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Halleck, Peachy & Billings Records: Finding Aid
mssHM 42940-43013  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Halleck, Peachy & Billings Records
    Dates (inclusive): 1851-1860
    Collection Number: mssHM 42940-43013
    Creator: Halleck, Peachy & Billings (Firm : San Francisco)
    Extent: 80 pieces in 2 boxes
    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: The collection consists of documents and letters related to California land cases between 1851 and 1860 involving the San Francisco law firm of Halleck, Peachy & Billings.
    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]. Halleck, Peachy & Billings Records, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Purchased from the Argonaut Book Shop, December, 1946.

    Historical Note

    Halleck, Peachy & Billings was one of the most prestigious law firms on the Pacific Coast, headquartered in San Francisco, California, 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.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of documents and letters related to California land cases involving the law firm of Halleck, Peachy & Billings. 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.
    Alphabetical list of 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 and HM 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 and HM 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
    • Miscellaneous legal papers [12 items]


    Arranged by call number.

    Indexing Terms

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


    Halleck, Peachy & Billings (Firm : San Francisco) -- Archives.
    Land grants -- California -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
    Land titles -- California -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
    Law firms -- California -- San Francisco -- Archives.


    Briefs (legal documents) -- California -- 19th century.
    Legal files -- California -- 19th century.
    Letters (correspondence) -- California -- 19th century.

    Alternate Authors

    Billings, Frederick, 1823-1890.
    Halleck, H. W. (Henry Wager), 1815-1872.
    Peachy, Archibald C., 1820-1883.