Denton Ranch Collection (Jacume, Baja California Norte, Mexico), 1864 - 1993 (MSS 115)

Extent: 1 Linear feet (2 archives boxes, 6 oversize folders)

Title documents and correspondence related to the ownership of the Denton Ranch, also known as Rancho Jacume, located on the international border in Baja California Norte, Mexico near La Rumerosa. The collection forms the documentation for the Denton Family's claim for compensation for the expropriation of the ranch in 1939 during the Cardenas administration. Arranged in three series: 1) TITLE DOCUMENTS, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, and 3) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS.

Col. William Denton (1828-1907), an English civil engineer, came to California during the Gold Rush, worked for the United States geodetic survey and later pursued an interest in mining exploration and speculation in Mexico. In 1860, he married Elena Cano de los Rios of Mulege, Baja California and eventually moved his family to San Diego in 1874. Denton became a naturalized Mexican citizen in 1896.

In 1885, Col. Denton purchased two thousand five hundred hectars (6,175 acres) of land in Mexico known as "Jacumbo" from Senora Higinia Tortoledo for five hundred pesos. Rancho Jacume, as it was known locally, was located on the frontier of the Northern District of Lower California, Mexico on the international border. Col. Denton maintained his residence in San Diego, where his children were educated, and used Rancho Jacume for cattle grazing.

At the time of his death in 1907, Col. Denton's estate was largely comprised of properties in Baja California, Mexico. He owned an undivided interest in Rancho Algodones, located on the Colorado River in Baja California; Rancho Jacume; and half interest in the mines known as Toronjil, Angel de la Guardia, Nueva Esperanza, La Vaca, Tarantula, the Chubasco group, the Sireno group, Santa Rosa, Alice, Josephina, Ajax and Vulcan. Denton worked in a mining partnership with H.A. Howard of San Diego, who provided capital for survey expenses, title acquisition, and taxes.

Upon Col. Denton's death, title to the Denton Ranch was divided between his wife, who received a one half interest, and his children, William Smith Denton, Oscar Alan Denton, Sara Brent Denton Scott, Alexander Marion Denton, Maria S. Denton Showley and Morgan Gascoigne Denton. Elena Denton willed her property equally to Sara Denton Scott, Maria Soledad Denton Showley, Morgan Gascoine Denton, and Samuel John Murvin Showley. Oscar Alan Denton occupied the Denton Ranch and administered the property.

In 1939, the Denton Ranch was expropriated by the Mexican government and ownership transferred to a newly form ejido, or agricultural collective. Over the next seven years, Maria Denton Showley and her brother, Morgan Denton, pursued a suit with the American Mexican Claims Commission for compensation and on June 28, 1946 a settlement was reached.

The Denton Ranch records contain title documents and correspondence supporting the Denton Family's claim for compensation to the American Mexican Claims Commission for the 1939 expropriation of the Denton Ranch. The documents trace the chain of ownership from Senora Higinia Tortoledo, through Colonel William Denton, to Maria Denton Showley and Morgan Denton. The bulk of the correspondence relates to the compensation claim.


Container List


Scope and Content of Series

Series 1) TITLE DOCUMENTS: Copies, often holograph, of documents of conveyance, wills, certificates and testimony which establish clear title to the Denton Ranch. The materials date from 1872 to 1939 and are arranged in chronological order. Of particular interest is the document which associates Senora Higinia Tortoledo with the property called "Jacumbo" in 1885 (Box 1, Folder 3).

Box 1 Folder 1
Transfer of title to Jacume executed in La Paz, Baja California, 1872

Typescript carbon transcription of conveyance from Albina Arriola de Higinia Tortoledo to William Denton for 500 pesos.

Box 1 Folder 2 Oversize FB08201
Marriage certificate of William Denton and Maria Elena Cano de los Rios, 1876

Recorded in San Diego, Cal.

Box 1 Folder 3
Rancho "Jacumbo" homestead document, 1885

Document establishes Senora Higinia Tortoledo's claim to the 2,500 hectar tract

Box 1 Folder 4 Oversize FB08202
C. Secretario de Estado y del despacho de Fomento, 1885

Signed in Todos Santos de Ensenada by William Denton

Box 1 Folder 5 Oversize FB08203
William Denton's Mexican naturalization certificate, 1886


Box 1 Folder 6 Oversize FB08204
Power of attorney from Higinio Tortoledo to William Denton, 1877

Transcribed copy and lawyer's translation

Box 1 Folder 7
Citacion, 1887

Executed at Todos Santos de Ensenada

Box 1 Folder 8
No. 644 El Administrador de Rentas de este Territorio...., 1887

2 copies

Box 1 Folder 9 Oversize FB08205
Certificacion, 1887

Relates to the payment of 246 pesos by William Denton to the Administrador de Rentas in Todos Santos de Ensenada

Box 1 Folder 10
Testimonio compulsado de los poderes...., 1890

Documentation of the transfer of power of attorney from Higinia Tortoledo to William Denton in 1877

Box 1 Folder 11
El suscrito, Consul de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos en San Diego...., 1893
Box 1 Folder 12
Copias certificadas de algunas constancias que obran en el juicio...., 1905

Validation of Denton's title to "Jacume" in the District Court of Ensenada

Box 1 Folder 13
William Denton's last will and testament, 1906

Typescript copy

Box 1 Folder 14
Copy of title as recorded in Ensenada, 1911

Photographic copy and typescript translation

Box 1 Folder 15
Court of Tecate confirms Elena Cano de los Rios as owner of "Jacume", 1916

Photographic copy

Box 1 Folder 16 Oversize FB08206
Primer testimonio de la escritura por la que la senora Elena Cano de los Rios..., 1929

Photograph copy

Box 1 Folder 17
En Tecate, Baja California a las nueve horas...., 1930

Elena Cano de los Rios' signed will

Box 1 Folder 18
Testament of Elena Cano de los Rios, 1930

Typescript English translation of records submitted in probate proceedings

Box 1 Folder 19
Appointment of executors for Elena Cano de los Rios' will, 1939

Typescript English translation

Box 1 Folder 20
El Ciudadano Luis G. Carreno, Secretario del ramo penal...., 1939



Scope and Content of Series

Series 2) CORRESPONDENCE: Includes letters from Col. William Denton and his wife, Elena, and other family members. The bulk of the correspondence dates between 1930 to 1946 and relates to the administration of the estate. Elena Denton, Maria Denton Showley and Morgan Denton are the major correspondents during this period. Arranged chronologically.

Box 1 Folder 21
Correspondence, 1864 - 1899
Box 1 Folder 22
Correspondence, 1900 - 1909
Box 1 Folder 23
Correspondence, 1910 - 1919
Box 1 Folder 24
Correspondence, 1920 - 1929
Box 1 Folder 25
Correspondence, 1930 - 1939
Box 1 Folder 26
Correspondence - Part I, 1940 - 1949
Box 1 Folder 27
Correspondence - Part II, 1940 - 1949
Box 1 Folder 28
Correspondence, 1950 - 1959
Box 1 Folder 29
Correspondence, 1970 - 1979
Box 1 Folder 30
Correspondence, 1980 - 1982


Scope and Content of Series

Series 3) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS: Documents related to William Denton's other holdings in Baja California -- Rancho Algodones and various mining properties. Also included is genealogical information on the Denton Family. Finally, an interesting transcription by Dan Showley of a seaman's diary provides description of Baja California at the time of William Denton's marriage to Elena Cano de los Rios in 1860.

Box 1 Folder 31
Fitch, F.G. "The Sea of Cortes, 1858-1859: the diary of F.G. Fitch", 1858 - 1859

Recent typescript transcription edited by Dan Showley

Box 1 Folder 32
In regard to the Algodones Rancho - Thos. H. Blythe & others

Typescript photocopy

Box 1 Folder 33
Newspaper clippings, 1907 - 1993
Box 1 Folder 34
Photographs of Denton Ranch, 1929 - 1954


Box 1 Folder 35
Report on a group of iron properties in the "Trinidad" mineral district, 1903


Box 2 Folder 1
Showley, Dan. "Sabbatical Leave Report", 1949

Description and travel in Mexico

Box 2 Folder 2
Some allied families & posterity of Robert John Young and Daisie Frances Denton

Family history

Box 2 Folder 3
Vital dates of Denton family members


Box 2 Folder 4
Originals of preservation photocopies