Charles Blanchard San Juan County, New Mexico

Charles Blanchard, interested in the development of the coal fields near Fruitland, came to the Territory in 1864, when he made his way to Las Vegas. He was born near Montreal, Canada, of French parentage, in 1842, and studied law for four years in that country. He afterward made his way to Westport, Missouri, and thence overland by ox teams to Las Vegas, where he secured a position as clerk in a store, remaining there, however, for less than a year. On the expiration of that period he went to Lincoln, then Rio Bonito, with a cargo of goods and spent three years as a merchant there in partnership with Eugene Leitendorfer. In the fall of 1867 he returned to Las Vegas, where for two and a half years he engaged in merchandising. He built the first adobe mill on the Hondo known as Casey's mill, and while thus engaged had many of the trying and thrilling experiences incident to life on the frontier.

On one occasion he was attacked by the Apaches and narrowly escaped death by their arrows by jumping across a very deep ravine of the Hondo, estimated to be nearly twenty-five feet across.

In 1868 he hired as a wagon-master with the Kansas Pacific Railroad Company for the overland trade, and that year his train was captured by the Cheyenne west of Fort Dodge at a time when the Indians were supposed to be at peace. He had a train of eleven wagon loads and because of the Indian outbreak he rode to Fort Dodge, where he obtained military assistance. This, however, delayed him for three months. The following year 1869 he engaged in business on his own account at Las Vegas, and thus continued until 1904, becoming one of the prominent and influential representatives of commercial and financial interests of that City.

He assisted in organizing the First National Bank of Las Vegas, and was one of its directors for nine years. He established a meat market and general mercantile store in Socorro in 1887, and conducted an extensive business there for five years, after which he removed his business from Socorro to Albuquerque about 1892, continuing in trade at that point until a recent date, when he sold out.

In 1904 he became connected with the coal business six miles from Fruitland and has three thousand acres of coal lands, which he is operating in connection with others. There are three veins, one of which is twenty-six feet wide and in fact this is the largest known coal vein in the southwest. The lands yield anthracite and bituminous coal as well as coking coal. Mr. Blanchard was three times elected between the years 1869 and 1884 to the office of County treasurer, and has been probate judge and County commissioner.

He has been very active in political circles and is a recognized leader of public thought and action.

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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