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Town of Tejon Grant

by J. J. Bowden

Salvador Barreras petitioned Surveyor General William Pelham on January 8, 1853 seeking the confirmation of the Town of Tejon Grant, which had been granted to him and a number of other persons for the purpose of forming a new settlement. He estimated that the grant contained one and a half leagues, more or less, and pointed out that while his inability to produce the original grant papers rendered his title inchoate, it should not defeat the claim for such papers undoubtedly were among the portion of the public archives which had been lost when the United States acquired New Mexico. In support for his petition, Barreras filed a Spanish document which recited that he and a number of associates had appeared before Antonio Montoya, the Alcalde of the Pueblo of Sandia, on November 17, 1840, and requested him to give them a certificate showing that the land had been granted and possession delivered to them. In response to their request, Montoya examined the records in his office and certified that a tract of land at Tejon and Tunque embraced within the following boundaries had been granted to Barreras and his associates “by superior orders and was distributed” by his predecessor:

From the Agua del Coyote, commonly called, and below to the Arroyo called Tunque until it joins the lands of the Indians of the Pueblo of Sandia, and on the west to the sharp ridge of San Francisco; on the south to the place commonly called El Agua del Berrendo; and on the east, to the line of the Una del Gato….[1]

In connection with his examination of the claim, Pelham held a hearing on May 6, 1859 at which the testimony of two witnesses, Serafin Ramirez and Ynes Armenta was taken. Their testimony is as follows:

Q. Have you any interest in this case?

A. No.

 Q. How many years have you resided in the Territory, and what have been your opportunities of knowing of Tejon?

A. I (Ramirez) have lived in the Territory of twenty years, and I (Armenta) over forty; we both live a short distance from the place,


Q. Was the Town of Tejon in existence in the year 1846, when the United States troops took possession of the Territory?
A. It was in existence then, and was settled before that time.

Q. What is the present population of the town?

A. About 130.[2]

Since the evidence, brief as it was, showed that the Town of Tejon was in existence at the time the United States acquired New Mexico and his instructions[3] from the General Land Office dated August 21, 1854, provided in such cases he could consider such existence as prima facie evidence of a grant, Pelham, in a decision[4] dated. May 7, 1859, found the grant to be good and valid, and the land embraced within the limits set forth in the certificate of November 17, 1840 to be severed from the public domain. Therefore, he approved the claim and transmitted it to Congress for its further action. Congress, as a result of Pelham’s favorite report, confirmed the grant by Act[5] approved June 21, 1860. The grant was surveyed by Deputy Surveyors Sawyer and McElroy in March, 1877, for 12,801.46 acres. A patent for such lands was issued on February 11, 1882 in favor of the inhabitants of the Town of Tejon.[6]

[1] H. R. Exec. Doc. No. 14, 36th Cong., 1st Sess., 244‑247 (1860).

[2] lbid., 247

[3] S. Misc. Doc. No. 12, 42d Cong., 1st Sess., 1‑7 (1871).

[4] H. R. Exec. Doc. No. 14, 36th Cong., 1st Sess., 248 (1860).

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

[6] The Town of Tejon Grant, No. 37 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.). There is no question that the record in this case would not have supported a confirmation of the grant by the Court of Private Land Claims. United States v. Santa Fe, 165 U. S. 675 (1897) and Hays v. United States, 175 U. S. 248 (1899). It now appears that the land covered by the Town of Tejon Grant was a portion of the San Antonio de Las Huertas Grant.