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Alexander Valle Grant

by J. J. Bowden

Juan de Dios Pena for himself and also on behalf of Francisco Ortiz, Jr. and Juan de Aguilla petitioned the Acting Governor of New Mexico, Alberta Maynez, On March 28, 1815, for a grant of vacant land for agricultural and grazing purposes. Pena stated the petitioners could no longer maintain their large families and increas­ing herds of livestock upon the limited amount of land they possessed near Santa Fe and that the required tract, which was located near the Pueblo of Pecos, would satisfy their needs. He assured the Governor that the Protector of the Indians and the Alcalde of Pecos were both aware of their petition and that the issuance of the grant would in no way be detrimental to the rights of Indians or any third person. Maynez in turn requested the Protector of the Indians and the Alcalde of Santa Fe to give him a report on the propriety of making the grant. On the same date, the Protector of the Indians, Felipe Sandoval, advised the Governor that the tract in question was located the proper distance from the land owned by the Pueblo of Pecos, and, therefore, he say no reason not to accede to the petitioner’s request. The Alcalde of Santa Fe, Martino Ortiz, made a similar report. On March 29, 1815, Maynez granted the solicited lands to the petitioner and directed Alcalde Ortiz to survey the tillable lands and, thus, limit the grant to the land which could be ploughed and planted. In compliance with the Governor’s instructions, Alcalde Ortiz met the grantees at the pueblo of Pecos. The Alcalde, together with his witnesses and the three grantees, went to the place known as the Canon de Pecos, where the Alcalde proceeded to survey the grant, which was bounded and described as follows:

Commencing at the point of rocks to the south of the tract where the principal house stands; thence in a direct line to the north passing along the foot of the “Cuchillas,” to an island above the Lisboa spring, and from thence running a straight line to the east until it reaches the chain of the Cuchillas, and from thence following the line of the same to the south until it terminates at the point of rocks, the place of beginning.

Following the completion of the survey of the exterior boundaries, Alcalde Ortiz partitioned the grant between the three grantees and placed them in possession of their individual suertes. The grantees promptly settled upon the grant and continuously occupied and cultivated their individual tracts until March 17, 1826, when Pena sold his tract to Juan Estevan Pino. It appears that Pino subsequently acquired the rights owned by Francisco Ortiz, Jr. and Juan de Aguilar. The grant was purchased on May 31, 1852, by Alexander Valle from Pino’s sole heir, Justo Pastor Pino, for a consideration of five thousand, two hundred and seventy-five pesos.[1]

Valle petitioned Surveyor General William Pelham on June 10, 1857, and requested him to investigate the grant and report his findings to Congress in order that their title might be confirmed. He asserted that the grant was valid and perfect, having been made by Maynez pursuant to the Royal Cedula of January 4, 1813.[2] He pointed out that while the Cedula required the ratification of all grants by the Provincial Deputation, this was impossible since a provincial Deputation was not established in New Mexico until after Mexico gained its independence in 1821. He asserted that under the customs prevailing at the time the concession was made, the Governor of New Mexico had authority to independently make valid and unconditional grants at his sole discretion. Pelham, following a brief investigation of the merits of the claim, issued a decision on September 10, 1857, recommending its confirmation.[3] By an act approved June 21, 1860,[4] title to this grant was ratified and confirmed by the United States.

The grant was surveyed by Deputy Surveyors Sawyer & McBroom in May, 1876. This survey indicated that the grant contained 574.34 acres. However, it was later found to conflict by about ten chains with the Pueblo of Pecos grant. By decision dated May 14, 1884, Acting Commissioner Harrison rejected the survey because there was “no ground upon which the conflict of the survey under consideration with the Pueblo Patent can be maintained.[5] Thereafter three additional surveys were made. All but the last, which was made by Deputy Surveyor Alonzo E. Compton in 1913, were rejected. The Compton Survey showed the grant as containing 1,242 acres. A patent was ordered to be issued based on the Compton Survey by Assistant Commissioner Thomas C. Hovell on June 27, 1927.[6]

[1] H. R. Report No. 321, 36th Cong., 1st Sess., 279‑290 (1860).

[2] Reynolds, Spanish and Mexican Land Laws 83‑87 (1895).

[3] H. R. Report No. 457, 35th Cong., 1st Sess., 293-294 (1858).

[4] An act to confirm certain private Land Claims in the Territory of New Mexico, Chap. 167, 12 Stat. 71 (1860).

[5] The Alexander Valle Grant, 2 L.D. 421 (1884).

[6] The Alexander Valle Grant, No. 18 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).