Private Land Claim for the Petaca Grant in the Territory of New Mexico, 1875
To prove a claim, Mexican Americans had to provide documentation of the original land grant. The heirs of José Julian Martínez sought to establish rights to a New Mexico tract that a governor had granted Martínez in 1836. They submitted evidence supporting their claim to the surveyor general of New Mexico, who recommended that Congress confirm the grant.
Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration
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.