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Town of San Isidro Grant

by J. J. Bowden

Antonio Armenta, the Alcalde of the Queres Nation, and Salvador Antonio Sandoval, a re-enlisted soldier of the royal garrison, appeared before Governor Juan Bautista de Anza asking for a grant covering a tract of vacant land upon which to support their families and raise a few animals for the same object. They described the tract as being bounded:

On the north, by the lands of the Pueblo of Jemez; on the east, by the lands of Alcalde Nerio Antonio Montoya; on the south, by the lands of the Pueblo of (torn); and on the west, by the mountains of the Espiritu Santo Spring.

After carefully considering the petition, Anza, on May 4, 1786, granted the petitioners’ request on condition that they cultivate the premises in conformity with the provisions of the royal decrees and that the grant did not conflict with the lands of the Indians of the Pueblos of Zia and Jemez. Anza also directed the Alcalde of Alameda, Nerio Antonio Montoya, to place the grantees in royal possession of the land provided the Pueblos of Zia and Jemez would not be disturbed “in their pre‑emption and use of the water.” Twelve days later, Montoya met with the grantees and representatives of the Pueblos of Zia and Jemez at San Isidro de Los Dolores. In order to satisfy the Jemez Indians that the grant did not prejudice their rights, Montoya relocated the boundaries of their league. He found that they had planted “some patches.” In order not to offend thorn, Montoya allowed the Jemez Indians to retain possession of their fields and gave them a total of two hundred and sixty-two additional varas with which they stated they were satisfied. Next, Montoya measured the Zia League together with a tract of land covering one thousand six hundred and thirty-two varas which the Zia Indians had purchased from Juan Galvan and a tract they had purchased from Miguel Montoya in the Canon Commonly called El Rito Salado. Since the Zia Indians asked for an additional thousand varas, he included all of such land within their boundaries. Upon the conclusion of the surveys of the lands of the two pueblos, Montoya was satisfied that there was a 2,900 vara tract: of unoccupied land which legally could be granted to Armenta and Sandoval. Therefore he placed them in royal possession of the grant and designated the following natural objects as its boundaries:

On the north, the lands of Jemez; on the east, the lands of Antonio Nerio Montoya, which is the road leading Cochiti to Jemez; on the south, the lands of Zia; and on the west, the mountain of the Espiritu Santo Spring, at the place commonly called Los Bancos.[1]

Francisco Sandoval and five other persons, as the heirs and legal representatives of the original grantees, petitioned Surveyor General William Pelham on January 28, 1857, seeking the confirmation of the grant which they alleged amounted to two thousand nine hundred varas of land In support of their claim, the six petitioners filed the testimonio of the grant. On June 8, 1859, Pelham held:

The document filed being more than fifty years old, and beyond the period of a lifetime, presumes that the signature cannot be proven, and that they are assured as genuine unless they are proven to be fraudulent and counterfeit, and as no such attempt has been made the grant is deemed to be good and valid.…[2]

Based upon Pelham’s cursory examination and favorable report, Congress confirmed the grant by Act approved June 21, 1860.[3] The grant was surveyed in March, 1877 by Deputy Surveyors Sawyer and McElroy for 11,476.88 acres.[4]

By letter dated August 18, 1887, Surveyor General George W. Julian wrote Commissioner of the General Land Office, S. H. Stockslager, requesting permission to resurvey the grant. Julian stated that in his opinion the north boundary of the grant should have been located 262 varas south of the south boundary of the Pueblo de Jemez Grant as patented, 2,632 varas north of the north boundary of the Pueblo of Zia Grant, as patented, and along the summit of the Espiritu Santo mountains instead of at the cliffs known as Los Bancos. This would reduce the size of the grant by approximately 9,400 acres. By decision dated November 17, 1888, it was held that the facts advanced by Julian did not warrant a correction survey but stated, “if, however, you care to furnish additional and convincing reasons for a resurvey of the grant as proposed, I would have no hesitation in recommending it.” On December 5, 1888 Julian again urged that a resurvey of the grant be made on the grounds that the Act of Possession showed that the Jemez Indians had been given 262 varas in addition to their league of land, that the Zia Indians had received 2,632 additional varas and that the west line should be located along the summit of the mountains which was about five miles east of Los Bancos. No action appears to have been taken on Julian’s second letter until 1936, when the Rural Resettlement Administration was in the process of acquiring the grant for the use of the Zia Indians. On July 28, 1936 C. G. Tudor, Chief of Division “E” of the Land Office issued an opinion on the points raised by Julian’s second letter. Tudor held that the Act of Possession did not show that the additional lands granted to the Jemez Indians were located south of their league or that the additional lands requested and claimed by the Zia Indians were located north of their league. Therefore, he held that the north line of the grant, should be common with the south line of the Pueblo of Jemez Grant and that the south boundary of the grant should be located 2,900 varas south of the north line as shown in the Sawyer & McElroy Survey. In connection with the west boundary, Tudor found that the allegations that it was erroneously located had not been substantiated by the facts in the case. He concluded his opinion by holding that the Sawyer & McElroy Survey, which had been recognized by all the interested parties as being correct for more than sixty years, should not be set aside at such a late date and recommended the patenting of the grant according to such survey. The grant was finally patented on November 14, 1936.[5]


[1] H. R. Exec. Doc. No. 14, 36th Cong., 1st Sess. 79‑81 (1860).

[2] Ibid., 82.

[3] An Act to Confirm Certain Private Land Claims in the Territory of New Mexico, Chap. 167, 12 Stat. 71 (1860).

[4] The Town of San Isidro Grant, No. 24 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[5] Ibid.