Armijo Family, Bernalillo County, New Mexico

The Armijo family has furnished to New Mexico several men who have become noteworthy in its history. Colonel Juan Armijo, the distinguished founder of the family in this country, a native of Spain, was an officer in the Spanish army. He came to Mexico in the last half of the eighteenth century. One of his sons, also named Juan, was born in New Mexico, and inherited from his father a portion of a large land grant at Albuquerque. He was one of the most prominent stock raisers in that part of the province for many years. Another son. General Manuel Armijo, was the last of the provincial governors of New Mexico, filling that position from the date of Governor Perez's assassination, in 1837, to the Mexican war. Don Juan Armijo married Rosalia Ortega, a member of another prominent family of the province. Their son. Don Tuan Cristobal Armijo, was born in Albuquerque in 1810 and spent his entire life in that town. He engaged in mercantile pursuits early in life and became one of the most successful business men of the Territory. He received a commission as colonel in the Mexican army, and in the years immediately preceding the Mexican war led his command against the Navajo Indians, invading their Territory and distinguishing himself by his valorous conduct. During the Indian revolution of 1837 he fought by the side of Governor Perez, and during all the troublous period which marked the close of Mexican dominion in this Territory he was found valiantly defending the cause of his country. In private life he bore a reputation without blemish, all his transactions being characterized by integrity and honor. When the Mexican arms were defeated in the war of 1844-46, he became as patriotic an American citizen as he had been a Mexican citizen. He represented Bernalillo County in the first legislative assembly under the civil government in 1851, serving in the house, and was re-elected to the same body in 1852, serving in the second assembly; and was again elected to the seventh assembly. During the Civil war he held a commission, and, with the New Mexican militia, participated in the battle of Val Verde, defending Fort Craig while the regulars attacked the enemy in the field.

The house in which Colonel Armijo resided for many years, at Los Ranches, or Los Griegos, about two miles north of Albuquerque, is still standing. He married Juana Chaves, and reared a family of seven children: Nestor, Nicholas T., Juan, Pedro, Manuela, who married Mariano Yrisarri of Los Ranchos, Feliciano, who married Tomas Gutierrez, and Justo R. All are deceased excepting Nestor, Justo R. and Mrs. Yrisarri.

Don Nestor Armijo, the eldest son, is one of the most widely known residents of the southern part of the Territory. He was born at Los Padillas, about eight miles south of Albuquerque. February 28, 1831. In 1841 he entered the St. Louis University, where he was a student for five years, returning to Albuquerque at the close of the Mexican war in 1846. In 1853 he made his first overland trip to California, following the Gila River trail to the Colorado, and thence crossing the Mojave Desert. The year following he repeated the trip. In 1855 he made the journey across the plains to Westport (now Kansas City), where he made his first purchase of goods for general merchandising. For twenty years thereafter he repeated these trips, going east in the spring and returning in August with a train of merchandise. He had his own teams, and brought with him wares for the stores he had established in Las Cruces and El Paso. In 1862 he established the first store of any importance in Las Cruces, which he conducted until 1868. In that year he visited Chihuahua. Mexico, selling American goods by wholesale for a period of ten years. Since 1878 he has made his home in Las Cruces. In recent years he has been interested in the sheep and cattle business, principally in Mexico, in which he has been rewarded with financial success. He has also been identified with banking interests in this Territory. Though a man of public spirit, he has taken no active interest in politics, and has not sought nor held public office.

In 1851 he married Josefa Yrisarri, daughter of Mariano Yrisarri, a native of Los Ranchos. They had one son, Charles H., now deceased, who was for several years engaged in business in Las Cruces.

Don Justo R. Armijo, the youngest son of Colonel Juan Cristobal Armijo, who is now county treasurer and collector of Bernalillo County, residing in Albuquerque, was born on his father's ranch. September 20, 1852. After attending the schools of Albuquerque he entered St. Louis University, but a short time prior to the graduation of his class he went to New York City and entered the well-known banking house of Northrup & Chick, where he filled a clerical position for two years. The following two years he was employed as a clerk in a mercantile house in St. Louis. He made several voyages from New York to Vera Cruz as purser on the Red D line of steamers, and desiring further knowledge of the West Indies and their inhabitants, he spent eighteen months as bookkeeper in a hotel in Havana, Cuba.

Upon his return to his home he located in Bernalillo, where for seventeen years he was engaged in the sheep business. Always actively interested in public affairs, he was twice elected probate judge of Bernalillo County as the nominee of the Republican Party, and was twice elected to the board of county commissioners. Upon the death of his brother, Nicolas T. Armijo, in 1892, he removed to Albuquerque to administer the latter's estate, in which capacity he served for seven years. During that time he erected the N. T. Armijo building, one of the most substantial business blocks in Albuquerque. Upon the completion of his labors as manager of this large estate he engaged in the fire and life insurance business. From 1891 to 1893 he served as a member of the board of penitentiary commissioners. On September 9, 1905, he received from Governor Otero a commission as county treasurer and collector of Bernalillo County to succeed Frank A. Hubbell, who was removed by the governor. It was not until November 9th following that he secured possession of the office, after one of the most bitter political contests in the history of the Territory.

Don Justo R. Armijo is highly regarded by the citizens of New Mexico, by whom he is recognized as a man of the strictest integrity. He has always exhibited a keen and intelligent interest in matters pertaining to the welfare of the community in which he has resided practically all his life, and such confidences as his fellow citizens have reposed in him have never been violated.

Colonel Perfecto Armijo, sheriff of Albuquerque, is a son of Ambrosia Armijo, who was born at Ranches of Albuquerque. He was probate judge for many years and served as a colonel of the militia during the Civil war. Prominent in public life, he was treasurer of the county at the time of his death, which occurred in 1884. His political allegiance was given the Republican Party. He married Candelario Otero, a daughter of Vicente Otero.

Colonel Perfecto Armijo was born in Valencia County, New Mexico, February 20, 1845, and supplemented his preliminary education by four years' study in St. Louis University, being a student there at the time of the outbreak of the Civil war. He was active in various military drills there with the boys at school, but did not enlist. About 1862 he returned to New Mexico, and for a number of years engaged in freighting to Leavenworth, Kansas City, Chihuahua, El Paso, Tucson, Prescott and other points, during which time he had much trouble with the Indians, who were numerous upon the frontier and committed many depredations against the white settlers, who were trying to found homes and engage in business in this part of the country. At Las Cruces he established a store in connection with his brother, Jesus Armijo. Later he freighted again until 1880, when the railroad was built, and rendering his business unremunerated, he sold his teams and other paraphernalia of the freighting outfits. At that time he turned his attention to merchandising in Old Albuquerque, where he conducted business for several years. He was appointed sheriff of the county and served for one year,' after which he was elected on the Republican ticket to the office of sheriff of the county. He was also alderman of Albuquerque and was a delegate to the last constitutional convention. On the 1st of September, 1905, he was appointed sheriff to succeed Thomas S. Hubbell, and after a hard contest, which is now historic, gained the office. The above contains the epochal events in his history and indicates his prominence in public life. He has been influential in public affairs, and his official service has been characterized by unfaltering fidelity to duty in all relations. He now owns a farming ranch and stock at Ranches of Albuquerque.

Colonel Armijo was married in 1868 to Miss Febronia Garcia, a daughter of Pedro Garcia, of Dona Ana County. They had nine children, two of whom have passed away. The living are Victoriano. the wife of Captain A. W. Kimball, quartermaster at Fort Snelling, Minnesota; David, of the City of Mexico; Candelario, the wife of Alfredo Otero; Solomon, a resident of Colorado; Chonah and Perfecto, both at home, and Juanita, the wife of Dr. Rogers Haynes, at El Vado, New Mexico. The Baca family in New Mexico is a large one, numerically, and many of its representatives have attained distinction in the political undertakings of the Territory. The family of which Major Jesus M. A. Baca and Salazar was a member traces its descent from ancient Spanish stock. Born in Santa Ft in 1820, Major Baca served in young manhood as sheriff of Santa Fe County for about ten years. Soon after the outbreak of the Civil war he was made major of the Second Regiment of New Mexico Volunteers and afterward was commissioned colonel of the regiment. He participated in the battle of Val Verde, and on his way home was captured, in company with Nicholas Pino, but subsequently was exchanged. He was the first United States collector of internal revenue for New Mexico. He died on his ranch near Glorieta, Pecos town, April 7, 1872.

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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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