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Spanish Land Grants

Learn about the Spanish settlers who came to the area in the 1700s.

h2>Spanish Land Grants

Map of towns and key historical sites around SMNHCAs the Spanish population grew, the raids by the Apaches, known as the Faraones band, become more of a problem and finally, in 1763, Governor Tomás Vélez Cachupin approved a land grant for 19 families in Tijeras Canyon hoping to provide a buffer between the raiders and the valley settlements. In the grant, called San Miguel de Laredo, the settlers built a small village near present day Carnuel, about five miles southwest of the present day Center site. They cultivated wheat, corn, beans, chile, and tobacco; however crop yields were low due to a lack of reliable water and poor soil.

Indians routinely raided the village and preyed on the villagers when they hunted in the surrounding area, leading the Alcalde (the Mayor) of Albuquerque to declare a moratorium on hunting. Starvation set in and some villagers were caught rustling cattle from nearby Albuquerque ranches to survive. In October of 1770, an attack on the village by an unknown Apache band forced the settlers to flee to Albuquerque. Then Governor, Pedro Fermin de Mendinueta ordered them to return in the spring, but an effort to retake the village in April 1771 was unsuccessful, and the land grant was formally abandoned and dissolved. After dissolution of the grant, the villagers were ordered to return to raze the village they had built only eight years before. This grant may have included the Center property, but because the grant did not survive, its boundaries were never firmly established.

A second land grant was established in 1819 by Governor Facundo Melgares. This new land grant, called Cañon de Carnue consisted of two villages; San Miguel de Carnue, located in Tijeras Canyon and San Antonio de Padua, which was built at the site of the abandoned San Antonio Pueblo. This grant clearly included the Center property: the northern boundary was set at “El Bardo,” the highest ridge crossed by present day Highway 14 at Ridge Drive; the western boundary was the top of the Sandias. The two villages initially struggled: Indian attacks continued and harvests were poor: of the 22 original settlers, 15 had left by 1820. Those who remained planted orchards of apple, peach, plum and apricot trees; they relied on grazing livestock, particularly goats and sheep. Archeological evidence indicates that hunting provided a steady diet of rabbit and turkey, supplemented by the occasional foray to the plains for bison.

This page was last updated on: February 17, 2022.