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The Pedro Armendaris Grant Number 33
The Pedro Armendaris Grant No. 33
by Michael Miller
Pedro Ascue de Armendaris was the collector of tithes and was the former First Lieutenant at the garrison in San Elizario. In 1819, he petitioned for the first of three land grants in the southern part of Nuevo Mexico. This tract of land was near Valverde and was located along the Camino Real. The land was good for cultivation and grazing of livestock. Governor Facundo Melgares referred the petition to the Alcalde of Belen, Manuel Ruvo de Celis, and ordered him to investigate the request. The request was approved by Governor Melgares with the conditions that Armendaris construct houses and corrals, enclose the fields and pasture livestock, keep his men well armed and furnish water and pasture for all travelers on the Camino Real. This tract came to be known as the Valverde Grant.
The success that Armendaris had at Valverde prompted him to petition for another tract of land south of the Valverde site. This grant came to be known as the Fray Cristobal Grant and the grant was delivered to him by Manuel Rubi, the new Alcalde of Belen in 1820. With these two enterprises Armendaris was able to greatly improve his irrigated farmlands and expand his ranching enterprise until around 1826, when hostile attacks by Apache and other tribes increased and forced him to seek refuge in Chihuahua. The land grants remained unoccupied until the United States took over jurisdiction of the region.
Around 1859, the heirs of Pedro Armendaris petitioned the Office of the Surveyor General requesting confirmation of the Valverde and Fray Cristobal grants. The Surveyor General consolidated the land claims and assigned claim number 33 to the case. At the time the two grants consisted of 397,235 acres. Following a protest by a neighboring landowner, by the name of William A. Bell, the Surveyor General reduced the total acreage to 352,504.5 acres.
Around 1820, Armendaris was also seeking possession of a land grant northwest of Valverde. His justification for this request was to expand his sheep flocks. Governor Melgares also approved this tract. Although he never resided on this land grant or constructed any permanent improvements he did move in a large flock of sheep and a herds of cattle and horses. He was forced to abandon this grant around 1826, as well due to hostile attacks by various Indian tribes. The grant was not reoccupied until after the end of the war with Mexico. The heirs of Pedro Armendaris filed a petition with the Office of the Surveyor General in 1857. This grant was assigned case number 34 by the Surveyor General and was confirmed for 95,030 acres in 1876.