Colfax County

The area now known as Colfax County was originally part of Taos County, one of the first nine counties created in 1952, when New Mexico became a territory of the United States. In 1859, Mora County was established out of the eastern section of Taos County and then ten years later in 1869, Colfax County was subdivided from Mora.

Following a trend of naming counties for national figures including presidents and others, the new county was named for Schulyer Colfax, Jr. who was then serving as Vice President of the United States under President Ulysses S. Grant. Colfax had been born in New York City in 1823 and was the son of Schuyler Colfax, Sr. and Hannah Stryker Colfax. Shuyler, Sr. was a bank teller and both were of Dutch ancestry. Colfax, Jr.’s grandfather, William Colfax, had served directly under General George Washington in the Revolutionary War.

Schuyler Colfax, Sr. died of tuberculosis a few months before Schuyler, Jr. was born. His mother later married again and the family moved to Indiana. Schuyler began to work in the newspaper business and later acquired a newspaper in South Bend. Colfax became active in politics, first in the Whig party, later in the Know Nothing Party and finally in the Republican Party. He was opposed to slavery. Colfax served in the Union Army during the Civil War. He served as a United States Representative for several terms and also was elected Speaker of the House in three sessions of Congress. He was inaugurated as Vice President under Grant in January, 1869.

During the 1872 presidential campaign, Colfax was implicated in the so called Crédit Mobilier scandal which involved suspected illegal acts on the part of certain elected officials in exchange for votes in support of a railroad company. Crédit Mobiier was described as a sham construction company created to profit favored individuals during the construction of the railroad system. A resolution was introduced to impeach Colfax from office and he resigned as Vice President, never to run again for elected office. Two representatives, James Blaine and James Brooks, were censured by the House for using their office for personal gain. There is no record of Colfax being censured or otherwise being charged with any improprieties. He returned to private business and was also a public speaker for the rest of his life. Colfax died in 1885 and is buried in South Bend, Indiana.

Counties in ten states are named for him. Colfax County, New Mexico includes a total area of 3,768 square miles. Its county seat is Raton. In addition to Raton, its towns and villages include Springer, Angel Fire, Cimarron (a former county seat), Eagle Nest and Maxwell along with about a dozen unincorporated communities.

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Governor Ezequiel Cabeza de Baca

Governor C. de Baca was the second elected governor of the new state of New Mexico. He was the first Hispano elected governor of any state. According to newspaper account however, a serious illness manifested itself during the campaign in which he was elected. His inauguration took place in a local hospital or sanitarium January 1, 1917 and was attended only by a few people. Accounts said that he had been suffering from pernicious anemia. The governor was then transferred to Los Angeles for more aggressive treatment but it failed to produce favorable results and the newly elected governor died on February 18, 1917.

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The Story of “One Nail” Bob Hale

As told by Inspector Hartman of the Colorado stock growers’ association in the Hastings Daily Gazette-Journal (Hastings, Nebraska), 23 Apr 1884:

“One Nail” Bob referred to a cowboy named Bob Hale, in some accounts called Bob Cole, on the John Chisum ranch near Roswell. The cowboy got the nickname from having one fingernail that was nearly two inches long. Hale was described as a desperate and quarrelsome character. Chisum is said to have warned Hale that he would get himself killed if he did not behave himself, but Hale continued in his ways. Hale is said to have had a penchant for getting drunk. When he was drunk, other cowboys stayed away from him which led him to believe that they were afraid of him. Eventually he stopped taking orders from the ranch foreman.

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Thomas Tate “Tom” Tobin

The San Luis Valley of Colorado and New Mexico was once part of the Territory of New Mexico in an early configuration of Taos County. Now most of it is in Colorado, but some still extends into New Mexico. As you can see from the map below, except for the headwaters of the Rio Grande, the entire river once flowed through the New Mexico Territory.

Thomas Tate “Tom” Tobin was born in 1823 in St. Louis, Missouri to Bartholomew Tobin and Sarah Autobees Tobin. Tom and his older half brother Charles Autobees are believed to have left St. Louis and headed west while Tom was still a teenager. They are both said to have been associated with Ceran St. Vrain, one of the founders of Bent’s Fort. Not a lot is known about Charles, but the half brothers worked out of Bent’s Fort for a while, scouting and trading. Eventually they each settled and got married. Charles married Sycamore, an Arapaho native and Tom married Maria Pascuala Bernal, of the Taos area.

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A German Spy in Carrizozo?

The United States had officially entered World War I in early April, 1917 with a declaration of war. One week later, the mayor of Carrizozo, Lincoln County, called for a company of Minute Men to be organized from local citizens to aid in the event of any need. Newspaper articles carried accounts of the war and other related articles about how citizens could contribute, even by maximizing food production on their farms. As occurred in other times of world war, there was a considerable amount of unease and suspicion concerning those of other nationalities.

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Butch Cassidy in New Mexico

A New Mexico priest, Father Stanley Crocchiola, was also greatly interested in New Mexico history. His booklets are somewhat difficult to find today, but he wrote dozens of works dealing with the history of various locations all over the state. According to an article in the Albuquerque Journal of August 14, 1960, his booklet called “The Alma, N. M. Story,” Father Crocchiola writing under the pen name F. Stanley said that in the early years of Anglo settlement in Alma, a number of characters at least passed through the area. He mentions the step father of Billy the Kid, William H. Antrim, the Wild Bunch, the Black Jack (Ketchum) Gang, the Hole in the Wall Gang and also the outlaw known as Butch Cassidy. Though the county boundaries have changed over the years, the former community of Alma is currently located in Catron County in southwestern New Mexico, not far from the current New Mexico – Arizona border, and in the Gila Wilderness. New Mexico and Arizona had been united until 1863 when they were divided into two territories of the United States. They remained separate territories until both became states in 1912.

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Girly Chew Hossencofft

Murder victim Girly Chew Hossencofft was born in Malaysia in 1963. She came to America in the 1990s for a vacation during which she met an individual named Daizien Hossencofft while visiting a theme park. Chew and Hossencofft were married in 1993 and located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Girly Chew Hossencofft was working for a local bank. According to various news accounts, Girly Chew had separated from Hossencofft on more than one occasion and recently filed for divorce, making allegations of domestic violence against him. Subsequently, she disappeared in September, 1999 after failing to come to work at Bank of America where she had been a teller. Friends and coworkers reported her missing and her disappearance was investigated by the Albuquerque Police Department. She was 36 years old at the time.

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Junior Ray Halladay

United States Naval Reserve Machinist’s Mate 3c Junior Ray Halladay was lost at sea when his ship, the USS Hull (DD-350), went down in a storm on 18 Dec 1944, almost 76 years ago.  Halladay was 20 years old and is considered as having been killed in action or missing in action with his remains being nonrecoverable.  He had enlisted 9 Aug 1943 in El Paso, Texas.  Halladay had been born on 10 Jul 1924 in Reco City, Michigan to Raymond Bert Halladay and the former Laura H. Gabel. In the 1940 Census, Ray B. Halladay was listed as the head of the household and being the operator of a sawmill at White Mountain, Lincoln County, New Mexico and Junior Ray was the middle child of five siblings. A headstone for MM 3c Halladay was placed at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Ruidoso, Lincoln County, New Mexico.

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New Mexico Casualties from the USS Arizona, 12/7/1941

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On a Sunday morning just after 7:00 AM local time on December 7, 1941, two radar installations had picked up large groups of aircraft heading toward Hawaii from the north. A flight of B-17 was due in from the United States and no alarm was sounded. When the first aircraft appeared, it bore the “red sun” insignia of the Japanese navy. The devastating attack on Pearl Harbor followed. The core of the Pacific Fleet, namely five battleships, three destroyers and seven more ships were either sunk or badly damaged, two hundred airplanes were destroyed, about 2,400 Americans were killed and around 1,200 more were wounded. Although the attack on Pearl Harbor is well remembered, Japanese attacks were also carried out elsewhere in the Pacific, including the large installations in the Philippines.

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