Mexico defeats Spain in its fight for independence. Takes military control over coastal California, including the Otay Valley. Image courtesy of http://mexicanhistory.org
The Estudillo family including Jose Antonio Estudillo and Maria Magdalena Estudillo receive land grants at Otay and Janal from Mexican Governor Echeandia. The lands are adjoining. Each ranch is about 7,000 acres. Photo source: South Bay Historical Society website http://sunnycv.com/history/exhibits/otayranch.html
Rancho del Rey and Rancho Otay are kept to provide cattle meat for the Mexican troops. Horse are also raised here to be provided for the troops. Rancho Otay (about 6,500 acres) is given to Dona Magdalena Escudillo. It extends to the southern tip of Otay Mesa. The economy, as with most ranchos in area is tied to hide sales, sheep, livestock, grain crops, and wine grape sales. Photo source: Chula Vista Public LIbrary
Thirty ranchos have been granted at this point through Mexican land grants. The Mexican land grant system is patriarchal as the male land owner exerted control over his land, family and Native American work force. Cattle and horses roamed freely in the valley, where they ate freely and reproduced naturally.
After two years of war between the United States and Mexico, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed. Mexico cedes California to the United States. Image courtesy of wikipedia
The Homestead Act makes it nearly financially impossible for the landowners to validate their title claims to the land. Even with these challenges, the Estudillo family were able to validate their claim in 1853. However, they transfer titles and relinquish ownership. The title of the Otay Ranch eventually belongs with the San Diego Land and Town Company. Image courtesy of ushistoryscene.com