James A. Summers Bernalillo County, New Mexico

Among the men who came to New Mexico and located in Albuquerque during the early stages of the development of that city and who were eye witnesses of and active participants in its upbuilding for nearly a quarter of a century, was James A. Summers. Mr. Summers was born in Glengarry, province of Ontario, Canada, November 11, 1832. His mother was a representative of a New York family, and it was but natural that the son should lean toward republican institutions. He received a good education in the schools of Canada and in the academy at Franklin, New York. Leaving home in 1854, he went to California, evidently in the hope of winning a fortune from the gold fields. For some time he engaged successfully in placer mining in Tuolumne County. In 1861 he returned to the east and entered the mercantile trade in Canada; but the great west appealed so strongly to him that he could not resist its call and a few years later he returned as far as Rosita, Colorado, where for three years in the early seventies he served as county clerk.

Soon after the construction of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad as far west as Albuquerque, the news of the remarkable growth of the vigorous young town reached Mr. Summers and he soon after yielded to the temptation to cast his lot with that of the New Mexico pioneers. Arriving in Albuquerque in the spring of 1882, he soon afterward entered the employ of the railroad company in its general offices there. After a service of four years with that corporation he resigned to become deputy probate clerk of Bernalillo County under F. H. Kent, continuing in that position under Henry V. Harris and J. C. Baldridge, occupying the post for eleven consecutive years. In 1898 he was nominated for the office of probate clerk by the Republican Party, was elected, and through successive re-elections filled the office until his death, February 12, 1906.

The official records of that office during his regime are, as investigation will disclose, undoubtedly the most cleanly kept and the most systematic and business-like of any in the entire territory. During the last three or four years of his public service, following the erection of Sandoval county, which had formed a part of Bernalillo, the duties of the office were most onerous, and the labor devolving upon Mr. Summers and his assistants reached the maximum in the history of the office. In his earnest endeavor to complete the work of bringing all the records of both counties down to date within a reasonable time, Mr. Summers was compelled to overwork, and this, coupled with his somewhat enfeebled health due to close confinement at a sedentary occupation, and an affection of the heart of several years' standing, undoubtedly shortened his life, possibly may have been primarily responsible for his death.

Mr. Summers was a Mason in excellent standing, a member of the Presbyterian Church, and highly esteemed for the numerous fine traits of his character. He was an extremely popular man among all classes, not only by reason of the general recognition of his integrity and ability, but also on account of his abounding good-fellowship. He was a stanch Republican, casting his first vote for John C. Fremont in California, in 1856, but a citizen of rare liberality in his view of political matters when considering local affairs. September 18, 1866, he was united in marriage with Jane Robertson, of Martintown, Ontario, Canada, who survives him. Their children are: James A., of Los Angeles, California, a messenger in the employ of the Wells-Fargo Express Company; David A., of Douglas, Arizona, an engineer in the employ of the El Paso-Southwestern Railway; Maude L., wife of F. B. Schwentker, of Albuquerque, manager of the Conservative Life Insurance Company for New Mexico and Arizona; Ida B. and Melville R. Summers, of Albuquerque. The latter is secretary of the John M. Moore Realty Company.

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Source: History of New Mexico, Its Resources and People, Volume II, Pacific States Publishing Co., 1907.

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