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Gaspar Ortiz Grant

by J. J. Bowden

Vincente Duran y Armijo, a resident of Santa Fe, petitioned Gaspar Domingo de Mendoza, Governor of New Mexico, for a grant covering the lands embraced within the following boundaries:

On the north, the Arroyo Seco; on the east, the mountains; on the south, the lands of Bernardo de Sena; and on the west, the Pueblo of de Nambe Grant.

The petitioner called the Governor’s attention to the innumerable hardships and misfortunes which he had endured both as a soldier and settler during and following the reconquest of New Mexico. He stated he needed the land, which comprised a tract sufficient to plant six fanegas of wheat and two of corn to support his family and servants He specifically stated that requested lands were vacant and would not disturb the pastures or waters of the friendly Indians of the Pueblo of Nambe or the pasturage of the Santa Fe garrison. He concluded by pointing out that his appropriation of the land would prevent their use by the hostile Indians. Upon learning of Duran’s application, the Indians of the Pueblo de Nambe objected to the issuance of the grant. Mendoza invited representatives of the Pueblo and Duran to a meeting where it was decided that a grant should be given to Duran in the vicinity of the lands he had requested but that it should be located in a manner so no injury would result to the Pueblo. Therefore, on September 25, 1739, Mendoza directed Juan Garcia de Mora, Alcalde of Santa Cruz, to select an appropriate site and place Duran in possession of an equivalent tract of vacant land, by virtue of this decree. Mora went to the Pueblo de Nambe where he met with the Casique of the Tribe and Duran. It was mutually agreed that Duran should be given two tracts of land in the northwest corner of the pueblo grant which were described as follows:

First Tract:

 A small tract of land measuring 150 varas from north to south and bounded on the north, by the Nambe River; on the east, by a stone mound and cedar post which marks the western boundary of the Pueblo de Nambe Grant: and the south, by an Acequia and on the west, by an arroyo which empties into the Nambe River which also serves as the eastern boundary of the grant to the Pueblo de Pojoaque.

Second Tract:

A rectangular tract of land measuring 740 varas from east to west and 550 varas from north to south and bounded on the north and west, by the lands of Juan Parez Hurtado: on the east, by a cross on the main road which is also the western boundary of the Pueblo de Nambe Grant; and on the south, by the Nambe River.

Mora surveyed the grant in accordance with the agreement and upon the completion of the survey placed Duran in royal possession of the premises. A testimonio of the entire proceedings, which was written on common paper, and signed by the Casique by his mark as evidence the consent of the Pueblo de Nambe was delivered to Duran as evidence of his title to the grant.[1] Gaspar Ortiz purchased the grant from Duran in 1798, and, thereafter, resided upon and cultivated portions of the premises up to the time of his death in 1824. The grant was continuously occupied and used by his heirs after 1824. Gaspar Ortiz’s grandson, who was also named Gaspar Ortiz, filed a petition[2] in the Surveyor General’s office on June 10, 1859, requesting confirmation of the grant, which he described as having the same boundaries as set out in the Duran petition to the Governor of New Mexico. He further alleged that Duran had sold the grant to his grandfather but that the deed had been lost or misplaced, lie concluded by asserting that he was he legal owner of the grant by virtue of being Gaspar Ortiz’s heir.

After holding a hearing on the petition, Surveyor General William Pelham found the grant to be good and valid; but that the chain of title out of the original grantee to the claimant was inchoate. In his report dated July 2, 1859, Pelham recommended the confirmation of the grant to the legal representatives of Vincente Duran de Armijo.[3] The grant was confirmed less than a year later by congress in the Act of June 21, 1860. [4]

The grant was surveyed in March, 1877, by Deputy Surveyors Sawyer & McElroy for 57.18 acres, all of which were located within the Pueblo of Nambe Grant.[5] The grant apparently has never been patented. The grant’s principal claim to fame is that it is the smallest confirmed private land claim in New Mexico.


[1] H.R. Exec. Doc. No. 14, 36th Cong., 1st Sess., 170-177 (1860).

[2] The Gaspar Ortiz Grant, No. 31 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[3] Ibid.

[4] An act to confirm certain Private Land Claims in the Territory of New Mexico, Chap. 167, Sec. 3, 12 Stat. 71 (1860).

[5] The Gaspar Ortiz Grant, No. 31 Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).