I presented a paper that I wrote especially for the conference titled "Luis Maria Baca and the Socorro Land Grant Controversy". In the paper, I discussed the probability that a certain Luis Maria Baca of Lemitar forged Socorro grant papers in order to have the grant validated by the U.S. government. I looked into his possible motivation for why he would have forged the papers. Below is an excerpt from my presentation:
Luis Maria Baca certainly would be in a position to possess Governor Armijo’s documents. After marrying Ramona Armijo, the adopted daughter and heir of the governor, Luis himself took possession of Governor Armijo’s estate. It could be imagined that Luis had been sorting through the papers of the late governor when he came upon this important document. However, why did it take him so long to find it? He had been living in his father-in-law’s home for nearly a decade and a half.I intend to revise this paper for publication. The original presentation was 6 pages long, written for a 20 minute time limit. I want to include more information, as well as add citations. I will let the readers of my blog know when my paper is ready for publication and which journal has published it.
Luis Maria Baca and his three brothers moved to Lemitar in the early 1850s. Although he had the same surname as many of the original settlers of Socorro, it does not appear that he was closely related to any of them. Many of the Socorro families came from the Belen area, while Luis’ family was from Peña Blanca. He possibly did not know any of the families before coming to Socorro area.
Luis Maria Baca and his brothers were the grandsons and heirs to Luis Maria Cabeza de Baca of Peña Blanca. Luis’ grandfather and namesake had once been given a half a million acre Spanish land grant in Northern New Mexico, but had abandoned the property due to Indian attacks. His heirs, who included scores of children and grandchildren, petitioned the United States government for land. The heirs received five 100,000 acre parcels of land that were spread through the territories and states of New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado. It does not appear the Baca brothers of Lemitar received any of this land.
I was not able to go to many of the presentations, as I had arrived at 11 AM on Friday morning, and left 24 hours later. However, I was able to see the other two presenters who spoke about land grants, genealogist Henrietta Martinez Christmas and the state historian Dr. Rick Hendricks, and I also saw a presentation by Andres Armijo, the author of "Becoming a Part of My History". I also attended the awards banquet that night.
As I usually do, I purchased a few books. I bought the part II of "Sunshine and Shadows in New Mexico's Past: The Territorial Period". Nearly a year ago I purchased the Part II, which dealt with the Spanish Colonial and Mexican Periods. Both books were published by the Historical Socity of New Mexican and Rio Grande Books.
I also found two books that I've been looking for for a while. The first "The California Column of New Mexico" by Darlis Miller is about the 2,000 plus soldiers from California that arrived in New Mexico during the Civil War,and the 300 plus who stayed, married, had families and contributed to the culture and history of New Mexico. The second book is "The Territorial History of Socorro, New Mexico" by Bruce Ashcroft. This book is one of the few histories of my hometown.
I hope to attend the next New Mexico History Conference in 2012, which is to be in Santa Fe. That one will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of New Mexico as a state.