Denton Ranch Collection (Jacume, Baja California Norte, Mexico)

Mandeville Special Collections Library
Mandeville Special Collections Library
The UCSD Libraries
9500 Gilman Drive
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, California 92093-0175
Phone: (858) 534-2533
Fax: (858) 534-5950
Copyright 2005
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

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

Collection Contents



box 1, folder 1

Transfer of title to Jacume executed in La Paz, Baja California 1872


Typescript carbon transcription of conveyance from Albina Arriola de Higinia Tortoledo to William Denton for 500 pesos.
box 1, folder 2, oversize FB08201

Marriage certificate of William Denton and Maria Elena Cano de los Rios 1876


Recorded in San Diego, Cal.
box 1, folder 3

Rancho "Jacumbo" homestead document 1885


Document establishes Senora Higinia Tortoledo's claim to the 2,500 hectar tract
box 1, folder 4, oversize FB08202

C. Secretario de Estado y del despacho de Fomento 1885


Signed in Todos Santos de Ensenada by William Denton
box 1, folder 5, oversize FB08203

William Denton's Mexican naturalization certificate 1886


box 1, folder 6, oversize FB08204

Power of attorney from Higinio Tortoledo to William Denton 1877


Transcribed copy and lawyer's translation
box 1, folder 7

Citacion 1887


Executed at Todos Santos de Ensenada
box 1, folder 8

No. 644 El Administrador de Rentas de este Territorio.... 1887


2 copies
box 1, folder 9, oversize FB08205

Certificacion 1887


Relates to the payment of 246 pesos by William Denton to the Administrador de Rentas in Todos Santos de Ensenada
box 1, folder 10

Testimonio compulsado de los poderes.... 1890


Documentation of the transfer of power of attorney from Higinia Tortoledo to William Denton in 1877
box 1, folder 11

El suscrito, Consul de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos en San Diego.... 1893

box 1, folder 12

Copias certificadas de algunas constancias que obran en el juicio.... 1905


Validation of Denton's title to "Jacume" in the District Court of Ensenada
box 1, folder 13

William Denton's last will and testament 1906


Typescript copy
box 1, folder 14

Copy of title as recorded in Ensenada 1911


Photographic copy and typescript translation
box 1, folder 15

Court of Tecate confirms Elena Cano de los Rios as owner of "Jacume" 1916


Photographic copy
box 1, folder 16, oversize FB08206

Primer testimonio de la escritura por la que la senora Elena Cano de los Rios... 1929


Photograph copy
box 1, folder 17

En Tecate, Baja California a las nueve horas.... 1930


Elena Cano de los Rios' signed will
box 1, folder 18

Testament of Elena Cano de los Rios 1930


Typescript English translation of records submitted in probate proceedings
box 1, folder 19

Appointment of executors for Elena Cano de los Rios' will 1939


Typescript English translation
box 1, folder 20

El Ciudadano Luis G. Carreno, Secretario del ramo penal.... 1939




box 1, folder 21

Correspondence 1864 - 1899

box 1, folder 22

Correspondence 1900 - 1909

box 1, folder 23

Correspondence 1910 - 1919

box 1, folder 24

Correspondence 1920 - 1929

box 1, folder 25

Correspondence 1930 - 1939

box 1, folder 26

Correspondence - Part I 1940 - 1949

box 1, folder 27

Correspondence - Part II 1940 - 1949

box 1, folder 28

Correspondence 1950 - 1959

box 1, folder 29

Correspondence 1970 - 1979

box 1, folder 30

Correspondence 1980 - 1982



box 1, folder 31

Fitch, F.G. "The Sea of Cortes, 1858-1859: the diary of F.G. Fitch" 1858 - 1859


Recent typescript transcription edited by Dan Showley
box 1, folder 32

In regard to the Algodones Rancho - Thos. H. Blythe & others


Typescript photocopy
box 1, folder 33

Newspaper clippings 1907 - 1993

box 1, folder 34

Photographs of Denton Ranch 1929 - 1954


box 1, folder 35

Report on a group of iron properties in the "Trinidad" mineral district 1903


box 2, folder 1

Showley, Dan. "Sabbatical Leave Report" 1949


Description and travel in Mexico
box 2, folder 2

Some allied families & posterity of Robert John Young and Daisie Frances Denton


Family history
box 2, folder 3

Vital dates of Denton family members


box 2, folder 4

Originals of preservation photocopies