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On December 7, 1845, the governor of New Mexico, Manuel Armijo, granted much of the land within the Baca grant to Antonio Sandoval, a provincial official who was owed a sizeable sum in back wages. No reference was made to the Spanish grant of a quarter century earlier. Estancia was included in the 350,000-acre tract.
Governor Armijo is better known for what he did less than a year later, during the Mexican War, which was to position his forces east of Santa Fe to oppose the impending arrival of General Stephen Watts Kearney and his Army of the West – and then think better of such an unfriendly gesture, dismiss his troops, and hightail it south to El Paso.
Was he unaware of the Baca grant, or had it been annulled? Or did he make the grant to quiet a disgruntled employee, knowing that war was brewing and others would have to deal with the consequences? The answer isn’t clear from the remaining public records of the time. What is clear is that he had just lit a slow-burning fuse that would eventually explode.