Quay County, New Mexico

This is one of the recently organized counties, being erected in April, 1903, chiefly from Guadalupe County, with small portions of San Miguel and Union. It is in the extreme eastern tier of counties, and until very recently was only known as a rough country of sheep herders and cowboys, but, with the building of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific line through the County, in 1902, and the grading of Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf road through Tucumcari, the County seat, the entire section took on new life. The El Paso & Northeastern, from the latter point, also crosses the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe at French, reaching into a fine body of coal at Dawson, and it is believed that that company will soon erect shops, round-houses and sidings at Tucumcari.

County Organization

Judge Theodore W. Heman, of Tucumcari, took the initial steps in the organization of the County, during December, 1902, and received the hearty co-operation of all American citizens. A committee was finally appointed, consisting of A. D. Goldenberg, W. F. Buchanan and J. A. Street, to present the matter to the Territorial legislature, with the result that on April 1st, of the following year, Quay County was formally organized. It is worthy of note, in this connection, that the entire cost of organization to the tax-payers of Quay County was only $675. Tucumcari was fixed as the County seat, and the Board of Commissioners at once let the contract for the erection of the court house to local contractors. The structure was completed and accepted in January, 1903, the total cost of its erection being $9.400; and for the price it is believed to be one of the best court houses in New Mexico.

County Officials
Since its organization, the officials of Quay County have been as follows

County Commissioners
1903-4. I. C. Barnes, Alexander Goldenberg, Jose Pablo Martinez
1905-6, S. R. Hendren, Pablo Medina, T. A. Wayne

Probate Judges
1903-4. Theodore W. Heman
1905-6, J. Y. Gallegos

Sheriff: 1903-6
J. A. Street

Treasurer: 1903-6
Donald Stewart

1903-4, Harry R. Neal
1905-6, Pedro Romero

General Physical Features

The surface of the County is generally an undulating prairie, dotted by low Mountains, tire drainage being affected through the Canadian and Pecos Rivers, with their tributaries. Springs and pools of water occur along these valleys, and the soil a sandy loam is such as to retain moisture to a remarkable degree. This is quite fortunate, as the rainfall seldom begins earlier than June. There may not occur during the summer more than one or two general rains, although local showers may frequent the valleys. In only a few instances have dams been constructed to impound the run-off from the water-sheds. There is only a limited amount of timber in the County, and it is confined to small areas of rough land which have a growth of pine and cedar.


Established by the Rock Island Railroad Company in 1902, Tucumcari has had a rapid growth, its estimated population being 1,300. Especially within the past few months its development has been somewhat remarkable, more than 1,000 of that number having arrived within this period; homestead filings before the United States Court Commissioner have been made at the rate of twenty a day. The platted site of the town now covers 500 acres.

The owners of the original site were Alex. O. Goldenberg, Zee Smith, J. A. Street and Jacob Wertheim, who organized a town company in 1901, and in the spring of the following year appointed Judge Heman town site agent. Naturally the center of a fine cattle and sheep country, with the coming of the railroads and its establishment as the County seat, the town was destined to develop. A project is on foot, backed by its enterprising Commercial Club, to develop artesian wells, as it is thought by experts that the flow can be reached at about 1,000 feet. If this should prove the case, agricultural and fruit products would soon be added to the resources of live-stock, besides furnishing the town with an invaluable supply of water for all domestic purposes.

Judge Heman appointed A. D. Goldenberg, W. F. Buchanan and Theodore D. Martinez as the first Board of School Directors, and chiefly through his efforts, five months after the County was organized, a magnificent school building was erected at a cost of $8,000. This and the $10,000 court house are the town's most pretentious structures. It has also a telephone system, a First National Bank, three hotels, two weekly newspapers and substantial business houses.

One of the strongest forces behind this unusual exhibition of town development is the Commercial Club of Tucumcari, organized in September, 1904 and reorganized in September of the following year. The present officers are as follows: President, W. F. Buchanan: vice-president, Donald Stewart; secretary, Col. T. W. Heman; board of directors, W. F. Buchanan, J. A. Street, Donald Stewart, C. C. Davidson and A. D. Goldenberg.

The rapid growth of New Mexico finds illustration in the history of Tucumcari, which has had an existence of only five years, and yet is a thriving and enterprising town supplied with many of the modern improvements known to the east.


New Mexico County Biographies

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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