William M. Berger Valencia County, New Mexico

William M. Berger, attorney and counselor at law, and secretary and general manager of the Town and Improvement Company of Belen, New Mexico, is a native of New York City, and in early manhood enlisted for service in the Civil war as first sergeant in Company G, of the Eighth Regiment of New York Volunteers. He served in. the campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, and is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and held important staff appointments under the commander-in-chief of that organization. Following his return from the war he studied law with the Hon. Solomon Noble, corporation attorney, and ex-Judge Stemmler of New York, and was admitted to the bar in the Empire state in 1868, after which he practiced continuously in New York City until 1880, being attorney for Steinway & Sons, piano forte manufacturers, until 1880. That year witnessed his arrival in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he opened a law office and also operated largely in real estate speculations. He conducted large real estate operations in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where his labors were a decided impetus in establishing and conducting the new town of Las Vegas: He also established the new town of Santa Fe, assisted in organizing the Board of Trade, the Board of Underwriters and the first fire department of the Territory. In Santa Fe he assisted in the organization of the Territorial Historical Society, and has been re-elected its secretary for the twenty-sixth time. He is the pioneer insurance agent of the Territory, and has sold real estate and has conducted real estate operations also in Silver City, Deming and Socorro. He is now building up the new town of Belen and is secretary and general manager of the Belen Town and Improvement Company, also secretary and general manager of the Willard Town and Improvement Company. He is likewise general counsel for the John Becker Company, who have mercantile establishments in Belen and other towns of New Mexico. He left Santa Fé in 1903 and removed to Belen, where he opened an office and is now conducting the extensive real estate operations above mentioned, having negotiated many important property transfers. For five years he was owner and editor of the weekly Capitol at Santa Fé, from 1897 until 1902, and now owner and proprietor of the Belen Tribune, located at Belen, a Republican paper of considerable influence in New Mexico. Thus his interests have been closely associated with many movements which have had direct and important bearing upon the Territory, its substantial growth and improvement.

Mr. Berger is a charter member of the New Mexico Bar Association, and during the period of his residence in the Territory has continued in the practice of law as well as in real estate operations, and in many fields of activity into which he has directed his energies. He was United States receiver of public money of New Mexico at Santa Fe from 1889 until 1893, serving with high honor, but refused a reappointment under the Cleveland administration. He made the first call and was the first president of the Territorial Fire Association of New Mexico. He was the organizer and first president of the Territorial Press Association, of which he is now the secretary. He is vice-president of the Good Roads Association and founder of the Educational Association of New Mexico. Prominent in Masonry, he has filled all of the chairs in the lodge and Royal Arch Chapter, and is a member of Montezuma Lodge No. 1, of Santa Fe. He is also a leading and active member of Santa Fé Lodge No. 1. K. of P., past grand chancellor of the Territory and supreme representative. Few citizens have taken a more active part in advancing the material, intellectual and political progress of the Territory than Mr. Berger. His mind seems to have compassed the entire measure of possibilities, looking beyond the exigencies of the present to the opportunities of the future, and while working toward the ideal, he has used the means at hand in practical methods that have produced valued and beneficial results.

He is a married man, having married Miss Mary E. Combes, of New York City. They have two daughters, Miss Ella May and Miss Edna E., both of whom have filled and are now filling positions of trust and honor in the Territory. 

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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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