Santa Fé County, New Mexico
While the most interesting historically, Santa Fé County is the smallest in the Territory, and for the past quarter of a century its population has been almost stationary, that of the city of Santa Fé has decreased about 1,000. It is one of the very few sections of the country into which the extension of the railroad has had a deteriorating effect, as thereafter it no longer received the great influx of overland trade flowing through the great Southwest, of which for thirty years it had enjoyed a virtual monopoly.
The present area of Santa Fé County is 2,212 square miles, and its population about 13,000. It is located north of the central part of the Territory, in the second irregular tier of counties from the northern boundary, and has a beautiful situation in the broad valley of the Rio Grande.
As described by the Territorial Act of January 9, 1852, the boundaries of Santa Fé county (one of the nine counties into which New Mexico was first divided) were as follows: On the east, from the point of Torreones, drawing a direct line across the summit of the mountain until it reaches the angle formed by the eastern and southern boundaries of the county of Rio Arriba; from the above mentioned point of Torreones drawing a direct line toward the south, touching the point called Salinas in the mountain of Galisteo, and continuing said line until it reaches the Cibolo Spring; from this point to the westward, and turning the point of San Ysidro toward the north in the direction of Juana Lopez, touching the mouth of L.as Bocas Canyon, and thence drawing a direct line toward the north until it reaches the boundaries of the county of Rio Arriba.
Physical Features and Resources
Though one of the smallest counties in New Mexico. Santa Fé is one of the most diversified. The mountains in the eastern portion are full of picturesque scenery, the northern and central sections are finely adapted to horticulture and the central and southern sections present a variety of mineral wealth seldom surpassed. On the eastern boundary the main range of the Rockies protects the plains from violent winds, while on the west the Jemez and Valle mountains perform the same office. Most of the streams in the county emanate from the western side of the Santa Fé range of the Rocky mountains and flow westerly into the Rio Grande, which itself cuts off a northwestern corner in its course from the northeast to the southwest. The chief affluents of the parent stream are the Santa Cruz river, flowing down from the canyons near Chimayo; Nambe creek and its numerous heads, rising at Baldy and Lake peaks, and Galisteo creek, originating with its branches, near the summit of the southern end of the Santa Fé range. Their waters are derived from snow, rain and springs in the mountains, in Archaean rocks, flowing thence through carboniferous beds to the limestone beds which fill the valley between the mountain range and the Rio Grande, overlaid nearer the latter river in places by sheets of lava, which, on the east side of the stream, were thrown out from the Tetilla, an extinct volcano, and on its west side from craters further west.
The soil is excellent, and produced large crops of the best quality, with the needed supply of water. Cereals are raised to perfection in the valleys of the Rio Grande and its tributaries, and the fruits of the Santa Fé orchards are famous, including apricots, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries, plums and nectarines. Of the vegetables, perhaps asparagus and celery are the richest and finest. The choicest orchards and gardens are in the city itself and vicinity. The first really fine orchard in the Southwest was in the "Bishop's Garden," planted by Archbishop Lamy, at Santa Fé. There is something in the location which seems to add to the flavor as well as the beauty of the fruit. At Tesuque, six miles north, was the Miller apple orchard, which for years was a wonderfully productive enterprise. At Pojuaqua and Espanyola, in fact, throughout the Rio Grande and Santa Cruz valleys, are excellent orchards, and the horticultural interests are spreading over the county, as they are in other parts of the Territory.
While mineral wealth of some kind is to be found in nearly all parts of Santa Fé County, yet it is the southern section that is famous in this respect. The knowledge of these mines is nothing new. Even Cabeza de Vaca speaks of seeing a turquoise from these mines, and in Coronado's time this stone was regarded as the most precious possessions of the Indians as far west as Arizona. The silver mines of Cerrillos were worked to an enormous extent during the early Spanish occupation. Over forty ancient mines have been discovered, and there are probably as many more so thoroughly filled as to defy detection. In the midst of this silver district rises the dome of Mount Chalchuitl (whose name the Mexicans gave to the turquoise, its much valued mineral), the summit of which is about 7,000 feet above tide, and is therefore almost exactly on a level with the plaza of Santa Fé.
The observer is deeply impressed on inspecting this locality with the enormous amount of labor which in ancient times has been expended here. The waste of debris excavated in the former workings cover an area of at least twenty acres. On the slopes and sides of the great piles of rubbish are growing large cedars and pines, the age of which, judging from their size and slowness of growth in this very dry region, must be reckoned by centuries. It is well known that in 1680 a large section of the mountain suddenly fell in from the undermining of the mass by the Indian miners, killing a considerable number, and that this accident was the immediate cause of the uprising of the Pueblos and the expulsion of the Spaniards in that year, just two centuries since.
The irregular openings in the mountains, called "wonder caves," and the "mystery," are the work of the old miners. It was this sharp slope of the mountain which fell. In these chambers, which have some extent of ramification, were found abundantly the fragments of their ancient pottery, with a few entire vessels, some of them of curious workmanship, ornamented in the style of color so familiar in the Mexican pottery. Associated with these were numerous stone hammers, some to be held in the hand and others swung as sledges, fashioned with wedge-shaped edges and a groove for a handle. A hammer weighing over twenty pounds was found to which the wyth was still attached, with its oak handle, the same scrub oak which is found growing abundantly on the hillsides, now quite well preserved after at least two centuries of entombment in this perfectly dry rock.
The stone used for these hammers is the hard and tough hornblende andesite, or propylite, which forms the Cerro d'Oro and other Cerrillos hills. With these rude tools and without iron or steel, using fire in place of explosives, these patient old workers managed to break down and remove the incredible masses of the tufaceous rocks which form the mounds already described.
That considerable quantities of the turquoise were obtained can hardly be questioned. We know that the ancient Mexicans attached great value to this ornamental stone, as the Indians do to this day. The familiar tale of the gift of the large and costly turquoise by Montezuma to Cortez for the Spanish crown, as narrated by Clavigero in his history of Mexico, is evidence of its high estimation.
The Indians used stone tools almost entirely. Their hammers, which are found in the debris of the old mines and scattered about the country, are of various forms, some being quite large and pointed to take the place of picks. The ore and debris were removed from the mine in leather baskets on the backs of the enslaved pueblo or peoned Mexicans. Their ladder ways were round poles, about eight inches in diameter, having notches cut in them twelve inches apart for steps. These ladders were from twelve to fourteen feet long, reaching from one landing to another. The ore was smelted in small furnaces constructed of stones cemented together with mud. Vast quantities of gold and silver were obtained in this manner in other mines.
For over a century and a half, after the Revolution of 1680, there was no mining done in this vicinity, when suddenly the old placers were discovered at the place now called Dolores, and soon hundreds of men were at work washing out the precious yellow metal. A few years later history repeated itself at the new placers, now Golden. This was before the American occupation, and Mexicans by the thousand passed the winter here in order to utilize the snow which fell at that season, for the difficulty in these placers was the lack of water. The gravel had to be carried in bags on the back for miles to some spring, or else the water had, equally laboriously, to be brought to the placers. In the winter they took the snows in the canyons and of the blizzards and melted it by means of heated rocks, and with the scanty supplies of water thus obtained washed out the precious metal. Modern science has, however, improved upon this operation.
Commencing with 1852, when Santa Fé county was formally organized by enactment of the Territorial legislature, the probate judge takes the place of the prefect, who held sway during Mexican times, and for a few years after New Mexico became American soil. The records of the county are fairly complete, but where any omissions appear it has been impossible to supply them from any data in the office of the probate clerk. Following is the list:
At the second meeting of the board, March nth. S. Seligman was appointed to succeed Abeytia. At the annual election, held in November following, these officers were elected for the term beginning January 1, 1877:
Repudiated its Railroad Bonds
Santa Fé is one of the few counties of the United States, at least within late years, which has repudiated any portion of its bonded indebtedness, thereby admitting its inability to meet the payment of bonds which were issued under its own authority. In 1882 the county issued bonds amounting to about $1,000,000 to encourage the construction of railroads. They were bought principally by two large firms in New York, who within the past few years have been taking vigorous steps to enforce the payment of the matured bonds, both principal and interest. As the assessed valuation of the taxable property in the county is less than $2,000,000, the situation for the tax payers has certainly been a serious one from the commencement of legal proceedings. In the fall of 1900 Las Vegas attorneys, representing the New York bondholders, obtained judgments against the county for over $130,000. In the winter of 1901 the county commissioners made a levy of 82 mills on the dollar to provide for their payment, but the tax payers refused to meet it. After dragging along for five years, another attempt was made in 1906 to force a payment, the United States Court finally issuing a mandamus ordering the county board to make another levy. Other strenuous legal measures have been taken, and it is said that efforts are being made to effect a compromise on all cases, and the entire issue of railroad bonds, on the basis of 60 cents on the dollar. As Congress has pronounced the bonds valid, although they were at one time said to be illegal, it is intimated that the national body may be appealed to in order to prevent the county from going into actual bankruptcy. Somewhat similar cases are St. Clair County, Mo., which repudiated its bonded indebtedness, and Wilkes County. North Carolina, which was placed in the hands of a receiver, upon having defaulted in the payment of their bonds.
The City Of Santa Fé
Santa Fé (Holy Faith) is a contraction from La Villa Real de Santa Fé de San Francisco, and for three hundred years has not only been an important center of the Catholic faith, but the seat of temporal power under Spanish, Pueblo, Mexican or American rule. The Old Palace, now chiefly occupied by the museums of the Territorial Historical Society, has been the official home of fifty Spanish, fifteen Mexican and fifteen American Governors.
Santa Fé was not chartered as a city until 1891, its older portions being cut irregularly by narrow and crooked streets and having an atmosphere of the middle ages; in the modern city the thoroughfares are broad and straight, but even there one notices an absence of much of the bustle which is characteristic of Albuquerque and Las Vegas, and which may be partly due to the fact that it has no street cars.
Santa Fé was incorporated as a city by vote of its inhabitants, on the 2nd of June, 1891. Its first officers were: Mayor, William T. Thornton; clerk, James D. Hughes; treasurer, Marcus Eldodt; aldermen, Francisco Delgado, Ricardo Gorman, Martin Quintana, Marcelino Garcia, William S. Harroun, Gerard D. Koch, Narciso Mondragon, George W. Knaebel.
The great fascination attaching to Santa Fé lies in the magic of the ancient days which still clings to its structural remains. Its European occupation is second only to St. Augustine, among the historic cities of the United States, while the commencement of the native occupation is lost in the dimness of the past. San Miguel church, a plain little adobe structure, stands on the site of the original church erected by the Spanish explorers; but the first building was destroyed by the Indians in 1680, restored in 1710, and modified within recent years. Its old walls are supported by stone buttresses. Within are seen quaint specimens of carvings on the roof timbers and gallery, with burned designs for variety. Across the street is the adobe house, which was long pronounced to be the oldest dwelling in the United States, and in which it is said Coronado lodged when he visited the pueblo, Taquito, then standing on the site of Santa Fé; but while this is the only remnant of the ancient Indian pueblo, its claim to being the earliest pioneer of American dwellings has been exploded.
The Plaza occupies a square in the middle of the city, in which are two monuments and a memorial fountain. Facing it on the north is the Palace, already mentioned, a massive, one story building, a block in length, erected early in the seventeenth century and marking the founding of Santa Fé by Juan de Onate about 1605. Originally it was a square, with a large court in which the Spanish garrison was quartered; but with hostile tribes around, even with the erection of this imposing evidence of Spanish power the settlement did not rapidly increase, and by 1617 there were only 48 colonists and soldiers in the province.
The little band of Spanish settlers at Santa Fé, with the Palace as the nucleus of the place, appealed to His Royal Highness, at various times, for protection from the Pueblo Indians, and by 1630 the garrison and the colonists numbered about 250. In August, 1680, the rebellious Indians, led by a native named Pope, killed 400 of the 2,500 colonists, soldiers and priests scattered through the province and then laid siege to the capital. For ten days the savages stormed the Palace, where Governor Otermin, with 1,000 of the survivors, had taken refuge. On the 20th the Spaniards made a sortie, killed 300 of the Indians, captured 50 (whom they afterward hanged), and on the following day evacuated the Palace and Santa Fé, starting on their long overland journey for El Paso.
Santa Fé remained in possession of the Pueblo Indians for twelve years, and during that period the Palace was occupied by native chiefs, or rulers. In September, 1692, it was easily recaptured by Governor Vargas, who resettled the town with 800 new colonists and a garrison adequate for the defense of the place. During the following winter the Indians made another attempt at mastery, but were beaten off and seventy prisoners hanged in the Plaza. Notwithstanding, they continued their hostilities and attacks, and during the eighteenth century several attempts were made to move the provincial capital further south, and nearer the seat of the Spanish power in Mexico.
By the middle of the century the French Canadian trappers commenced to trade with Santa Fé from the north, while a brisk traffic sprang up with Chihuahua from the south. Early in the nineteenth century the greater and more enduring trade originated between the Mexican province of New Mexico and the American frontier. With the discovery of gold on the Pacific coast, and the tremendous overland emigration thither, in the middle of the nineteenth century, Santa Fé became the great supply station for the interminable caravans of gold-seekers who followed the southern route to the promised land, and the Santa Fé trail became famous the world over. From that time on for thirty years the interest of the country centered not in the governor's palace, as the headquarters of the American government, but in its general merchandise and other supply houses.
Don Manuel Armijo was still in the gubernatorial palace in 1846, and hearing of the approach of the American army under General Kearny, issued a proclamation stating what he would do to them, and started north with his troops; but when about thirty miles away from Santa Fé changed his mind, marched south, abandoned the capital and the palace, and headed for the City of Mexico.
General Kearny modestly took possession of Santa Fé on the 19th of August, 1846, and first made a speech in behalf of his government, declaring the good intentions of the American army of occupation. It was responded to by Donaciano Vigil, who, although a full-blooded Spaniard, pledged his allegiance to the government of the United States, and in doing so spoke for the remaining citizens of Santa Fé. That Kearny and the United States government had full confidence in him is evident, since a short time afterward he was appointed governor of the Territory, under most tragic and momentous circumstances.
Upon taking possession of the palace. General Kearny issued a business-like proclamation, to this effect:
In this connection it is well to note that General Kearny's daughter, Mrs. Barstow, of St. Louis, has recently presented a portrait of her brave, manly father to the Historical Society, and that Mrs. Prince, regent of the Daughters of the Revolution, has erected in the plaza a tablet to mark the exact spot where he took possession of the Territory in the name of the United States.
Charles Bent, named as governor in the Kearny proclamation, was proprietor of Bent's Fort, a trading post on the Arkansas River, and one of the most popular stopping places on the Santa Fé trail. But a few days after his appointment he was assassinated at the pueblo of Taos (which seemed to be the hotbed of Indian revolutionists and murderers), and Mr. Vigil was appointed his successor. Frank P. Blair, who was appointed district attorney, afterward became a prominent Republican senator from Missouri.
During the winter following the occupation of Santa Fé by the American troops an adobe fort and blockhouse was erected on the northern heights of the town, and named in honor of Secretary of War Marcy. The earthworks are still standing, under which were buried 200 Missouri volunteers of the Mexican war. On the road to Fort Marcy is what is known as the Garita, an old Mexican fort, near the west wall of which the leaders of the revolution of 1837 were executed, those concerned in the assassination of Perez and other provincial officials.
The palace, on the plaza, witnessed the assembling of the first territorial legislature, and in 1848 the treaty of peace with Mexico was proclaimed within its walls. Santa Fé was established as the territorial seat of government, July 14, 1851, and became the official residence of the governors. For about a month, in March and April, 1862, it was in possession of the Confederate troops, the Union forces reoccupying it April 11th.
The old palace was abandoned by Governor Otero as an executive residence upon the completion of the first territorial capitol. It was not until 1884 that practical plans were entered upon for the construction of a modern capitol building. By act of March 14, 1884, provision was made for the erection of a territorial penitentiary at Santa Fé, at a cost not exceeding $150,000, the governor, the attorney general and the treasurer being constituted a board of managers for the institution, which was completed in the following year. On the day following the appropriation for the penitentiary an attempt was made to pass a measure appropriating $300,000 for a new capitol. This action excited great indignation throughout the Territory. People outside of Santa Fé were almost unanimously against the measure, which was condemned as an attempt on the part of the "Santa Fé ring" to bleed the taxpayers for their personal benefit. Charges were made that the legislature was organized and managed in furtherance of a deliberate scheme to raid the public treasury for the benefit of the few. A memorial was sent to Congress asking for an investigation and mass meetings of citizens were held in many places. The opposition to the bill in the legislature was led by Major William H. Whiteman, representing Bernalillo County in the house. The opposition, while it did not prevent the passage of the measure, succeeded in reducing the original amount of the appropriation. The bill, which was passed March 28, 1884, created a bonded indebtedness of $200,000 against the Territory, and appointed as capitol building committee the governor of the Territory and his successor in office, together with the folio-wing named: Mariano S. Otero, Narciso Valdez. William L. Rynerson, Jose Montano, Antonio Abeytia y Armijo, Ramon A. Baca, Vicente Mares, John C. Joseph. Cristobal Mares, Lorenzo Lopez, Rafael Romero and A. S. Potter.
The cost of the capitol in round numbers was $250,000. It was built of yellow sandstone. In 1886 the legislature met for the first time in the new capitol, and six years later, May 12, 1892, the building was burned, presumably at the hands of an incendiary. There was no insurance, but most of the records were saved.
February 5, 1895, a capitol rebuilding board was established by act of the legislature, and after much delay the new capitol was completed and dedicated June 4, 1900. The present capitol, of similar design to the first, is built of cream colored brick upon a granite foundation, crowned with a tasteful dome, and was completed at a cost of $200,000.
When it First Became the Capital
The appearance of Santa Fé is thus described in "Mayer's History of New Mexico," which was published in the year of the territorial' organization and shortly before Santa Fé was formally established as the capital: "Santa Fé is an irregular, scattered town, built of adobes, or sun-dried bricks, while most of its streets are common highways traversing settlements interspersed with extensive cornfields. The only attempt at anything like architectural compactness and precision consists of four tiers of buildings, whose fronts are shaded with a fringe of rude partales or corridors. They stand around the public square, and comprise the palacio, or governor's house, the custom house, barracks, calabozo, casa consistarial, the military chapel, besides several private residences, as well as most of the shops of the American traders."
In the early clays following the American occupation there was a very bitter feeling of prejudice against the Americans, and they were in constant danger of assault from Mexicans, who would frequently pitch stones from the roofs of the adobe houses onto the heads of the hated "Gringoes." All Americans carried "six-shooters" and bowie knives, according to Charles L. Thayer. In 1850 there was three times as much land under cultivation by the Mexicans as now. The American military force of occupation was large, and everything was bought in the open market at enormous prices, corn at $25 per fanega (about two and a half bushels), wheat at about the same price, and hay at $60 per ton. Money was extremely plentiful and times were prosperous.
In 1849 the military chapel, built during the Mexican regime, was located on the west side of the plaza, the Mexican post office also standing in this locality. There were no American schools until late in the fifties, when a small private establishment was opened.
Among the residents of Santa Fé who located in 1849 and remained there for some time may be mentioned Colonel Ceran St. Vrain, the well-known merchant and public character; Joseph Hersch, who operated a flour mill and kept a store on the site of the Hotel Normandie; Charles Lawrence Thayer, Jacob Spiegelberg and Major John R. Wells; Sigmund Seligman, merchant, and Joab Houghton, who operated a general store and was the first chief justice of the Territory. In 1852 Rumney, Ardinger & Green opened the historic "Exchange Hotel." Mr. Rumney had been chief clerk in the United States commissary department, and Mr. Green was a private citizen from Missouri.
Santa Fé is the seat of a Roman Catholic archbishopric, and the establishment of the church is contemporary with the founding of the place. After San Miguel, the first Catholic edifice erected was by the custodian of missions, who, in 1623, commenced to build a church, probably on the site of the present cathedral. After five years it was completed, but was destroyed in the revolt of 1680. The cathedral is a modern sandstone structure built around an older parish church known as the Parroquia and stands on the south side of the plaza, opposite the palace. The handsome stone reredos of the cathedral were erected by Governor Marin del Valle and his wife in 1761, and the Rosario Chapel is said to mark the spot where Vargas made his vow before he recaptured the city from the pueblos in 1692. The cathedral also contains a museum of old Spanish paintings and other curios.
Besides the cathedral there are two other Roman Catholic churches, a Protestant Episcopal Church, an English and Spanish Presbyterian church, the Allison Presbyterian mission, and the English and Spanish M. E. church. Among the important charities are the St. Vincent's Hospital, Sanitarium and Orphanage and the Industrial School for Deaf and Dumb.
Other Points of Interest
The territorial library is of interest to historical students, for although it contains but 5,000 books, it embraces valuable Spanish and Mexican archives covering the period 1621-1846. The three public school libraries number about the same volumes. The press of the city is represented by one English daily and two Spanish weeklies.
Aside from the four city schools, the educational institutions consist of St. Michael College, established by the Christian Brothers in 1859 and the first college in New Mexico; Academy of Our Lady of Light, under the control of the Sisters of Loretto and the oldest girls' school in the southwest (founded in 1852), and the government school for Indians (Dawes Institute), attended by 300 natives, and St. Catherine's Indian School.
Santa Fé has, of course, the territorial penitentiary, representing a financial outlay of $150,000 and claims one of the finest systems of waterworks in the southwest. The supply is drawn from reservoirs above the city, on Santa Fé creek. The canyon dam is 350 feet at its base and 120 feet at its deepest part. The works supply not only water for domestic use and irrigation, but electric power.
The present population of Santa Fé is about 5,600, and it has been gradually decreasing for the past quarter of a century; in 1890 the figures were 6,165, and in 1880, 6,635.
Cerrillos, at one time one of the busiest mining towns in the Territory, in recent years has suffered through the abandonment of the quartz mines in the surrounding country, the closing of two of her principal coal mines and the burning of the third. For many years the town was famous for the coal which bore its name. The earliest mining operations by white men began late in the seventies. In 1879 the Cash Entry mine, which was discovered by Charles Dimmick, was opened and the mining of lead and silver ores was begun. The property was soon afterward bought by George Holman, of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, who sunk a hundred-foot shaft and removed practically all of the paying ore ever taken from the mine. Some of it was valued as high as fifteen hundred dollars per ton. Below the hundred-foot level zinc and lead were found, but water in large quantities made the operation of the mine difficult. In 1883 the property was purchased by Chicago capitalists, who erected a patent process concentrator and continued operations until 1886, when Wilson Waddingham purchased it and disposed of a half interest therein to English investors. On three hundred and twenty acres of patented ground they sunk a shaft seven hundred feet, but found little but zinc. They then opened the Central mine, a lead producer, working to a depth of nearly five hundred feet, and Joplin, Missouri, capitalists erected a concentrator. This mine was closed in 1892. It is now owned by Captain W. E. Dame. These were the two principal mines of the district', excepting the valuable coal properties.
Coal was first found on the Ortiz mine grant, the title to which was confirmed by Congress about 1871. The grant conflicted, however, with that known as the Juana Topez grant, the older of the two, which prevailed. Before the Civil war a number of federal officials purchased the Ortiz grant, which they sold to the New Mexico Mining and Milling Company, and a part of the owners of the Juana Topez grant sold their claims to the New Mexico Fuel and Iron Company. Both grants stood the test of the courts, and litigation looking to partition is still pending. As early as 1871 anthracite coal was mined commercially near Cerrillos. The production of bituminous coal begun in 1882. W. C. Rogers, an. early merchant at Carbonateville, or Turquesa, worked the coal banks at an early day. Other early developers were O'Mara, Uptegrove, William Kesse and Richard Green. Between 1887 and 1892 the coal mining industry was on the boom, at least nine companies teaming and shipping. In 1892 most of the coal land was secured by the Santa Fé Railway Company, which continued to operate the field until December, 1905, when the mine caught fire. Since that time Cerrillos has become well-nigh depopulated.
Among the early settlers of the town properly called Los Cerrillos were O'Mara, who erected the first hotel; D. D. Harkins, who built the second hotel; William Nesbit, who conducted a saloon and served as county commissioner for many years; Uptegrove. builder of the Central Hotel; W. C. Hurt, merchant and miner; Dr. Richards, who conducted a drug store and spent a small fortune in the quartz mine known as the "Marshall Bonanza": Judge N. B. Laughlin, a pioneer quartz miner at Carbonateville and owner of Laughlin's addition to Cerrillos; Arthur Boyle, who leased the Waldo mine about 1882; Michael O'Neil, E. F. Bennett and Austin L. Kendall.
Source: History of New Mexico, Its Resources and People, Volume II, Pacific States Publishing Co., 1907.
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