For this installment of Manuscript Monday, we introduce another Juana – Juana C. Araiza – and another story of land in California. While Juana Briones successfully defended her titles to Rancho Purísima Concepción and Ojo de Agua de Figueroa, many other Californios and Mexican Americans lost all or a significant portion of their land holdings. Threats came from many quarters: from neighbors, squatters, and lawyers, and, in Araiza’s case, from the all-powerful Southern Pacific Railroad Company.
|Homestead certificate no. 872, granted to Juana C. Araiza, Reginaldo F. del Valle papers, MS 2230, courtesy, California Historical Society, MS2230_001.jpg.|
This homestead certificate was issued to Juana C. Araiza in 1889, and forms part of the Reginaldo del Valle papers. Del Valle represented Araiza, who, along with at least sixty other defendants, was sued by Southern Pacific Railroad over title to coveted lands in the San Joaquin Valley. Judge Ross of the United States Circuit Court ruled in the railroad’s favor, in a landmark decision that the Los Angeles Herald called “the biggest victory ever won by the Southern Pacific railroad in the courts in this part of the state” (“That land decision,” Los Angeles Herald, July 28, 1893). According to the Herald, over a million acres of land were at stake.
Please check in next week for more from the del Valle papers, including a telegram from FDR, exquisite tintypes, and family portraits at the famed Rancho Camulos.
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian