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Juan Cayentano Lovato Grant

by J. J. Bowden

 Squadron Corporal Juan Cayentano Lovato, who was stationed at the Presidio of Santa Fe, petitioned Governor Gaspar Domingo de Mendoza for a grant covering a tract of vacant public land located southeast of the capital in order to grow the food necessary for the support of his large family. He described the requested tract as being bounded:

On the north, by the lands of Luis Armenta; on the east, by the wagon road that starts at the house of Captain Manuel Tenorio; on the south, by the arroyo de los Piedras; and on the west, by the road that goes to Pecos.

Mendoza, after fully considering the, petition, granted the land to Lovato on August 22, 1742 and ordered the Alcalde of Santa Fe, Captain Antonio de Ulibarri, to place him in royal possession of the premises. In obedience to the Governor’s order, Ulibarri went to the grant four days later. Upon his arrival, he designated the boundaries of the grant as:

On the north, the lands of Manuel Tenorio; on the east, the public road that starts at the house of Captain Miguel Coca and runs towards the mountains; on the south, the arroyo de los Piedras; and on the west, the lands of Luis Armenta and Antonio Dominguez.[1]

Lovato promptly moved to the grant which covered approximately 1,000 acres. He cultivated portions of the grant for agricultural purposes and pastured his livestock on the balance. Either he or his heirs had continuous peaceful possession of the grant until 1839. In that year his grandson, Pedro Ignacio Lovato, was living on the grant and had it stocked with 2,500 head of cattle and 3,000 sheep. The Indians attacked the rancho and killed most of the cattle and stole the sheep. This raid “wiped” Pedro out financially. He mortgaged the grant for 32 pesos in order to buy some mining supplies and moved to the mine fields at Real de Dolores where he hoped to find enough gold to make a “comeback”. However, he apparently was never able to accumulate enough money to purchase a herd to restock the grant.

On February 23, 1893, Jose M. Lovato, a great-grandson of Juan Cayentano Lovato, filed a suit in the Court of Private Land Claims, seeking the confirmation of the grant.[2] There was no issue over the genuineness of the grant papers, but the government concentrated its attack on the question of whether the plaintiff owned an interest in the grant. On cross-examination of one of the plaintiff’s witnesses, it was shown that, while there were a great number of persons living on the grant, only one, Lupe Lujan, was related to the original grantee. It was brought out that the 1839 mortgage of the grant by the plaintiff’s father, Pedro Ignacio Lovato, had never been repaid and that the mortgage had apparently been foreclosed.

The Court of Private Land Claims, in its decision announced on April 28, 1894, held the grant to be void because it conflicted with the Santa Fe Grant, the existence and priority of which was presumed by the court in its previous decree confirming that grant. Therefore, the court rejected the Juan Cayentano Lovato Grant and dismissed the plaintiff’s petition.[3] No appeal was taken by Lovato.


[1]Archive No. 445 (Mss., Records of the A.N.M.).

[2] Lovato v. United States, No. 103 (Mss., Records of the Ct. of Pvt. L. Cl.).

[3] 2 Journal 138‑139 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).