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Bowden’s Research on the San Pedro Grant

Bowden’s San Pedro Grant

by J. J. Bowden

A group of landless citizens of New Mexico petitioned Governor Facundo Melgares on February 24, 1820, for a grant covering a tract of vacant land at the site called San Pedro which was bounded:

On the north, by the terminus of the lands of the Pueblo of San Felipe; on the east, by the Ojo de Tuerto and its commons; on the south, by the Canon del Agua; and on the west, by the bank of the Rio Grande.

Two days later Melgares granted the petitioners request. They promptly moved to the grant and formed a new settlement, which was called Los Huertas.

Due to a sudden increase' in the Indian disturbances, Governor Jose Antonio Vizcarra on April 23, 1823, ordered the Alcalde of Alameda to move all of the inhabitants of Los Huertas to Alameda. In obedience to the governor’s decree, Alcalde Pedro Perea resettled the grantees at Alameda and set aside a tract of land for their use. This tract was subdivided into a number of lots distributed among the former inhabitants of Los Huertas. As time went by all of the lands in the vicinity of Alameda were appropriated.

Since there were no vacant lands at Alameda, Jesus de Miera and Ramon Gurule, for themselves and on behalf of twenty other persons, each of whom was a descendant of the settlers from Los Huertas petitioned the prefect of the Second District of New Mexico, Antonio Sandoval, on August 16, 1839, seeking a grant covering a smaller tract of land at San Pedro. The boundaries of this tract were described as being located:

On the north, at the outlet of the Arroyo de Chimal; on the east, at the little mountain on a line with Ojo de Tuerto; on the south, at the outlet of the Arroyo de San Antonio; and on the west, at the Sandia Mountain.

Sandoval transmitted the petition to the Alcalde of Bernalillo on the following day, requesting a report upon the merits of the petition. On August 22, 1839, Alcalde Pedro Jose Perea advised Sandoval that the requested tract was located on the edge of Sandia Mountain and about four leagues east of Bernalillo. He estimated the requested tract to be approximately one and a half leagues in length and about one league in width. He stated that the grant contained all of the conveniences necessary to support the petitioners, each of whom was well behaved and landless and many had large families. Therefore, he recommended the issuance of the grant and assured the prefect that the petitioners needed the land and would not abandon the grant unless they were required to do so by competent authorities or as a result of the incursions of the hostile Indians. Sandoval received the report on the following day, promptly granted the petitioners’ request and directed Perea to place them in possession of the premises on condition that the grant was to be used for agricultural purposes and would in no way cause injury to any third party. Before possession could be delivered, Juan Armijo, who occupied a portion of the property, objected to issuance of the grant and a lengthy suit ensued. In view of this litigation, the alcalde refused to place the grantees in possession of the grant but guaranteed to do so as soon as the dispute had been settled. This controversy was finally compromised on November 26, 1844, when eight of the grantees, who had not abandoned their interests, authorized Armijo to remove certain timber which he had cut in consideration for his acknowledging that he had no legal claim to the premises. Once this obstacle was removed Ramon Gurule and seven other grantees petitioned Perea for a revalidation of the concession in their favor. On November 7, 1844, Perea re-granted the premises to the eight interested parties on condition they settle upon the land within one year. Each of the eight grantees was given a 300 vara farm lot. An area 5,000 varas to the north, 5,000 varas to the east, 4,000 varas to the south and 5,000 varas to the west of the eight farm lots (which comprised a 2,400 vara agricultural tract) was set aside for pastural purposes. Thus, the grant allegedly covered a “total of 21,400 varas.”

Jose Serafin Ramirez y Casanova, for himself and as attorney for the inhabitants of the San Pedro Grant, appeared before Governor Manuel Armijo on November 29, 1845, requesting the extension of the southern boundary of the grant southward to the Lagunitas de Indios and the Caja de los Fecunditas in order to include a full league of pasture land in accordance with the Colonization Law. Armijo sent the petition to the Department Assembly which promptly returned it to him with the recommendation that the request be granted. Whereupon Armijo revalidated the grant and approved the extension of the southern boundary of the grant in accordance with the petitioners prayer.[1]

By mesne conveyances dated between 1846 and 1856, Ramirez purchased or acquired by inheritance the interests of the eight grantees. On January 27, 1857, he petitioned Surveyor General William Pelham asking that the grant be confirmed to him. In support of his claim he filed the testimonio of a portion of the grant papers, a certified copy of the balance of the grant papers which had been certified by Acting Governor Donaciano Vigil as being a copy of the originals which were in the Secretary’s office and under his charge, and the deeds evidencing his acquisition of the grant. Pelham held a hearing in connection with the claim on the 23rd and 24th of July, 1857, at which time the testimony of five witnesses was taken. This testimony tended to prove that the grant papers and deeds were genuine and that Ramirez had held quiet and peaceful possession of the premises since 1848. Based on this evidence, Pelham announced his decision on August 28, 1857, in which he found the grant to be good and valid.[2]

The San Pedro Grant was one of the thirty‑two grants confirmed by Congress in the Act of June 21, 1860.[3]  The grant was surveyed in August, 1866, by Deputy Surveyor W. W. Griffin for 35,911.63 acres. The survey located the southern boundary of the grant at the Las Lagunitas de Indios and the Caja de los Fecunditas. The survey was rejected by Commissioners of the General Land Office, S. S. Burdett, on October 31, 1874, on the ground that Ramirez’s petition dated January 27, 1857, had sought only the confirmation of his claim insofar as it was based upon the grant made by Sandoval in 1839; and therefore, the Act of June 21, 1860, had not confirmed the “extension grant” made by Armijo on November 29, 1845. The grant was subsequently resurveyed for 31,594.76 acres and patented on the corrected field notes on May 20, 1875.[4]

[1] H.R. Report No. 457, 35th Cong., 1st Sess., 221-228 (1858).

[2] The San Pedro Grant No. 14 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[3] An Act to confirm certain private land claims in the territory of New Mexico, Chap. 167, 12 Stat. 71 (1860).

[4] The San Pedro Grant No. 14 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).