After the Mexican War ended, in 1848, landholders in the vast stretches of the Southwest ceded to the United States were allowed to keep their property and assume American citizenship. To establish their title to the land, they filed illustrated plats with the federal government. With this vivid sketch, drawn in 1852, Jose Rafael Gonzales laid passionate claim to his tree-studded, mountain-encircled San Miguelito ranch in central California. Today we sometimes underestimate Spain’s influence, not only on our surroundings but on the American character itself. An article on the Spanish legacy appears within.