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San Miguel del Vado Grant

by Mark Schiller

At the conclusion of every adjudication, the United States Attorney for the Court of Private Land Claims, Matthew G. Reynolds, wrote a summary of the proceedings for the United States Attorney General. On 26 June 1894, Reynolds wrote his report summarizing the adjudication of the San Miguel del Vado grant, which the Court of Private Land Claims had recently confirmed in its entirety. At the end of that report Reynolds stated, "This case is important because of the fact that there is a large amount of these three hundred thousand acres [the Court had confirmed the grant for approximately 315,000 acres] that has never been used, or occupied beneficially by anybody, and any claim to which would not have been recognized by either the Spanish or Mexican Governments, and should not be by our Government. Unless otherwise instructed, under the general instructions heretofore received from you, I shall appeal the case . . ."

Reynolds did appeal the case to the Supreme Court, which overturned the decision, setting a precedent that had devastating consequences not only for the San Miguel del Vado grant, but other community grants. Subsequent to this decision, confirmation of community grants was limited to the private residential and agricultural allotments within the grant, while the communal lands (ejidos), which comprised the vast majority of the grant, became part of the United States public domain. Reynolds was wrong on all counts: the communal lands surrounding the private allotments had been and were being fully utilized and the governments of Spain and Mexico most certainly would have recognized the legitimacy of the settlers' claim to the grant in its entirety. To fully understand the nature of this appalling injustice and how Reynolds was able to perpetrate it, we must first examine the history of the grant itself.

The San Miguel del Vado grant has a rich, complex history. Sometime in late November of 1794, Lorenzo Marquez, a resident of Santa Fe, on behalf of himself and fifty-one other heads of households, petitioned Governor Fernando Chacón for a tract of "vacant and unsettled" land along the Rio Pecos "commonly called El Vado (a river crossing in Spanish and sometimes spelled El Bado. The appellation was made because the initial community was built where the old trail to the plains on the east crossed the Pecos River)." Claiming that they had large families and that there was insufficient land and water in Santa Fe to sustain the growing population, they requested the tract "not only for us, . . . but also for everyone in the province not supplied." The boundaries requested were: "on the north, the Rio de la Vaca, from the point called the Rancheria to the Agua Caliente; on the south, the Cañon Blanco; on the east, the Cuesta [Questa], with the little hills of Bernal; and on the west, the place commonly called the Guzano . . . ."

Marquez went on to say that among the petitioners were thirteen Genízaros ("a person of Native American ancestry who had been ransomed by Spanish authorities from Apache, Comanche, Navajo or Ute captors and used as a domestic or soldier . . ."), and that the fifty-two petitioners possessed twenty-five firearms. They pledged, unanimously to "enclose [them]selves in a plaza, well-fortified with bulwarks and towers, and to exert [them]selves to supply all the firearms and ammunition that it may be possible to procure." These statements make it clear that this grant--as was the case with all community grants made by the Spanish and Mexican governments--was meant not only to provide subsistence resources for the settlers but extend the frontier of the government's colonial domain and provide a buffer for the interior villas of Santa Fe and Santa Cruz de la Cañada against attack by nomadic tribes. Governor Tomas Veléz Cachupín made a clear statement of this strategy when he conceded the Las Trampas grant in 1751: ". . . it appears that the inhabitants of this said city [Santa Fe] have increased to a great extent . . . [and] there is not land or water sufficient for their support. Neither have they any other occupation . . . excepting agriculture and the raising of stock and whereas in the King's domains which are unoccupied there are lands which up to this time are uncultivated and which will yield comforts to those who cultivate them . . . [and] from which the further benefit will result that hostile Indians will not travel over them and will serve as a barrier against their entrance to despoil the interior settlements . . . I hereby assign and distribute said site . . . ."

Life in these frontier settlements was extremely dangerous and many of these communities were temporarily or permanently abandoned because of the unrelenting attacks of nomadic tribes. According to historian Malcolm Ebright, Governor Veléz Cachupín formalized the strategy of making grants to the landless urban poor because "making land grants primarily to elite members of society was not conducive to frontier defense. The elites could not always be relied upon to defend their land to the death." Ebright goes on to explain, "Genízaros were the best Indian fighters because they knew the enemy. They knew the Comanches and Ute's strategies and tactics intimately, because among them were members of these Indian Tribes."

In the case of San Miguel del Vado, as with Las Trampas and most other community grants in New Mexico, the thirty-nine families not designated Genízaros were more than likely mestizo, the descendants of Hispanos and Native Americans who had intermarried. Thus, within the highly stratified Hispano society of New Spain, these frontier communities were settled by what was considered lower class "mixed bloods," who were expected to defend their grants with their lives. This policy has important implications for the San Miguel del Vado grant and the Supreme Court decision regarding title to the common lands.

On 25 November 1794, Governor Chacón responded to the petition by directing the alcalde major Antonio José Ortiz “to execute said grant as requested by the petitioners . . . .” The governor went on to explicitly state that the grant was made to the petitioners "so that they, their children, and successors may have, hold and possess the same in the name of His Majesty (para que por si, sus hijos y sosesores la tengan, ayan y poscan en nomber de S. M.)."

One day later, Alcalde Ortiz, in the presence of two witnesses, placed the fifty-two petitioners in possession of the grant with the following conditions: 1) "That the tract . . . has to be in common not only in regard to themselves, but also to all settlers who may join them in the future"; 2) That because of the dangers of living on the frontier, all settlers had to be armed with firearms or bows and arrows and, within two years, all settlers must possess firearms. Those who did not comply with this directive were to be banished from the settlement; 3) That the settlers had to construct a fortified plaza, as they agreed to in their petition, and until that was accomplished they were to reside in the neighboring Pueblo of Pecos; 4) That the petitioners must set aside a piece of land for the alcalde of the pueblo; and 5) That the construction of the plaza and the irrigation ditches (acequias) must be accomplished by all the settlers working as a community. When the petitioners acknowledged that they understood and agreed to all conditions, the alcalde formally placed them in possession of the grant, as outlined in their petition, specifically noting that the pastures and watering places were to be held in common and that the possession was "without prejudice to the royal interest or that of any third party (sin perjuicio de su real aver ni el de tersero)."

The next entry in the Spanish Archives of New Mexico regarding the San Miguel del Vado grant occurred almost nine years later. On 12 March 1803, Pedro Bautista Pino, senior alcalde of the second precinct of the Villa of Santa Fe, on verbal order from Governor Chacón, reported that he arrived at the settlement of San Miguel del Vado "for the purpose of distributing the lands which are under cultivation to all individuals who occupy said settlement . . . ." Having given the community nine years to comply with the terms of the act of possession regarding construction of a fortified plaza and irrigation system, Chacón sent Pino to divide equitably the land under irrigation into individual agricultural plots and to place the now fifty-eight heads of households in San Miguel del Vado in private possession of them. Pino noted the name of each head of household and the number of varas contained in each tract, which varied because the "many bends of the river" made the plots susceptible to irrigation in varying degrees. This type of distribution was in line with the Spanish government's policy of giving settlers of community grants personal title to their agricultural and residential plots. These plots, along with an interest in the common lands, which belonged to the community in perpetuity, could be sold once title was perfected by meeting residency and use requirements. An example of this policy can be seen in the Las Trampas grant in which Governor Tomas Veléz Cachupín specifically named and granted each head of household "one hundred and eighty varas of wheat growing land, with corresponding water, pastures, and watering places, entrances and exits . . . ."

Two days later, Pino performed the same service for the forty-seven heads of households that had formed the neighboring village of San José del Vado, into which the settlers had expanded, once again naming each head of household and the number of varas allocated.

During this period, settlement of the San Miguel del Vado grant was expanding rapidly. According to a report by the local priest, Buenaventura Merino, the population of San Miguel in 1801 already exceeded its once populous but now dwindling neighbor, Pecos Pueblo. Merino noted that Pecos had 123 residents while downstream San Miguel included 182 people, 85 men and boys and 97 women and girls.

In 1804, a new priest, Fray Francisco Bragado y Rico, petitioned the Bishop of Durango on behalf of "the genízaros" of San Miguel del Vado for a license to build a church of their own so that they would not have to travel all day over what he termed "a bad and very perilous road" to Pecos. It is significant that the priest referred to the entire settlement as genízaro despite the fact that the petition indicated that only 13 of the original 52 families were genízaro. It clearly substantiates the assertion that the remaining settlers were of Indo-Hispano ancestry.

Seven years and several priests later, the church was completed and in the following year, 1812, a new priest, Fray Manuel Antonio García del Valle, requested and received permission to move his residence from Pecos to San Miguel.

Although the area remained vulnerable to Indian attack, the established settlement of the San Miguel del Vado emboldened others to seek grants on the northeast plains in order to take advantage of the lush grasslands and relatively abundant water. Beginning in 1814 with Los Trigos, a private grant north of San Miguel del Vado that evolved into a community grant, a series of grants were made in the area including: the Alexander Valle, a private grant made in 1815; the Antonio Ortiz, a large private grazing grant made in 1818; the Luis Maria Cabeza de Baca, initially a private grazing grant made in 1820 that was abandoned by the Baca family and regranted in 1835 as a community grant (subsequently known as the Las Vegas grant) in order to accommodate the burgeoning population of San Miguel del Vado; the Anton Chico, a community grant made in 1822; the Pino, subsequently known as the Preston Beck, another large private grazing grant made in 1823; and the Tecolote, a community grant made in 1824. Not all these grants were welcomed by the residents of San Miguel del Vado; however, as it was felt that the large private grazing grants, in particular, which were made to wealthy elites, impaired established grazing and other resource rights.

The grant papers of several of these neighboring grants not only mention the San Miguel del Vado grant as a boundary (the Los Trigos, Luis Maria Cabeza de Baca, Las Vegas, Anton Chico and Tecolote all stipulate that a boundary of the San Miguel del Vado is the limit of one of their boundaries), but yield important information regarding the growth of the San Miguel del Vado. For example, by 1818, when Antonio Ortiz petitioned for his grant, it was referred to the Alcalde of San Miguel del Vado, indicating that the settlement had grown sufficiently to warrant local governance. In 1822, the thirty-seven settlers that petitioned for the Anton Chico grant went directly to the ayuntamiento (governing council) of San Miguel for approval, rather than the ayuntamiento of Santa Fe or the governor. They were told that the land they sought was out of the council's jurisdiction. Although that petition fell outside the San Miguel ayuntamiento's authority, it does clearly indicate that San Miguel was by then the administrative seat for the upper northeast plains area and had the authority to make grants within its jurisdiction.

While land and water for ranching and farming was the incentive for much of its settlement, a significant source of San Miguel del Vado's growing prosperity was the Santa Fe Trail, which passed directly through the grant. The first Anglo merchant, William Becknell, had his trade goods mounted on pack animals when he passed through San Miguel on his way from Missouri to Santa Fe in November of 1821. Finding that there was tremendous demand in Santa Fe for manufactured goods, which rarely found their way north from Mexico, Becknell returned the following year with wagons. San Miguel became the official port of entry into Mexican territory as trade grew from $65,000 in 1825 to $250,000 in 1839.

By the time Brigadier General Stephen Watts Kearny claimed New Mexico for the United States in August of 1846, the San Miguel del Vado grant included ten communities and more than one thousand families. Ironically, in his speech in the neighboring community of Las Vegas on 15 August 1846, Kearny pledged to protect the property rights of all Mexican citizens. "I now tell you that those who remain peaceably at home, attending to their crops and herds, shall be protected by me, in their property, their persons, and their religion; and not a pepper, not an onion, shall be disturbed or taken by my troops, without pay, or by the consent of the owner." For the people of the San Miguel del Vado grant, his promises would prove to be hollow indeed.

The history of the adjudication of the San Miguel del Vado land claim by the United States federal government is a tragic story punctuated by scandal, chicanery, and misrepresentation. It began straightforwardly enough on 18 March 1857 when Faustin Baca y Ortiz, "a resident of San Miguel, . . . for and in the name of the inhabitants of the settlements of La Cuesta, San Miguel, Las Mulas, El Pueblo, Puertocito, San José, El Guzano y Bernal," petitioned the Office of the Surveyor General for confirmation of the grant, "embrac[ing] all cultivated and uncultivated lands of the above mentioned settlements," with the boundaries as stipulated in the original 1794 petition and act of possession. However, by the time the claim was finally patented in 1910 it had been stripped of its common lands and reduced from approximately 315,000 acres to approximately 5,000 acres.

Though this discussion focuses on the adjudication of the precedent setting Supreme Court decision, readers should be aware that over the course of the 40 years (1857-1897) between the submission of the original petition to the surveyor general and the Supreme Court decision: 1) Anglo land speculators (including a future Vice President of the United States) attempted to buy a controlling interest in the grant; 2) the claim was reviewed and recommended for confirmation by two surveyors general (Atkinson and Julian) to two different sets of people; and 3) the theory that title to the common lands did not vest in the grantees was first promulgated by Surveyor General Julian and Commissioner of the General Land Office William A. J. Sparks in their review of the Las Vegas claim. When the San Miguel del Vado claim was finally heard by the Court of Private Land Claims in 1894, the United States Attorney, Matthew G. Reynolds (who was, in essence, a colonial bureaucrat dedicated to retaining as much land in the public domain as possible rather than seeking a just examination of the plaintiffs' claims), conceded the legitimacy of the grant and the settlers' title to their irrigated and residential tracts. However, following Julian and Sparks' theory, Reynolds asserted that under Spanish and Mexican law, title to the common lands, comprising the majority of the grant, remained vested in the sovereign and therefore was transferred to the United States upon the change of sovereignty.

Ironically, the Court of Private Land Claims, which denied or reduced the majority of legitimate claims that it adjudicated, actually made the correct decision in this case, confirming the grant in its entirety. Reynolds, however, understood the important precedent that decision set and immediately filed an appeal to the United States Supreme Court. On 24 May 1897, the Supreme Court issued a ruling on the appeal overturning the decree that confirmed the entire grant to the community claimants and remanded the case back to the Court of Private Land Claims to confirm only the land that had been allocated for private allotments.

The Supreme Court’s decision, known as the Sandoval case in reference to one of the claimants), was based upon a misinterpretation of Spanish law, an ignorance of customary land grant law and tradition and an extraordinarily narrow interpretation of the Court’s authority. It hinged on two legal assertions, both of which were erroneous.

First, the Supreme Court decision reviewed the 1891 mandate creating the Court of Private Land Claims in an effort to demonstrate that the Court’s authority was limited. The purpose of this strategy was to establish that the Court did not have the authority to confirm title to the commons based upon the equitable right that grant residents had established by continuous use. This assertion was clearly untrue.

Section 7 of the Act Creating the Court of Private Land Claims states:  “That all proceedings subsequent to the filing of said petition shall be conducted as near as may be according to the practice of the courts of equity of the United States.” It continues:  “The said court shall have full power and authority to hear and determine all questions arising in cases before it, relative to the title to the land . . . , the extent, location and boundaries thereof, and other matters connected therewith fit and proper to be heard and determined, and by a final decree to settle and determine the validity of the title and the boundaries of the grant or claim presented for adjudication, according to the law of nations [international law], the stipulations of the treaty concluded between the United States and the Republic of Mexico at the city of Guadalupe-Hidalgo  . . . and the laws and ordinances of the Government from which it was alleged to have been derived, and all other questions properly arising between the claimants or other parties in the case and the United States. . . .”  These are broad powers indeed and the Court may have chosen to interpret them as narrowly as possible in order to render the government invulnerable to this legitimate land claim.

The decision then goes on to consider the core issue. . . . Did the fee [i.e., the title] to lands embraced within the limits of the pueblo and intended for community use continue to remain in the sovereign or did it pass to the pueblo? The Court’s discussion of this critical issue was strictly limited to referencing several fragments of Spanish colonial law taken out of context and presented as if they were authoritative. It ignores other laws that contradict them and completely neglects to reference customary law and traditional usage. An impartial court, looking comprehensively at the issue of Spanish and Mexican land tenure, may have come to a different conclusion.

According to historian David Vassberg, the Spanish system of land tenure clearly distinguished the royal or public domain, known as tierras realengas or tierras bald�as, from community-owned lands, known as tierras concegiles, and enacted a series of laws to protect community property from misappropriation by anyone, including the king himself.

Typically, residents of community land grants received individual title to the land their homes were constructed upon and the irrigated fields they planted and a communal interest in the unallotted lands within the grant’s exterior boundaries. These communal lands were used primarily for pasturing livestock, woodgathering, extraction of building materials and hunting. Without exclusive access to these common lands, subsistence would have been impossible. Moreover, although these lands were also available for future settlement, the utilization level was clearly monitored and when a grant's ayuntamiento [i.e. governing body] determined that a grant had reached its utilization capacity, new settlers or settlers seeking to expand their allotments were encouraged to seek a new grant as was the case with the San Miguel del Vado residents who received the Las Vegas grant.

Ownership of these communal lands or ejidos by the municipal corporate body is evidenced in numerous ways. From a strictly practical perspective, it seems unthinkable that these settlers would risk their lives taking up residence on a highly dangerous frontier if they were not secure in the idea that the common lands, upon which their subsistence depended, belonged to them and their successors.

Spanish law supports this position. Partida 3, Title 28, Law 9 of Las Siete Partidas, the main compendium of Spanish law during this period stipulates: “the things which] belong separately to the commons of cities or towns are . . . the ejidos [commons] . . . forests, and pastures, and all other similar places which have been established and granted for the common use of each city and town.” Partida 3, Title 28, Law 10 states that municipal lands “belong in common to all the dwellers of the city or town to which they belong . . .” Volume II, Book IV, Title VII, Law XIV of the Recopilación de las Leyes de los Reynos de las Indias, a compendium of law specifically formulated to govern Spanish colonies in the western hemisphere, states: “Those with authority . . . to make new settlements shall set aside a sufficient quantity of land for the ejido of the settlement and its growth according to the decree. Then they shall designate common pastures adjoining the ejido on which to graze the working oxen, horses, stock for slaughter, and the usual amount of other stock the settlers must have by ordinance, plus a good quantity more [land] that shall be the property of the council [emphasis added].”

Much of the Spanish law cited by the Supreme Court to support its assertion that title to the common lands remained vested in the sovereign was ambiguous and or misconstrued. For example, one of the most critical pieces of legal evidence cited by the Supreme Court to support its decision regarding the San Miguel del Vado claim was extracted from Elizondo's Práctica Universal Forense, an eighteenth century compilation of and commentary upon Spanish law. The Court, claiming in its decision that the “Spanish understanding of the prerequisite designation is well illustrated by the following passage,” cited Part II, Chapter XI, Section I. The citation in the Court’s decision reads: “There is nothing whatever designated by law as belonging to towns, other than that which by royal privilege, custom or contract between man and man, is granted to them, so that although there be assigned to the towns at the time of their constitution a territorio and pertinencias, which may be common to all residents, without each one having the right to use them separately, it is a prerogative reserved to the princes to divide the terminus of the provinces and towns assigning to these the use and enjoyment, but the domain remaining in the sovereigns themselves.” On the surface, this statement seems to underwrite the Court’s opinion. However, the Court neglected to include the title of this chapter and the conclusion of the passage that it did cite, both of which contextualize the commentary and alter its intent. In point of fact, Part II, Chapter XI is entitled “Of the Extraordinary [emphasis added] Recourses for the Alienation of Public Municipal Property” and the passage cited concludes: “but the domain remaining in the sovereigns themselves, to which follows their free disposition in cases of necessity or public utility.”

The inclusion of these passages makes it abundantly clear that what is referred to in this section is the sovereign’s right of eminent domain; a right which all governments, including the United States, maintain so that government can invade the sanctity of even the highest form of title, the fee. The right to sovereignty under any form of government depends upon some measure of reserved control, both of people and of property. That right, as the title to the chapter makes explicit, is to be invoked only under “extraordinary” circumstances and in no way undermines normal title to municipal lands. Moreover, according to historian Jane C. Sanchez, the Fuero Real, another compendium of Spanish law, which was in effect in the Indies, “. . . set legal limits to even the king’s power, declaring that the things the king granted could not be taken away without legal reason, even by the king himself.”

The most compelling evidence of the municipal ownership of the common lands, however, is the grant related documents themselves. In the 1794 act of possession for the San Miguel del Vado grant, the alcalde placed the petitioners in possession of the land by specifically noting that the pastures and watering places were to be held in common and that the possession was “without prejudice to the royal interest or that of any third party.” This clearly indicates that the grant was severed from the royal domain. Moreover, the governor’s decree stipulated that the alcalde was to execute the concession “so that they [the settlers], their children and successors, may have, hold and possess the same in the name of his majesty . . . .” The authorities of the time were very specific in exactly what they were granting.

The documentation for many other community grants supports the same conclusion. The Las Trampas grant, for instance, instructs the alcalde to "give royal [emphasis added] and personal possession to all [that is held] in common and to each one in particular of their respective tracts . . . ." Likewise, Governor Tomás Vélez Cachupín, who made the Las Trampas grant, specifically named and granted each head of household "one hundred and eighty varas of wheat growing land, with corresponding water, pastures, and watering places, entrances and exits . . . [emphasis added]."

The San Antonio de las Huertas grant states: "[The] Alcalde Mayor . . . will notify all the settlers that all the land they take possession of, with the exception of those that are cultivable, are commons for the generality of that settlement, and therefore that all the pasturage, woods and water are common for all. And the said Alcalde Mayor will issue to all the settlers a certificate of all, to the end that the same may be to them sufficient title . . . ."

An 1808 conveyance for a private allotment in the Town of El Rito grant specifically stipulates that the land was sold with an interest in the common lands ("con entradas y salidas ... y ejidos"). The legal precedent set by this case resulted in the loss of at least 1.5 million acres of legitimate claims involving the San Miguel del Vado and other community grants. The government’s endorsement of this and other injustices perpetrated by Reynolds and the Court was made explicit by the Attorney General's 1895 Annual Report to Congress in which he stated: "The clouds which vague claims under Spanish and Mexican grants have put upon titles in the Southwest are being rapidly cleared away. Mr. Reynolds' diligence and capacity appear from the showing that out of 5,039,592 acres claimed only 364,326 were allowed by the court . . . ."

In conducting my research, I made extensive use of the Spanish Archives of New Mexico and the files of the Surveyor General and the Court of Private Land Claims, all housed in the State Records Center and Archives. A recently acquired microfilm copy of the files of the United States Attorney for the Court of Private Land Claims lent interesting insight into the inner workings of that office.

I want to thank the Office of the State Historian for making the stipend available that helped underwrite the cost of staying in Santa Fe while I conducted my research. I would also like to thank the staff of the State Records Center and Archives who are so knowledgeable about the collections and helpful in providing access to them. Thanks also to Eric Shultz, who translated the passage from Elizondo and whose knowledge of 17th and 18th century Spain was extremely helpful. Finally, I would like to thank Malcolm Ebright who, as always, continues to set the standard.

Sources Used:

Report by United States Attorney for the Court of Private Land Claims, Matthew G. Reynolds, to the United States Attorney General, 26 June 1894, Catron Papers, Case 30, frames 300598-300605.

Petition for the San Miguel del Vado grant, late November 1794, PLC 25, Roll 35, frame 665 English, SG 119, Roll 24, frames 608-615 Spanish.

Rubín Cabos, A Dictionary of New Mexico and Southern Colorado Spanish, (Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press), 1983, 76 and 90.

Grant by Governor Tomás Vélez Cachupín, Santa Fe, 15 July 1751, The Town of Las Trampas Grant, SG 27, Roll 16, frame 298.

Malcolm Ebright, The Witches of Abiquiu, (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006), 6.

Concession of the San Miguel del Vado by Governor Fernando Chacón, 25 November 1794, PLC 25, Roll 35, frame 665.

Act of Possession for the San Miguel del Vado grant, 26 November 1794, PLC 25, Roll 35, frames 666-667.

Distribution of Agricultural Tracts in the Village of San Miguel del Vado by Juan Bautista Pino, 12 March 1803, SG 119, Roll 24, frames 630-634.

Grant by Governor Tomás Vélez Cachupín, Santa Fe, 15 July 1751, The Town of Las Trampas Grant, SANM I, Archive 975.

Distribution of Agricultural Tracts in the Village of San José del Vado, 14 March 1803, SANM I, Archive 887.

John L. Kessell, Kiva, Cross and Crown, (Washington D.C.: National Park Service), 1979, 421-427; 449; 459.

J.J. Bowden, "Private Land Claims in the Southwest," 6 vols., Master’s thesis, Southern Methodist University, 1969, Los Trigos, 744-751; Alexander Valle, 760-764; Antonio Ortiz, 706-710; Luis Maria Cabeza de Baca, 793-808; Town of Las Vegas, 783-793; Anton Chico, 689-697; Preston Beck, 677-686; Tecolote, 730-734.

Kearny’s speech in Las Vegas, 15 August 1846, quoted in Lieutenant Emory Reports, Introduced and notes by Ross Calvin, (Albuquerque: UNM Press) 1951, 49-51.

Petition for the confirmation of the San Miguel del Vado land claim to the surveyor general, 18 March 1857, SG 119, Roll 24, frames 618-619.

Act Creating the Court of Private Land Claims, U.S., Statutes at Large, XXVI, 854-862.

United States v. Sandoval, 167 U.S. 278.

David Vassberg, “The Sale of Tierras Baldas in Sixteenth-century Castile.” Journal of Modern History 47, (December 1975), and “The Spanish Background: Problems Concerning Ownership, and Defenses of Common Lands in 16th Century Castile,” in Malcolm Ebright, ed., Spanish and Mexican Land Grants and the Law (Manhattan, Kansas: Sunflower University Press) 1989.

Samuel Parsons Scott, trans., Las Siete Partidas, (Chicago: Commerce Clearing House, 1931).

David Vassberg, Land and Society in Golden Age Castille, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 21.

Jane C. Sanchez, Law of the Land Grant, on the internet at:, 6 and 15.

United States v. Sandoval, 167 U.S. 278, and United States v. Santa Fe, 165 U.S. 675.

Francisco Antonio de Elizondo, Práctica Universal Forense de los Tribulanes de España, y de las Indias, (Madrid: Oficina de la Viuda Hijo de Marín, Septima Impresion, 1793), Volume 5, 241. Translation done for the author by Eric Shultz.

Act of Possession for the San Miguel del Vado grant, 26 November 1794, PLC 25, Roll 35, frames 666-667.

United States v. Sandoval, 167 U.S. 278, Transcript in the New Mexico Supreme Court Library, 101.

Grant by Governor Tomás Vélez Cachupín, Santa Fe, 15 July 1751, The Town of Las Trampas Grant, SANM I, Archive 975.

Governor Tomás Vélez Cachupín to the settlers of Santo Tomás Apostol del Río de Las Trampas, Santa Fe, 15 July 1751, SG 27, Roll 16, frames. 298-301, English, 259-264, Spanish. Governor Fermin de Mendinueta to Chief Alcalde Bartolome Fernanadez, Santa Fe, 31 December 1767, SG 144, Roll 26, frames. 940-941.

Town of El Rito grant, SG 151, Roll 27, frame 1357.

Serial 3390, 54th Congress, 1st Session, h. Doc. 9, 17.