In 1845 a little known Canadian named George Roch (sometimes spelled Rock) was granted the six Mexican leagues containing Coyote Valley by the last Mexican governor Pio Pico.
Roch was granted the Rancho Guenoc on August 8, 1845. Jacob Leese took title ten weeks later, October 18 of that same year, making it easy to suspect that the Guenoc grant was sought at the behest of Jacob Leese.
Roch has been noted as serving "as agent for Leese" in various histories of Lake County, and is credited with building a log cabin near the later site of the historic Stone House as early as 1846.
History has paid little attention to George Roch. He had apparently battened about California for some years. He is not recorded among the many employees of the Hudson’s Bay Company in the San Francisco Bay area at that time. He is first noted in California archives as witness against a horse thief in Sonoma in 1836. We only know for sure that Roch transferred the Rancho Guenoc grant to Jacob Leese only ten weeks after he obtained it.
We also have conclusive evidence that in 1837 Roch had obtained a sizable grant in southern California, and just as quickly signed it over to the wealthy owner of adjacent property. Leese’s many available papers do not speak of Roch, although he deeded a 160-acre farm near Sonoma to Roch in 1847 for $300.
Roch appears in the 1850 census as a 65-year-old farmer living in Sonoma. The same year’s agricultural survey shows Roch with one improved and 159 unimproved acres, valued at $2000, along with two “milch” cows, two working oxen and one horse – valued collectively at $390.
That census lists Roch as a native of Lower Canada, the area stretching eastward from Quebec along the bay.
We have elected to use the name Roch rather than Rock after lengthy internet research. An ancestry.com search of surnames in Lower Canada lists a George Roch several times during appropriate dates, but no exact match to a 1785 birth date. Only one family with the surname of Rock is listed in the appropriate time frame and the given name George does not appear.
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