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Rancho San Mateo was a Mexican land grant in present day San Mateo County, Californiamarker given in 1846 by Governor Pio Pico to Cayetano Arenas. Rancho San Mateo extended from the foothills to the bay and included Coyote Point, about one-half the present city of San Mateomarker , all of Burlingamemarker and most of Hillsboroughmarker.


Pio Pico, the last governor of California under Mexican rule, made the grant to his secretary, Cayetano Arenas of Los Angeles, for his family’s service to the government. Cayetano Arenas father was Luis Arenas. Arenas sold the property in 1846 to San Francisco based William Davis Merry Howard. Howard with his wife, Agnes, retired to live on the rancho for the remainder of his life in 1854. They built a home called "El Cerrito" and made Rancho San Mateo a successful working ranch.

A claim was filed with the Public Land Commission in 1852 and the grant was patented to William Davis Merry Howard in 1857.
 A claim by José de la Cruz Sánchez was dismissed.

Howard's early death in 1856 led to the sale of most of the land to William C. Ralston, a prominent banker. In 1866, Anson Burlingame, the US Minister to China visited Ralston, and by the time he left he was the owner of of land. His name “Burlingame” was put onto the parcel map for reference. That visit to the San Francisco Peninsula, was Burlingame’s last. On a visit to Russia in 1870, Burlingame died. With his death the land reverted to Ralston. Ralston had plans for the area which he called “Ralstonville”, but he died in 1875 without many of his plans being realized. The land passed to Ralston's busines partner Senator William Sharon. Sharon died in 1885, and Sharon's son-in-law, Francis G. Newlands, became executor of Sharon’s estate.


  1. Diseño del Rancho San Mateo
  2. Report of the Surveyor General 1844 - 1886
  3. United States. District Court (California : Northern District) Land Case 409 ND
  4. United States. District Court (California : Northern District) Land Case 178 ND

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