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Salvator Lovato Grant

 by J. J. Bowden

Loranzo Lovato filed suit[1] in the Court of Private Land Claims on February 14, 1893, seeking the confirmation of the Salvador Lovato Grant. In his petition, Lovato alleged that Salvador Lovato and his two sons, Juan Antonio and Rafael, petitioned Governor Fernando Chacon in 1793 seeking a grant for agricultural purposes at the place known as Los Llomitas. Chacon promptly granted their request and directed the Alcalde of the Pueblo of Taos, Antonio Jose Ortiz, to place the three grantees in royal possession of the concession. In compliance with the governor’s order, Ortiz proceeded to Las Llomitas with his witnesses and the three grantees on June 20, 1793. He performed the customary ceremonies pertaining to the formal delivery of the grant to the grantees and designated the following natural objects as its boundaries:

On the north, a small rocky hill opposite the Llomita Chamisalosa; on the east, the Canada de Mirando and the road leading to the Pueblo of Picuris; on the south, the small valley of the Cuesta de Cire; and on the west, by the pass of the ridge of the Canada de los Alamos.

He estimated that the grant contained 2,500 acres. He stated that he had unsuccessfully searched the Archives of New Mexico in an effort to find the expediente of the grant and concluded that while the expediente at one time had been filed in the Archives, it had been lost, destroyed or stolen as a result of the several mutations in sovereignty. He further stated that Salvador Lovato’s petition and Governor Chacon’s granting decree had been torn off the testimonio and lost. He also pointed out that the claim had never been submitted to or acted upon by any authority of the United States. The government filed a general answer which put in issue the allegations contained in the plaintiff’s petition.

The plaintiff apparently realized that under the Supreme Court’s decision in the White[2] and Romero[3] cases, which held that where no evidence of a grant is found in the archives, the absence thereof is unaccounted for, and there has not been sufficient possession to raise an equity, the claim must be rejected, and Section 10 of the Act of March 1, 1891,[4] which permitted the confirmation of claims only in cases where the court was satisfied that title had been lawfully derived from a former sovereign, he would he unable to prevail. Therefore, when the case came up for trial on February 11, 1898, the plaintiff declined to offer any proof in support of his petition and advised the court that he no longer wished to prosecute the cause. Whereupon, the court, having no alternative, rejected the claim and dismissed the petition.[5]

[1] Lovato v. United States, No. 93 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).

[2] White v. United States, 1 Wall. (68 U.S.) 660 (1863).

[3] Romero v. United States, 1 Wall. (68 U.S.) 721 (1863).

[4] Court of Private Land Claims Act, Chap. 539, Sec. 10, 26 Stat. 854 (1891).

[5] 3 Journal 356 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).