Friday, February 15th, 2008

130th Anniversary of Incorporation

Today appears to be the 130th anniversary of the incorporation of the town of Mesilla. Yet there is no celebration, no mention by the village government.

Perhaps this is explained by the fact the no one appears to know the correct date of . The history of Mesilla on the official gives 1861 as the year of incorporation. Other dates are given by other sites.

I present here evidence of the official incorporation of Mesilla that appears to be definitive. This is the text of the official Act of the Territory of New Mexico that incorporates the Town of Mesilla, as printed in the Mesilla Valley Independent newspaper, dated May 4, 1878. The Act is given as passed by the Territorial Legislature on February 15, 1878. That makes today the 130th anniversary of that act.

If anyone knows differently, please post it as a comment.

An Act to Incorporate “The Incorporation of Mesilla”

Be it enacted by the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of New Mexico:

SECTION 1. All owners and holders of real estate situated within the limits of Mesilla Grant in Dona Ana county who are actual residents within said limits, be, and they are hereby created a body politic and corporate under the name and style of the Incorporation of Mesilla and by that name may sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded; may hold real estate and have a common seal.

SEC. 2. That the officers of said incorporation shall consist of three commissioners each one of whom shall be a qualified voter under this act. Said commissioners shall have authority to take control of all real estate held in common by said Incorporation, and shall make such rules for the government of the same as they may deem just and proper, and shall have the power to lease or rent, and with the consent of two thirds of the voters under this act to convey and dispose of such real estate, and to make deeds of conveyance therefore.

Sec. 3. The said commissioners shall be elected at an election to be held on the first Monday of January of each year. Each owner and holder of real estate within the limits of said incorporation who is an actual resident therein shall be entitled to one vote for each terreno of land he may own or hold within said limits, and one vote for each separate portion of terreno; the three persons receiving the highest number of votes cast shall be declared elected, and shall respectively hold office for one year, and until their successors are elected and qualified. The commissioners elect shall take the same oath that is required by justices of the peace.

SEC. 4. The commissioners shall elect one of their number as President, one as Secretary, and one as Treasurer. The President shall call meetings of the board whenever the business of the incorporation shall require, or whenever petitioned to do so by twenty qualified voters. Whenever the said commissioners shall deem it necessary or proper to sell or lease any real estate, belonging in common to said corporation they shall call a meeting of all the members of said corporation, by giving five days public notice of the same, and shall present the project fully to the meeting who shall take a vote theron, and if two thirds of the votes cast are in favor of the project, then the said commissioners shall have full power to sell or lease the lands voted on, and in case of an absolute sale, the signature of the president of said commissioners, attested by the signatures of the secretary and the seal of the incorporation, shall be sufficient to convey all the title of the said corporation to said land.

SEC. 5. That until the first election under this act, the Governor shall appoint three commissioners, who shall have all the powers that are by this act granted to commissioners elected under its provisions.

SEC 6. This act shall be in force and effect from and effect from and after its passage and approval.

Approved Feb’y 15th, 1878

Quoted in the Mesilla Valley Independent, May 4, 1878.

Not surprisingly, only land owners could vote. They received one vote for each “terreno” and each portion of a torreno, so, obviously, one person could have multiple votes.

But what is a “terreno?” I haven’t found any definition on the internet or elsewhere. It appears to mean “a block of land,” of any size.

The measurement unit used by all the property deeds in Mesilla, which derives from the original Mexican land grant, is the “Spanish .” One vara as used in Mesilla is equal to 32.9927 inches, according to The History of La Mesilla and Her Mesilleros by Lionel Cajen Frietze.

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