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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Luis Maria Baca of Lemitar, New Mexico

Although there were many Baca family members who were founders of the Socorro Land Grant, Luis Maria Baca and his brothers were not among them. While the other Baca family members appear to have arrived from Belen around 1815 or 1816, Luis Maria Baca's family did not arrive in the area until the 1850s. Originally from Peña Blanca, this family of brothers were from the large Cabeza de Baca family from that area. Luis Maria Baca was named after his noted grandfather Luis Maria Cabeza de Baca, as were a few of his other cousins. Luis' tie to the Socorro Land Grant is a controversial document he produced as evidence that the grant received title.

Luis Maria Baca was baptized in Santa Fe on January 31, 1830 to Mateo Baca and Guadalupe Montoya. He was the second child of this couple. His sister Maria Antonio de Jesus was born just a little bit more than a year before, sometime before November 25, 1828. Luis three brothers were born after him: Jose Alexandro Baca (April 30, 1832, baptized in Santa Fe), Juan de Dios Baca (March 12, 1834, baptized in Santa Fe) and Martin Baca, born circa 1838.(1) Martin Baca happens to be my 2nd great-grandfather.

In 1851, the four Baca brothers were living in Santa Ana County, probably in Peña Blanca. The 1850 census shows Luis and his two brothers Juan de Dios and Martin living in one household, while their brother Jose Alexandro was living with his father Mateo and Mateo's second wife Margarita (Sanchez.) (2) Luis' sister is not present in either household. It's unknown if she is married at this time or even alive. She may have died young.

Luis Baca and his brothers moved to Lemitar, New Mexico between 1851 and 1860, when they were listed as living in that village in the 1860 census. (3) Luis Baca married Ramona Armijo, the adopted daughter and "universal heir" of Manuel Armijo, the last Mexican governor of New Mexico. (4) As the husband of Manuel Armijo's heir, Luis Baca would have had access to the governor's effects. As such, he was able to present as evidence to the U.S. Surveyor General a document that his father-in-law supposedly signed that confirmed the title of the Socorro Grant. This title would have given the heirs to the grant 1.6 million acres. However, the document was found to be a forgery by the Court of Private Land Claims and the grant was not confirmed by the U.S. Congress (at least in this form.) Luis Maria Baca was dead by the time the court invalidated the document and could not defend himself against the accusations that he himself had forged the title.(5)

1.  Ella Louis May, Virginia L. Olmstead extractors, Margaret Leonard Windham, and Evelyn Lujan Baca compilers, New Mexico Baptisms of Santa Fe Parroquia de San Francisco de Santa Fe, Parrish of Saint Francis of Assisi: Volume III 1 January 1823 to 26 June 1839, Catrense Register 9 June 1798 to 16 June 1833 (Albuquerque: New Mexico Genealogical Society, 2002), pp. 170, 196 and 222. Also see, 1860 U.S. Census, Socorro County, New Mexico, population schedule, Town of Lemitar, p. 63, dwelling # 648, familly #580, Louis Baca; digital images, ( accessed 6 March 2010).

2.  Margaret Leonard Windham editor, New Mexico 1850 Territorial Census, Vol. II: Rio Arriba and Santa Ana Counties (Albuquerque: New Mexico Genealogical Society, 1976), pp. 157 and 159.

3. 1860 U.S. Census, Socorro County, New Mexico, Louis Baca.

4. Chavez, Fray Angelico (2011-09-20). Origins of New Mexico Families: A Genealogy of the Spanish Colonial Period (Kindle Locations 14293-14298). Museum of New Mexico Press. Kindle Edition. See also, Matrimonios: San Miguel del Socorro, 1 January 1854 - 31 December 1900; San Ignacio y San Cristobal, 1 March 1869 - 31 December 1900; San Marcial, 26 March 1883 - 31 December 1902; Our Lady of Sorrows of La Jolla, 1 January 1872 - 31 December 1900 (Alburquerque: Hispanic Genealogical Research Center of New Mexico, 1999), pg. 175.

5. Bowden, J.J., “Socorro Grant”, New Mexico Office of State Historian website, retrieved 19 April 2013,
See also "Town of Socorro Grant (Eutimio Montoya), New Mexico Digital Collection website,, accessed June 17, 2015.

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