The Journal of San Diego History
Fall 1990, Volume 36, Number 4
Richard W. Crawford, Editor

Book Notes

History of San Diego County Land Surveying Experiences.

By Curtis M. Brown and Michael J. Pallamary. San Diego: Privately printed, 1988. Illustrations. Index. 115 pages. $15.00.

Reviewed by Howard O. Welty, San Diego History Center

Curtis M. Brown, now in his 80s, is perhaps the dean of living land surveyors in the San Diego area. In 1984 he produced a privately printed memoir summarizing his experiences in a forty-year practice of the science and art of establishing property lines. The new work is an expansion of this in collaboration with Michael J. Pallamary, a surveyor whose hobby is researching early land history. Written primarily for the benefit of land surveyors, the book assumes the reader to be at home with offsets, tie points, and closings. It describes early boundary, public land, and subdivision surveys; traces litigation over such tracts as Middletown and Rancho Cuyamaca; and offers a wealth of anecdotes recounting Brown’s encounters with surveying problems (technical, legal, personal). Especially illuminating is a detailed account of Brown’s role in a 1966 lawsuit that settled a dispute over San Diego’s pueblo land boundaries (the Shaw-Williams controversy). A weakness of the book is its meager editing; some ambiguous passages and misspelled words should have been caught. (May be ordered by mail from M. J. Pallamary, 1094 Cudahy Place, San Diego, CA 92110; $17.58, includes tax, postage).