671 South Oakglen Avenue, Nipomo, CA 93444 dana@danaadobe.org 805.929.5679

California Brand History

Brand History Branding has been around for thousands of years. There is Biblical evidence that Jacob, the great herdsman, branded his stock. Egyptians have shown ancient brands on tombs and drawings of the actual work of branding.

Introduction of cattle by the Spaniards lead to the development of the cattle industry of the Southwest and the eventual spread of the great herds to California in the days of the Missions. Hernando Cortez brought the first branding irons to the New World; Cortez’s brand design was three crosses representing Christian the Trinity. The middle cross was larger than the two crosses on either side.

The California Hide and Brand Law was first sponsored in 1915 by the state’s cattlemen, but as the proposed legislation made no provision for revenue necessary for its enforcement, the 1915 Legislature would not act upon it. The sponsors were advised that before it could become law, it would be necessary for them to provide revenues for its administration.

With this provision in mind, the Hide and Brand Law sponsored by the cattlemen of California was approved as Chapter 678, of the 1917 Legislature on May 28, 1917, and it became effective July 27, 1917. For two years, it was administered by a board know as the Cattle Protection Board.

In 1918 the board issued a list of “Cattle Brands and Licensed Slaughterers” as of December 31, 1918, in compliance with “An act to create a Cattle Protection Board, to define its powers and duties, to protect the breeders and growers of cattle from theft, to provide for the registration of cattle brands and the licensing of cattle slaughters and sellers of the meat thereof, to provide for inspection of cattle and cattle hides for brands and marks, to provide for the collection for license and cattle protection fund, and to provide penalties for violations.”

The law provided for establishing branding districts, registering cattle brands, licensing cattle slaughterers and the inspection of all cattle for shipment or slaughter, and the inspection of hides.

The first law did not apply to registered purebred cattle or purebred cattle which could be identified as being entitled to be registered, nor did it apply to the dressed carcasses of veal with unmarked or unbranded hides, nor did it apply to cows used for dairy purposes. Later all bovine animals were included in its provisions.

In 1919, the Cattle Protection Board was abolished and Cattle Protection Service became a part of the Department of Food & Agriculture on July 27, 1919.

In 1929, the law was revised to include a new section to the code providing for the licensing of cattle dealers who transported cattle they bought for sale or slaughter in their own conveyances. Due to the increased expense of administering this section, the cattle Protection Service received an appropriation of $15,000 from the General Fund. This is the only appropriation the Bureau has ever received from the General Fund.

In 1935, the registration of horse, mule, burro and sheep brands and the inspection of horses offered for slaughter were added to the duties of the Cattle Protection Service.

In 1936, the name of the Cattle Protection Service was changed to the Livestock Identification Service. In 1940, the Bureau of Livestock Identification was established. We have been protecting California’s Cattle Industry ever since.


From the “California Brand Book, 2010” found on this link.

Eagle Scout builds Rancho Carretta for Dana Adobe

Dana Adobe Nipomo Amigos is the recipient of Ian Howell’s Eagle Scout project for Troop 450. Ian built a 19th century replica of a carretta which was used by Missions and ranchos. He modeled his carretta after one he saw at La Purisima Mission. Ian, who turned 18 on June 1st and graduated from Nipomo High School on June 8th said, “ I built it as a service project to help a local non-profit organization, Dana Adobe Nipomo Amigos, and to earn and fulfill the requirements for the rank of Eagle Scout. Also I wanted to pay back the community that I grew up in that taught me so many valuable life skills and some early American history, too. Throughout the three months it took to build this cart, I received help from Troop 450, my family, friends and even my neighbors. My dad, Jim Howell, gave me the reclaimed wood to build the carretta’s base. My friend, Jason Tidalgo, gave me the black locust branches for the rails. I thank my parents and Harry Holden for pushing me to meet the deadline.” When asked what advice he would give to aspiring Eagle Scouts he said, “Do not procrastinate! Get your paper work and project done early.”

The carretta is currently “parked” where Captain William (Guillermo) Dana may have kept his carrettas that he used to carry hide and tallow to his Avila warehouse.

Jack Powers

Jack Powers (John Power) (1827 – November 1860) was an Irish born gambler, outlaw, highway-robber, gang leader, and murderer in southern and central California during the Gold Rush era. For a time in the 1850s, robberies and murders committed by his group of bandits made the stretch of El Camino Real between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara the most dangerous route in the state, and he and his gang had almost complete control of the small city of Santa Barbara. He was eventually driven out of town, but only after intimidating and defeating the sheriff and a posse of 200. He eventually fled the area, and after a brief career running a ranch in the Mexican state of Sonora, he was murdered in a fight over a woman.

James Beckwourth

James (Jim) Beckwourth (1798-1866) Jim, former slave, mountain man, Crow Indian chief, guide, hunter, trail blazer, came to the Dana Adobe in 1847 as a dispatcher rider for the U.S. Army. This mail system was established by Lt. Halleck to keep southern and northern military units in close communication. Because of Jim’s courier experience in the southwest, he was selected to ride from Monterey, San Francisco, San Miguel Mission, to the Dana home for the first three months of the service. There he would exchange his mail satchel for the mail pouch from San Diego and then ride back on a fresh horse that William Dana provided. He did this twice a month. This courier service did not last long because steam boats began to carry the mail soon after. However, for as long as it did, any one could include their personal correspondences to the mail pouch at no cost. This was the first rural mail service in the United States.
Jim’s story is a colorful tale filled with adventure and danger. He traveled all over the United States in service to the U.S.Army and so participated in frontier life and battles. Later, in 1851, Jim blazed a trail over the American Valley to make the pack trail between Bidwell’s Bar and the valley more suitable for wagons. Today there is a town near Quincy, CA named after Jim.

Col. Jonathan Drake Stevenson

Col. Jonathan Drake Stevenson (1800–1894) Jonathan D. Stevenson was born in Richmond, Staten Island, New York. While on a visit to Washington in 1846, President Polk offered Stevenson the command of a regiment of volunteers to be raised for military service in California. He accepted the command and returned to New York. Within three days after the rolls opened, the Regiment was recruited. Stevenson sailed for California with his Regiment of New York Volunteers and arrived at San Francisco March 7, 1847. After his arrival in San Francisco, Stevenson joined General Stephen Watts Kearny at Monterey and was made commander of the post. In May, 1847, he became the military commander of the southern district of California with headquarters in Los Angeles. While there, Stevenson did much to gain the goodwill of the native Californians and became known for his justice and kindness.

When his Regiment was mustered out of service in 1848, Stevenson went to the mining community of Mokelumne Hill. He was appointed alcalde of the settlement, and drew up a code of mining laws and regulations. He remained in the “diggings” long enough to amass the respectable fortune of ten thousand dollars.

He returned to San Francisco to enter the real estate business and was appointed Shipping Commissioner for the Port of San Francisco in 1872. He held this position for many years. Even after his term as Shipping Commissioner expired, he continued to engage in his law practice and to manage real estate transactions. He died in San Francisco on February 14, 1894. (http://socialarchive.iath.virginia.edu/xtf/view?docId=stevenson-j-d-jonathan-drake-1800-1894-cr.xml)