John Jelfs Colfax County, New Mexico

John Jelfs, vice-president of the First National Bank of Raton, and one of the founders of the town, was born near London, England, August 8, 1836. Immigrating to the United States in 1872, he was employed by the Iowa Central Railroad Company until 1880, at which time he removed to New Mexico. Later he came to Raton, then a small railroad camp, and here he became foreman of the shops then being constructed by the Santa Fe Railroad Company. When he reached Raton he found but three other people at this place, all of whom were employees of the railroad company and no houses had been constructed at that time. Mr. Jelfs was one of the first citizens of the new town to take up his abode in a box car belonging to the railroad company, and by the spring of 1881 sixty-three box cars were occupied in this manner as homes.

From 1881 until 1898 he retained his position as foreman of the railroad shops, and then resigned his position to identify himself with the First National Bank, in which he was, in that year, elected a director. Soon afterward he was chosen vice-president of the institution, which position he has continued to fill to the present time.

Upon the organization of the town of Raton, in the spring of 1891, Mr. Jelfs was elected a member of the Board of Trustees, serving two terms in that office. He was also a member of the first school board of the new town, and one of the organizers of the Raton Building & Loan Association, having, served as its president since its organization, in 1889.

On the 4th of September, 1858, Mr. Jelfs was united in marriage to Miss Sarah Bunyan, a native of England, and they have become the parents of the following named: Annie, the wife of Frank Henning, of Raton; Harry, a resident of Tucson, Arizona; Alfred, who is living in Raton; and Alice, who is with her parents. Mr. Jelfs, in his business career, has made consecutive advancement, until he today occupies a position of affluence in the community where he has made his home since the inception of the town.

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Source: History of New Mexico, Its Resources and People, Volume II, Pacific States Publishing Co., 1907.

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Created 1996 by Charles Barnum & 2016 by Judy White

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