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Francisco de Anaya Alamazan Grant

by J. J. Bowden

Prior to the Pueblo Revolt, Captain Francisco de Anaya Almazan and his family lived on his hacienda which was located about eleven miles west of Santa Fe at the place known as Cieneguilla. He was on patrol when the Santa Clara Indians attacked the hacienda and massacred his entire family on August 10, 1680.[1] He was able to make his way to Santa Fe where he participated in its siege and Governor Antonio de Otermin’s subsequent evacuation and macabre retreat to El Paso del Norte.

Following Governor Diego de Vargas’ successful reconquest of New Mexico in the fall of 1692, he was anxious to proceed with its resettlement. However, many of the New Mexicans had set down roots and were not interested in starting life anew on the northern frontier where they had lost so much. To encourage them to voluntarily move back, Vargas promised to regrant those who returned the lands which they had held prior to the rebellion. Actually, this was little incentive for it was not unusual to make liberal land grants to pioneer settlers. However, it was enough to cause Anaya and a number of other loyal New Mexicans to join the migration. Anaya was appointed as Adjutant and placed in charge of the advance guard. Between October 4 and 13, 1693, Vargas’ force of one hundred soldiers and seven hundred colonists, which was divided into three divisions, moved out of El Paso del Norte on the long road back to Santa Fe.[2] The advance was slow and difficult. Following the successful crossing of the dreaded Jornado del Muerta, Vargas, who was ill with chills and fever, decided to rest and reorganize his expedition. This took place at the abandoned hacienda of Luis Lopez, which was within sight of the ancient Pueblo of Senecus between the first and fifth of November 1693. Early on the morning of the fifth, Vargas, impatient with the progress being made by the slow moving wagon train, left the main group and with a small escort proceeded to Santa Fe. The ancient capital was permanently reoccupied by the Spaniards on December 16, 1693.[3]

Meanwhile, Anaya took advantage of the opportunity afforded by the rest stop and presented a petition to Vargas seeking the revalidation of his sitio of lands at Cieneguilla. Vargas by a decree dated November 2, 1693, declined to grant the sitio since it embraced much of the land which Vargas planned to set aside as a pasturage for the mounts used by soldiers to be stationed at Santa Fe. However, being mindful of the promise he had made at El Paso del Norte he granted Anaya one fanega of corn planting land together with a sufficient amount of land to pasture 200 head of small stock or 20 head of large stock plus his military horses and the oxen for his field and cart. Anaya again petitioned Vargas in 1693 for a grant covering all of the lands he had owned prior to the Pueblo Revolt. In response to this second petition, Vargas issued a decree in which he:

… ordered that the aforesaid decree be complied with to the letter, without innovation, but precisely and punctually observed as therein mentioned by me, and the party aforesaid accepting the same and granted on said condition. I therefore give him authority to settle, use, and enjoy the said grant and the possession shall be given to him whenever he shall ask for it, b myself or a competent justice appointed therefor.[4]

While there is no documentary evidence that possession was formally delivered to Anaya,[5] it is known that he occupied and used the land at Cieneguilla prior to his death sometime prior to 1714. Following his death, his widow and executrix petitioned Governor Juan Ignacio Flores Mogollon stating that mice had mutilated the grant papers to an extent to render it unintelligible. In order to protect the interest of their minor children, she asked the governor to revalidate the grant. The petition described the grant as follows:

Its boundaries being that of the Rancho de los Alamos, that of the Cienega, the descent of the table lands of Santo Domingo where Diego Gonzales was killed, and the other one where the roads of the Pueblo of Cochiti separate in front of Pino.

Mogollon, after having examined the petition together with the mutilated papers, revalidated the grant. However, instead of describing the grant in accordance with the description set forth in the petition the decree merely provided for the revalidation of the grant insofar as it covered the quantity of land specified in the original grant papers. While this decree directed the Alcalde of Santa Fe to place the petitioner in possession of such lands, there is no documentary evidence showing that the Alcalde ever delivered royal possession under this decree.[6]

Nearly two years later, on June 20. 1716, Anaya’s widow, Felipa Rico y Roja, and his two children, Juana and Joaquin, sold the grant to Andres Montoya for one hundred, twenty pesos, The deed described the premises as follows:

Its boundaries are the edge of the adjacent lands of the Alamo on the east side; the lands of the Cienega on the south side; the table lands on the west side; and the opposite woods called Debocandos on the north side.[7]

Montoya’s heirs and legal representatives who had occupied the premises since 1714, petitioned Surveyor General Henry M. Atkinson on October 25, 1878, seeking the confirmation of the grant in accordance with the description contained in their deed, Atkinson, in his decree dated March 19, 1879, found the title papers to be genuine but had a serious question as to the quantity of land covered by the concession He noted that no boundaries were stated in any of the three granting decrees and they consistently described the grant as containing a vague and indefinite quantity of land, lie held that the boundaries set out in the several petitions to the governor and in the deed to Montoya could not be resorted to in determining the limits of the grant because they were self‑serving and, failed to reflect the expressed intent of the granting officials. Continuing, he stated that he did not believe that the Spanish officials intended to grant a sitio granado major, and pointed out that if the grant was approved to the extent of the boundaries set forth in the claimants petition it would embrace a tract at least 3 miles by 2 miles or about a full sitio of land. Since a sitio de granado minor or 3333‑1/3 varas square was the quantity customarily granted for the pasturing of full herds or 3,000 head of sheep something smaller was undoubtedly intended by the governor when he mentioned a tract for the pasturing of 200 sheep plus domestic animals. Thus, he reasoned the smallest quantity of pasture land recognized by the Spanish government; or a criadero de granado minor of 1,666‑2/3 varas square would have been ample to pasture the number of animals referred to in the first decree Therefore, he recommended the approval of the grant to the extent of one fanega of planting land plus a criadero de granado minor or a total of 491 acres which were to be selected by the claimants in two contiguous tracts from the lands described in Anaya’s petition for the revalidation of the original grant. A preliminary survey of the grant was made by Deputy Surveyor Robert Marmon in August, 1879; for 45,244,73 acres, which depicted the grant as being a triangular tract of land. The topography of the country indicates that Marmon correctly had located the calls contained in Anayas’ petition for the revalidation of the grant.[8]

Since Congress had not acted upon Atkinson’s report, the grant was one of the claims re‑examined by Surveyor General George W. Julian at the request of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, William A. J. Sparks. By Supplemental Opinion dated May 7 1886, Julian held that the description of the grant was so vague and indefinite that the lands covered thereby could not be located. Therefore, under the doctrine of the King Case,[9] the grant was void for uncertainty, and could not constitute a valid claim against the United States. He stated that the most that could be claimed by the petitioners was an equity which could be recognized only by Congress Therefore, he recommended the recognition of the grant to the extent of land actually occupied by Montoya’s heirs. Julian was very critical of Atkinson’s approval of the Marmon survey ‑‑ especially since Atkinson’s opinion had recommended the confirmation of the grant to a limited area. Julian stated:

On his own showing, if the grant was valid at all, its area did not exceed 500 acres, but should have been surveyed accordingly, … but his deputies stretched the lines so as to include over 45,000 acres, and he approved their work. This performance takes rank among the most shocking of the land frauds of New Mexico.[10]

Since Congress had not acted upon the claim, Feliciano Montoya, who claimed an interest in the grant by inheritance, filed suit for its confirmation in the Court of Private Land Claims on March 3, 1893.[11] The government filed a general answer putting the allegations in the plaintiffs petition in issue.

The case came up for trial on June 2, 1897, at which time the plaintiff offered his rnuniments of title together with oral testimony describing the occupation of the grant by the plaintiff and his predecessors for many years. The government acknowledged that the grant papers were genuine but contended that the area claimed by the plaintiffs was excessive. Thus, the principal issue in the case centered around the location of the boundaries of the grant and the evidence thereon was quite conflicting.

By decision dated October 5, 1897, the court held that the grant, which was one of the oldest filed for its consideration, was entitled to confirmation for some amount. Noting that there was considerable obscurity in the grant papers surrounding its boundaries, the court proceeded to reconcile the conflicting evidence concerning their location. The court found that the Cienega which was mentioned in both the petition for the revalidation of the grant in 1714, and the deed of Montoya, was located in the Arroyo Alamo and that grants covering the land within an arroyo customarily extended to the crest of the hills on each side. Therefore, the court held that the southern boundary of the grant was located along the crest of the ridge lying between the Santa Fe River and the Arroyo Hondo. Since the Rancho de Alamo or Juan Miguel Maes Grant; which was also mentioned in both of said documents had been peaceably occupied by John B. Lamy for an extended period of time. The court held that the eastern boundary of the grant should extend northward from the ridge along Lamy’s west line or an extension thereof. Based on the next call in these two documents the western line was fixed by the court as a line extending northward from the ridge along the foot of the table lands of Santo Domingo. The determination of the location of the northern boundary caused the court no little trouble. The government contended that it was located at the point where the Cochiti Road forked as stated in the 1714 petition while the claimants based on the recitals in the deed, argued that the” grant included all of the Debocandos Woods, which were located north of a fork in the Cochiti Road as it ran in 1897. The court noted that two arroyos united at a point near the northwest corner of the Rancho de Alamo and opposite the southern edge of the Deboncandos Woods. It also believed that in 1714 an old road to Cochiti probably ran near this point, Therefore, the court estab­lished the northern boundary as an east‑west line running through this point.[12]

Since neither party appealed this decision, the grant was surveyed in November, 1898 by Deputy Surveyor George H. Pradt and found to contain 3,202.79 acres. A patent was issued to the heirs and assigns of Andres Montoya on April 24, 1916.


[1] 1 Hacket, Revolt of the Pueblo Indians 9, 251 (1942).

[2] Espinosa, Crusaders of the Rio Grande, 44, 131 (1942).

[3] Ibid, 149.

[4] Archive No. 497 (Mss., Records of the A.N.M.).

[5] There is a recitation in a decree dated December  9, 1699, by Governor Pedro Rodrigues Cubero in connection with the granting of the Juan de Mestas Grant which would tend to indicate that possession of the grant was delivered., This recitation also indicates that the Francisco de Anaya Alamazan was living near the Pueblo of Pajoaqui, in 1699. The Juan de Mestas Grant, No. 80 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[6] Archive No. 497 (Mss., Records of the A.N.M.).

[7] lbid.

[8] The Francisco de Anaya Almazan Grant No. 115 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[9] United States v. King 44 U S (3 How.) 773 (1845).

[10] Sen. Exec. Doc, No. 16, 50th Cong., 1st Sess, 3‑5 (1887). Julian’s attack upon Atkinson’s approval of the Marmon Survey was ill advised since Atkinson had recommended that applicants be allowed to select a 491 acre tract of land from the area covered by the lands described in Anaya’s petition for the revalidation of the original grant.

[11] Montoya v. United States, No. 214 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.), A second suit was filed on the same day by Zenon Sandoval, who clamed a similar interest. The two suits were consolidated by order of the Court dated September 5, 1896, Sandoval v. United States, No. 243 (Mss,. Records of the Ct. Pvt L. Cl.)

[12] 3 Journal 305 (Mss., Records of the Ct Pvt. L. Cl.).