The Mission Era

The Mission Era

The 20,000 acres that comprise the Santa Lucia Preserve were originally part of two Mexican Land Grants.

When Sebastian Viscaino, a Spanish Explorer, sailed into Monterey Bay in 1602, he became the first European to have contact with the Native American community known collectively as the Rumsen. A group of thee indigenous people had lived in the Carmel Valley region for thousands of years utilizing the varied plant and animal life for their subsistence. Archaeologists have identified several sites associated with the Rumsen on the lands of the Santa Lucia Preserve (Breschini and Haversat 1994).

The founding of Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo and the Presidio of Monterey in 1770 established a
The Mission Era - Carmel Mission History, Monterey Peninsula Mission History, California Missions
Spanish presence in the area. In addition to its program of converting the Indians, the Mission also controlled the adjoining lands. Mexican independence in 1821 and the secularization of the missions in 1834 opened the former mission lands to settlement. Large tracts of land were granted to Mexican citizens by the government as a reward for service. Lands also could be petitioned for by those, including Mission Indians, who had already settled in a particular area (Robinson 1948).

The 20,000 acres that comprise the Santa Lucia Preserve were originally part of two Mexican land grants. The first, El Potrero de San Carlos (Pastures of Saint Charles), was given by Governor Juan Alvarado in 1837 to Fructuoso del Real, a Mission Indian. He cultivated a portion of the land and kept about seventy horses and five or six hundred head of cattle, along with some sheep and a few milk cows. About 1838, Fructuoso built an adobe house where he lived with his wife, Ignacia and three daughters. After his death, which occurred some time between 1840 and 1845, his widow and daughters continued to live on the land. In 1853, Ignacia conveyed her interest to Joaquin Gutierrez, the husband of her eldest daughter, Maria Estefana. By the time the land was patented in 1862 to Gutierrez, the 4,307 acres had already been sold to a group of Americans (U.S. Land Commission 1852-1892, County of Monterey Deed Books). This was a common occurrence in the history of California land ownership. Because of the long, protracted and expensive process of establishing claim to the land, the original owners were often forced to sell property before legal title had even been established at prices well below its worth (Robinson 1948).

The other grant, San Francisquito (little St. Francis), was made to Dona Catalina Manzanellide Munras, wife of Esteban Munras, in 1835. Munras arrived in Monterey in 1830, served as alcalde in 1837 and occupied the land with his wife until he sold the property to Francisco Soto in 1842. Munras had about six hundred head of cattle, one hundred horses and raised wheat and barley. The land changed hands several times between 1842 and 1853 and, when finally patented in 1862 to Jose Abrego, the grant consisted of 8,814 acres (U.S. Land Commission 1852-1892b). Although there are no standing structures associated with this time, archaeologists have located remains of adobes that appear to be from the period.