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Denton Ranch Collection (Jacume, Baja California Norte, Mexico)
MSS 0115  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights
  • Historical Background
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Creator: Denton Family
    Title: Denton Ranch Collection (Jacume, Baja California Norte, Mexico),
    Date (inclusive): 1864 - 1993
    Extent: 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.
    Repository: 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.

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available

    Preferred Citation

    Denton Ranch Collection (Jacume, Baja California Norte, Mexico), MSS 0115. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Historical Background

    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 property.
    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.
    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).
    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.
    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.

    Indexing Terms

    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
    Denton, Elena
    Showley, Maria Denton
    Denton, Morgan
    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