The Cañon del Rio Colorado Land Grant

The first attempt for this grant was the June 12, 1836 petition for land filed by Antonio Elias Armenta, Jose Victor Sanchez, and Jose Manuel Sanchez. According to the Posecion document, these settlers were “praying for a tract of land in grant for our livestock, it being the place of the Canon del Rio Colorado, which is considered pasture land, although very few animals enter the ground…” (76).

Posecion document for the Canon del Rio Colorado grant of June 12th, 1936.
(New Mexico State Records Center and Archives.)

The land was described as “…from the mouth of the Canon to the source of the river, and on the north what forms the ridge to the Rito del Cabresto. The alcalde and ayuntamiento stated that the land was granted “with the indispensable condition that they must confine themselves to from the mouth of the Canon they mention to the lake and the first little vallies to said lake on the East as they state in their application” (see Figures 12–14).

Testimony in a case before the Surveyor General’s Office in 1877 identified the ridge as “situated between the Canon del Rio Colorado and the Rio del Cabresto commencing on the west at Pueblito….” The “little valleys” were identified by a witness as “…located above the laguna at the place I pointed out to you.”

The text of the documents for these grants is as follows (77):

His Honor Antonio Jose Ortiz, Constitutional Alcade of the First Vote:

And this illustrious corporation, we, citizens Antonio Elias Armenta, Jose Victor Sanches, and Jose Manuel Sanches, with the greatest submission and respect, and in due form, personally appear before your excellency, praying for a tract of land in grant for our livestock; it being the place of the Cañon del Rio Colorado, which is considered pasture land, although very few animals enter the ground; but no injury as from a third party being occasioned us, which we state to you, so that you together, and as guardians of the public welfare, may grant this our petition, if proper, binding us not to admit any person not being proper as residents; and said application is from the mouth of the Cañon to the source of the river, and on the north, what forms the ridge to the Rito del Cabresto, provided our junta and its president think expedient and our application being legal; we declare this is not in dissimulation, and as necessary; and we are
Antonio Elias Armenta
Jose Victor Sanches
Jose Manual Sanches
This 12th of June 1836

In assertion of this day the foregoing petition was received, and being put to discussion before this respectable ayuntamiento, it was decided to make to the parties the grant applied for with the indispensable condition that they must confine themselves to the mouth of the canon they mention to the lake, and the first little valleys to said lake on the east, as they state in their application. Thus the illustrious corporation decreed, commanded, and signed this day of June 23rd, 1836.
Antonio Jose Ortiz
Santiago Martinez
Juan Antonio Lobato, Secretary

The Posecion document was signed only by three settlers so it is not clear how many people settled this land. (Further information in the section “Petitions to Validate the Canon del Rio Colorado Land Grant,” describing the court cases to validate this land grant.)

Map of the Canon del Rio Colorado grant filed with the Surveyor General’s office. The land was described as being about 1 mile east of the town of Rio Colorado and the bounds were
described as: East boundary 19 miles from North to South, West boundary 8 miles from North to South; and extending from East to West about 20 miles. The area described contained approxi- mately 115,000 acres.
(New Mexico State Records Center and Archives.)

According to testimony given during the Private Land Claims Court case in 1897, Juan Antonio Laforet testified that his grandfather, Antonio Elias Armenta and the Sanches’ pastured their animals on the granted land. In 1836, Armenta lived in El Desmontes on the Arroyo Seco and did not move up to Rio Colorado until 1842. The Sanches’ lived on the Arroyo Seco in 1836 and in 1842 (78).

Notes

76. Cañon del Rio Colorado land grant, SANMI 22:447 SG 93, Surveyor General’s Office. New Mexico State Records Center and Archives, Santa Fe.

77–78. Cañon del Rio Colorado land grant, SANMI roll 49, case 166, Private Land Claims Court. NM State Records Center and Achives, Santa Fe.

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