Abstract of Title and Certificate of Search to certain lots and blocks in the town of Alviso in the county of Santa Clara California


Marvelous 19th century abstract of title for waterfront property along San Francisco Bay.

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Claims to property ownership are almost as old as civilization itself, and written land titles have been their foundation since before the Middle Ages. The example was compiled by the Santa Clara County Searcher of Records, E.J. Cox, in 1873, and covers a small coastal area in the town of Alviso (now a protected wildlife sanctuary in northern San Jose).

An index of the numbered lots is followed by an exquisitely detailed manuscript map of the territory in question. Streets are labeled, as are the Guadalupe River, the Berryessa Rancho, and various areas of swampland.

Following the map are over 100 pages of deeds and transactions, recorded to establish an official provenance of sale for each parcel between approximately 1850 and 1869. Notable names such as Leland Stanford, José de los Santos Berreyesa, and the California Steam Navigation Company are all included as parties among the various agreements contained therein. The final two pages contain a list of the property taxes assessed and paid between 1865 and 1873.

It is here that some indication of the abstract’s purpose is hinted, as notes reference an ongoing lawsuit over swampland (currently no judgements). The cover identifies the requesting party as the Central Pacific Railroad, so it’s likely that the abstract was compiled as a result of pending real estate litigation as the Central Pacific sought to expand its feeder lines throughout California.

The taxation of railroad property would continue to be a contentious issue throughout the 1870’s, culminating in the landmark 1886 Supreme Court decision in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co. which stated that corporations are entitled to constitutional rights under the Equal Protection Clause.

Map Details

Publication Date: 1873

Author: E.J. Cox

Sheet Width (in): See Description

Sheet Height (in): See Description

Condition: B

Condition Description: 103 pp. abstract of title originally bound with string into full leather boards. Contents are almost entire separated from the covers, which are still intact and feature the original publishing stamp. Contains one manuscript map (page 3) on a sheet measuring approximately 14" x 8.5". The remaining lined pages are filled with contemporary manuscript reproductions of various deeds, a table of contents, various notes, and a second, smaller manuscript map (page 58) as part of an aforementioned replicated contract.


1 in stock