In 1895 a woman from California named Sofia Peralta-Reavis leaped into the national spotlight when her husband, James Reavis, sued the federal government for confirmation of her title to the Peralta Land Grant, an enormous Spanish land grant in the territories of Arizona and New Mexico. At the highly publicized trial that followed, it came to light that the evidence Reavis had presented to the court to prove the existence of the Peralta Land Grant and his wife's title to it was forged. This essay uses the trial transcript to recover the woman at the center of the scandal, arguing that Sofia Peralta-Reavis's fraudulent embodiment of a wealthy Spanish baroness unmasks the fluidity and fragility of racial categories, gender, and authenticity in the late nineteenth-century borderlands.
- Land grants
- Latinx racial identity
- Nineteenth-century United States
- Southwest borderlands
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Literature and Literary Theory