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Gijosa Grant

by J. J. Bowden

Antonio de Moya and his young wife, Francisca Antonia de Gijosa, were among the colonists who resettled New Mexico following its reconquest by Diego de Vargas in 1693. The couple settled at Santa Fe where Moya practiced his trade as a mason. Following Antonio’s death, Francisca commenced tending sheep to support herself and her children. By 1715 she had accumulated a herd of sufficient size to warrant the petitioning of Governor Juan Ignacio Flores Mogollon for a grant. She requested that the grant cover the tract of land located in the Taos Valley which formerly had been owned by Bartolome Romero but had been abandoned since the Pueblo Revolt. In cognizance of his duty to protect widows, Mogollon, on September 20, 1715, made the requested grant and directed the Alcalde of Taos to place the grantee in possession of the premises. Upon receiving notice of the grant and the Governors order, Alcalde Juan de la Mora Pineda assembled the leading officials of the Pueblo of Taos at the Royal House, and in the presence of his witnesses and the grantee, explained the terms of the grant to the Indians. Since they did not remonstrate the concession, the Alcalde proceeded to the grant where he pointed out the following natural objects as the boundaries of the concession and placed the grantee in royal possession of all the lands embraced therein:

On the north, (torn out); on the east, the head of the Acequia which lines with the pueblo; on the south, the middle road (torn); and on the west, the Piedras Negras.[1]

 Sometime prior to the spring of 1725, Francisca married Andres de la Paz, moved back to Santa Fe and decided to sell her sheep ranch. On May 25, 1725 she conveyed the grant to Baltazar Trujillo for fifty pesos and stated “that if it was worth more she made him a gift of the balance”. She also specifically waived all “laws favorable to women” and declared, “although I am a woman, I have not been compelled or advised by any person and the said sale has been for my sole benefit, for which I relinquish and give up dominion, share and ownership …” of the grant. Trujillo presented the deed to Enrique Jiron y Cabrera, the Alcalde of Taos on June 22, 1725 and requested the Alcalde to place him in royal possession of the Francisca Antonia de Gijosa Grant as well as an adjoining tract of land which had been granted to him in 1702 but which he had not occupied for some time. In response to the petition, Jiron summoned the Caceque, Governor and other head men of the Pueblo of Taos so they could enter any objections they might have to the delivery of possession to Trujillo. Encountering no opposition, he placed Trujillo in possession of both tracts as a single body of land which he described as being bounded:

On the north, by the Taos River; on the east, by the mouth of the Acequia which lines with the Pueblo; on the south, by the middle road from Picuris; and on the west, by the Piedras Negras as far as the Arroyo Hondo.[2]

Trujillo, in turn, sold the consolidated grant to Baltazar Romero on July 12, 1732 for a consideration of five hundred pesos.[3]  Thereafter the consolidated grant was generally referred to as simply the Gijosa Grant. Baltazar Romero sold and conveyed the Gijosa Grant to Juan Joseph Romero, Antonio Romero, Ana Maria Romero, and Domingo Moriano de Los Dolores on August 14, 1732 for a total consideration of one hundred head of small stock horses, three Apache women, and four fanegas of provisions.[4] On June 15, 1745 Domingo Mariano de los Dolores and four other persons who had acquired the interests of Mariano’s co‑tenants appeared before Alcalde Francisco Guerrero seeking the partitioning of the cultivatable portion of the grant amongst themselves. In response to their petition, Guerrero examined the grant and, after finding that it contained 8,900 varas of agricultural land along the south bank of the Taos River and 2,700 varas along the east bank of the Rio Grande, partitioned the 11,600 varas as follows:

(a) Cristoval Tafoya ‑ 2320 varas along the south bank of the Taos River running westward from a point one league from the Pueblo.
(b) Joseph de Villapenado ‑ the 2320 varas west of Tafoya’s tract.
(c) Joseph Romero ‑ the 2320 vara tract west of Villapenado’s tract.
(d) Rosa Romero ‑ the 1940 varas lying between Joseph Romero’s tract and the junction of the Taos River and the Rio Grande and also 380 varas along the Rio Grande south of the junction. 
(e) Domingo Mariano de los Dolores 2320 varas along the Rio Grande located south of Rosa Romero’s tract.

The balance of the grant was to be held in common by its owners as a pasturage for their livestock.[5] During the next century and a quarter, the grant was continuously occupied and claimed by the descendants of the five parties among whom it had been partitioned. Its population rapidly expanded and, by 1876, there were at least 4,000 persons living in the numerous small settlements scattered along the south bank of the Taos River.

The claim was submitted[6] to Surveyor General Henry M Atkinson on January 17, 1876. Atkinson, in an opinion dated April 25, 1878, held that the muniments, which had been filed in the case, were undoubtedly genuine and that the grant which had been made Francisca Antonia de Gijosa in 1715 should be confirmed. However, since there was no evidence that a grant had actually been made to Baltazar Trujillo in 1702, he recommended the rejection of that portion of the claim. Noting that evidence in the claim did not set forth the north boundary of the Francisca Antonia de Gijosa Grant, he stated that it would have to be ascertained and determined by the surveyor when he made the official survey of the grant.

Two surveys were made under the direction of the Surveyor General. The first was made in June, 1883 by John Shaw and depicted the Francisca Antonia Gijosa Grant as containing 1,557.83 acres. The claimants protested the approval of the Shaw Survey on the grounds that it did not correctly locate any of the boundaries of the grant and offered an affidavit by Jose Rafael Vigil. He stated that he was seventy-five years of age, that he had been familiar with the grant for more than fifty years and that its northern boundary was the Taos River. Based on this “new evidence”, a second survey was made for 16,365.45 acres. This survey covered the same lands as those contained in the consolidated grant described by Alcalde Jiron in his certificate of June 22, 1725. If this latter survey was correct, then the grant to Trujillo in 1702 was located totally within and conflicted with the Fran­cisca Antonia de Gijosa Grant.[7]

Since Congress was not equipped to determine the num­erous complex questions which were raised in the multitudinous Spanish and Mexican land grants pending before it, the Court of Private Land Claims was created in 1891. On June 18, 1892 Felix Romero, for himself and on behalf of the other owners of the Francisca Antonia de Gijosa and the Baltazar Trujillo Grants, filed suit[8] against the United States for the confirmation of the consolidated claim. When the case came up for trial, Romero introduced a copy of the several documents contained in the Archives relating to the Francisca Antonia de Gijosa Grant together with a certified copy of an entry from the Book of the Cabildo pertaining to the Baltazar Trujillo Grant. The Book of the Cabildo was a register containing a brief description of all grants made prior to 1713, and was contained in the Archives turned over to the United States when it acquired New Mexico. The entry concerning the Baltazar Trujillo Grant stated that on September 13, 1713, Baltazar Trujillo presented title papers showing that he had been granted the lands which formerly had belonged to the widow of Archuleta by Governor Pedro Cubero on September 19, 1702 and that the Alcalde of Taos, Miguel Tenorio de Alva, had placed him in possession of the four fanegas tract of land covered thereby on September 26, 1702. The government’s attorney offered no special defenses against the confirmation of the claim and conceded that if Surveyor General Atkinson’s attention had been called to the entry in the book of the Cabildo he probably would not have recommended the rejection of the Baltazar Trujillo Grant. The Court, in its opinion[9] dated March 1, 1893, held that it was satisfied that the plaintiff had established a valid and complete claim to both grants, and, therefore, confirmed title thereto in the heirs and legal representatives of the two original grantees. Since the tract was diamond shaped, the Court, in order to avoid any confusion in the surveying of the grant, described its boundaries as follows:

Beginning at the head of the irrigation ditch … on the Rio del Pueblo; thence following the Rio del Pueblo to where it empties into the Rio Grande; thence following the Rio Grande to the mouth of the Arroyo Hondo; thence following the Arroyo Hondo to the point where the middle road which comes from Picuris crosses the Arroyo; then following said middle road to a point thereon nearest to the said head of said irrigation ditch; and thence in a straight line to the point of beginning.

 The grant, as thus confirmed, was surveyed by Deputy Surveyor Albert F. Easley between the 16th and 23rd of January, 1897 and depicted the grant as containing 15,794.47 acres. The Taos Indians protested the approval of the survey on the grounds that it conflicted with the southwest corner of their grant by about fifty chains. The Surveyor General also called the court’s attention to the fact that the northwest boundary followed the southeastern boundary of the Antonio Martinez Grant instead of the Taos River as specified in its decree. The court amended[10] its decree on May 5, 1897 in order to exclude the area in conflict and ordered a resurvey of the grant in strict accordance with its decree as amended. Deputy Surveyor Jay Turley ran the new survey of the premises in September, 1901, and it showed that the grant contained 16,240.64 acres. A patent based on the Turley Survey was issued on October 26, 1908.[11]

[1] Archive No, 309 (Mss., Records of the A.N.M.).

[2] Archive No. 945 (Mss., Records of the A.N.M.).

[3] Archive No, 951 (Mss., Records of the A.N.M.).

[4] Archive No. 750 (Mss., Records of the A.N.M.).

[5] Archive No. 957 (Mss., Records of the A.N.M.).

[6] The Gijosa Grant, No. 109 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Romero v. United States, No, 16 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).

[9] 1 Journal 129‑130 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).

[10] 3 Journal 182 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).

[11] The Gijosa Grant, No, 109 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).