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. The collection is divided into three series: 1) TITLE DOCUMENTS, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, and 3) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS.

Historical Background

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.

Scope and Content

Accession Processed in 1995

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.The collection is arranged in three series: 1) TITLE DOCUMENTS, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, and 3) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS.


The TITLE DOCUMENTS series contains 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).


The CORRESPONDENCE series contains all the correspondence in the collection and is arranged chronologically. Included are 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.


In the MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS series are documents related to William Denton's other holdings in Baja California- Rancho Algodones and various mining properties. Also included is geneaological 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.


Maps and materials related to Denton's Baja California mines are located at the San Diego Historical Society.


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11 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.
12FB-082-01Marriage certificate of William Denton and Maria Elena Cano de los Rios, 1876. Recorded in San Diego, Cal.
13 Rancho "Jacumbo" homestead document, 1885. Document establishes Senora Higinia Tortoledo's claim to the 2,500 hectar tract
14FB-082-02C. Secretario de Estado y del despacho de Fomento, 1885. Signed in Todos Santos de Ensenada by William Denton
15FB-082-03William Denton's Mexican naturalization certificate, 1886. Photocopy
16FB-082-04Power of attorney from Higinio Tortoledo to William Denton, 1877. Transcribed copy and lawyer's translation
17 Citacion, 1887. Executed at Todos Santos de Ensenada
18 No. 644 El Administrador de Rentas de este Territorio...., 1887. 2 copies
19FB-082-05Certificacion, 1887. Relates to the payment of 246 pesos by William Denton to the Administrador de Rentas in Todos Santos de Ensenada
110 Testimonio compulsado de los poderes...., 1890. Documentation of the transfer of power of attorney from Higinia Tortoledo to William Denton in 1877
111 El suscrito, Consul de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos en San Diego...., 1893.
112 Copias certificadas de algunas constancias que obran en el juicio...., 1905. Validation of Denton's title to "Jacume" in the District Court of Ensenada
113 William Denton's last will and testament, 1906. Typescript copy
114 Copy of title as recorded in Ensenada, 1911. Photographic copy and typescript translation
115 Court of Tecate confirms Elena Cano de los Rios as owner of "Jacume", 1916. Photographic copy
116FB-082-06Primer testimonio de la escritura por la que la senora Elena Cano de los Rios..., 1929. Photograph copy
117 En Tecate, Baja California a las nueve horas...., 1930. Elena Cano de los Rios' signed will
118 Testament of Elena Cano de los Rios, 1930. Typescript English translation of records submitted in probate proceedings
119 Appointment of executors for Elena Cano de los Rios' will, 1939. Typescript English translation
120 El Ciudadano Luis G. Carreno, Secretario del ramo penal...., 1939. Typescript


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121 Correspondence, 1864 - 1899.
122 Correspondence, 1900 - 1909.
123 Correspondence, 1910 - 1919.
124 Correspondence, 1920 - 1929.
125 Correspondence, 1930 - 1939.
126 Correspondence - Part I, 1940 - 1949.
127 Correspondence - Part II, 1940 - 1949.
128 Correspondence, 1950 - 1959.
129 Correspondence, 1970 - 1979.
130 Correspondence, 1980 - 1982.


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131 Fitch, F.G. "The Sea of Cortes, 1858-1859: the diary of F.G. Fitch", 1858 - 1859. Recent typescript transcription edited by Dan Showley
132 In regard to the Algodones Rancho - Thos. H. Blythe & others. Typescript photocopy
133 Newspaper clippings, 1907 - 1993.
134 Photographs of Denton Ranch, 1929 - 1954. Photocopies
135 Report on a group of iron properties in the "Trinidad" mineral district, 1903. Photocopy
21 Showley, Dan. "Sabbatical Leave Report", 1949. Description and travel in Mexico
22 Some allied families & posterity of Robert John Young and Daisie Frances Denton. Family history
23 Vital dates of Denton family members. Photocopy
24 Originals of preservation photocopies.

Finding aid generated: 2005-10-28