John Richey Eddy County, New Mexico

The name of John Richey is closely associated with the material progress and substantial advancement of the town of Artesia. He came to the Territory in 1895 from Kansas and located at Roswell, and in May, 1896, he took a desert claim six miles from what is now Artesia, where he engaged in fanning until taking up his above in the new town.

The first record of settlement here is that of a man of the name of J. T. Truitt, who was a Union soldier and had a homestead embracing the present town site. He proved up after a year's residence here and sold the property to Frank Rheinboldt, who afterward sold it to Mrs. Robert on the 18th of January, 1900.

In 1901 Messrs. Richey, Hamilton Maddox and J. Mack Smith purchased eighty acres from J. R. Ray and later laid out the town of Artesia in January, 1903. The land was platted and the work of building the town and securing immigration was begun. There was an old siding on the railroad called Miller and the post office, when established, was named Stegman, but the town was called Artesia and later all took the last name. Mr. Richey was president of the company, suggested the name and is called "the father of Artesia." The newly organized company was known as the Artesia Town Site Company, with Mr. Richey as president, Harry Hamilton as treasurer and J. Mack Smith secretary. A short time after the organization of this company another company bought one hundred and sixty acres west of this property, operating under the name of the Artesia Improvement Company, the incorporators being E. A. Clayton, John Hodges, J. A. Cottingham and S. P. Denning. These two companies together drilled the first well of the town site, it being completed in July, 1903. This gave life to the town, which has steadily grown from that time forward until there is now a population of about fourteen hundred. Drilling for water was purely an experiment at that time and has proved not only a great boon to Artesia, but to the surrounding country as well, showing that water could be obtained in that way in this district.

A company known as the El Verde Grande Improvement Company, of which John Richey was president, had drilled a well in 1901 on Dr. Breman's land, seven miles northeast of Artesia. A large flow was obtained. A good portion of this flow was lost by losing the tools in the well. This well demonstrated that a large flow could be obtained in that portion of the valley. This well was nine hundred and seventy-two feet deep.

The town of Artesia was incorporated in January, 1905, and the first town board elected was A. V. Logan, chairman, who later resigned and was succeeded by Mr. Richey; J. C. Gage, George P. Cleveland and E. B. Kemp. This board was first appointed and in April, 1905, the election was held and the above named were chosen by regular ballot. The election of April, 1906, resulted in the choice of J. C. Beckham as chairman, while Messrs. Crandall, Enfield, McBride and Baskom became trustees.

As has been indicated, Mr. Richey has been closely associated with the development and improvement of the town from its inception. He is president of the Pecos Valley Immigration Company, with offices in Artesia, which has done much for the building of the town by setting forth the natural resources and advantages of the district and inducing immigrants to locate here. He has brought over twelve hundred people to the town on excursions since the fall of 1905 and is laboring earnestly and effectively toward making the country known, that settlers may be induced to locate here and develop its rich agricultural and horticultural resources and reclaim the once wild district for the uses of civilization.

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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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