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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Eutimio Montoya Socorro Land Grant Case mentioned in newspaper

In 1899, The Albuquerque Citizen newspaper published the following article about Eutimio Montoya vs. the United States, one of three court cases that were presented over three decades to the Survey General and the Court of Private Land Claims, seeking confirmation of the Socorro Land Grant. This case made the largest claim, which was more than 800,000 acres. Ultimately, this case would be decided against the plaintiff Eutimio Montoya, and for the United States. In a separate case, Candelario Garcia claimed the standard Spanish four square leagues, centering on the San Miguel Church, and extending  a league in each cardinal direction. That claim were be approved and Candelario Garcia and City of Socorro would be administers of the grant.

Private Land Claims

The Socorro Case Will First be Taken up at this Term

The court of private land claims met Monday morning in the federal building at Santa Fe, but owing to the absence of the United States attorneys adjourned until to day (sic). The impression prevails that the court will be in session only a few days at Santa Fe, because the Tucson term gave the judges work for about two months, in writing opinions, they having rendered no decisions as yet in the San Rafael and other important land cases heard at Tucson.

The judges present are Chief Justice Joseph R. Reed, Judges Thomas C. Fuller, William W. Murray, Wilbur F. Stone. Judge Henry C. Sluss (?) will not attend the court. R. L. Hall, deputy United States marshal, James H. Reader, clerk, Ireneo L. Chaves, deputy clerk, and W.J. McPherson, stenographer of the court, were in attendance.

The first matter to be taken up by the court will be the Socorro town case, which is docketed as No. 127, Eutimio Montoya vs United States, filed February 27, 1893. The grant comprises 843,259.59 acres, although the plaintiffs claim considerable more.

In 1815 seventy families of Spanish subjects settled in what is now Socorro county, at the request and permission of the governor of the province of New Mexico. November 18, 1817, Xavier Garcia and Anselmo Tafoya, on behalf of themsleves and the seventy families, presented a petition to the governor and the captain general to make a grant of four square leagues of land on which the peititioner has settled. Such a grant was made and the alcalde of Belen commanded to make out the property certificate. This the alcalde negleted (sic) to do. The petitioners therefore on August 1, 1818, petitioned again and the proper documents were then made out, but afterwards lost or destroyed. December 2, 1845, Governor Manuel Armijo renewed the grant, and the papers drawn up at that time are in evidence in the case. The surveyor general of the territory in 1875 recommended that the grant be confirmed. The surveyor general in 1886 recommended that congress grant to original settlers and their descendants on the Socorro grant an equitable claim to the lands actually occupied and used for tillage and pastorage prior to February 2, 1848. Congress took no action on those recommendations. The survey in 1875 set the area of the grant at 841,259.50 acres but the plaintiff's claim that it should be greater. All claims and all owners to the land are such by permission and consent of the petitioners, excepting Wilson Waddingham, Martin B. Hayes, Felipe Peralta, and Tomas Cordoba who lay claim to certain portions of the grant. On the grant are situated the towns and settlements of San Antonio, Limitar (sic), San Lorenzo, Luis Lopez, Bosquesito and San Pedro. Judge Warren, C.B. Gildersleeve and George Hill Howard are the attorneys for the plaintiffs.

Source: "Albuquerque Citizen newspaper," database, Genealogy Bank ( accessed 23 August 2017), "Private Land Claims: The Socorro Case Will First be Taken up at This Term".

For more history on the land grant, read "The Socorro Grant" on the New Mexico Office of State Historian website:

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