Rancheros Sought Safety On The Coastside (1840s) Part II

The boundary line between the two ranchos was Medio Creek, which runs through present-day Miramar, later the locatio of a busy 19th century wharf were steamers docked.

Guerrero and Vasquez were acquainted with Candelario Miramontes. When Miramontes applied for a 4,424-acre rancho, the crudely drawn map included the present-day town of Half Moon Bay. Miramontes named his rancho ‘San Benito’ and that was what Half Moon Bay was called for decades.

Before the war erupted between the US and Mexico in 1846, the rancheros were absentee landlords. Cut off by insurmountable geographical barriers with no passable roads, they found little to attract them in Half Moon Bay. Compared with the Coastside, San Francisco wasw a busy hamlet–but Miramontes was able to grow corn, peas and potatoes near what is now the downtown area.

The Mexican-American War turned the ranchero’s lives upside down. They were now threatened by the growing American influence. Just as resentment against Spanish rule produce the renegade Indian, Pomponio, the mounting friction between the Mexicans and the Americans who challenged them, created the notorious bandit, Tiburcio Vasquez, a counterpart to Pomponio.

Coincidentally, the outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez carried the same name as his respectable uncle, the owner of the Corral de Tierra. But the unruly nephew was to become a folk hero, a Mexican version of Robin Hood. Some said Vasquez was driven to his outlaw existence by the manner in which the Americans treated the Mexicans as inferiors while dancing with their women.

As the US war with Mexico neared, Guerrero, Miramontes and Vasquez made the life-saving decision to flee San Francisco for their adobe houses near Half Moon Bay. In the late 1840s, about 70 people, including local Indians, comprised the entire population of the Coastside, according to the archives of the San Mateo County History Museum in Redwood City.