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Santiago Bone Grant

by J. J. Bowden

Sometime prior to September 28, 1835, Santiago Bone petitioned the New Mexican authorities for a grant of land located in the valley at the junction of the Mora and Sapello Rivers. The requested tract was described as having the following boundaries: 

On the north, the Mora River; on the east, the lands of Cristino Tapia; on the south, the Penasco (Rocky Bluff); and on the west, the Canon of the dam where the Acequia Madre begins.

 In answer to the petition, Governor Albino Perez granted the lands to Bone on September 28, 1835. Thereafter, on October 31, 1842, judicial possession of the grant was duly given to the grantee by Juan Antonio Garcia, the Alcalde of the town of Mora. However, the Act of Possession was written on stamped paper with the wrong date and seal. To correct this error, Bone instituted a proceeding before Tomas Ortiz, Judge of the First Instance at Santa Fe. Ortiz issued a decree on October 28, 1844, which validated the Act of Possession. Upon receipt of this decree, Bone took physical possession of the premises, which covered between five and six thousand acres of choice agricultural lands. At first he lived in a “dug‑out” and cultivated a small plot of land. Later he built a more substantial house and moved his family to the grant.[1]

General Stephen Watts Kearny and his Army of the West while en route to the bloodless conquest of Santa Fe passed through the grant. On August 13, 1846, Lieutenant William H. Emory wrote:

Descent into the valley of the Mora Creek brought us to the first settlement we had yet seen in 775 miles. The first object I saw was a pretty Mexican woman with clean white stockings who very cordially shook hands with us. In the next house lived Mr. Boney, an American who has been some time in this country, and is the owner of a large number of horses and cattle, which he manages to keep in defiance of wolves, Indians, and Mexicans. He is a perfect specimen of a generous open‑hearted adventurer, and in appearance what I have pictured to myself, Daniel Boone of Kentucky, must have been in his day. He drove his herd of cattle into camp and picked out the largest and fattest which he presented to the Army.[2]

 Lieutenant J. W. Abert in his journal under date o September 23, 1846, says:

After a march of five miles, we reached the “Rio Moro,” and passing several “corales,” or enclosures, we at last came into sight of some adobe houses. The proprietor of one of those houses was an American, named Boney, who has since been murdered by his “peons.” He invited us to alight and enter his house, where he treated us to milk, cool from the cellar. In his house there were a dozen firelocks of different kinds, escopettes, fusils, rifles and muskets.[3]

Santiago Bone, whose American name was James Bonny, was killed about eight miles south of his rancho in October, 1846, while trying to recover some horses, which had been stolen by the Indians. Shortly thereafter, the hostility of the Indians forced his unprotected family to move to the town of Mora. The grant was not reoccupied until about 1866 when his sons became old enough to manage it.[4]

The heirs of Santiago Bone petitioned the Surveyor General seeking the confirmation of the grant on March 1, 1887. In connection with their claim, they filed a copy of the Act of Possession and Ortiz’s decree. They stated that they had made a diligent search of the Archives of New Mexico in an effort to find the original grant but had been unable to find it. They attempted to explain their inability to locate a copy of the grant by calling attention to the fact that after the American occupation of New Mexico the Archives had been “loosely kept” and many valuable documents had been lost and some had even been sold for waste paper. No action was taken by the Surveyor General’s office either approving or rejecting the grant prior to the creation of the Court of Private Land Claims.[5] Continuing to prosecute their claim, the heirs of Santiago Bone filed suit[6] on January 19, 1893, in the Court of Private Land Claims against the United States. The government, in its answer, contended that a grant had never been made to Bone. It pointed out that he had been one of the grantees under a grant made on the same date to a colony known as the Pueblo de Santiago,[7] and contended that the proceedings by Garcia in 1842 were not the delivery of possession of a separate grant but were merely the allocation of a farm tract to Bone under the Colony’s Grant. It was also noted that the Santiago Bone Grant conflicted with the John Scolly Grant and that in connection with the hearing on the John Scolly Grant before the Surveyor General’s Office, Joab Houghton had testified that Bone had told him that he occupied his lands by sufferance from the owners of The John Scolly Grant. Confronted with so many obstacles, claimants elected to voluntarily dismiss the suit when it came up for trial on February 6, 1895.[8]


[1] The Santiago Bone Grant, No. F‑206 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.

[2] H. R. Exec. Doc. No. 41, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 25 (1848).

[3] S. Exec. Doc. No. 23, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 37 (1848)

[4] The Santiago Bone Grant, No. F‑206 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[5] Ibid.

[6] Bone v. United States, No. 62 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).

[7] The Estanislado Sandoval Grant, No. F‑35 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.). Very little is known about this alleged grant. It seems that on September 28, 1835, Governor Albino Perez granted a tract of land to Santiago Bone and 30 other persons in order to form a colony at the junction of the Mora and Sapillo Rivers. On October 26, 1842, the Alcalde of the town of Mora, Juan Antonio Garcia, laid out a town and placed the grantees in possession of the land subject to the condition that they build a six vara high wall around the town with gates on the north and south sides. At the center of each wall a tower was to be erected. The road between the United States and Santa Fe was to pass through the center of the settlement which was to be called the Pueblo do Santiago. The inhabitants were also required to maintain the road and ford at the river junction. On October 31, 1842, Garcia distributed a portion of the land among the colonists. In 1845, Tomas Benito Loland, Alcalde of the town of Mora, allocated additional individual tracts within the grant. None of the papers described the boundaries of the original grant. Jose Manuel Cordova purchased the tract which had been allotted to Estanislado Sandoval and on October 17, 1856, filed a petition in the Surveyor General’s Office seeking the confirmation of this grant. No action was ever taken on the claim.

[8] 2 Journal 285 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).