Rancho Valle de San Jose (Portilla)

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Rancho Valle de San Jose was a 17,634-acre (71.36 km2) Mexican land grant in present day San Diego County, California given in 1836 by Governor Nicolás Gutiérrez to Silvestre de la Portilla.[1] Located in north east of San Diego County, it was bounded on the north by Buena Vista Creek and Rancho San Jose del Valle.[2] The western part of the grant is under the waters of Lake Henshaw formed in 1922 by a dam on the San Luis Rey River.


During the process of secularizing the Mission San Luis Rey in 1834, Captain Pablo de la Portillà was appointed administrator. In 1836, his brother, Silvestre de la Portillo (1801–), was granted the four square league Rancho Valle de San Jose, a portion of the valley formerly occupied by the Mission San Luis Rey, by Governor ad interim, Nicolás Gutiérrez. Silvestre de la Portillo left the rancho in charge of his brother, Pablo, and returned to his native Sonora and did not come back until the 1850s.[3][4]

With the cession of California to the United States following the Mexican-American War, the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided that the land grants would be honored. As required by the Land Act of 1851, a claim for Rancho Valle de San Jose was filed with the Public Land Commission in 1852,[5] and the grant was patented to Silvestre de la Portilla in 1880.[6]

In 1858, Silvestre de la Portilla sold Rancho Valle de San Jose to Vicenta Sepulveda de Carrillo.[7] Silvestre de la Portillo married Claudia Valdez in 1860 at Mission San Luis Rey. Maria Vicenta Sepulveda (1816-1907)[8] was married to Tomas Antonio Yorba (1787–1845) and then married to Jose Ramon Carrillo (1821–1864). Vicenta also received the Rancho La Sierra grant in 1846. Vicenta remained on Rancho Valle de San Jose until 1869, at which time she moved her family to Anaheim.[9][10]

By about 1875, Louis Phillips and John G. Downey (1827–1894) owned most of the southern four square league Portilla Rancho Valle de San Jose and the northern six square league Warner Rancho San Jose del Valle.[11] In 1880 Downey became sole owner.

The rights of the Native American Cupeño Indians to reoccupy their ancestral homeland became a controversial matter. In 1901, the US Supreme Court concurred with the finding of the lower courts that a U.S. Government patent of ownership conferred absolute ownership, and they were ordered ejected.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ogden Hoffman, 1862, Reports of Land Cases Determined in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Numa Hubert, San Francisco
  2. ^ Diseño del Rancho Valle de San Jose
  3. ^ Richard F. Pourade,1963, The Silver Dons, The Union-Tribune Publishing Company, San Diego
  4. ^ R. W. Brackett, 1951,The history of San Diego County Ranchos, Union Title Insurance and Trust Company, San Diego, California
  5. ^ United States. District Court (California : Southern District) Land Case 144 SD
  6. ^ Report of the Surveyor General 1844 - 1886
  7. ^ Deed, Silvestre de la Portilla to Dona Vicenta Sepulveda de Carrillo, 6 November 1858, Deed Books, 1:279-281, San Diego County Recorder's Office
  8. ^ Vicenta Sepulveda Yorba
  9. ^ Lynne Newell Christenson, Ellen L. Sweet, 2008, Ranchos of San Diego County, Arcadia Publishing, ISBN 978-0-7385-5965-0
  10. ^ Kathleen Flanigan ,1996, The Ranch House at Warner's, The Journal of San Diego History , Fall 1996, Volume 42, Number 4
  11. ^ Gage v Downey, 1888, California unreported cases: being those determined in the Supreme Court of California, Bender Moss Company
  12. ^ Barker v. Harvey, U.S. Supreme Court, 181 U.S. 481 (1901)
  13. ^ Lewis, Frank D. (August 1903). "The Warner Ranch Indians: And Why They Were Removed To Pala". Overland Monthly XLII: 171–173. 

Coordinates: 33°14′24″N 116°41′24″W / 33.240°N 116.690°W / 33.240; -116.690