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Roque Jacinto Jaramillo Grant

:by J. J. Bowden

Jose Pablo Jaramillo, the owner of an interest in the Roque Jacinto Jaramillo Grant, filed suit[1] in the Court of Private Land Claims on March 3, 1893 seeking the confirmation of such grant. The claim was based on Archive No. 413,[2] which recited that Governor Juan Domingo Bustamante had originally granted a tract of land on the Rio del Oso to Juan Manuel de Herrera and a number of associates. The grantees had formed a settlement on the grant but gradually each of the grantees except Herrera abandoned his interest and moved away. Early in 1746 Roque Jacinto Jaramillo moved to the grant. Shortly thereafter he and Herrera jointly petitioned Governor Joaquin Codallos y Rabal requesting a new grant be issued to them. On January 11, 1746 Codallos directed the Alcalde of Santa Cruz to notify the other grantees of the application. In compliance with the governor’s order, Lieutenant Alcalde Juan de Beytía sent a notice to the Town of Abiquiu, where the interested parties then resided, ordering them to appear before him two days later. On January 25, 1746 Juan Valdez, on behalf of his widowed mother, Rosalía Valdez, testified that they had resided upon the grant for two years but had abandoned their interest in the grant upon moving to Abiquiu. Ignacio Valdez stated that he had never settled on the grant. Vincento Jirón told Beytía that he also had failed to settle upon the grant and wished to relinquish any right he might have in the premises. In a decree dated one month later Codallos regranted the tract to Jaramillo and Herrera and directed Beytía to notify the adjacent owners of the grant and deliver legal possession of the premises to the two new grantees. On March 12, 1746 Beytía showed the adjoining landowners, Ventura Mestas and Juan Tafoya, a copy of the governor’s decree. They accompanied Beytía and the two grantees when he surveyed the grant and, upon its completion, they raised no objection to the proceedings. Whereupon, Beytía gave the grantees royal possession of such land. Since the owners of the grant had not presented the claim to the Surveyor General’s office for investigation, there was no preliminary survey of the claim, however, they claimed it contained approximately 10,000 acres and was bounded:

On the north, by the lands of Alférez Torres; on the east, by the lands of Juan de Mestas; on the south, by the lands of Juan de Tafoya; and on the west, by the entrance of the canyon of the sierra.

The case came up for trial on February 9, 1898 at which time the plaintiff offered his muniments of title and oral testimony tending to establish an interest in the grant through inheritance from at least one of the original grantee, showing the continuous use and occupation of the grant subsequent to 1746, and fixing its boundaries. The government, in turn, raised two special defenses against the confirmation of the grant. First, it contended that the grant had been revoked and annulled on March 14, 1763. In support of the contention it introduced a certified copy of a testimonio which showed that Joaquin Mestas petitioned Governor Tomás Vélez Cachupin for a grant at the place called Vallecito, which was located southeast of the Town of Abiquiu. On January 20, 1763 Cachupin ordered the Alcalde of Santa Cruz to give him a report upon the propriety of the request. Alcalde Carlos Fernandez investigated the matter and, on March 5, 1863, reported that the requested tract was eight leagues in length and four in width. He also pointed out that the grant was in the district of Rio Oso, which had been given to Roque Jaramillo and others, and which they had lived on it for two years, all except Jaramillo had abandoned it due to a scarcity of water. Continuing, he stated that some years afterwards Jaramillo had asked for the land in his own name and, while it had been regranted to him, it had not been occupied or used other than as a pasturage for his cattle until 1762, when his children “built some huts and planted a few stalks of corn” thereon. In conclusion, Fernandez advised the governor that due to the scarcity of agricultural and grazing lands in the vicinity of the Pueblos of San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Chama, and Abiquiu it would be prejudicial to those settlements to make the proposed grant. On March 14, 1763 Cachupin issued a decree denying the request and declaring that the lands should be reserved as a commons for the use of all settlers. To further advance the public welfare, he annulled the Jaramillo Grant since it had not been settled in accordance with the law. This document was certified as being a faithful and legal copy of the original by Jose Francisco Vigil on May 30, 1831; however, the certificate did not indicate his authority to issue such certificate. The government offered evidence that Vigil’s signature was genuine and he was an Alcalde in 1831. The plaintiff objected to the introduction of this equally unauthenticated document. The Court decided to accept the document subject to the plaintiff’s objection. The government’s second defense was that since the grant was located wholly within the boundaries of the Juan Jose Lovato Grant, which had been previously confirmed by the court, the court had exhausted its jurisdiction insofar as the lands in question were concerned.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the court ignored both of the government’s defenses and confirmed the grant but desired additional evidence concerning the location of its boundaries. A hearing for such purpose was held on May 3, 1900, at which time the plaintiff offered a great deal of oral testimony tending to prove that the grant was bounded:

On the north, by the lands of Alférez Torres which were located at the Arroyo del Toro op­posite Capirote Hill; on the east, by lands of Juan de Mestas which were located at Barancas Blanca on the Rio Oso between an old pueblo and the confluence of Rio Oso and the Chama River; on the south, by the lands of Juan de Tafoya which were located at Cerro Negro; arid on the west, by the entrance of the Rio Oso into the canyon midway between the old pueblo and the settlement of San Lorenzo.

Meanwhile, the United States Supreme Court in the Conway case[3] held that where the government had previously confirmed a grant, it exhausted its power insofar as the lands covered thereby were concerned and could not be called upon a second time to confirm another grant to a different person to the same land. More simply stated, the doctrine of this case is that nothing can be gained by the government’s divesting itself for a second time of a title which it has already released. Therefore, once a title had been confirmed, the Court of Private Land Claims should respect the confirmation leaving the conflicting claimants free to resort to the local courts to settle their differences. As a result of this decision, the court, in its opinion[4] dated May 10, 1900, held that in view of the fact that the grant was located wholly within the boundaries of the Juan Jose Lovato Grant it could no longer adhere to its former opinion confirming the plaintiff’s title but must reject the claim on the ground that it had no power to confirm the grant. The decision was not appealed by either party and Jaramillo apparently abandoned his claim for he failed to further prosecute his claim in the local courts.


[1] Jaramillo v. United States, No. 228 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).

[2] Archive No. 413 (Mss., Records of the A.N.M.)

[3] United States v. Conway, 175 U.S. 60 (1899).

[4] 4 Journal 203 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).