Rancho Zayante was granted by Mexico in 1834 to
Joaquin Buelna and consisted of 2,658 acres just
north of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and
probably included a small portion of the present
northern section of the Park. Buelna had been
a teacher in San Jose and an Alcalde (mayor) of
Pueblo Branciforte (Santa Cruz). The next year
he let his claim lapse, after giving his timer
rights to Ambrose Tomlinson and Joe Dye, thus
starting a settlement of "foreigners".
Isaac Graham, a frontiersman, had come from Hardin Countery, Kentucky, in 1833. Three years after his arrival he assisted Juan B. Alvarado in expelling Governor Guiterres with the understanding that the country should be free from Mexican domination. However, shortly after Alvarado came to power, Graham and his associates were arrested as dangerous foreigners and placed in confinement on a boat in Monterey Harbor. A few of the group were released before Don Jose Castro sailed with the prisoners for Mexico and all were released by Mexican authorities after their arrival. It was reported Isaac Graham received $36,000 as indemnity for the outrage done to him. With this money Graham cast his eyes on the Zayante Tract. Graham, along with his friend Henry Neale, induced Joseph Majors who was a Mexican citizen to apply for the grant. Majors was named as grantee of Zayante and the adjoining San Augustine Rancho of 4,326 acres. Majors actually procured the land for a syndicate of "foreigners" who declined to become Mexican citizens.
In 1841, Majors, Graham, a German named Frederick Hoeger, and a Dane named Peter Lassen, agreed to erect a mill on Zayante Creek near where it enters the San Lorenzo River. This was reputed to be the first power sawmill in California. Graham and Neale took over their partners' interests in 1843 and built a larger mill on the east bank of the San Lorenzo River below the enterance of Fall Creek.
The Colony of British and American "foreigners" at Zayante of which Graham was an influential part attracted many of the pioneers who came over the Santa Fe Trail in the 1830's and across the plains in the 1840's. Run by Joe Dye and Joseph Majors, the "muley" sawmill, a grist mill, and a still which made mountain whiskey formed the center of a group of cabins which spread into what is now Mount Hermon and down to the present Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.