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Rancho Blucher: Wikis


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Rancho Blucher was a 26,759-acre (108.29 km2) Mexican land grant in present day Marin and Sonoma County, California given in 1844 by Governor Manuel Micheltorena to Jean Jacques Vioget. The rancho is named for the Prussian field marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher. The grant extended along the coast from Estero Americano on the north and to Estero de San Antonio on the south.[1]


Jean Jacques Vioget was a Swiss sailor and surveyor, who came to California in 1837. After applying to Governor Alvarado for a tract of land in northern Marin, Vioget received a provisional grant in 1842. Governor Micheltorena awarded Vioget full rights to Rancho Blucher in 1844. After his marriage to Maria Benarides de Vasques in 1847, Vioget sold Rancho Blucher to Captain Stephen Smith, grantee of Rancho Bodega directly to the north. A claim was filed with the Public Land Commission in 1852 and the grant was patented to Stephen Smith in 1858.[2] [3]

When Captain Smith died in San Francisco in 1855, and he owned the 8 square league Rancho Bodega, and with his wife, Manuela Torres, and the 6 league Rancho Blucher. Smith had three children (Stephen M. Smith, Manuella Smith, and James B. Smith) by Manuela Torres. Smith had four children (Stephen Henry Smith, Giles Smith, Ellen Morrisson and Elvira Pond) by a former marriage.

Jean Jacques Vioget

Jean Jacques Vioget (1799-1855), originally from Switzerland, was a surveyor and sea captain, who came to California in 1837. He made the first survey and map of Yerba Buena (which later was named San Francisco) in 1839. He worked for John Sutter and later moved to San Jose. A man of many talents—he spoke several languages, played the violin, and was a painter[4].

Born in Combremont-le-Petit, Switzerland on June 14, 1799, the son of Jean Pierre Vioget. Vioget left home at age 15 and joined Napoleon's army. He was later apprenticed to a French naval engineer. In the 1820s he served in the Brazilian navy, rising to the rank of captain, and engaging in the maritime trade in South America. During the early 1830s he was captain of a bark, Delmire, trading along the coast of Peru and Ecuador.

Vioget first arrived in San Francisco, then known as Yerba Buena, in 1837, when only two homes stood in the village - those of Jacob P. Leese and William Richardson. It was at this time that Vioget made a watercolor of the San Francidco Bay, which hung in the cabin of his ship for the next two years. He returned to Yerba Buena in 1839.

In 1839 Governor Alvarado ordered a survey of Yerba Buena, and the alcalde, Francisco Guerrero, employed Vioget to do the work.[5] Vioget's survey covered the area that is now San Francisco's Financial District and featured a grid made of trapezoidal blocks. [6] In 1840, on a third of a block on Clay Street that Vioget received as payment for his work, he built Vioget House, which also had a saloon and billiard parlor. After the American Conquest, the house was renamed Portsmouth House in honor of the USS Portsmouth. Vioget became a leading saloon-keeper and merchant in the city, and also continued to offer his services as a surveyor.

Vioget first went to work for fellow countryman John Sutter, surveying Sutter's Sacramento-area land grants in 1841 and 1843. Vioget also served as a witness to Sutter's purchase of Fort Ross from the Russians in December 1841. Vioget also functioned as a contact and agent for Sutter in San Francisco.

In 1844, Governor Micheltorena awarded Vioget Rancho Blucher. After his marriage to Maria Montero Benarides de Vasques in 1847, Vioget sold Rancho Blucher to Captain Stephen Smith, grantee of Rancho Bodega directly to the north. Vioget spent his last years in San Jose, where he died in 1855 and is buried.


Coordinates: 38°18′36″N 122°55′12″W / 38.310°N 122.920°W / 38.310; -122.920



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