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Bowden’s Research on the Canada de los Alamos Grant

by J. J. Bowden

Lorenzo Marquez, a resident of Santa Fe, appeared before Governor Juan Bautista de Anza on September 23, 1785 and registered a tract of vacant land located in the Cañada de los Alamos. He described the tract as being “surplus to the lands of Captain Sebastian de Vargas” and bounded:

On the north, by the Sebastian de Vargas Grant; on the east, by Pecos road going to the ranchos of the Cienega; and on the south and west, by the little valley called Cañada de la Tierra.

Without much ado, Governor Anza granted Marquez the requested tract upon the conditions that the giant would not injure any third party and the premises be cultivated in conformity with the royal laws. He also directed the Alcalde of Santa Fe, Antonio Jose Ortiz, to notify the surrounding settlers of the grant and ascertain that no injury to third parties would result therefrom, “measure off in all directions the varas that may be required”, cause the grantee to fix landmarks to identify his boundaries, place the grantee in royal possession of the grant and return the expediente of the grant to the governor for recording in the “government book”. Two weeks later, Ortiz, accompanied by three attending witnesses and Marquez, met Jose Maria Montoya, who was the only adjoining landowner, at the Cañada de los Alamos After having the grant fully explained to him, Montoya stated that it would not interfere with him in any respects Upon receiving this assurance, Ortiz designated the following natural objects as the boundaries of the grant:

 On the north, the main road from the Pecos to the Serillos; on the east, the divide between the roads, that coming from Pecos to that town, and that going to Serillos through the lands of Jose Marie Montoya: on the south, the Cañada de la Tierra; and on the west, the top of the hills.

Ortiz estimated that the grant was five and a half leagues from Santa Fe. Upon the completion of the survey, Ortiz placed Marquez in quiet and peaceful possession of the land, but cautioned him that the pastures and watering places were to remain open for public use. On the same day, Anza acknowledged receipt of three reales as fees for the stamped paper.[1]

Marquez and his descendants continuously occupied the grant and used it for agricultural and pastural purposes until his four grandchildren and only heirs sold the grant to Simon Delgado and his three brothers on June 20, 1856. Meanwhile, either the Marquezes or the Delgados filed the testimonio of the grant in the Surveyor General’s Office. The records of that office indicate that the papers were filed on February 23, 1856, but the Delgados did not formally request the confirmation of the grant until June 19, 1871. In connection with his investigation of the claim, Surveyor General T. Rush Spencer examined two disinterested witnesses who testified that the land had always been in the possession and use of Marquez and his descendants and their assigns.

 In his report on the grant dated July 12, 1874, Spencer found the grant to be good and absolute under the laws, customs and usages of Spain and Mexico but that the present claimants had not adequately shown that they were the sole owners of the claim. Therefore, he held:

The governor who made the grant is known to have been competent in the premises, and the signature purporting to be his, appended to the granting decrees has been verified as genuine by comparing it with his signature borne by other documents among the old Spanish archives of this office. The grant is, therefore, approved, with the boundaries set forth in the Act of Possession, to the legal representatives of Lorenzo Marquez, without prejudice to the title of the present claimants, and is transmitted to the Congress of the United States, with a transcript of all the papers in the case, with the recommendation that the same be recognized and confirmed.[2]

A preliminary survey of the grant was made in February, 1878, by Deputy Surveyor S, E McElroy for 13,706.02 acres.[3]

Since Congress had not acted upon the claim, Francisco A. Manzanares, acting for himself and all other legal representatives and assigns of Lorenzo Marquez, filed suit in the Court of Private Land Claims against the united States on December 7, 1892, seeking the confirmation of the grant.[4] After carefully investigating the claim, the government’s attorney found no special defenses which he could raise against the recognition of the grant. Therefore, he merely filed a general answer putting the allegations contained in the plaintiffs’ petition in issue.

Upon the trial of the case, the plaintiff introduced his title papers and oral testimony showing the occupation and use of the property. On August 23, 1893, the court rendered its opinion confirming the grant in accordance with the boundaries set forth in the Act of Possession.[5] The grant was resurveyed by Deputy Surveyor John H. Walker for 12,068.39 acres, upon which a patent was issued on June 22, 1896.[6]


[1] H. R. Misc. Doc., 181, 42d Cong, 2d Sess. 31‑32 (1872).

[2] Ibid., 34‑36.

[3] The Cañada de los Alamos Grant, No. 53 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[4] Manzanares v. United States, No. 53 (Mss., Records of Ct. Pvt. L, Cl.).

[5] 1 Journal 191‑194 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. I. Cl.).

[6] The Cañada de los Alamos Grant, No 53 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).