Coronado Library Makes Final Appeal
To Acquire Island's Founding Papers
The Coronado Public Library currently has a box of the most
rare documents in Coronado’s storied history – the original Deed of Gift; The
Holy Grail of Coronado. Included in the package is a multi-page abstract
document that includes Articles of Incorporation for the Coronado Beach
Company, the earliest known Coronado map, and various, hand-written letters and
drafts from which the final Deed’s language was created.
The documents are on temporary loan, but they are for sale, and it is the library’s hope that someone will buy the expensive ephemera and donate it to the Coronado Public Library. The asking price? $100,000.
Ironically, Babcock and Story only paid $110,000 for Coronado and North Island in the 1880s. The rare documents involved show that Coronado didn’t start with Babcock and Story; it ended with them.
Others who had owned Coronado include names like Bezer Simmons, Archibald Peachy and Henry Chauncey – names that sound like they came from a Dickens novel. And all of this wheeling and dealing of land took place under a backdrop of nomadic Kumeyaay Indians hunting on Coronado.
In the rest of the territory the Mexican-American War was being fought; Mexico ceded Alta California to the U.S. in the Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo; and gold was discovered at Sutter’s Creek.
Hide hunters and whalers operated out of Coronado, and Richard Henry Dana was making notes in his journal for what would soon become the first written description of California – “Two Years Before The Mast.”
Esquevin has possessed the historic documents for nearly a year, while the owner, a rare documents collector, continues to search for a buyer. During this time, Esquevin has spent considerable time researching the data in his possession. He has documented multiple histories within the history that shed new light on Coronado’s early days.
Everyone is doing what he or she can to get the word out to try and keep this material on the island. Last week, TV 10 news anchor Natasha Zouves spent the morning interviewing Esquevin and photographing the rare papers for an upcoming story. Her piece, to be released soon, will carry the situation to a much larger audience off the island.
The worse possible scenario is that the current owner could grow impatient and break the documents into pieces that would sell for less and go into private collections, never again to be available to Coronado researchers and historians.
The best situation would be that someone would recognize the sheer value of this material and buy it with the intention of giving it to the Coronado Public Library.
For more information on the Coronado founding documents, contact Christian Esquevin at (619) 522-7395.
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