William Locke San Juan County, New Mexico

Farmington is an incorporated City and owes much to the efforts and influence of William Locke, who came in October, 1878, from Florence, Colorado, bringing with him peach, walnut and other seeds. He found no fruit trees. After locating a farm he returned to Florence. In April, 1879, ne again came, bringing with him the first fruit trees ever brought to the San Juan valley. These included plum and peach trees, also blackberry and raspberry bushes. He was likewise the first to introduce apples and pears, and brought the first nectarine tree to this locality. For years he devoted his time to fruit-growing, and he had at one time eighty-four acres of fruit, constituting the largest and best orchard in the valley. This he afterward sold to W. N. Right. He regards apples and peaches as the most profitable crop, but all deciduous fruits thrive here, and seeding olives grow well. Almonds can also be raised profitably. The first peaches were grown by him in 1883 and as the years passed he demonstrated the possibilities for this valley as a fruit producing region and thus inaugurated an industry which has been of the utmost value and importance.

In 1904 he planted corn which had been found among ruins in 1903. It is a red corn on a blood red cob, totally different from any other corn known. This was found near the Arizona boundary line. Mr. Locke obtained nine grains from Colonel D. K. B. Sellers. It had been found under about thirty-three feet of gravel in making an excavation. Mr. Locke planted his nine grains and raised a crop and in 1906 raised a considerable crop. The ears are six or seven inches long and it is dent corn, unlike anything ever known.

Mr. Locke was born in Michigan, October 20, 1839, and was reared in Indiana and Illinois. He went to Canyon City, Colorado, in 1860, one year before the organization of the territory, and there he engaged in ranching and the livestock business. He was elected to the territorial legislature of Colorado in 1867 and served as probate judge of Fremont County for four years. He was one of the organizers of the local government in 1860 before the organization of the Territory, and by popular election was chosen recorder and also clerk of the "land claim court," which was formed and conducted without the authority of law. He has also served as a member of the legislature of New Mexico for one term and has always been a Democrat, while in his fraternal relations he is an Odd Fellow.

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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