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Pedro Armendaris Grant Number 34

by J. J. Bowden

About the same time that he was requesting the additional lands covered by the Fray Cristobal Grant, Pedro Armendaris was also seeking a grant covering a tract of land lying northwest of his original grant at Valverde In this petition, which was dated May 1, 1820, and addressed to Facundo Melgares, Governor of New Mexico, Armendaris asked for a grant covering the following described land as a pasturage for his rapidly expanding flocks of sheep:

Beginning at a point on the west bank of the Rio Grande opposite the northwest corner of the Valverde Grant; thence in a northwesterly direction to the Ojo de Canas Verales; thence east one league; thence north two leagues; thence west four leagues; thence south two leagues; thence in a southeasterly direction to a point on the west bank of the river opposite a peak or knoll on the east bank of the river on the southern edge of the Mesilla del Contadero; and thence up the west bank of the river to the point of beginning.

On May 3, 1820, Melgares ordered the Alcalde of Belen to place Armendaris in legal possession of the lands which had been granted to him and directed the Alcalde to give Armendaris an appropriate instrument evidencing such proceedings.

While there is no evidence that Armendaris was ever formally placed in possession of the grant, it is well known that shortly after the date of the grant he stocked the premises with a large herd of sheep and a number of cattle and horses. However, it does not appear that he ever resided on the land or constructed any permanent improvements upon the grant. Thereafter, he continuously used the property as a pasturage for his livestock until he was forcibly expelled from the area in 1825 or 1826, due to the increased hostility of the Indians. The grant was not reoccupied until after the end of the Mexican War.

John G. Watts, as attorney for the heirs of Pedro Armendaris, filed a petition with the Surveyor General on June 22, 1857, requesting the recognition of the grant.

Following a thorough investigation of the claim, Surveyor General William Pelham, in a report dated July 20, 1859, found the grant to be good and valid and recommended its confirmation by Congress to the legal representatives of Pedro Armendaris,[1] The grant was designated as claim No. 34 in letter transmitting the matter to Congress, The third section of the Act approved June 21, 1860, confirmed 19 private land claims in New Mexico, including claim No. 34, as “recommended by the Surveyor General”. [2]

The grant was surveyed by Deputy Surveyor J. Howe Watts in November, 1872, The survey was approved on December 20, 1872, but was slightly modified in 1878 as a result of a boundary agreement between the owners of the Pedro Armendaris Grant, No 34 and the owners of the Bosque del Apache Grant. On September 17, 1878, a patent was issued to the legal representatives of Pedro Armendaris for the 95,030 acres embraced within the Pedro Armendaris Grant, No. 34. [3]

[1] H. R. Exec. Doc, No, 14, 36th Cong., 1st Sess., 220‑231 (1860).

[2] An Act to Confirm Certain Private Land Claims in the Territory of New Mexico, Chap. 167, Sec 3, 12 Stat. 71 (1860) In view of the fact that there is no evidence that juridical possession of the grant had been delivered to Armendaris, the case of Boudin v. Phelps, 30 F. 547 (9th Cir., 1887), should be noted. The Boudin Case hold that juridical possession is essential for the investiture of title.

[3] The Pedro Armendaris Grant, No. 34 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).