Rancho de las Pulgas

Coordinates: 37°28′12″N 122°11′24″W / 37.470°N 122.190°W / 37.470; -122.190
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Don José Darío Argüello was granted Rancho de las Pulgas in 1795.
Diseños of land grant

Rancho de las Pulgas was a 35,240-acre (142.6 km2) 1795 Spanish land grant in present-day San Mateo County, California, to José Darío Argüello. The literal translation is "Ranch of the Fleas", probably named after a village of the local Lamchin people.[1] The grant was bounded by San Mateo Creek on the north and San Francisquito Creek on the south, and extended about one league from San Francisco Bay to the hills.[2] The grant encompassed present-day San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos, Redwood City, Atherton and Menlo Park.[3]


Northern portion of rancho plat of 1856
Southern portion of rancho plat of 1856

In 1795, the Spanish Governor of California, Diego de Borica, made the provisional grant of the Las Pulgas to José Darío Argüello. Brothers Luis Antonio Argüello (1784–1830), Santiago Argüello (1791–1862) and Gervasio Argüello were sons of José Darío Argüello (1753–1828). In 1835, Mexican Governor José Castro granted the four square league Rancho de las Pulgas to the widow, Maria Soledad Ortega de Argüello (1797–1874), and heirs of Luis Antonio Argüello.[4][5][6]

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 de las Pulgas for twelve square leagues was filed in 1852 with the Public Land Commission by heirs of Luis Antonio Argüello.[7][8] The Land Commission rejected the claim for twelve square leagues, but confirmed the claim for four square leagues, which was confirmed by the District Court, and affirmed by the US Supreme Court.[9] A claim filed by Gervasio Argüello with the Land Commission in 1852 was rejected.[10] A claim filed by Mowry W. Smith with the Land Commission in 1853 was rejected.[11]

In 1857, following the 1856 official survey, the grant was patented to Maria Soledad Ortega de Argüello (one undivided half), Jose Ramon Argüello (one undivided fourth), Luis Antonio Argüello (one undivided tenth) and S. M. Mezes (three undivided twentieths). Simon Monserrat Mezes (d. 1884) was the Argüello family's lawyer who handled the land patent process. The original grant was described as "being of the extent of four leagues in length and one league in breadth, more or less". The patent was for 35,240 acres (142.6 km2)[12]—nearly double the size of the original grant, and contrary to the language of the US Supreme Court ruling. Although both Rancho de las Pulgas and Rancho Cañada de Raymundo had been patented by the US Government, the boundaries of these two grants now overlapped, a problem that required an Act of Congress in 1878 to resolve.[13]

Alameda de las Pulgas[edit]

Alameda de las Pulgas is a modern road almost 10 miles long, contiguously connects all the contemporary cities within the original grant, from San Mateo to Menlo Park. The area consists of suburban housing and a small business district along Alameda de las Pulgas, often just referred to as "the Alameda" (literally, "Avenue of the Fleas": in Spanish "alameda" means a row of trees or a street lined with trees and the word "pulgas" means fleas), which extends the length of the Rancho de las Pulgas land grant.

The main village of the Lamchin, the Ohlone tribe living in the San Carlos area before the Spanish settlers arrived, was called, "Cachanigtac." The name appears to contain a word for vermin, which the Spanish missionaries translated as las Pulgas (the Fleas).

  • For the various branches of the Argüello last name in both the Western Hemisphere and in Spain see also Argüello

See also[edit]


  1. ^ q.v.
  2. ^ "[Diseño del Rancho de las Pulgas : San Mateo Co., Calif.]". content.cdlib.org. Retrieved 2017-04-15.
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Rancho de las Pulgas
  4. ^ Ogden Hoffman, 1862, Reports of Land Cases Determined in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Numa Hubert, San Francisco
  5. ^ "The Arguellos and Rancho de las Pulgas". San Mateo Daily Journal. Archived from the original on 2011-05-24. Retrieved 2017-04-15.
  6. ^ Rancho de las Pulgas
  7. ^ United States. District Court (California : Northern District) Land Case 54 ND
  8. ^ Finding Aid to the Documents Pertaining to the Adjudication of Private Land Claims in California, circa 1852-1892
  9. ^ "Arguello v. United States 59 U.S. 539 (1855)". Justia Law. Retrieved 2017-04-15.
  10. ^ United States. District Court (California : Northern District) Land Case 157 ND
  11. ^ United States. District Court (California : Northern District) Land Case 293 ND
  12. ^ Report of the Surveyor General 1844 - 1886 Archived 2009-05-04 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Boundary of Las Pulgas Rancho, Reports of Committees, House of Representatives, Vol. IV, Report No. 810, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1878

External links[edit]

37°28′12″N 122°11′24″W / 37.470°N 122.190°W / 37.470; -122.190