Californios and Maps

102# English   111# Spanish


          Californios is a term coined to broadly describe the early Spanish speaking and Catholic land owners occupying the sparsely populated California outpost. Spain began to colonize the new world in 1769 and established missions and land grants.  When Mexico separated from Spain in 1822, Mexico established additional ranchos in California.  Ranchos or ranches were devoted to raising cattle and sheep in an attempt to pattern themselves after the land gentry of Spain. 

When the cry of gold went out in 1848 the territory experienced a massive immigration from the nation and other countries.  

          Throughout this entire phase of colonization and immigration, Californios were unable to defend themselves from the advancements of countries, militias, missionaries, or wide-spread immigration.    

Because early California inhabitants were isolated and sparsely populated, they developed land laws and customs that suited their independent spirit.  They had assimilated elements of culture and law from the missions, pueblos, and rancheros.  The constantly changing cultural values created opportunity to develop extensive ranching along the California coast and in the Sacramento Valley that would eventually lend itself to extensive farming.


          As the new wave of immigrants arrived in the mid-1800’s Mexican maps called diseños could help prove land ownership.  You’ll see an example of these influences in the City of Woodland map dated in 1915.