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Nuestra Senora del Rosario Grant

by J. J. Bowden

Armed with Archive No. 771,[1] Pedro Jose Gallegos, for himself, and in behalf of the other claimants of the Nuestra Senora del Rosario, San Fernando, Santiago Grant, filed suit[2] in the Court of Private Land Claims on August 13, 1892, seeking the confirmation of their interest. Archive No. 771 consisted of the five ancient documents which formed the expediente of the grant. The first is an instrument dated March 3, 1754, wherein Nicolas Romero and ten other residents of the town of Chimayo petitioned Governor Tomas Velez Cachupin for a grant covering the tract of land situated on the Rio de las Truchas, upon which they previously had settled and improved. The tract was described as being bounded:

On the north by the ridges which formed the southern boundary of the Las Trampas Grant; on the east, by Oso Mountain; on the south, by the boundaries of the Pueblo of Quemado Grant and the lands owned by Jose Manuel Gonzales; and on the west, by the main road which leads to Picuris.                                                                                       

The second document is a decree by Cachupin dated two days later ordering the Alcalde of Santa Cruz, Juan Jose Lovato, to report on the merits of the request. The third document is a report by Lovato, In this instrument, which is dated March 6, 1754, Lovato advised the governor that the applicants had cultivated a small portion of the lands described in the petition for a period of two years with the government’s consent and that the tract contained sufficient land to adequately support them. In closing, Lovato recommended the issuance of the concession since a settlement on the tract would “impede the hostile enemy who continuously harassed the town of Santa Cruz.” The next document was a decree by Cachupin dated March 15, 1754, granting the requested lands to the applicants subject to their establishing a fortified settlement on the tract to be known as “Nuestra Senora del Rosario San Fernando y Santiago” and directing Lovato to deliver royal possession of the premises to the grantees. Lovato was also instructed to allot each of the colonists an individual farm tract and a residential lot subject to the condition that they could not be sold or encumbered for a period of four years. The next instrument is an Act of Possession which states that on April 24, 1754, Lovato, pursuant to the governor’s decree, placed the grantees in possession of the grant and distributed farm tracts, most of which measured 150 varas each to the grantees. Alcalde Lovato first set aside a square or plaza measuring 70 varas on each side and laid out four roads measuring six varas in width for ingress and egress. He then proceeded to survey the individual farm tracts. In conclusion, the alcalde noted that he had permitted two families headed by Jose Manuel Gonzales and Juan Luis Romero to join the colony and placed each of them in possession of a tract of land located along the south side of the grant. The final folio is a decree by Cachupin dated May 29, 1754, wherein he approved and confirmed the Act of Possession, except insofar as it pertained to the tracts allotted to Gonzales and Romero. In connection with those tracts, the governor held the alcalde’s actions to be null and void since they were among the four families who had been granted land up the river from the grant in 1751, but had forfeited their rights due to their failure to occupy such lands within the specified time limits.

In his petition, Gallegos alleged that the grant was a valid Royal Spanish Grant made for the purpose of settlement and cultivation. He pointed out the claim had never been presented to the Surveyor General’s office for investigation but it had been continuously occupied by the original parties and their lineal descendants since the date of its issuance. No explanation was offered for the delay in the prosecution of the claim which was asserted to contain approximately 20,000 acres.[3]

 When the case came up for trial, the government offered no special defenses but merely put the plaintiff to his proof. The testimony introduced by the plaintiff at the trial showed that the expediente was genuine and there was no question as to the bona fides of the possession held by the more than fifty families who then resided upon the grant. Therefore, the court had no alternative but to approve the grant. Pursuant to the court’s decree[4] of December 10, 1892, the grant was surveyed by Deputy Surveyor Albert F. Easley. The survey shows that the grant contained 14,786.58 acres. A patent, based on the Easley Survey, was issued to the original grantees and their heirs and assigns on May 5, 1905.[5]

[1] Archive No. 771 (Mss., Records of the A.N.M.).

[2] Gallegos v. United States, No. 28 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.). Isabel Jaramillo de Romero filed suit on March 3, 1893, against the United States in the Court of Private Land Claims, seeking the approval of the Rancho de Las Truchas Grant, which had been made to Juan de Dios Romero and ten others on March 18, 1854, by Governor Tomas Velez Cachupin. Possession was delivered to the grantees six days later covering a tract bounded on the north by the Cuchilla of the Truchas River; on the east by an acequia and Sierra del Oso; on the south by the Alto between the Pueblo of Quemado and ____(torn)____ ; and on the west by the road to the Pueblo of Picuris. In support of her allegations, Jaramillo filed a copy of Archives 1136 and 771. Jaramillo v. United States, No. 225 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.). The government, in its answer dated December 29, 1896, pointed out that this obviously was an additional claim of the Nuestra Senora del Rosario, San Fernando, y Santiago Grant, which previously had been confirmed by the court. The government asserted that such confirmation was a bar to the further prosecution of the plaintiff’s claims, and prayed for a dismissal of her suit. On May 12, 1897, Jaramillo announced that she no longer wished to prosecute the action, whereupon, the court dismissed her petition and rejected the claim. 3 Journal 197 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).

[3] Ibid.

[4] 1 Journal 75‑78 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. Cl.).

[5] The Nuestra Senora del Rosario, San Francisco, y Santiago Grant, M.C.D. 28 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.)