The Mariposa area was said to have been named by a Spanish Priest under the direction of explorer, Gabriel Moraga. Moraga was the leader of a 25-man troop that explored central California in 1806. When he and his expedition came upon a creek laced with thousands of yellow butterflies, they named the area “Mariposa” which was the Spanish word for butterfly.
The Mariposa town site area was first the home to the Southern Miwok Indians. They have lived in the Central California area for untold generations before any Europeans arrived in the Americas.
Juan B. Alvarado Mexican governor of California (1836-1842,) was awarded the “Las Mariposas Grant”. The “Las Mariposas Grant” was a “floating” grant which meant that it had no fixed boundaries. It was ten square leagues (approx. 44,400 acres) located generally on the Mariposa Creek between the San Joaquin, Chowchilla, and Merced rivers and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.