The Alameda Floods
Alonzo's Water

Mr. McMillen's Alameda

The communal grazing lands of Alameda heirs and settlers morphed into modern day Rio Rancho primarily through the self-interested efforts of one prominent New Mexican lawyer named Alonzo B. McMillen.

Alonzo's grave
The story is detailed in a juicy 2008 paper in the Natural Resources Journal with the fabulous title: The Blighted History of the Alameda Land Grant: Montoya v. Unknown Heirs of Vigil (pdf).  The author, Kristopher N. Houghton, writes a thorough history with the major portion of the story devoted to legal shenanigans and unethical behavior that was not unusual or even considered unethical at the time.

The Alameda land was first granted to Francisco Montes Vigil by the Spanish government in 1710. He turned around and sold it two years later in the valley's first recorded real estate flip. While Vigil's actual connection to the grant remained dubious, a woman who claimed to be his heir filed for partition of the grant in 1906. She did so under the helpful guidance and stewardship of the attorney McMillen, who Houghton calls "a particularly sly member of the Santa Fe Ring," and who was undoubtedly aware of legislation that would soon outlaw what he intended.

In a move practiced by unscrupulous attorneys, including McMillen himself in Las Trampas, he filed for partition of the Alameda grant, notifying residents and heirs in four newspaper legal ads published in the summer of 1906.

Partition filing at the time meant that any single community member could request the court to divide up the grant lands - including division of the common lands. Because actual division was deemed impossible to do fairly, communal land was sold.  And in the case of Alameda, the majority of the grant lands were in communal ownership.

After resolution of the case and multiple appeals it was settled. Claimants got some land in the valley but over 75,000 acres of the communal holdings were sold. The amount was $15,000. After deductions of McMillen's fees and his payment, the amount divided beween the claimants was $8000. Houghton notes the receipts in a court file indicate most Alameda residents got about ten dollars each. Former communal lands of Alameda

McMillen's "San Mateo Land Company" bought the grant. He had also purchased a great deal of deeded land from claimants during the case, a practice that would get him disbarred today. He ended up with 75,000 acres. The land was sold and leased for ranching until AMREP bought much of it in 1961.


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)