Chain of Title for Rancho Guejito

Rancho Guejito has been subject to nine owners since ownership was first established in 1845. In 1779, land grant procedure had been codified and a “Reglamento” (Regulation) issued that California’s Governor was empowered to make private grants up to three square leagues. Over time Rancho Guejito grew from the original 13,000 acre grant to over 21,500 acres.The following chain of title for the property describes ownership for Rancho Guejito and its environs known collectively as The Guejito Ranch.


1.1845: Jose Maria Orozco, justice of the peace and customs agent, acquired a 3 square league land grant called Rancho Guejito y Canada de Palomia from either the last Mexican Governor of California Pio Pico or from Gov. Michaeltorena. He built an adobe house and raised cattle. Orozco was a stalwart Californio who supported an independent California. The Californio’s confronted the "Army of the West" in 1846 at the Battle of San Pasqual and inflicted crippling damage on US troops but retreated into history after the fight. The Battle of San Pasqual was the largest military battle ever to take place in California and occurred a couple miles south of the Guejito. Orozco may or may not have participated but later appeared in old town when the Mexican flag was being torn down from the flagpole to be replaced by the US flag. Orozco pulled his pistol and took a shot at the solider climbing the flagpole but missed him. The Orosco shooting area on Orosco Ridge east of the Guejito still ironically bears his name.

19th Century Whaler
19th Century Whaler

2. 1854: Capt. George W. Hamley was commander of a whaling ship. He took up residence in San Diego and later acquired the Guejito. George W. Hamley was master of the whaling ship Stonington for voyages to Tasmania and the Pacific Ocean whaling grounds had his ship commandeered at San Diego, for Mexican war service. Capt. Hamley was captured at San Blas, Mexico. Hamely was involved with Commodore Robert Stockton and General Freemont in conveying messages and men along the pacific coast during the conquest of California including evacuation of American forces aboard the Stonington when San Diego was taken by the Mexican army in 1846. Hamley received a US patent on the land but was unable to financially maintain the ranch and lost it to Sexton.

3. 1855: Michael M. Sexton, San Diego County Sheriff in 1854-55 and director of a local railroad, received the property out of a $2050 back taxes judgment on Hamley and quickly sold to his operating partner Louis Hauck.

4. 1856: Louis Hauck, a rancher, and onetime San Francisco saloon owner, acquired full interest from Sexton. He built an large home and ran cattle on the ranch in cooperation with the adjacent Vineyard ranch owned by Maxey. Hauck's son Augustus administered the ranch following the mysterious death of his father in 1884.

Hotel Del Coranado
Hotel Del Coronado

5. 1899: Jacob Gruendike, banker, developer, and financier who had been an investor with Hauck, assumed control from the estate.  He came to California during the gold rush with the Argonauts but deemed it smarter to sell hay to the miners than search for gold. The Bank of Southern California was founded in July, 1883, by Jacob Gruendike, R. A. Thomas, J. R. Thomas, John Wolfskill, and M. T. Gilmore and was one of the first banks in San Diego. On December 19, 1885, Elisha S. Babcock, retired railroad executive from Evansville, Indiana; Hampton L. Story, Clark Piano Company of Chicago; and Jacob Gruendike, president of the First National Bank of San Diego, bought all of Coronado and North Island for $110,000. In March 1887 Gruendike and his partners began construction of the Hotel Del Coronado which is now a National Landmark. He was president of the Escondido Land and Town Co. which bought 12,800 acres in 1885 to make Escondido and started Escondido National Bank.

Cazaurang Adobe
Cazaurang Adobe
6. 1906: Jean C. Cazaurang, rancher, sheep raiser and miner bought the Guejito for $150,000 at 4% interest. Gruendike remained a partner and helped finance additions to the ranch. Jean built a large adobe house incorporating part of the original Orozco adobe and made several purchases to expand the ranch. Cazaurang's wife administered the ranch following his death in 1929. Cazaurang was known as an eccentric redheaded character who immigrated from France and was known locally as "Crazy Cazaurang". A great many colorful stories are told about him and wild parties he held. His wife separated from him and lived across the Guejito where she kept her own ranch and lived in a separate adobe home of her own.  Cazurang's good friends, the Hagatas, wrote that this dispute ended up costing them their fortune. Cazaurang was shot to death by one of his ranch hands and caretaker who had a pay dispute with him in Nevada on another Cazaurang ranch. The cowboy was caught driving Cazaurang’s Ford truck across state lines and imprisoned for 1 year for that offence. He claimed self defense for the shooting of Cazaurang but allegations that he was paid persisted.

Charles Lee Powell, Guejito Owner
Charles Powell

7. 1937: Charles Lee Powell, a self taught Los Angeles construction engineer and land developer was born in Virginia during the Civil War to a family of wealth, and was a third cousin to General Robert E. Lee. He held some of the mortgages Cazaurang had on the ranch and bought it for $8 an acre. He cultivated about 700 acres in barley and oats with a new Caterpillar D-6. Powell is remembered for his work pioneering , inventing and patenting new methods for building concrete structures underground and building Los Angles’ infrastructure especially the sewage system. Today The Charles Lee Powell Laboratories at UCSD are multiple-location, multi-million-dollar facilities dedicated to research at the materials-, component-, assembly-, and systems-levels supported by the Charles Lee Powell Foundation. USC has A Charles Lee Powell Hall.

He died at age 96 still working and on his death in 1959, Title Insurance & Trust administered his estate with instructions that the ranch not be sold for ten years after his death. Powell owned property in many places but was so enamored with the Guejito that he said that he intended to return to it after his death and so left instructions for it not to be sold for 10 years thus delaying its sale until the early 70s when negotiations with the State began. Powell made by far the biggest contribution to the Ranch’s size with his acquisition of the 4500 acre Vineyard Ranch

Benjamin Coates
8. 1974: Rodney Company, headed by Benjamin Coates bought the Guejito, listed for sale at $9,000,000. The ranch had been slated to become a State Park but the sale was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. Coates, a shipping magnate, rancher, industrialist and businessman, quickly purchased the ranch after the public sale was vetoed. Coates immediately subdued fears of development by placing the ranch in an agricultural preserve, keeping the Guejito as a cattle ranch and retreat from the business world. He built a 8000 sq ft. hacienda style house for his visits. Coates wrote in a letter in June 2004, to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stating ”I use it for myself, my family and my friends to ride over and hope to continue its ownership in such a way that it is not developed nor mixed up with money” Coates intended the ranch be his enduring legacy. After Benjamin’s death in 2004 his wife Nancy Coates, the principal trustee, stated “Mercy no, we’re not going to develop it!” in response to questions at a meeting. She created a $100,000 endowment to support the Valley Center Museum which maintains a history of the ranch. Coates was a decorated Navy pilot who hunted Nazi submarines in the Atlantic between Brazil and Africa during WWII.

Theodate Coates

9. 2004: Theodate Coates inherited control of the Rodney Company after the death of her father Benjamin. Ownership was disputed by Al Hill III, a friend and associate of the late Benjamin Coates who claimed to be the rightful inheritor. Theodate quickly purchased additional acreage including the remaining Vineyard Ranch and 100 acres at the south end of the ranch connecting Rodney Co’s holdings to highway 78 in San Pasqual. She has since pushed for residential development of the ranch alternately promoting a medical university, college campus, annexation to the City of Escondido, or 10,000 homes. Attorney Hank Rupp represents her interests in San Diego advocating development. We would love to hear from Theo.


Vineyard Ranch now Contained in the Guejito Ranch

Vineyard Winery
Guejito Vineyard Winery

The Vineyard Ranch ... Asher E Maxey

Maxey started the Vineyard Ranch as a 360 acre homestead but continuously grew the ranch to the 4500 acres it contained when Powell bought it. He operated a successful Vineyard there during the years that North County first gained a reputation as a superior grape growing region and "Vineyard" became a recognized settlement of its own marked on maps of the day. The most commonly photographed and most historic adobe on the Guejito is the Vineyard winery. Maxey was a colorful character and many stories about the historic Vineyard Ranch persist to this day. Some of the Vineyard history is posted here. One famous exploit was Maxey's offer of a bounty for the man who brought him the carcass of a Grizzly bear that was causing trouble. The bear was shot and taken to Vineyard for weighing and reward. The bear was so big that it is still a claimant for the largest Grizzly ever killed in California.

Snobel Valley

Another homesteader who's name remains is Snobel. I do not yet have substantial information on him yet.

Kit Wilson