Stevenson, Jonathan D.

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1868-04-11 Sentinel Stevenson-vs-Gharky-el-al.png

Jonathan D. Stevenson organized and commanded the 1st Regiment of New York Volunteers in the Mexican-American War. The regiment arrived in San Francisco by sea in March, 1847, and was disbanded in California in October, 1848. A number of the discharged veteran stayed in California, and a few came to the Santa Cruz area. It's unclear whether Stevenson himself ever resided in this area, but before statehood he acquired by proxy a number of "town lots" through the local alcaldes. There was a limit on the number of lots an individual could buy, so Stevenson got former regiment members to buy lots (presumably with Stevenson's money), then transfer ownership to their old commander. He then split the large parcels and sold the unofficially-created lots. These were then sold and resold until the chain of title became hopelessly tangled.

The situation came to a head in 1856-57, when Stevenson filed suit to reclaim "his" land and invalidate the claims of a number of Santa Cruz residents. His aim, presumably, was to then claim the land for himself. The case was finally resolved in the defendants' favor in 1868. Stevenson's land acquisition scheme had created land title confusion for over a decade, almost nixing the deal made by Almus Rountree to sell Point Santa Cruz to the U.S. government, which built the first local lighthouse there in 1869.

Stevenson's son Matthew was a Captain in his regiment, and came to Santa Cruz with him, according to Riptide. Several profiles in Riptide Centennial mention that an individual was associated with Stevenson's "projected town" in Santa Cruz (e.g. Schallenberger, Moses (CE11)). However, no details or sourcing are provided.