New Mexico Historical Notebook, March, 2012 (vol. 6, no. 3)

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March 2012
Volume VI, Issue III

The purpose of The New Mexico Historical Notebook is to provide readers with the most up-to-date information possible regarding the activities of New Mexico’s many historians, historical societies, museums and other groups interested in the state’s colorful and complex past. The publication will provide calendars of events, essays and monographs, book reviews, bibliographies, and interviews. It is revised and issued during the first week of each month. Submissions and comments from readers are encouraged. If you would like to have your name removed from this e-mail list, simply contact me at and let me know. The New Mexico Historical Notebook is a service of the editor, the Historical Society of New Mexico and the Central New Mexico Corral of Westerners. All books considered in the Notebook are selected by the Editor and no endorsement by either of the above organizations is implied.


From Pig Roasts to Butch Cassidy, Territorial Spies and More

Outlaws, Rough Riders, classic restaurants and a possible spy will come to life at the 2012 New Mexico Statehood History Conference, May 3-5, in Santa Fe. Presented by the Historical Society of New Mexico and the New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors, this Centennial version of the Society’s annual conference includes a special treat: A daylong free symposium, open to the public, plus free admission to the History Museum on Thursday, May 3.

The conference, May 4 and 5 at the Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Center, is held in collaboration with the New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance, which is having its annual conference at La Posada that weekend. Details, including special hotel rates and how to register for all or part of the Statehood History Conference, are at the Historical Society’s web site:

“Whether you’re interested in the Centennial or New Mexico history in general, we’re gathering writers and historians you’ll enjoy meeting and whose research is sure to enlighten you,” said Mike Stevenson, president of the Historical Society. “Holding this year’s event in the capital city, where lawmakers worked so hard to move the Territory toward statehood, means we’ll be surrounded by history indoors at the sessions and outdoors strolling the streets of Santa Fe.”

The symposium’s keynote address, "New Mexico Statehood, An Earlier Perception," will be given by Dr. Robert W. Larson, author of the authoritative and classic New Mexico's Quest for Statehood, 1846-1912. Other speakers include Dr. David Van Holtby, "New Mexico's Rough Road to Statehood," Robert Torrez, "Law and Order and the Quest for New Mexico Statehood," and Henrietta Martinez Christmas, "New Mexico's Icons." Dr. Richard Melzer will introduce and moderate the symposium. (Seating in the museum’s auditorium is limited; first-come first-served.)

The statehood theme continues May 4 and 5 at the Society’s conference, with topics ranging from traditional foods in Native American communities, land-grant studies, Western characters like Kit Carson and Wyatt Earp, and controversial New Mexico politicos such as Thomas Benton Catron, Bronson Cutting, and New Mexico’s first Territorial Governor (and possible U.S. spy) James S. Calhoun. The conference’s 24 sessions and nearly 70 presentations include:

* “Juan Dominguez de Mendoza: Soldier and Frontiersman of 17th - Century New Mexico,” by historians Marc Simmons and José Antonio
* “The Changing Character of New Mexico Statehood as Reflected by
the Santa Fe Fiesta Celebration,” by Andrew Lovato, assistant professor of speech communications at Santa Fe Community College.
* “Butch Cassidy in New Mexico: His Winning Ways, Dancing Feet, and
Postmortem Return,” by free-lance writer Nancy Coggeshall.
* “U.S. Army Nurses at Fort Bayard,” by Cecilia Jensen Bell, a researcher with the Fort Bayard Historical Preservation Society.
* “La Matanza: Conserving Identity through Food in Los Lunas,” by Daniel Valverde, an anthropology student at New Mexico State University.

“The research that these scholars have accomplished is truly impressive,” said Dr. Frances Levine, director of the New Mexico History museum. “Visitors can start their weekend history immersion by seeing the maps, paintings, photographs and artifacts that we use in our main exhibit, Telling New Mexico: Stories from Then and Now. If you’re not already a fan of history, the symposium and conference will make you one.”

Founded in 1859, the Historical Society of New Mexico is the oldest historical society in the West. Its collections were incorporated into the original Museum of New Mexico, created in 1909 in the Palace of the Governors, and today represent an important part of the New Mexico History Museum’s holdings. The society’s photographs, documents and books, collected from 1885 on, became the core of the museum’s Fray Angélico Chávez History Library and the Photo Archives at the Palace of the Governors. The Society began its annual conferences in 1974, and also publishes award-winning papers and news of history around the state in La Crónica de Nuevo México.

Society members who register for the conference by April 23 will get a specially discounted rate of $95, which includes the Thursday evening opening reception at the History Museum, lunch on Friday, and the Statehood Centennial Banquet on Friday evening at the Convention Center (a total value of $125). The closing Cinco de Mayo reception at the Governor's Mansion will feature the annual Historical Society of New Mexico Awards presentations.

The conference includes a silent auction as well as a book auction. Items will include artwork, jewelry, historical maps, rare books, and statehood memorabilia. If you’d like to donate an item, e-mail Mike Stevenson at


But one announcement is in order: The third, and final, volume in the series, Sunshine and Shadows In New Mexico’s Past, has been published and will soon be available. It is the largest volume in the trilogy. It features 31 items by numerous significant New Mexico historians covering historical topics relating to events after statehood in 1912. The book is sponsored by the Historical Society of New Mexico, and Editor Richard Melzer, a former Society president and current Board members, has done an outstanding job of collecting and collating the items. It is available from


APRIL 14, 2012

Moriarty Civic Center, 202 S. Broadway, Moriarty, NM 87035
Booth Space: FREE
Continental breakfast provided
Lunch available on-site
(Proceeds to benefit the Read “Write” Adult Literacy Program)

This is a literacy awareness and fundraising event. We ask that each author/vendor donate a percentage of their sales to the Read “Write” Adult Literacy Program. The percentage donated is totally up to the discretion of the author. We have had up to 35 authors participate in the past. Due to limited space, we ask our authors to share a table with a fellow author. Volunteers will be available to help cover your booth if you need to step out for awhile or if you need to leave early. If you have any special accommodation requests, please let us know. We hope that as authors, you will be able to support our efforts to improve adult literacy one person at a time. Please feel free to share this information with others you feel might be interested in attending. Please RSVP by March 30, 2012. You may contact us at 505-832-2513 or

Cyndi Waite
Tina J. Cates-Ortega
Moriarty Community Library Read “Write” Adult Literacy Program

They Wove for Horses: Diné Saddle Blankets opens at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture on March 25, 2012 (on long-term view). The exhibition highlights both the textile-weaving proficiency of Diné weavers who produced complex saddle blankets for all occasions and the design skills of Diné silversmiths who created dazzling headstalls of silver and turquoise.

The saddle blankets on exhibit date from 1860 to 2002 and are arranged by weaving methods: tapestry weave; two-faced double weave; and twill weaves of diagonal, diamond, and herringbone patterns. By using a variety of warp and weft yarns-natural wool, cotton, angora mohair, unraveled bayeta, and Germantown-weavers added individuality to the everyday and fanciful tapestries they created for horses.

Horse trappings on exhibit reveal the great pride that Diné horsemen took in their horses and how they adorned them for ceremonial and social events. The Diné first learned how to manufacture saddles and bridles from neighboring cultures and their proficiency quickly surpassed that of their mentors. That devotion resonates still, as the horse remains a viable living force in Diné life today.

Before the arrival of the horse, foot travel was a constant challenge for the Diné and other tribes in the vast Southwest. When horses were introduced to the region by Spaniards, in the sixteenth or early seventeenth century, the lifestyle and culture of the Diné dramatically changed. Horses provided mobility and increased opportunities for hunting, trade, raiding, and advancement.

When Spanish colonizers retreated during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 they left behind thousands of Spanish-bred horses-primarily Spanish barbs-in the Rio Grande area. The Diné and other tribes increased their herds and, for men, owning horses meant added prestige, as well as an important means to better provide for and defend families or extended clan families.
The Diné honor the horse in traditional stories, songs, and ceremonies. And, the heritage of horsemanship continues to thrive on the reservation, alongside more recent interests, such as cowboying and rodeo. Today, the fruits of early innovations in the artistry of trappings, from bridles to blankets, are the very foundation of many Diné artists' livelihood.

Location: The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture is located on Museum Hill T, Camino Lejo off Old Santa Fe Trail. Information: 505-476-1250 or visit


As time passes, interest in Manhattan Project history grows. With the United States Congress nearing a time of discussion and a vote on the creation of a Manhattan Project National Historical Park, the events of 1943–1945 in Los Alamos and the people who developed the bombs that ended World War II begin to take their true place not only in U.S. history but that of the world. Awareness of the place and of the unique group of people, whose average age was only 25, is increased each time historic photos are shared and remaining veterans tell their stories. Authors Sharon Snyder and Toni Michnovicz Gibson present the story of Project Y with personal connections, on this occasion featuring a question and answer session with Manhattan Project veteran Mary Lou Michnovicz.

April 15, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
National Museum of Nuclear Science and History
601 Eubank Blvd.
(505) 245-2137 for further information.

June 27-30 2012

The World History Association invites proposals from scholars and teachers around the world for panels (up to three panelists, one chair, and one discussant). Single papers, and roundtables (four to five participants) on topics related to the scholarly and/or pedagogical aspects of the conference themes: “Frontiers and Borders in World History” and “Indigenous Peoples in World History.” The Program Committee encourages mixed panels of K-12 teachers, university professors, and independent scholars in which cutting-edge scholarship is presented and then discussed in terms of how it might be introduced into the classroom. Moreover, panels devoted to research in progress and sessions dealing with current scholarship of “big issues” in world history and how these issues might be to the classroom are also sought. The committee also invites proposals for sessions in which all papers and commentary have been posted on the WHA website in advance and the entire session is devoted to open discussion of the issues raised.

Deadline for proposals is April 15, 2012. Paper and panel submissions must be accompanied by conference registration. (All panel members must be registered for the conference at the time the proposal is submitted.) Visit for further

Exhibit Opens Saturday, March 24th, 2012 – September 30th, 2012

The Museum of Spanish Colonial Art and Bandelier National Monument present an exhibit showcasing the work of CCC-trained craftsmen, including furniture, furnishings, and decorative tin. From 1933-1940, CCC workers at Bandelier National Monument built and furnished 31 buildings. The furniture and tinwork created for these buildings illustrate an extraordinary combination of traditional and early 20th century design and demonstrate the expertise of the craftsmen. Some 24 pieces of furniture and 15 pieces of decorative tin are exhibited along with photos of CCC woodworkers, measured drawings of the pieces, and the names of many of those who were enrollees at the Bandelier camp.

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed Emergency conservation Work legislation to put the many unemployed of the country to work. Thousands of New Mexicans, destitute from the Depression and a historically cash-poor economy, were able to take advantage of this program, later known as the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), owing to New Mexico’s recent Statehood. Not only was the training given the many young men in CCC camps life-altering, but the Federal government helped to validate the traditional arts by incorporating them into its programs. These Federal programs served to sustain and revitalize the traditional arts of Hispano New Mexico, and their legacy is still apparent today.

A series of programs is planned for the duration of the project. The first is a lecture by Dr. Richard Melzer, UNM Valencia, entitled “The Civilian Conservation Corps in New Mexico, 1932-1942″, Saturday, March 31st, 2012, 2:00 PM.

Programs for the exhibition, including tours, a lecture series and symposium, are funded in part by a grant from the New Mexico Humanities Council. Please check our web site for future programs: www.spanishcolonial.orgEVENTS

New Mexico Farm And Ranch Museum
March 17-18, 2012

The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum's 13th Cowboy
Days festival will have the luck of the Irish. Cowboy Days, the
museum's annual tribute to New Mexico's ranching heritage, begins on
St. Patrick's Day, March 17, and continues on Sunday, March 18. The
event is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days and admission is $4 per
person. Children 4 and under are admitted free.
The festival also will have a centennial flavor this year
as New Mexico celebrates 100 years as a state. A living history
performance, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. each day, is called "Time Travel to
1912: A New Mexico Statehood Celebration" where visitors can interact
with characters from that era as they celebrate statehood, debate
issues of the day, deliver soapbox speeches, play games and introduce
you to life in 1912.
A centennial scavenger hunt also will take place, with
finishers eligible for prizes. Junior Cowpoke Training returns for the
second straight year and children who go through a series of fun
activities and games are eligible for a certificate. Pony rides,
featuring the museum's new ponies, will be offered, and there also
will be horseback rides in the pasture and stagecoach rides around the
parking lot.
Some of the top ropers in the area will compete at the
museum's roping arena both days, and the charros from Vado, N.M.,
return to do Mexican-style rodeo demonstrations at 3:30 p.m. each day.
Demonstrations are a popular element in all of the museum's
special events. Attendees may enjoy blacksmithing, horseshoeing,
roping, sewing, weaving, dowsing, and chuck wagon cooking. On Sunday
only, Pat Howard and his working dogs will demonstrate herding.
Live music will be ongoing at three different venues, and performers
such as Hot Lead, Eddie Harrison, Chris Freeh, Kenny Arroyos, James
Michael, Yolanda Martinez, Skunk Valley, Jim Jones, and Randy Granger
will be among the entertainers. Authors from the Western Writers of
America will do readings in the museum's theater, and cowboy poet Bob
Neely, and author Slim Randles also will entertain.
The popular gunfight re-enactments will take place twice
both days, and there also will be an old-fashioned medicine show, and
a 19th Century Fashion Show.
A variety of arts and crafts vendors will have booths throughout the
museum campus, and there also will be plenty of food.
Also during the event, the museum will host a plant and
tree sale at its greenhouse. Admission is required for the sale.
For more information, visit or call the museum
at (575) 522-4100, or Helping Hands Event Planning at (575) 527-1232.


Enchantment: Commemorating the Centennial of New Mexico Statehood. The
exhibit is an eclectic look at the last 100 years of New Mexico
through historical photographs and artifacts. The exhibit includes
depictions of the state's important events and characters since 1912,
and features the state's largest collection of statehood celebration
memorabilia of past events (40th, 50th, 60th and 75th). The exhibit
also features 100 years of New Mexico license plates, and rare flags
of the first years after statehood. The exhibit will be in the
Museum’s Legacy and Traditions galleries through Sept. 16, 2012. For
more information, please call (575) 522-4100 or go to


exhibition of North American Indian baskets. The exhibition runs
through May 1, 2014. Of the 241 baskets in the exhibition, only 45
have been attributed to individual artists. Woven Identities honors
those weavers and the many others whose names we do not yet know.
Admission to the opening is free to New Mexico residents with ID on
Sundays; all others $9. Under 18 always free. For more information
about the opening the public may call 505-476-1269.


This exhibition at the Albuquerque Museum features prints
made from a collection of glass plate negatives by the Cobb family of
photographers that was recently acquired by the Museum.
The collection, found in its original custom crates and
individual glass plate boxes dating from the late 1800s, was
originally discovered in the 1960s in an Albuquerque Bekins storage
unit. The collection was purchased with funding provided by individual
donors in memory of Edith Kubie, Katy Lou McIntosh Ely, Carolyn Leach,
Sarah Shortle Blue, Millie Santillanes, Vernon D. Robertson, Sally
Stockman, and Jane Williams.

This will be the first time in Albuquerque’s history that
images from this collection will be made available to the public.
Approximately 80 photographs will be on display along with original
packaging and more than 800 digital images of the collection. Many of
these individuals were citizens of Albuquerque when New Mexico became
a state in 1912. For additional information call Deb Slaney, Curator
of History, 505-764-6514. This exhibition will reopen at Albuquerque
International Sunport on April 7 and run through early June 2012.

February 19 – April 16, 2012
Reception: Sunday, March 25, 2012, 1:00 p.m.

Major Trevanion T. Teel and the Civil War in Albuquerque

Trevanion Theodore Teel was born in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania in 1824. He served during the US-Mexican War at the age
of 19 years, where he was wounded at the Battle of Buena Vista. After
the war, the Teel family moved to Texas where Trevanion received his
license to practice law.
Teel became an artillery officer in the Confederate force
under Lt. Col. John Baylor, which moved from Ft. Bliss in July, 1861
to occupy New Mexico. For his gallant service at the Battle of
Valverde, Teel was field promoted to Major and put in charge of all
four batteries of artillery in the Sibley Brigade. After the Battle of
Glorieta near Santa Fe and during the Confederate retreat from New
Mexico, Teel’s oversaw the burial of eight mountain howitzers in
Albuquerque’s Old Town Plaza.
This exhibition details Major Trevanion Teel’s experience
in Albuquerque, and tells the story of his subsequent encounter with
“Poet Scout” Captain Jack Crawford and their plan to recover the eight
howitzers. Two of them are on exhibit at The Albuquerque Museum, along
with portraits and accoutrements from the Teel Family Archives.
Curator of History Deb Slaney notes, “This exhibition is a great way
to honor the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in New Mexico, which
coincides with our Centennial year.”
A punch-and-cookies public reception will be held on March
25 at 1:00 in the Museum lobby with descendants of the Teel and
Crawford families, and Union and Confederate re-enactors, in


THE FLOOD SEASON: How Silver City's Main Street Became the Big Ditch


JOURNEY TO ENCHANTMENT: Celebrating New Mexico's Statehood

LINES IN THE SAND: Maps of Territorial New Mexico

TALES, TRAILS & HISTORIAS: Reflections of a Territory


March 8, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. (Thursday). The New Mexico Farm & Ranch
Museum celebrates the 175th anniversary of John Deere with an exhibit
featuring restored tractors from 1929 to 1952 and other equipment.
Much of the exhibit is from the collection of Norman Ruebush of Silver
City. The reception begins at 5:30 p.m., and a lecture will follow in
the museum's theater at 7:00 p.m. Admission to the reception is free
and a donation of at least $2 is suggested for the lecture. For
further information call 575-522-4100.

March 11, 2012, 2:00 p.m. Sunday. The Albuquerque, Corrales, and
Sandoval County Historical Societies in celebration of New Mexico’s
Statehood Centennial, will present Speaker Stephanie Zuni,
administrator of the Cultural Affairs Office at Isleta Pueblo, who
will speak on “The Effect of New Mexico Statehood on Isleta Pueblo.”
Presentation will be made at Albuquerque Museum, 19th and Mountain Rd.
NW in Old Town (NOT at the Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales.) Event
is free and open to the public. No reservations required. Call
505-243-7255 if you require further assistance.

March 15, 5:30 (Thursday). The Central New Mexico Corral of Westerners
will hold its monthly meeting at the MGM Elegante hotel (Menaul near
University) in Albuquerque. Featured speaker for March will be Dennis
Herrick who will talk about the ancient pueblo of Ghufoor (Santiago
Pueblo) where Coronado spent the winters of 1540 and 1541. Dennis was
the 2004 winner of the Tony Hillerman Mystery Short Story Contest, and
the 2010 Society of Southwestern Author’s Writing Contest. He is a
former newsman and publisher, and an emeritus member of the UNM
journalism faculty. Dinner cost is $15.00 and reservations are
required. Call Gloria Bullis at 892-1977 before Monday March 12.

March 17-18, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Saturday & Sunday) The New Mexico Farm
& Ranch Museum's largest annual event pays tribute to New Mexico's
ranching traditions, and includes many demonstrations, a team roping
competition, living history, cowboy music, gunfight re-enactments,
stagecoach & pony rides, scavenger hunt with prizes, children's
activities, arts and crafts vendors, and lots of great food. A plant
and tree sale at the museum's greenhouse also is part of the weekend
festivities. Admission is $4 per person. For further information call

March 18, 1:00- 3:00 (Sunday) Nasario García will discuss and sign
copies of his children's book, Grandpa Lolo's Navajo Saddle Blanket:
La tilma de abuelito Lolo at Treasure House Books, Old Town Plaza in
Albuquerque (south side across from the San Felipe de Neri church).

March 24, 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Saturday) New Mexico Farm & Ranch
Museum. Basic Dowsing Class. Learn the basics of dowsing (questing,
divining, water witching), how to use the four basic dowsing tools,
and the benefits associated with dowsing. The cost is $15 per person
($12 for museum Friends members), and dowsing tools will be available.
Pre-registration is required. For further information call

March 25, 12:00-1:00 p.m. (Sunday) Nasario García will discuss and
sign copies of his children's book, Grandpa Lolo's Navajo Saddle
Blanket: La tilma de abuelito Lolo at The Museum of Indian Arts and
Culture on Museum Hill in Santa Fe.

March 31, 12:00-1:00 p.m. (Saturday) Alamosa Books, 12-1 on. Nasario
García will discuss and sign copies of his children's book, Grandpa
Lolo's Navajo Saddle Blanket: La tilma de abuelito Lolo Alamosa Books
is located at 8810 Holly Ave. NE, Suite. D in the Northeast Heights of
Albuquerque (797-7101).


April 12-14, Thursday to Saturday, 2012 Southwest Oral History
Association Annual Conference, Albuquerque, Old Town Hotel. For
registration information, go to Local contact
is Rose Diaz, Program Chair

April 13-14 Friday & Saturday. Albuquerque Family History Expo.
Speakers include Bennett Greenspan, Angel Cervantes, Henrietta
Christmas, Nancy Anderson, John Pena, Robert J. C. Baca, and many
others. For more information go to



A native of Fort Dodge, Iowa, and tubercular as a youth, Holm Bursum
(1867-1953) arrived in New Mexico at age 14 in 1881. He engaged in
ranching near Socorro while he held several public offices including
county sheriff from 1895 to 1898 and warden of the territorial
penitentiary in the early 1900s. A Republican, he was a member of the
state constitutional convention in 1910, and he ran for governor in
1911 only to be defeated by a coalition of Democrats and “Progressive”
Republicans led by former territorial governor Herbert J. Hagerman. In
early 1921, when Albert B. Fall resigned his seat in the United States
Senate to accept appointment as Secretary of the Interior, Governor
Merritt C. Mechem appointed Bursum to the seat. In a special election
held the same year, Bursum was elected to the seat. Democrat Sam
Bratton defeated him when he ran for a full term in 1924. He died at
Colorado Springs and was interred at the Protestant Cemetery at

Excerpted from New Mexico Historical Biographies by Don Bullis. The
book is available from


(A genealogical and historic sketch submitted by George C De Baca)

Francisco Tomas Cabeza de Baca was born in 1809 to Juan
Antonio Cabeza de Baca and María Josefa Gallegos y Chávez in Peña
Blanca, NM. He was married four times; legitimately – as he claims in
his will. His first marriage was to Maria Isabel Ortiz and when she
passed away he married her sister Maria Manuela Ortiz. Next he married
Maria Ruperta Gallegos who was the widow of Ricardo Lucero from whom
she had one child, Leonor, who Francisco adopted. Francisco and
Ruperta had one child, Jose Andres. After Ruperta passed away he
married Maria Gertrudes Lucero. This marriage produced eight children.
Besides being a rancher in Peña Blanca he was also involved
in politics during the time when New Mexico became a part of the
United States. In 1849 he was elected to the convention which was to
consider the issue of civil government and to prepare the constitution
which would serve as the basis for the newly established territory of
New Mexico. In 1850 he was nominated to run for governor of New Mexico
Territory, which at that time consisted of what are now the states of
New Mexico, Arizona and part of Colorado. He wasn’t elected but in
1916 his nephew, Ezequiel Cabeza de Baca, would become the second
governor of the new state of New Mexico.


By Craig Springer

To see the old photos, you can tell that Kingston was a busy place for
a time. But that time didn’t last.
Set on the east flank of the Black Range in western Sierra
County, Kingston is today a relic of the distant past. On some maps,
it is a ghost town. But everyone living there is alive--engaged in
business, creating art, active in retirement. It’s an old mining town
at the head of the Middle Percha Creek. From a distance, the Black
Range looks the part of a long purple armada. The 10,000-foot
Hillsboro Peak stands like a silent sentinel above. Vision through the
gray distant haze over steep folded mountainsides becomes clearer as
you get closer. And so it is with the myth of Kingston being New
Mexico’s largest territorial town.
Kingston had its start with the discovery of silver. In the
early 1880s, prospectors from nearby Hillsboro, Lake Valley, and
Georgetown worked under the continual threat of Apache depredations as
they scratched dirt for signs of precious metal. Like most of the
Black Range, the surface is more rock than soil. It’s the rock that
drew attention; it was rich with silver ore. In October 1882, James
Porter Parker, a civil engineer and former Confederate Lt. Colonel and
General George Custer’s roommate at West Point platted a town site.
The portly fellow became Sierra County’s first Assessor two years

Kingston was to get bigger. A Methodist minister in January
1888 reported on the progress of a stone church to serve Kingston’s
1,000 residents. There was work to do: “If I could take the reader
along the main street on our way to a school-house for evening
service, he would see the typical mining town in all its
The minister lamented the gambling, smoking, drinking and a woman
singing in soprano at the back of a hall.
The town grew bigger yet -- but only in myth. In travel
guides, state tourism office promotions, and academic writings by
professional historians, you will see a phrase repeated so often that
a myth has turned to “memory,” that Kingston once exceeded 7,000
residents and was the largest town in New
It’s even on Forest Service signs. Seven thousand is about as big as
Truth or Consequences is today. And it’s a bogus number, usually
attended by an equally bogus count of the number of newspapers that
kept shop in town: three.
One is led to think that three publications competed for
readers and advertisers. Actually, 10 newspapers published in Kingston
from 1883-1893, but all were very short-lived titles except the Weekly
From April 1885 to March 1886 during Kingston's supposed prime the
town lacked a newspaper. The Mines of Kingston, a March 1883
prospectus on the then five-month-old town of Kingston, was published
by the weekly Tribune.
Editor and publisher Charles W. Greene would pull up stakes and move
the newspaper to Deming by Kingston's first birthday.
The 1890 census counted 1,449 people in Kingston; 3,785 lived in
Albuquerque--more than all of Sierra County’s 1890
A Territorial Bureau of Immigration publication printed in 1894
reported on the condition and prospects of the territory stating that,
“The town itself is well situated, has a public water service,
churches and schools, two good hotels, and a pushing, go-ahead
population of about 1,000
Those prospects may had already changed by the time the Bureau
publication hit the streets. The economic Panic of 1893 and with
silver prices going south, Kingston was all but
How such a myth got started is a bit of a mystery. The earliest
writing on an inflated town size, a purported 5,000 people, that I
found was in Log of a Timber
published 22 years after Kingston was abandoned.
Then, in August 1936, WPA writer Clay Vaden interviewed
Sadie Orchard in Hillsboro. Orchard told Vaden that Kingston thronged
with 5,000 residents in 1886. You can read what Vaden documented from
Orchard in the Library of Congress
holdings. That same year Sierra County pioneer, James McKenna
published Black Range Tales and upped the Kingston population by 2,000. And so it’s become gospel since, that Kingston was New Mexico’s largest town. The entire population of Sierra County didn’t reach 7,000 until 1950, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Craig Springer and his wife Felicia own the historic George T. and
Ninette Stocker Miller home in Hillsboro. He's a professional
writer in Santa Fe County.

­Don Bullis, Editor

Tomas Jaehn, Fray Angélico Chávez History Library
New Mexico History Museum
P.O. Box 2087 – Santa Fe, NM 87504 U.S.A.
+(505) 476.5053 –