Chapter 16: The Coburn Mystery [Original Draft]

The disputed ranchos near Pescadero carried fuzzy descriptions:

The Rancho Butano: “….the land bounded on the south of Rancho Punta del Ano Nuevo, east by the mountain, and on the west by the Pacific…”

The Rancho Punta del Ano Nuevo: …bounded on the east by the mountains, on the west by the sea; the north by the ranch of Don Juan Gonzales [which included the village of Pescadero] and on the south by the rancho of Don Helario Buelna…”

Resolving the Ano Nuevo/Butano rancho overlap would require court action–and that meant big legal fees that the ranchero owners did not have. It was often easier to sell out, at any price.

Loren Coburn may have known that the rancho owners were desperate. It is said that Coburn teamed up with Jeremiah Clark, San Francisco attorney and land grant expert (a relationship that probably grew out of conversations at Coburn’s stable.)

In the past Jeremiah Clark’s clients had been the owners of ranchos who hired Clark to get the U.S. government to legalize their land grants. When they couldn’t pay his fees, Clark ended up with the rancho.

It looks like Clark had acquired the U.S. patent for his Rancho Butano clients–when, suddenly, he broke the contract with them and the ranch was sold to Coburn and Clark. The border dispute had not been solved, and, of course the men wanted to enlarge the Rancho Butano by somehow taking land from the Ano Nuevo grant.
We can’t be sure how it all worked out. Remember Coburn and Clark did not yet own the Punta del Ano Nuevo Rancho–but they certainly wanted it and were prepared to do whatever was necessary to get it.

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