The Laguna de Tache Grant (Part 1)
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Jose Y. Limantour received the Laguna de Tache grant of eleven square leagues from Governor Micheltorena on December 4, 1843. This ranch is not to be confused with the ranch of the same name later given to Manuel Castro. The latter's grant lay north of the old bed of Kings River and extended from Kingsburg Westward for twenty-five miles. Limantour's grant lay along the South bank of Kings River and extended from the present site of the kings River golf course, due South of Kingsburg, down the river to Tulare Lake. Claims for this Laguna de Tache were filed with the Land Commission and Limantour's attorneys explained that his failure to develop his ranch was due to the revolutionary disturbances in Mexico which prevented his return from a visit to Mexico City.
Limantour, a Frenchman by birth and a Mexican by choice, received land grants in California from Micheltorena which totaled 594,793.38 acres. The Governor and this Frenchman were very friendly and Micheltorena was under obligations to the latter; just what these were we are not certain. Limantour, like his illustrious son, was evidently a financier, and had made certain loans to Micheltorena. On May 24, 1843, he received from the government a draft on the Customer House at Mazatlan for $10,221. On May 16, 1845, he received another draft for $56,184.12 ½ as remuneration for the confiscated cargo of the Joven Fanita. Both of these drafts were ordered paid by the Supreme Government of Mexico; this money together with grants of more than half a million acres made his California venture a great success. (Smith p. 87).
The first grant named the Laguna de Tache was given to Jose Y. Limantour; this lay on the South side of Kings River. A second grant of the same name was made to Manuel Castro on December 12, 1843, although a deed to secure the ownership was not issued until January 1, 1846. Castro was a resident of Monterey and knew Limantour and the location of the latter's ranch along Kings River. Limantour advised him concerning the land and Castro applied for a grant on the opposite side of the river. The latter had received land from his father, Don Simeon Castro, but his cattle had increased rapidly and he proposed to send the surplus to the frontier. Castro had been an Army captain and had led several punitive forces against the Indians during Micheltorena's administration. The latter, as a reward for faithful service, issued the grant which was later confirmed by Pio Pico. (Smith p.90)
Castro had also served as prefect of the Northern District of California, residing at Monterey, for one year. In February, 1845, Castro sent Ysidor Villa to the Laguna de Tache as foreman. Villa was accompanied by three vaqueros. After building a small house and a corral they returned to Monterey as the Indians began to threaten them. They soon returned to the ranch and the same year Jose Ramon Mesa, a resident of Santa Clara Valley, made a visit to the region. Ysidio Villa and several vaqueros were herding cattle and occupied a small wooden bunk house which has been built about two miles west of present Laton. Melons and vegetables had been planted along the river. This Laguna de Tache consisted of 48,800.62 acres. (Smith p.91)
A great deal of nonsense has been written about so-called "floating grants." After the American occupation, it became customary to refer sneeringly to the grants of men like Manuel Castro and Fremont as examples of "floating grants", meaning that they had originally been granted in one part of California (in this case Monterey county), and then floated to another part of the state to take advantage of better opportunities. Smith (P.91)
Therefore the following explanation may be pertinent. During Mexican dars the Department of California was divided into the districts of San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Monterey, and San Francisco. (Smith p.91)
These corresponded some what to our county form of government as to duties. No accurate surveys indicated the location of the boundaries of these districts. When a land grant was made in the Monterey district it meant that the officials believed that Monterey was the nearest of the five district headquarters, or county seats. Therefore, land granted to Manuel Castro along Kings River was said to be located in the Monterey district. This caused Americans to argue later that his grant had been floated from what had become Monterey county to Kings River. On December 7, 1843, Manuel Castro presented the following petition to Governor Micheltorena:
"Excellent Sir Governor: I, Manuel Castro, a Mexican by birth and a resident of this port (Monterey), with due respect, say before your justice, that being sure that in the location which was granted to Don Jose Limantour called Laguna de Tache there results a considerable surplus and needing this for placing cattle belonging to me which are now remaining on the testamentary land of my deceased father, Don Simeon Castro, I requested of your Excellency that in consideration of the services I have rendered to the Department, you will do me the favor to grant me the same surplus in extent eleven square leagues".