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The Alfonso Rael de Aguilar Grant

by J. J. Bowden

Alphonso Rael de Aguilar petitioned Governor Joaquin Codallos y Rabal on or about July 21, 1744, seeking the revalidation of a grant located south of the Santa Fe River, which originally had been granted to him in 1739, by Governor Gaspar Domingo de Mendoza but which had been “taken away” from him for some unexplained reason. Aguilar described the tract as being bounded:
On the north, by the road to Alamo; on the east, by the lands of Beatriz Lucero; on the south, by the Camino de los Carros; and on the west, by the lands of Domingo Valdez.

On July 21, 1744, Codallos ordered the Alcalde of Santa Fe to advise him concerning the status of the land and whether the rights of any third party would be prejudiced by the granting of the petitioners request Alcalde Antonio Ulibarri reported on the following day that Aguilar had occupied the property which he solicited for some time, that part of such occupancy had been under a grant and part “extra judicially,” and that the concession would not be prejudicial to anyone. Ulibarri called the governor’s attention to the fact that the petitioner had “many times served the king,” as had his deceased father. He also noted that Aguilar had a wife and “increasing family” and needed the land for their support. After considering the matter, Codallos granted the land to Aguilar on July 23, 1744, so that he could cultivate and use them. He also ordered Ulibarri to place Aguilar in royal possession of the premises. Ulibarri performed the customary ceremony in connection with the delivery of possession on the following day and designated and fixed the boundaries of the grant as follows:

On the north, the public highway to Alamo; on the east, the lands of Melchoir Rodriguez (formerly belonging to Beatriz Lucero), and the lands of Tomas Tapia; on the south, the Camino de los Carros; and on the west, the lands of Diego Valdez.

Aguilar and his descendants enjoyed the peaceful and undisputed use and possession of the grant at all times between 1744 and 1872.

On February 19, 1872, Aguilar’s heirs and legal representatives petitioned Surveyor General T. Rush Spencer seeking the confirmation of the grant.[1] In support of their claim, they filed the testimonio of the grant and a private survey showing that the grant covered a 345 acre tract of land situated about two miles southwest of the capital. No action was taken on the petition and it was still pending in the Surveyor General’s office when the Court of Private Land Claims was created.

A suit was filed by Refugia Aguilar, for herself and on behalf of the other heirs and legal representatives of Alphonso Rael de Aguilar, on March 7, 1893, against the United States in the Court of Private Land Claims seeking the confirmation of the grant.[2] The plaintiff claimed to be a descendant of Alphonso Rael de Aguilar and introduced a copy of the testimonio of the grant as the basis of her claim. She also contended that the grant covered about 500 acres of land. The government filed a general answer putting the allegations contained in the petition in issue. Since the grant was located totally within the boundaries of the tract claimed by the City of Santa Fe, it joined with the government in the opposition of the claim.

Notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s reversal of its decision confirming the Santa Fe League, the Court of Private Land Claims continued to reject all claims lying within its boundaries Therefore, when this case came up for hearing on February 3, 1898, Aguilar announced that she would not further prosecute her claim In response to this announcement, the court rejected the grant and dismissed the action.[3]
[1] The Alphonso Rael de Aguilar Grant No. F 104 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).
[2] Aguilar v. United States, No. 191 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. Cl.).
[3] 3 Journal 339 (Mss., Records of the Ct. Pvt. L. Cl.).