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Bernal Spring Grant

by J. J. Bowden

Jacob Gold, for himself and on behalf of the other heirs of Joseph Manuel Mestas, filed suit[1] in the Court of Private Land Claims on February 23, 1893, seeking the confirmation of the Bernal Spring Grant. In support of their claim, the plaintiffs attached an instrument wherein the Constitutional Alcalde of San Miguel del Vado, Diego Padilla, certified that on October 3, 1824, Mestas had appeared before him requesting an hijuela[2] for his security covering the premises which had been granted to him in the name of his Majesty by Alcalde Luis Maria Baca. The boundaries of the grant were described as being: 

On the north, the Arroyo de Tres Hermanos; on the east, the Mesita del Jaspi; on the south, the mesa; and on the west, the first cedars which are on the plains.

The plaintiffs’ claim, which had not been presented to the Surveyor General, covered approximately 20,000 acres of land. An answer was filed by the government putting in issue all of the allegations in the plaintiffs’ petition. The case came up for trial on November 9, 1896, at which time the plaintiffs moved that the suit be dismissed. This action obviously resulted from the plaintiffs’ recognition that their documentary evidence was grossly insufficient to support a finding that their predecessor had received an absolute and perfect grant. In response to the plaintiffs’ request, the Court issued a decree dismissing the plaintiffs’ petition and rejecting the claim.[3]


[1] Gold v. United States, No. 118 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).

[2] An hijuela is the document given to a party entitled to a share of the estate of a deceased person and recites the precise amount of the distributive share. Payne Land & Live­stock Company v. Archuleta, 180 F. Supp. 651 (D.N.M. 1960).

[3] 3 Journal 105 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).