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Rio del Oso Grant

by J. J. Bowden

Jose Luis Valdez filed suit[1] in the Court of Private Land Claims on March 2, 1893 in an effort to secure the recognition of the Rio del Oso Grant. In his petition, Valdez alleged that some time prior to June 20, 1840 Jose Antonio Valdez and five other persons petitioned the Prefect of the First Instance of the Department of New Mexico, Juan Andres Archuleta, who, at that time also was serving as Acting Governor, seeking a grant covering a tract of land on the Rio del Oso. Archuleta approved the petition, made the grant, and ordered Jose Ramon Vigil, Alcalde of the Pueblo of Santa Clara, to place the grantees in legal possession of the premises. Valdez averred that he did not possess the original or a copy of either the petition or grant, but believed that he could find and produce them before the case came up for hearing. Next, he referred to the Act of Possession, the testimonio of which had been deposited in the Surveyor General’s office on April 27, 1876.[2] This instrument recites that on August 3, 1840 Vigil proceeded to the grant and placed the six grantees in legal possession of the concession. The Act of Possession described the boundaries of the grant as follows:

On the north, the Canada del Almagre; on the east, the junction of the Arroyo del Amagre and the river; on the south, the heights near the river; and on the west, the edge of the Cuesta de la Yuta.

 In closing, Valdez alleged that the grant contained approximately 5,000 acres and called attention to the fact that the claim had never been considered or passed upon by the Surveyor General. The government filed a general answer on December 29, 1896 denying the allegation contained in the plaintiff’s petition. It also filed a motion seeking to require the plaintiff to join as necessary parties the owners of the Juan Jose Lobato Grant since the Rio del Oso Grant was located entirely within its exterior boundaries. The plaintiff apparently was unable to locate the petition and grant and recognized that under Section 13(1) of the Act of March 3, 1891[3]. The Court of Private Land Claims was expressly prohibited from allowing any claim unless it was satisfied that the title had been lawfully and regularly derived from the government of Spain or Mexico. Thus, when the case came up for trial on May 17, 1897, Valdez requested the Court to dismiss his petition. The Court promptly granted his request.[4]

[1] Valdez v. United States, No. 177 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).

[2] The Rio del Oso Grant, No. F‑112 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.)

[3] Court of Private Land Claims Act, Chap. 539, Sec. 12(1), 26 Stat. 854 (1891).

[4]3 Journal 209 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).