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Henry Dalton Papers: Finding Aid
mssDL 1-1196; mssFAC 682  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Henry Dalton Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1819-1942
    Bulk dates: 1840-1883
    Collection Number: mssDL 1-1196; mssFAC 682
    Creator: Dalton, Henry, 1803-1884
    Extent: 2,430 pieces in 15 boxes; 40 bound volumes; 1 tan case; and 13 maps
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection consists of the business and personal papers of rancher and businessman Henry Dalton (1803-1884) and his life in early Southern California, with the bulk dating from 1840-1883. Of note are land papers and maps related to Dalton's ranches: Rancho Azusa, Rancho Santa Anita, Rancho San Francisquito, Rancho San José, and Rancho Addition.
    Language: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Henry Dalton Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Purchased from Mrs. Roger P. Dalton, January 24, 1958.

    Biographical Note

    Henry Dalton (1804-1884) was born in London, England, 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 Dalton was in Peru, where he purchased for $3000 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. 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 Dalton 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. Dalton gradually accumulated properties until he was 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 well.
    Dalton was married in 1847 to fifteen-year-old María Guadalupe Zamorano, daughter of María Luisa Arguello de Zamorano and Agustín Vicente Zamorano. They had eleven children, seven of whom 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.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of letters, manuscripts, diaries, account books, and documents related to Henry Dalton and his life in early Southern California. Of note are land papers and maps related to Dalton's ranches: Rancho Azusa, Rancho Santa Anita, Rancho San Francisquito, Rancho San José, and Rancho Addition.
    The papers include business papers and legal documents related to Dalton's trading in Peru, 1827-1842 (Box 1). 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. There is also correspondence and documents related to business affairs in Mexico, Dalton's litigation about his Mexican War claims, his land in Mexico, and claims before the Mexican government (Boxes 3-5). Boxes 6-12 contain business, personal, and family correspondence. Much of this correspondence and papers are of a personal nature, dealing with family matters, particularly after Dalton's death in 1884, when separate branches of the family grow and develop. There are also land papers (Boxes 13-14) and Dalton family accounts and receipts (Boxes 15 and 15a).
    The collection also contains 7 volumes detailing the daily occurrences at Rancho Azusa (1845-1879), 2 letter books; 8 diaries; 10 memorandum books, 25 account books, 4 Indian books, and 14 banking and receipt books. In addition, there are 13 maps (DL 1178-1190) and one facsimile (FAC 682, Rolled photocopy of Census of Free Inhabitants, Azusa, Calif. 1860, 10 p.)


    Arranged in the following order:
    • Peru (Box 1)
    • Mexico (Boxes 3-5)
    • Correspondence and miscellaneous papers; photographs (Boxes 6-12)
    • Land papers (Boxes 13-14)
    • Family accounts and receipts and miscellaneous; drawing of Soyla Dalton (Box 15 and 15a and folder)
    • Volumes
    • Maps

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Dalton, Henry, 1803-1884 -- Archives.
    Land grants -- California -- Los Angeles County.
    Land grants -- Law and legislation -- California -- Los Angeles County.
    Land titles -- California -- Los Angeles County.
    Land titles -- Mexico.
    Ranch life -- California, Southern.
    Ranchers -- California -- Los Angeles County -- Archives.
    Ranches -- California -- Los Angeles County.
    British Americans -- California -- Archives.
    Mexican War, 1846-1848 -- Claims.
    California, Southern -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
    Mexico -- Commerce -- 19th century -- Sources.
    Peru -- Commerce -- 19th century -- Sources.
    Rancho Addition (Calif.)
    Rancho Addition (Calif.) -- Maps.
    Rancho Azusa (Calif.)
    Rancho Azusa (Calif.) -- Maps.
    Rancho San Francisquito (Calif.)
    Rancho San Francisquito (Calif.) -- Maps.
    Rancho San José (Calif.)
    Rancho San José (Calif.) -- Maps.
    Rancho Santa Anita (Calif.)
    Rancho Santa Anita (Calif.) -- Maps.


    Account books.
    Business records 19th century.
    Diaries 19th century.
    Family papers.
    Journals 19th century.
    Letter books.
    Letters (correspondence)