Rancho San Pedro

 Life on a Rancho
Post Gold Rush, Ranch Expansion

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Photo credit: Dominguez Adobe
The adobe of Rancho San Pedro as can be seen today.

Did Manuel Dominguez have to appear before the Land Commission to prove Rancho ownership?


Photo credit: Dominguez Adobe
A portriat of Manuel Dominguez that can be seen at the Dominguez Adobe.

 The original Dominguez petition has never been found. It is thought to have disappeared long before Juan Jose's death. In the hearing, before the United States Land Claims Commission, heirs of Jose Maria Verdugo and Manuel Nieto submitted original documents mentioning Juan Jose Dominguez or the Dominguez land grant. The Dominguez land grant was also mentioned in a report written by Governor Fages to his superiors in Mexico.

Manuel Dominguez had to appear before the Land Commission. He had an advantage in that he spoke fluent English and was educated. He was able to produce many documents supporting his claim on Rancho San Pedro.


Photo credit: California State University Dominguez Hills, Gillingham Collection
Last Page of the document granting title to the heirs of Cristobal Dominguez in 1855.


Photo credit: California State University Dominguez Hills, Gillingham Collection
The map of the 1855 partition, dividing the Rancho among Manuel Dominguez and his siblings.

How did Manuel Dominguez expand the holdings of the Rancho?

What happened to the land Manuel's sisters and brothers received?

Over time Manuel proceeded to expand his holdings of the Rancho. In 1835, Manuel acquired Nasario's acreage for what amounted to a few horses. Maria Victoria Dominguez's acreage was given to her daughter upon her marriage. It was mortgaged and defaulted several times before it became the Temple and Gibson Tract, which is part of present day Compton, founded in 1867. Pedro Dominguez sold half of his property to pay off a debt to Jose Antonio Aguirre. The other half was deeded to his wife to avoid this problem in the future.

 In 1858, over one thousand acres were sold to Henry Alexander and Phineas Banning, Alexander married Pedro Dominguez's daughter Feliciana. Nineteen hundred acres were sold to Prudent Beaudry, eight hundred acres were sold to Isaias W. Hellman, most of this land is still owned by Hellman interests. The rest was purchased by Aguirre and sold as parcels before 1900. Manuel also acquired twenty-nine acres from Manuel Rocha, the son of Maria Elena Dominguez, this was one third of her original interest. The remaining Rocha heirs sold the harbor region to parties outside the Dominguez family. Manuel also acquired Maria Victoria Estudillo's acreage, which included the land west of Dominguez Hill through present day Torrance.

 In December of 1854, the first large-scale sales of Rancho land was made to a company headed by Phineas Banning. The entire tract was divided into commercial and residential blocks near the waterfront. This area was first known as "New Town" and also "New San Pedro" later it was named Wilmington. Before title was granted a survey of Rancho San Pedro was completed. In 1855, the survey and division of ownership was approved by the Court, it determined that there were 44,219 acres in the Rancho, excluding Rancho Los Palos Verdes. Manuel Dominguez owned 28,746 acres or two thirds of the Rancho lands still held by Dominguez heirs.

 Manuel Dominguez sold 214 acres of land in the Northeast corner of the Rancho, known as Los Salinas, which bordered the ocean north of the City of Redondo Beach. This land included a number of salty ponds located within one hundred yards of the beach. Henry Allanson and William Johnson purchased the land and organized the Pacific Salt Works Company.

 Manuel also deeded Phineas Banning, a right-of-way from north to south of the Rancho, being 100 feet wide and 33,293 feet in length, which constituted about 77 acres, for the Los Angeles and San Pedro Railroad. The line was taken over by Southern Pacific Company in 1874.

 Manuel Dominguez subdivided two thousand acres to form the Dominguez Colony Tract, which was located southeast of Dominguez Hill. The tract was divided into forty-acre blocks running along the railroad line. This was the only subdivision of Rancho lands undertaken by Manuel Dominguez in his lifetime. Manuel Dominguez converted about three hundred acres into highways and side roads. All other offers for Rancho land were refused. Manuel's six daughters inherited more than twenty-five thousand acres upon his death in 1882.


Photo credit: California State University Dominguez Hills, Gillingham Collection
A copy of notice of the furneral of Manuel Dominguez in 1882.