Friday, February 9, 2018


With a population of less than 10,000 in the entire island most of the time in the 17 and 1800s, Guam had a lot of empty, unused land. Sometimes people just used idle land without knowing who was the owner. At times, after a long period of unchallenged and uninterrupted use, people formally claimed ownership of land based on prior usage alone - and got it! In the Spanish land documents, they said they acquired the land por mera ocupación - by merely occupying the land.

But one way many people marked out their land boundaries was by etching letters into the trunks of trees on the property.

A stone land marker was called a mohón, borrowed from the Spanish word mojón, meaning the same thing.

But many people found it easier to just take a chisel (so'so') and hammer (mattiyo), or whatever tools they had, and mark the trunks of trees with letters.

In this court document, someone seeking official recognition of his ownership uses ifil trees marked A and B to serve as mohón or land boundary markers.

They could then say that their land started at this tree marked A, then going east to tree marked B, then north to tree marked C, then going west to tree marked D and finally going south back to tree marked A.

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