County is known as the "Mother of California Counties." While the
first Legislature was awaiting Statehood in the year of 1850, it met and
created the structure of the new state. It made Mariposa the largest
county covering one-fifth of the state. Why they chose to create
such a large county is not clear. One can assume that since the area
south of Mariposa was largely considered waste land, and beyond that areas
mostly occupied by "Californios"
any interest at that time in an area seemingly devoid of promise and gold
could be held as a large tract who's value could be determined later.
And that it was. From that large portion of middle California, all
or part of 11 counties were eventually created.
1846, Thomas Larkin, American Council in Monterey, represented John
Charles and Jessie Fremont in the purchase of a 44,000 acre Mexican
Land Grant, Las Mariposa, from Juan Bautista Alvarado, the last Mexican
Governor of California. Alvarado had received the grant from the
Governor of Mexico in 1844 and had never seen the property. The Grant
was an agricultural tract and carried no mineral rights, which still belonged
to the crown under Spanish law. The Grant also had no particular
boundaries, as it was for grazing and could, at the will of the owner,
be moved to better accommodate the needs of his livestock.
may have known of the existence of gold on the property, or on property
in the area, as when in 1833, his troop was camping in the lower reaches
of the Mariposa River, the metal was shown to him by one of his men.
Contact with hostile natives sent the Fremont
party south out of the region. It was Fremont's custom to take sextant
readings each night to record his location, but on this occasion the sky
was not clear as the night before and after had been- not on the night
of the encounter with both Indians and gold.
C. Fremont becomes important to the Americanization of Mexican California
through a number of events, culminating in his becoming first the Military
Governor for a short time, and then one of California's first Federal Senators.
That term lasted only a short time.
spent the next six years after statehood attempting to have his Mexican
Land Grant accepted under American Law. Finally, in 1856, the Supreme
Court directed the restructuring of his original claim and the granting
of title. This included, as under American Law, the mineral rights
not previously obtained. The restructuring of the Grant gave Fremont
property which had been claimed and developed by others. This set
off a series of legal actions that culminated in providing a body of decision
which became the basis for the establishment of much of the mining law
of the yet to be developed west.
Rush in California resulted in the greatest migration for the search
of riches that has ever occurred in the history of the world. Within
the short five years after the discovery, more than 300,000 men, and at
first it was mostly men, crowded into the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada,
searching for the pot at the end of the rainbow. Most were not prepared
for privations that they were to experience. Spending a winter in
a leaky tent or shack, waiting for spring, suffering cholera, typhus, pneumonia
and other deadly diseases took a heavy toll. It is said that one
in six who ventured from their home and hearth did not return. The
victim of death, either by violence or disease. It was truly an international
event. Coming from China, Europe, Chile, Mexico, Central America,
Australia, England, Ireland, and the United States of America, they gathered
as one polyglot society, quickly establishing a "pecking order" or discrimination.
It was a lawless place and time, where English Law was established and
distorted. Justice was swift and permanent. No jails were evidence
at first, so the most expedient method of punishment was the noose . .
more Mariposa History try