United States v. Wilson - 66 U.S. 267 (1861)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Wilson, 66 U.S. 1 Black 267 267 (1861)
United States v. Wilson
66 U.S. (1 Black) 267
1. A grant by Pio Pico, the last Mexican Governor of California, dated on the 10th of July, 1846, being after the conquest of the country, adds nothing to the strength or justice of a claim set up to the land by the grantee.
2. But it was the practice and usage of the Mexican government in California to set apart for the use of the Indians small lots of land appurtenant to the houses in which they lived around the missions.
3. Where a person claims a lot under such a distribution among the Indians of a mission, and shows that the grantee and his assigns have lived upon it for a long time, the title ought to be confirmed.
This was a claim for a tract of land lying near to the Mission of San Luis Obispo, containing 300,000 square varas, or about fifty acres of land, and called La Huerta de Romualdo. The claim was based on a grant to one Romualdo, an Indian, by Pio Pico dated on the 10th of July, 1846. But there was evidence to show that the grantee and those claiming under him had been in possession from a period long anterior to the date of the grant, and that he was put in possession by the legal authorities of the country agreeably to the customs and usages which prevailed concerning the distribution of lots at the missions among the Indians, or "children of the missions," as they are called by the Church. The special circumstances connected with the grant of this tract to the Indian Romualdo were detailed in the testimony of Bonilla, the alcalde of the district, who declared that he acted under the express order of the Governor Alvarado, that he placed the grantee in possession, and that he kept a record of his acts, which was lost.