Surveyor General Proceedings:

Surveyor General's Opinion - (Approved) May 11, 1886

SANM I, REEL 27, SG 150 Frames 973 to 985:

"U.S. Surveyor General's Office,

Santa Fe, New Mexico

May 11th 1886.

In the Matter of the }

Private Land Claim }

known as the Tract to } File No. 96

Juan Ignacio Tafoya et. al. } Reported No. 150

for the Cañon de Carnué Tract }

This claim was filed in this office for investigation under the 8th Section of the Act of Congress approved July 22, 1854, establishing the office.

On January 20, 1882, a petition was filed in which the claimants are designated as the "heirs and legal representatives of the original grantees" without any specification of the petitioners by name. On May 15, 1885, an additional petition was filed in which the claimants are designated as "Your petitioners Juan Ignacio Tafoya et als., their heirs and legal representatives", and the more particular statement is made that Jose Antoñio Garcia, Salvador Garcia, Nasario Lopez, and Nepomuseno Caravajal, claim title by inheritance and Rafael Armijo, Henry Carpenter, Pablo Crespin and Canuto Sanchez claim by purchase. These are the only claimants named.

No specific description of the land is given in either of the petitions, but it is referred to as the "Carnuél Grant" situated in Bernalillo County, Territory of New Mexico. As proof of their claim the petitioners have presented several documents in Spanish, and submitted the depositions of a number of witnesses. An examination of the Spanish documents discloses that in the year 1763, Tomas Velez Cachupin, as Governor and Captain General of New Mexico, granted to certain persons named, lands situate "at Carnué" and the Alcalde Mayor of Albuquerque was directed to place the parties in possession, and to make partition of the lands between them, which appears to have been done; that in the year 1771, it was ordered by the Governor and Captain General that the persons to whom paid land had been granted, should return and settle thereon (they appearing to have abandoned the same,) and if they refused to do so, their grant should be revoked; that on being notified of the decree of the Governor, a few of said persons proceeded to the place, but fearing an attack by Indians returned to Albuquerque, and reported to the Governor their inability to occupy the land, and thereupon the Governor again directed the Alcalde to notify them that if they did not proceed to re-settle said land, their grant would be annulled; and that the Alcalde having notified them they refused to return to Carnué, and thereupon he caused them to proceed with him to said place, and under his direction, all the buildings and other structures erected by such settlers were leveled to the ground and destroyed, the place being then abandoned and the grant to said settlers revoked.

On November 1st, 1818, Don Juan Duran and a number of others presented a petition to the Governor, asking that they be granted the "Carnué tract". On November 3, 1818, the Governor referred the petition to Don Pedro Pino, with directions for him to decide what was proper, and on the same day Pino directed the Alcalde of Albuquerque to examine into the matter, and report thereon. The papers filed do not show that anything more was done upon the subject.

Afterwards, (date not given) Juan Ignacio Tafoya presented a petition to the Governor, stating that he and twenty-six others, residents of Albuquerque were in need of land, and "that that which runs from the Cañon de Carnué to what is newly settled, being royal domain, xxx, We humbly beg that your Lordship will be pleased to give us possession in the name of His Majesty (whom may God preserve) from what is called Cuestecita, as far as what is called San Antonito"; no more definite description being given.

Upon this petiton and endorsement appears as follows:

"January 26, 1819"

"Let the Alcalde of the jurisdiction to which it belongs report with all minuteness."



On January 29, 1819 Josef Mariano de la Peña made a report to the Governor in which it is said:

"The place which they ask for in order to settle thereon appears as having been partitioned according to the expediente, which on the 17th I sent to you; with this one there are three petitions, of these and the other petitioners many of these have lands of their own, and by inheritance, by grant and inheritances."

On February 3, 1819, the Governor directed the Alcalde of Albuquerque to report the names of the petitioners not having lands of their own for their support and on the 5th of the same month, Josef Mariano de la Peña, as such Alcalde, submitted his report, in which he named thirty five persons who did not own lands, but the name of Juan Ignacio Tafoya, the only person whose name was attached to the petition to the Governor did not appear on the list. Neither were any of the names of the claimants in this case, on the list, although persons bearing the same surname as four of the petitioners are mentioned.

The Alcalde further said:

"The lands which they ask for is from the Cañon de Carnué, as far as the old ruins of the Pueblo which is called San Antoñio, in which not exceeding the number of petitioners, reduced to a short extent, it does not appear to me that there is any objection to conceding it to them, making two towns at the most convenient points."

On the 10th of February 1817, the Governor directed this report to be forwarded to the Assessor's office. On the same day the Assessor reported to the Governor in favor of making the grant as requested, and on the following day the Governor decreed:

"In accordance with the views of the Assessor, the Alcalde upon whom the duty devolves will partition the land with justice among the petitioners under the established rules, setting a term within which they shall provide themselves with arms and horses for the defence of the Province."

It further appears that on the 26th day of the same month and year, Josef Mariano de la Peña, as Alcalde, proceeded to said Cañon and in the presence of the petitioning settlers, laid off a public square (plaza) and then delivered to them in a formal manner the possession of the land they had petitioned for. On the two next succeeding days, the Alcalde partitioned the land among the settlers measuring off to each his portion.

The Spanish documents above-mentioned, constituted a portion of the Archives received by the United States from the Mexican Government. It is shown by them that during the years 1818 and 1819, Facundo Melgares was the civil and Military Governor of this Territory, and a comparison of his signature to the papers in evidence, with other signatures appearing upon papers executed about the same date leads to the conclusion that it is genuine. Hence it follows that a grant was made by said Governor on February 11, 1819, to the persons named in the report made by the Alcalde on the 5th of the said month, of certain land situate in the Cañon de Carnué; the difficulty being to ascertain what land was granted and whether the present claimants have shown an interest in the same.

The land asked for and conceded is not described by ruetes and bounds, or by any definite description in any of the grant proceedings. In the petition presented by Juan Ignacio Tafoya to the Governor, the land is thus referred to: "That, that which runs from the Cañon de Carnué to what is newly settled being royal domain, xxx, We humbly beg that your Lordship will be pleased to give us possession in the name of His Majesty (Whom may God preserve), from what is called Cuestecita, as far as what is called San Antonito."

The Alcalde in his report recommending the grant says: "The lands which they ask for is from the Cañon de Carnué, as far as the old ruins of the Pueblo which is called San Antoñio." This must be the land intended to be granted by the Governor, for he directs the Alcalde to proceed to divide the land among the petitioners without giving any particular description thereof. It then remains to be determined, if possible, what land the above description covers, and for that purpose the oral evidence will be referred to. This evidence shows that the place called the "Cañon de Carnué", is ten or twelve miles east of the town of Albuquerque, in the County of Bernalillo. Juan N. Caravajal stated that he had known the place about forty years, and gave the boundaries as follows:

"It starts at the mouth of the Cañon and goes to the brow of the mountain. It goes to the north to a place called El Bordo. It goes south to a high ridge of mountain. The Canada de los Alamos is at the foot of the mountain." He said that El Bordo is about a league north of San Antoñio, and that the side boundaries are the brow of the mountain on each side of the Cañon.

Andres Nuanes, a witness eighty five years of age, who stated that he had known the tract ever since it had been inhabited, describes it thus:

"On the east, town of Sedillo, which lies east of San Antoñio; on the west, the entrance of the Cañon, where are some ruins; on the south by the mountains and on the north by the mountains."

He also said that possession of the land was given under the grant in 1819 or 1820.

The evidence shows that the Cañon in which the land is situate runs generally from east to west, the entrance being to the west. It is apparent that the persons whose evidence has been taken in the case, when speaking of the boundaries of the grant, refer to the entire portions of the Cañon that were settled at the time of their testifying. The proceedings had upon the petition of Tafoya presented to the Governor in 1819, make it evident that people were living in the Cañon prior to his petition, and that a portion of the land had been set off to them. In the petition of Tafoya reference is made to land which is newly settled, and in the first report of the Alcalde he says:

"The place which they ask for in order to settle thereon appears as having been partitioned according to the expediente which on the 17th I sent to you."

In the second report the Alcalde refers to the land as follows: "The lands which they ask for is from the Cañon de Carnué, as far as the old ruins of the Pueblo which is called San Antoñio." and states that this land might be granted them without injury to others.

I am therefore, led to the belief that the land granted to said petitioners extended from the Cañon de Carnué, (wherever that may be), to the ruins of the Pueblo of San Antoñio, as existing at the date of the grant; the side boundaries being the foot of the mountains on either side of the Cañon.

The evidence shows that the land has been occupied continuously since the grant, but it fails to establish the exact relations of such settlers with the present claimants. The general statement is made by several witnesses that the land has been occupied by the grantees and their descendants, and each has claimed under the grant. One witness stated that in May 1885, there were about one hundred and sixty five families residing upon the tract, and that one hundred families were residing there in 1853. Some of the witnesses testify to having known some of the grantees, and of their living upon the land, but the evidence does not very clearly show that any of the claimants named in the petition filed in this office have any title to the land. It is, however, sufficiently shown that at the date of the concession of this Territory to the United States, the land described was private property, and that the representatives of the grantees then were, and now are occupying and claiming to own the same.

The evidence discloses the existence of minerals upon the land claimed but the extent thereof is not developed. Henry Carpenter, in answer to the question as to the existence of minerals, stated that there is a copper mine there. Nasario Lopes, in answer to a similar question stated: "There is much, there is lead, coal, copper, gold and silver." Both of these witnesses are present claimants and reside upon the land. I recommend the confirmation of title to the land to the legal representatives of the original grantees reserving to the United States all minerals found therein.

Triplicate copies of all papers are transmitted as required.

George W. Julian [signature]

Surveyor General"

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SOURCE: Spanish Archives of New Mexico I, Microfilm reel 27, Surveyor General #150, "Cañon de Carnuel Land Grant" Fr. 973 to 985.


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