The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 40, July 1936 - April, 1937 Page: 69
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Mexican Land Grants in the Ark;ansas Valley
ington. Both parties evinced satisfaction with this adjustment."
Hardly was this controversy out of the way when the deplorable
West Las Animas "land grab" was discovered. Settlers on this
portion (lower Purgatoire Valley) of the Vigil-St. Vrain grant had
made repeated application to the Pueblo Land Office to file pre-
emption claims; but they had been "turned away with the state-
ment that the land was reserved under derivative claim from one
Hughes."9 These refusals were continued until the fall of 1873.
Meanwhile patents were issued from the General Land Office to
persons who were unknown in the county (Bent) in which the
claims were located. These fictitious claimants were represented as
having made warranty deeds to David Moffat, Jr., to seven quarter-
sections (including the West Las Animas townsite) and to 4,271
acres of adjoining land. Moffat's agent came to Bent County at
night to have the deeds recorded, in order not to disclose his
identity to the public. In defense of their rights, more than four
score of the pioneer citizens of Bent County signed a petition,
asserting fraudulent entry with the connivance of one or more
federal officials (presumably in the Pueblo Land Office) and asking
"that Congress investigate the matters complained of; that these
patents be declared fraudulent and that they be set aside; that the
rights of settlers and other claimants be protected as though said
patents had never been issued, and that the guilty officials, if any
there be, be publicly disclosed." 3
If this petition reached Congress, it did not bear fruit immedi-
ately; however, the fraudulent titles were canceled in 1884, when
the Supreme Court rendered the final decision in the case."1 This
controversy over land titles supplies further evidence of the extent
to which settlers were invading the Vigil-St. Vrain grant; and
"2Las Animas Leader, September 20, 1873, p. 2, and September 27, 1873,
D"Las Animas Leader, November 29, 1873, p. 2. This issue of the Leader,
whose editor and publisher, C. W. Bowman, may be credited with an
unusual degree of accuracy and reliability, presents a detailed account
of the West Las Animas "land grab" down to the date of issue.
80The text of this petition, together with the names of the more than
eighty signers, is to be found in the Las Animas Leader of November 29,
1873, p. 2.
"United States Reports, CXII, 24 (Banks edition); Letter "G" of the
Commissioner of the General Land Office to the Register and Receiver of
the Pueblo Land Office, February 27, 1885; Records of the Pueblo Land
Office, Tract File, Range 52 West, Township 23 South (canceled claims).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 40, July 1936 - April, 1937, periodical, 1937; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101099/m1/77/: accessed July 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.