From Mission Outpost to Rancho to San Mateo Subdivision

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366. [MAP]. [SAN MATEO: HIGHLAND PARK]. BALDWIN, Archibald S., Josiah R. Howell & Joseph H.P. Howard (agents). [Title on map verso] Map of Westerly Portion of San Mateo, Showing Highland Park and Surroundings. Highland Park is a portion of the Howard Property, about one half mile from San Mateo Station. The sub divisions are from 1 to 4 acres, beautifully wooded, on gently sloping ground, overlooking El Cerrito Park, San Mateo and the Bay.-Wide Avenues, Spring Valley Water piped to all the Lots. Electric Lights.... N.p., n.d. [San Francisco, early 20th century]. Cerograph tract map with green toning printed on calendar paper, showing subdivision Highland Park and surrounding regions in San Mateo; neat line to neat line: 42.7 x 23.1 cm; overall sheet: 44.2 x 24 cm. A few minor light spots and creased where originally folded, overall fine.

     First edition. No copies found on OCLC. Bancroft has an 1893 Baldwin & Howell map in larger format showing more of the Rancho de San Mateo development. The San Francisco Public Library holds the Baldwin & Howell archives. Rocq lists a few Baldwin & Howell imprints, but not this one. Maps like this provide insight into residential developments and origins in the San Francisco Bay Area.

     The first recorded Europeans to set up camp in the San Mateo area were members of the 1776 Anza expedition, followed by the 1783 establishment of an outpost of Mission San Francisco de Asís to minister to the Ohlone Indians (called Coastanoans by Spanish explorers). After Mexican Independence in 1822, the Mexican land grants of 1835 divided mission lands into immense ranchos with indeterminate boundaries. Portions of Rancho San Mateo and Rancho de las Pulgas comprise present-day San Mateo. Pastoral San Mateo ended following the arrival of William Davis Merry Howard, an unruly Boston teenager whose parents sent him to sea where he worked in the hide trade in California and eventually made a fortune selling tools and equipment to the 49ers.

     Howard invested his wealth wisely, including the purchase of Rancho San Mateo from original Mexican grantee Cayetano Arenas, who, fearing confiscation by the U.S., sold the 65,000-acre ranch to Howard and his partner for $25,000. Howard subsequently bought out his partner’s share, and in 1853 moved to the area shown on the map, purchased a large, ornate pre-fabricated house from the East and had it shipped to his Rancho San Mateo. The mansion was named “El Cerrito” (The Mound), which was the first of the great Peninsular estates. Howard’s “El Cerrito” mansion is shown on the map. After Howard died due to complications of Panama Fever, his wife Agnes Poett quickly remarried Howard’s brother George, and following George’s death, she married Henry P. Bowie. The map is sprinkled with owners’ names of Howard, Poett, and Bowie, as well as the descendants of Charles Crocker (one of the “Big Four” who built the Central Pacific Railroad) and John Parrott (shipping magnate and U.S. consul at Mazatlan during the pivotal years 1838-1850).

     Change came quickly after the San Mateo became a stagecoach and then a railroad station in 1863. Among the structures located is the Episcopal Church, at Baldwin Avenue and Crystal Falls. Built in 1865, it is said to have been the first stone church in California. (Its benefactor was William Davis Merry Howard.)


Sold. Hammer: $125.00; Price Realized: $153.13.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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