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Brief History of Ranch Guejito

By Bruce Coons

The 13,298.59 acre Rancho Guejito y Cañada de Palomia was granted in 1845 to José María Orozco by Mexican Governor Manuel Micheltorena. Pronounced (wah-hee-to) meaning pebbles or small stream probably coming from the word aguajito. Cañada de Palomia loosely translates as "glen of the dove" from the same origin as the adjacent Palomar Mountain.

Of the eight hundred Ranchos recognized by the US government Guejito is the only one whose boundaries are intact with its hills and valley just as they were when Orozco received the grant in 1845.

Drawing of the Vineyard Ranch from History of San Diego County, 1883, Wallace Elliot


Orozco was married to Guadalupe Alvarado of the prominent San Diego family that had a string of Ranchos from the Mexican border to, what is now Pomona California, where the 1837 Casa Alvarado adobe, owned by the author, still stands. Orozco is credited with firing from Presidio Hill on the American flag raising in Old Town when American Troops occupied the town during the Mexican War. Luckily for Albert Smith who had climbed the flagpole to nail up the flag, Orozco's shots did not find their mark.

Original diseño used in confirmation of title to the land grant, covers the same area as shown in the aerial photo below.


The next owner was Captain George W. Hamley who captained the ship "Stonington" when it came to San Diego in the 1840's as California fell into American hands. The Rancho went through several owners after Hamley until it came into the hands of a Frenchman named Jean C.Cazaurang. He built a large adobe house on the ranch that is believed to incorporate parts of one of the Orozco adobes. The deteriorated remains of this house are still present on the rancho. Eventually Cazaurang and his wife separated and Jean was shot and killed by a cowboy in Nevada.

Ownership then passed on in 1939 to Charles Powell, a wealthy Los Angeles construction engineer. Powell eventually added the neighboring ranch to the south the old Vineyard Ranch to his land holdings.

The Vineyard Ranch had been developed by A.E. Maxey who came to California in 1849 with the gold rush. In the early 1880's he built an eight-room adobe house and a separate winery. Ruins of both still stand on the ranch. A small post office was established in 1884. The combined ranches now include over 22,000 acres.

For many years George Sawday and Oliver Sexton ran cattle on the Guejito along with operations at Peñasquitos, Warner's and San Felipe Ranchos until succeeded by Peavey and Cummings.

Benjamin Coates bought the property in the early 1970's. His heirs still control the property.

left The Cazaurang adobe, 1944; right Visitors at the historic Vineyard Ranch.


left Visitors at the historic Vineyard Ranch; right Winery at the Vineyard Ranch.


left Aerial of Rancho Guejito, 1969, Cecil C. Moyer; right Visitors at the winery at the Vineyard Ranch.


Selected Bibliography
Books

Elliot, W.W. History of San Diego County, San Francisco, Calif; W.W Elliot & C. Pub; 1883
Moyer, Cecil C. Historic Ranchos of San Diego, San Diego, Calif; Union-Tribune Co; 1969
Philip, Rush S. Some Old Ranchos and Adobes, San Diego, Calif; Neyenesch Printers, Inc.; 1965.

Unpublished Paper
Matthew T. Maehler, A History of the Rancho Guejito, 1845-2006; December 7, 2006

2007 - Volume 38, Issue 1

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