: 80 pieces
Repository: The Huntington Library
San Marino, California 91108
Language: English.

Administrative Information


Purchased from the Argonaut Book Shop, December, 1946


Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information please go to following URL .

Publication Rights

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.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Halleck, Peachy & Billings Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


Halleck, Peachy & Billings was one of the most prestigious law firms on the Pacific Coast, headquartered in San Francisco and specializing in land cases. It was organized by Frederick Billings and Alexander Carey Peachy in 1849, who were joined soon after by Henry Wager Halleck. In 1853 Halleck built the Montgomery Black in San Francisco, and the partnership became permanently located there. The firm handled over half of the land claim cases in California immediately following the enaction of the Land Act of 1851. Although Halleck wrote the land title report that helped draft the Land Act of 1851, he did not support the Land Commission, and the firm of Halleck, Peachy & Billings defended many land titles against the Commission. It has been said that Halleck handled the preparation of the briefs for the cases, Peachy the oratory, and that Billings brought in the business. The firm was dissolved in 1861.
Henry Wager Halleck (1815-1872) was a West Point graduate (1839) and a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He was sent to California at the beginning of the Mexican War, and was involved in military operations in Lower California and for a brief time was Lt.-Governor of Mazatlan. In 1847 he was made a captain and sent to Monterey where he became Secretary of State and Auditor of Revenues to the military governor of California, Colonel Richard B. Mason. In 1848 Halleck wrote a report on land titles which was based on land grant settlements made by the United States in Florida. After the termination of the law firm, Halleck became a general in the Civil War. He was a top aide to Abraham Lincoln and was present with those in the room at the time of Lincoln's death.
Frederick Billings (1823-1890) is supposed to have been the first lawyer to begin practice in San Francisco. He was graduated from the University of Vermont in 1844, admitted to the bar in 1849, and appointed legal advisor of California Territory under Governor Mason. At this time he became acquainted with Henry W. Halleck. In 1863 Billings was an important political figure and was credited by some with saving the state of California for the Union. After returning to Vermont in 1866, Billings reorganized the troubled Northern Pacific Railroad and was elected its president in 1879.
The third member of the firm, Archibald Carey Peachy (1820-1883) was a native of Virginia who came to California in 1849, became a member of the California Assembly in 1852 and of the state senate in 1860. It is said that his sympathy with the cause of the South in the Civil War was a contributing factor in the dissolution of the firm of Halleck, Peachy & Billings.

Subject Matter

The major part of the collection consists of legal documents written chiefly by Henry W. Halleck relating to the California Land Cases-copies of land titles, drafts of briefs, and opinions used in establishing the legal titles of some 36 different land grants. There are also notes on Spanish land laws and a few papers relating to other legal cases in California.

Land Cases


HM 42959 Almaden Mines. Case 366


HM 42943 Bolsa de Chamisal Rancho (San Luis Obispo Co.) Case 312


HM 42944-42945 Callayomi Rancho (Sonoma Co.) Case 40


HM 42941 & 43001 Campo de los Franceses (San Joaquin Co.) Case 255


HM 42942 Cañada de los Capitancillos (Santa Clara Co.) Case 744


HM 42961-42962 Cañada de los Osos, Pecho y Islay (San Luis Obispo Co.) Case 218


HM 42963-42966 Cañada de Pogolomé (Marin Co.) Case 19


HM 42943 Chamisal, Bolsa de (San Luis Obispo Co.) Case 312


HM 43005 Los Coches Rancho (Santa Clara Co.) Case 167


HM 42944-42945 Collayomi Rancho (Sonoma Co.) Case 40


HM 42946-42947 Corral de Piedra Rancho (Sacramento Co.) Case 190


HM 42948 Cosumnes Rancho (Sacramento Co.) Case 228


HM 42963 Estero del Americano Rancho (Sonoma Co.) Case 136 (see Cañada de Pogolomé)


HM 42949-42954 Guadalasca Rancho (Santa Barbara Co.) Case 31


HM 42955 Guenoc Rancho (Sonoma Co.) Case 12


HM 42956-42957 Jesús María Rancho (Santa Barbara Co.) Case 528


HM 42958 La Laguna Rancho (Santa Barbara Co.) Case 217


HM 43004 Llano Seco Rancho (Butte Co.) Case 289


HM 42959 New Almaden Mines. Case 366


HM 42960 Ojo de Agua de Figueroa Rancho (San Francisco Co.) Case 310


HM 42961-42962 Osos, Pecho y Islay, Cañada de (San Luis Obispo Co.) Case 218


HM 42963-42966 Pogolomé, Cañada de (Marin Co.) Case 19


HM 42974 Las Posas Rancho (Santa Barbara Co.) Case 296


HM 42967-42971 El Potrero de San Carlos Rancho (Monterey Co.) Case 271


HM 42972-42973 Potrero de Santa Clara Rancho (Santa Clara Co.) Case 8


HM 42974 Las Pozas Rancho (Santa Barbara Co.) Case 296


HM 42975 Rincón de las Salinas Rancho y Potrero Nuevo (San Francisco Co.) Case 30


HM 42976 Rinconada del Zanjón Rancho (Monterey Co.) Case 532


HM 42977-42978 Río de Santa Clara Rancho (Santa Clara Co.) Case 225


HM 42979 San Bernardino Rancho (San Bernardino Co.) Case 316


HM 42980 San Buenaventura Mission (Santa Barbara Co.) Case 51


HM 42981 San Diego Mission (San Diego Co.) Case 175


HM 42982 San Francisco, City of. Case 280


HM 42983 San Julián Rancho (Santa Barbara Co.) Case 13


HM 42984-42986 San Luis Obispo Co. (Calif.) Case 39


HM 42987-42988 San Luis Obispo Mission (San Luis Obispo Co.) Case 224


HM 42989 Santa Ana Rancho (Santa Barbara Co.) Case 494


HM 42990 Santa Barbara (City). Case 543


HM 42991 Santa Clara Mission


HM 42992-42993 Santa Rosa Island (Santa Barbara Co.) Case 117


HM 42994 & 43006 Simi Rancho (Santa Barbara Co.) Case 103


HM 42995 Sotoyomé Rancho (Sonoma and Mendocino Co.) Case 16


HM 42996 Tequepis Rancho (Santa Barbara Co.) Case 88


HM 42997 Los Tularcitos Rancho (Monterey Co.) Case 195

item 12 items

Miscellaneous legal papers