The History of Swanton - As told by Al Smith, July, 1990Indian Days
Most of the Indian activity of the Central California Ohlone Tribe took place in the canyon or valley to the north, Waddell Creek, which runs east and west and has a greater beach area. Some evidence such as shell piles and grinding stones, show that the Scott Creek area was visited also.
Mexican Land GrantOn November 2, 1843, Ramon Rodriguez and Francisco Alviso were granted "a square league of land", more or less, by Manuel Micheltorena, Mexican Governor of California. It was described as running from Arroyo Puerca to the Canada de Las Trancas on south and north, to the Sierra on the east, and the Pacific Ocean on the west. On March 1, 1867, President Andrew Johnson issued a patent confirming the ownership. The grant was named Rancho Agua Puerca Y Las Trancas. With all the beautiful Spanish language to chose from, it literally means Hog Water and the Bars. Agua Puerca probably refers to the stagnant water in the stream which comes out at Davenport Landing, the original southerly boundary; and Las Trancas refers to placing poles for a gate or barrier in a narrow canyon just south of Waddell Creek. An interesting sidelight is that in the translation of the description to English, the transcriber recognized the word Sierra and left that as the northeasterly boundary instead of using "mountain ridge". Some smart lawyer could have laid claim to a strip through Modesto.
The land passed through several ownership and ended up in the hands of James Archibald, who farmed it. He arranged for a Swiss dairyman, Ambrogio Gianone, to run the dairy. Mr. Gianone built the cheese house (in 1867) and had some shipwrecked ship's carpenters build the barn (in the late 1880's) at the south end of the valley, which stands today. (Approximately one-third of the westerly end of the barn blew off in a severe storm.) Later Mr. Gianone bought the north third of the rancho, where Swanton Road crosses back over the ridge. It is known locally as Gianone Hill, and there are two families with fourth generation children living there today.
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