Good Question: Ellen Chiri asks: “Who was that Frenchman, anyway?”

Hi June,
I’ve lived on the coastside for many years and have always wondered who that Frenchman was, to get the creek is named after him… ?
I really enjoy your Half Moon Bay Memories & El Granada Observer… enjoyed your newspaper articles back when, and of course your books. Thank you!
Ellen Chiri

Ellen is referring to Frenchman’s Creek, a name filled with mystery. But here’s what I found out about its provenance:
Hi Ellen,
According to Place Names of San Mateo County by Dr. Alan K. Brown here’s ┬áthe origin of Frenchman’s Creek :
Frenchman’s Creek (Coast Highway 1 1/2 miles north of Half Moon Bay.) In a record of 1862 (SMWL 1:89) the field on the south side of the creek is called the potrero de los franceses (Frenchman’s Field). Arroyo del Frances in a Spanish record orf 1878 (SML 2:18) sounds like a retranslation from the English: Frenchman’s gulch is the name in an 1862 record (SMRA 6-4).
In 1842 a bunch of “French” (i.e., Canadian) horses thieves were captured hereabouts on the Vasquez ranch; no other possible reason for the name is known.
I like the horse thieves story the best—-or, maybe it’s time to find a new reason for why Frenchman’s Creek is named, well, Frenchman’s Creek.