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Juan Estevan de Noriega Grant

by J. J. Bowden

On March 3, 1893, Andres Garcia filed suit[1] against the United States in the Court of Private Land Claims in an effort to secure the recognition of the Juan Estevan Garcia de Noriega Grant. The claim was based on an expediente contained in the Archives of New Mexico[2] and was estimated to contain 5,000 acres of land. The expediente consisted of three instruments. The first was a petition wherein Captain Juan Estevan Garcia de Noriega, Alcalde of Santa Cruz, “registered” a tract of vacant land containing about a fanega and a half of corn planting land situated above the pueblo of Colorado and which he more fully described as being bounded:

On the north, by some red mountains; on the east, by the lands of Captain Antonio de Ulibarri; on the south, by some high wooded hills; and on the west, by the Canon de la Caja del Rio.

The second instrument was a decree dated February 17, 1735, by Juan Páez Hurtado, Acting Governor of New Mexico during the absence of Governor Gervasio Cruzat y Góngora who was temporarily absent from the capitol on a judicial visit to El Paso del Norte. By this decree Hurtado granted the requested land and directed the Lieutenant Alcalde of Santa Cruz, Captain Diego de Torres, to deliver possession of the grant to Garcia. The final instrument is an Act of Possession dated February 25, 1735, which recites that Torres, acting in compliance with the writ of grant made by Acting Governor Hurtado, placed the grantee in royal possession of the premises. At the foot of the Act of Possession was the following undated notation:

Santa Fe

This grant with the possession of the lands which in it are expressed, is ordered to recall; of which note is taken in the book of government.


The government in its amended answer asserted that the claim should be rejected for two reasons. First, because it showed on its face that it had been revoked by Governor Cruzat in the same year that it had, been made, and. second, because it was totally within the boundaries of the Juan Jose Lovato Grant, which had been previously confirmed by the court, and thus, the court no longer had jurisdiction over the lands in question. When the case came up for trial on February 11, 1898, Garcia argued that the governor had no authority to summarily revoke a valid grant. The court rendered a decision in this case on February 16, 1898, in which it held that the facts in the case were precisely the same as those in the Baca case,[3] involving the Barranca Grant, and which had been rejected in 1896. Therefore, the court rejected the claim and dismissed the plaintiff’s petition.[4] Garcia did not elect to appeal the decision.

[1] Garcia v. United States, No. 254 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).

[2] Archive No. 320 (Mss., Records of the A.N.M.).

[3] Baca v. United States, No. 97 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.). This case held that the governor could revoke a prior grant made by an acting governor.

[4] 3 Journal 368 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).