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Revised 27 December 2010

NEW MEXICO

The earliest known people of New Mexico, were the Anasazi Indians.  These early tribes were known as master potters and weavers and were the ancestors of the Pueblo Indians.  By the time the Spanish arrived in the area in the early 1500s, the Pueblo Indians were already living in groups of apartment-like structures, called Pueblos (which is Spanish for towns).  Spanish explorer, Vasques de Coronado explored the area in 1540. In 1598, the Spaniards settled the village of San Juan.  Large tribes of Navajo and Apache also roamed the area.  Over the next three hundred years, New Mexico became a colony, first of Spain and later of Mexico.  The Spanish settlers traveled North along the Rio Grand into New Mexico's north central region, establishing missions and ranches as they went.  In 1610, the town of Santa Fe was established, making it the oldest capital city in the United states and our second-oldest permanent settlement after St. Augustine, Florida. 

In 1680, the Pueblo Indians forced the Spanish settlers to flee to Mexico.  Spain re-captured the area in the period between 1692 and 1696.

In 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain and New Mexico became a part of Mexico.  At that time William Becknell blazed what was later named the Santa Fe Trail with its terminus in Missouri.

 New Mexico became part of the United States in 1848 as a portion of those lands ceded after war with that nation.  .  In 1850, it was created into a territory and included most of what we currently identify as New Mexico plus what is now Colorado and Arizona.  The Gadsden Purchase of 1854 increased its boundaries to include the Gila Valley which lies in Catron and Grant counties.

Colorado was split off from New Mexico in 1861 and made a territory in its own right.  In 1863, Arizona broke off and became a separate territory.   Relations with the Native American tribes continued to be a problem which did not end until the final surrender of Geronimo, a fierce and feared Indian Warrior, in 1886.   New Mexico achieved statehood in 1912, when it became the 47th state in the union, however its problems with Mexico did not end until  the capture of Mexican outlaw Pancho Villa which occurred after 1916.

    Some more recent issues have placed New Mexico in the news and made it a name to remember.  In 1924, the Gila National Forest was named as the first United States Wilderness area.  In 1945, the first atomic bomb was tested at Trinity Site near Alamogordo,, in 1950, Uranium ore was discovered in the Northwestern portion of the state and in 1970, the Taos Pueblo Indians finally received title to 48,000 acres in the Carson National Forest.   One other area of import to those visiting New Mexico are the huge and unusual Carlsbad Caverns.  Although this state has much desert land and the towns are few and far between, this state is well worth visiting for its history and its landmarks.

Name Date formed Parent County County Seat
Bernalillo 1852 Original County Albuquerque
Catron 1921 Socorro Reserve
Chaves 1887 Lincoln Roswell
Colfax 1869 Mora Raton
Curry 1909 Quay, Roosevelt Clovis
De Baca 1917 Chaves, Guadalupe, Roosevelt Fort Sumner
Dona Ana 1852 Original County Las Cruces
Eddy 1887 Lincoln Carlsbad
Grant 1868 Socorro Silver City
Guadalupe 1905 Lincoln, San Miguel Santa Rosa
Harding 1921 Mora, Union Mosquero
Hidalgo 1920 Grant Lordsburg
Lea 1917 Chaves, Eddy Lovington
Lincoln 1869 Socorro Carrizozo
Los Alamos 1949 Sandoval, Santa Fe Los Alamos
Luna 1901 Dona Ana, Grant Deming
McKinley 1899 Bernalillo, Valencia, San Juan Gallup
Mora 1859 San Miguel Mora
Otero 1899 Dona Ana, Lincoln, Socorro Alamogordo
Quay 1903 Chaves Tucumcari
Rio Arriba 1852 Original County Tierra Amarilla
Roosevelt 1903 Chaves Portales
Sandoval 1903 Rio Arriba Bernalillo
San Juan 1887 Rio Arriba Aztec
Santa Fe 1852 Original County Las Vegas
Sierra 1884 Socorro Truth or Consequences
Socorro 1852 Original County Socorro
Taos 1852 Original County Taos
Torrance 1903 Lincoln, San Miguel, Socorro, Santa Fe, Valencia Estancia
Union 1894 Colfax, Mora, San Miguel Clayton
Valencia 1852 Original County Los Lunas

NEW MEXICO RESEARCH LINKS

NEW MEXICO GENWEB PROJECT NEW MEXICO GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY
NEW MEXICO HISTORICAL SOCIETY NEW MEXICO VITAL STATISTICS