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Plat of the Petaca Grant in the Territory of Mew Mexico, 1878

Maps and plats were important records used in land claims disputes. This plat shows the original boundaries of the property, known as the Petaca tract, granted to José Julian Martínez and others for farming in 1836. Landmarks such as Tio Ortiz hill on the north and Petaca creek on the east defined the original grant.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

Plat of the Petaca Grant in the Territory of Mew Mexico, 1878

Hispanic Land Claims

The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ending the U.S.-Mexican War expanded the United States to the Pacific Coast. It conferred U.S. citizenship on former Mexican nationals in the new territories, protecting their “property of every kind.” Yet many families who had received land decades or centuries earlier from Mexico or Spain found their ownership contested by new claimants. To settle disputes, Congress passed private acts and created a temporary Court of Private Land Claims (1891–1904), but many Mexican Americans lacked documents required to prove their claims.