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Santo Domingo de Cundiyo Grant

by J. J. Bowden

 Jose Ysidro de Medina, Manuel de Quintana, Marcial Martinez and Miguel Martinez petitioned Governor Gaspar Dominguez de Mendoza for a grant covering about three fanegas of vacant land at the place called Cundiyo. They stated that they were practically landless and had registered the premises in order to support their large families. The requested tract was described as being bounded: 

On the north, by the Pueblo of Quemado; on the east, by the mountains; on the south, by the Arroyo Sarca and the Nambe Pueblo League; and on the west, by the lands of Juan Martin.

In a decision dated August 31, 1743, Mendoza held “the petition cannot be granted because of the prejudice it would cause the neighborhood in the pasturage and because of the smallness of the territory.” At the request of the applicants, the Alcalde of Santa Cruz, Juan Jose Lovato advised Mendoza that he knew of no reasonable objection which could be raised against the granting of the lands at Cundiyo and asked him to reconsider the matter. On September 12, 1743, Mendoza granted the tract to the peti­tioners and ordered Lovato to place them in possession of the property notwithstanding his former decision. By virtue of this last decision, Lovato proceeded to Cundiyo on the following day where he met with the adjoining landowners. None of the adjoining landowners objected to the issuance of the grant, except a few persons who had settled in a little hollow near the mouth of an arroyo which formed the common boundary between the Pueblo of Quemado and Santo Domingo de Cundiyo Grants. To satisfy the objections of these settlers, Lovato excluded their lands from the grant. Once this obstacle was overcome, Lovato delivered royal possession of the grant to the four grantees. The expediente of the grant was forwarded to Mendoza, who on September 28, 1743, filed it amongst the archives of New Mexico.[1]

The grantees promptly took possession of the grant and a substantial town soon grew up around the original settlement. The grant was never submitted to the Surveyor General’s office for investigation, but Juan Antonio Vigil, who had purchased the rights of the heirs of one of the original grantees, instituted suit[2] in the Court of Private Land Claims on March 3, 1893 in an effort to secure its recognition. In support of his claim, he filed the testimonio of the grant which he acquired at the time he purchased his interest.

The case came up for hearing on December 5, 1900, at which time the plaintiff offered his muniment of title and oral testimony connecting himself with one of the original grantees and showing that the grant had been occupied by the descendants of the original grantees or their assigns since time immemorial. There was no question about the genuineness of the grant papers, and since the parties had stipulated concerning the proper location of its boundaries, there were no serious questions for the court to consider. Therefore, on December 12, 1900, the court entered a decree confirming title to the heirs and legal representatives of the four original grantees in the following described tract: 

Beginning at the ruins of an old ranch about two miles above the plaza of Cundiyo on the Rio Frijoles, which was built by Eusebio Jarmillo of Chemayo about twelve years ago and running thence in a northerly direction to the northern edge or margin of the Cienega Pajarita, which has always been held by the people of the Pueblo of Quemado and those of Cundiyo to be the dividing point between their respective lands; thence westerly by a straight line to the junction of Rio Frijoles and Rio de en Medio; and thence in a southerly direction by a meandered line along the brow of the elevation immediately southwest of the Rio Frijoles to the place of beginning.[3]

The grant was surveyed by Deputy Surveyor Joseph F. Thomas between June 19 and July 26, 1901. His survey showed that the grant covered 2,137.08 acres. A patent for that amount of land was issued to the confirmees on February 11, 1903.[4]

[1] For some unexplained reason this document cannot be found among the archives of New Mexico.

[2] Vigil v.United States, No 211 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).

[3] 4 Journal 235 (Mss., Records of the Ct., Pvt. L. Cl.).

[4] The Santo Domingo de Cundiyo Grant, No. 246 (Mss. Records of the S.G.N.M.).