Brief County Histories Of New Mexico
By C. W. Barnum
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Bernalillo County
Bernalillo County was established 8 January 1852. It was one of the seven Partidos, established during Mexican rule. It may have been named for the Gonzales-Bernal family that lived in the area before 1692. The county seat is Albuquerque. Bernalillo County has a high volume of commerce, farming, business, and real estate sales. Albuquerque has been thriving since 1706 and is the center of activity for fairs and conventions. Source.

Catron County
Catron County was created 25 February 1921. It was named for New Mexico's first United States Senator, and famous Santa Fe attorney Thomas B. Catron. It is the largest county in New Mexico, but is sparsely populated. It has great hunting areas for sportsmen and tourism is an important commercial activity. It has productive ranch land and borders several national forests.  The county seat is Reserve.

Chaves County was created 25 February 1889. It was named for Colonel Jose Francisco Chaves, a military leader in New Mexico during the Civil War and later in Navajo campaigns. The county seat is Roswell, home of NM Military Institute.  Chaves County is rich in fresh water, oil, farming, commerce, clean air, and tourism. After growing up in this area, it is easy to image flying saucers after seeing hundreds of shooting stars in the clear night sky.

Cibola County
Cibola County is our neighbor to the north. It was created 19 June 1981. It is the last county to form in New Mexico. It was named after the Seven Cities of Cibola. Grants is the county seat. Cibola County is rich in mining , including uranium. Tourism, milling, camping and outdoor sports are major assets. Beautiful Wide-open spaces are abundant in Cibola County. Please send us any cemetery or genealogical data regarding either county. 

Colfax County
Colfax County was created 25 January 1869. The county seat is Raton. Colfax was the name of Vice-president of the USA, Schuyler Colfax, in 1869. Ranching, farming, mining, and tourism are the mainstay of Colfax County.

Curry County
Curry County was created 25 February 1909. It was formerly part of Roosevelt and Quay Counties. It is a smaller county and prospered  due to early railroad building. Farming , ranching, and military bases have given it a healthy economy over the years.

De Baca
De Baca County was created 28 February 1917. The County seat is Fort Sumner. De Baca County was named for Ezequiel C. de Baca, New Mexico's second Governor under statehood. The dedication of the present day courthouse was on 24 November 1930. De Baca County is heavily engaged in sheep and cattle ranching. Farming is also abundant due to the valuable waters coming from the Pecos River. The outlaw named William Bonney, alias Billy the Kid, was shot by Sheriff Pat Garrett 14 July 1881.

Dona Ana County
Doņa Ana County was created 9 January 1852. It was named for a lady named, Doņa Ana Robledo who in the 17th century gave money to many charities. Las Cruces is the county seat and it is the home of NMSU. This area is laced with history from the Mesilla area obtained from the Gadsden Purchase in 1854, to Hatch--chili capital of the world, Sunland Park, the White Sands National Monument, Space-shuttle, spy planes, and NASA. It is also rich in agriculture and boasts international commerce.

Eddy County
Eddy County was created 25 February 1889. Charles W. Eddy was a rancher and promoted southeastern New Mexico. Eddy County has large deposits of raw materials like potash, and it is a producer of oil and oil products. The area is excellent for farming with plenty of irrigation water and abundant sunshine. Carlsbad is the county seat. Carlsbad Caverns is a major attraction.

Grant County
Grant County was created 30 January 1868. It was named for General Ulysses S. Grant who became president. Silver City is the county seat. This county is rich with copper, gold and other metals. It contains part of the Gila National Forest. Farming and ranching are major businesses.   

Guadalupe County
Guadalupe County  was created 26 February 1891. It was named for the Virgin of Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico. Its county seat is Santa Rosa, which is on the Pecos River and known as the City of Natural lakes with many spring fed lakes. In 1540, Coronado searched for the Seven Cities of Cibola. He camped near Puerto de Luna, which is six miles south of Santa Rosa. He built the first bridge in New Mexico. It went over the Pecos River.

Harding County
Harding County was created 4 March 1921. Mosquero is the county seat. The county got its name from President Warren G. Harding. The county is famous for its large ranches and the rugged Canadian River Canyon. Increasingly of importance is chemical production for the oil industry.

Hidalgo County was created 25 February 1919. Lordsburg is the county seat. Hidalgo was named for Guadalupe Hidalgo of Mexico. Hidalgo is an open landscape with breath-taking beauty. The railroad once provided income but now farming and ranching are the main businesses. 

Lincoln County
Lincoln County was created 16 January 1869. It was named after Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln County is varied in forests, plains, streams and state parks. It once covered one fourth of New Mexico and was the largest county in the United States of America.  It is the home of the Lincoln County Wars of the 1870's. Carrizozo is the county seat.  Smokey the Bear was a native born Lincoln County icon. This county is multi-cultural and has a friendly easy going citizenry.

Lea County was created  7 March 1917. It was created from Chaves and Eddy Counties and named for Captain Joseph Calloway Lea. Lovington is the county seat and the center of a valuable oil industry which has provided many jobs since 1921. Ranching, agriculture, and dairy production are major enterprises which are thriving. The area supports two colleges to serve its ever friendly and diverse citizens.

Los Alamos County was created 16 March 1949. The county seat is Los Alamos.  This is the smallest county in New Mexico. Small packages pack a big punch! The famous Manhattan Project was completed here. This county remains important in the nuclear and scientific area. Friendly people, clear skies and fresh air make this a popular county.

Luna County
Luna County was named after Soloman Luna, who was a politician and cattle rancher. It was created in 1901 from Grant and Dona Ana County. The county seat is Deming which was founded in 1881 and officially incorporated in 1902. It was named after Mary Anne Deming, the wife of  Charles Crocker, a railroad businessman.

McKinley County
McKinley County was created 23 February 1899. It was named for William McKinley who was the 25th president of the United States. The county seat is Gallup. Gallup is the center of American Indian Inter-tribal Ceremonial. McKinley boasts a lumber industry, oil refinery, coal mining, and uranium production. It has within its boundaries the Navajo reservation and other Indian lands and ancient attractions.

Mora County
Mora County was created  1 February 1860. Mora is the county seat. Mora refers to several Spanish names in the area. It is prime sportsman's territory offering clean air and clear skies with beautiful views.

Otero County
Otero County was created 30 January 1899. It was named for Miguel A. Otero who was the Territorial Representative to Congress 1856 to 1861. Alamogordo is the county seat. Alamo' is the center of missile testing , spy planes development, White Sands National Monument, and tourism. The Mescalero Apache Reservation is nearby. Otero County offers residents clear skies, clean air, varied surroundings from low plains to peaceful mountains.

Quay County
Quay County was created 28 January 1903. Tucumcari is the county seat. Quay was named for Matthew S. Quay, United States Senator to Pennsylvania. Senator Quay was a leader is bringing statehood to New Mexico Territory. Fishing is the main sports activity in the county. Tourism plays an important role.

Rio Arriba County
Rio Arriba County was created 9 January 1852. It was named for the Spanish name for "upper river" of the Rio Grande River. This is area is part of the partidos of early Spanish rule. The county seat is Tierra Amarilla, and it's the center of outdoor recreation and tourism. The county contains the Jicarilla Apache and the Rio Arriba reservations and the San Juan and Santa Clara Pueblos. Three fresh rivers provide abundant water for agriculture and ranching. 

 Roosevelt County
Roosevelt County was created 28 February 1903. It was named for Theodore Roosevelt who was our 26th President. Roosevelt was part of the New Mexico Rough Riders when he attacked San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War. Portales is the county seat. This county has major dairy operations, agriculture, and ranching. It has an ancient history with findings of evidence of civilizations 15,000 years old. 

San Juan
San Juan County was created 24 January 1887. It was named for the San Juan River which begins in the San Juan Mountains. This is the ancient home of the Anasazi. Aztec is the county seat. This county is awash with ancient history, from Aztec Ruins National Monument to Chaco Canyon National Historical Park and the Navajo Nation. This area is rich in agriculture, clean air, open skies, and natural resources.

Sandoval County
Sandoval County was established 10 March 1903. The county seat is Bernalillo. The county was named for the Sandoval family who were early settlers. This county has many attractions like the Bandelier National Monument, Coronado State Monument, many ancient Indian ruins, and excellent hunting and fishing. Tourism is a major source of commerce. 

San Miguel
San Miguel County was established 9 January 1852. The county seat is Las Vegas. The county got its name from the town of San Miguel de Bado which was a crossing at the Pecos River on the Old Spanish Trail. San Miguel is one of the most beautiful counties in New Mexico ranging from mountains to meadows. It has two colleges. Tourism and retirement are of major economic value. 

Sierra County
Sierra County was formed in 3 April 1884 out of portions of Socorro, Grant and Dona Ana Counties. Due to the location and population, Hillsboro became the first county seat. The Hillsboro Post Office was the hub for mail transportation to the surrounding offices in the southern part of the county. This county has many hills and mountains, especially attractive is the Sierra de los Caballos range. Hot Springs, an attractive designation, was the original county seat. It was changed in name to Truth or Consequences in 1950 after the famous TV show. It is commonly known today as T or C. Elephant Butte Lake draws fishermen and tourists from many areas.  

Socorro County
Socorro County was established 1 July 1850. The county seat is Socorro. It was named by Don Juan de Onate. The name means "helpful". This county is prime ranching territory. It also has some of the biggest buck deer in New Mexico. It was also the county in which the first atomic bomb was exploded. 

Taos County
Taos County was created 9 January 1852. Taos is the county seat of Taos County. Taos is an ancient Indian Village built several hundred years ago. This beautiful county is the center for artists and professional people. Tourism is a major commercial activity. Kit Carson loved the area. He lived there several years. 

Torrance County
Torrance County was created 16 March 1903. It is near the heart of New Mexico. It was named for Francis J. Torrance who was an early builder of commerce in New Mexico. Estancia is the county seat.  It is rich in farming, ranching, and orchards. Two railroads cross its lands. Torrance County's Manzano area, saw the first apple orchard planted in the southwest.

Union County
Union County was created 13 February 1893. The county seat is Clayton. Union County was formed from parts of Colfax, Mora, and San Miguel Counties. Researchers might check these related counties for resources. Union was named for the "union" of the counties mentioned. The old Santa Fe Trail traverses Union County. The famous Goodnight-Loving Cattle Drive Trail also crosses Union County. The area is as beautiful as the other Northeast New Mexico Counties.  

Valencia County
Valencia County was created 9 January 1852. The county seat is Los Lunas. It was named for an early town built by Francisco de Valencia. Valencia County is a booming area of New Mexico. Its central location to the major populated counties has resulted in migration to its attractive living areas. Real estate sales are a major part of the economy. The county has a rich mix of professional people, artists, writers, and friendly citizens.