Lewis “Lew” Wallace served as Territorial Governor from 1878 to 1881. After a long career in the United States Army, he had been appointed as Governor in the fall of 1878 by President Rutherford B. Hayes. Wallace had previously earned a reputation as being an effective leader in both civil and military situations. He succeeded Samuel Beach Axtell who had been “suspended” over allegations of improper conduct, though Axtell was never tried for any illegal activities and was soon appointed Chief Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court. The Lincoln County War was also ongoing in the south of of the territory, so Wallace was stepping into several situations that needed attention.
Miguel Antonio Otero was one of the last territorial governors of New Mexico before statehood. Governor Otero was born in 1859 in St. Louis, Missouri to Miguel Antonio Otero (1829-1882) and Mary Josephine Blackwood Otero (1840-1900). Otero County was named for Governor Otero’s father, also known as Miguel Antonio Otero. The future governor was educated at St. Louis University and Notre Dame and as a young adult had worked in the family bank in Las Vegas, New Mexico. The Otero family, originally from Spain, had long ties to New Mexico going back at least four generations and dating back as far as the 1700s.
Charles Bent was the first civil governor of the territory of New Mexico following the Mexican War. He was appointed governor by military Governor Stephen Watts Kearny in September, 1846 and served until his assassination on January 19, 1847.