The Horrell War

Samuel Horrell, Sr. had married Elizabeth Wells in 1838.  The couple had at least seven children born from about 1839 to 1856,  six sons (Sam, John, Martin, Thomas, Merritt and Ben) and one daughter (Sarah).  The family had resided in Lampasas County, Texas before heading west in the late 1860s.  They intended to go to all the way to California, but were reportedly ambushed by the Apache in San Augustine Pass, Doña Ana County, New Mexico in January, 1969.  The father Sam and the son John were killed.  After a few weeks, Elizabeth and the surviving six children then returned to Lampasas County for a several years.

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The Liberty Bell Comes to Lordsburg and Deming

In the early days of New Mexico statehood, residents of southern New Mexico had a chance to view the Liberty Bell.  The Liberty Bell had been on exibition in Philadelphia during the Panama-Pacific Exposition.  The historic Bell was transported by rail to the West Coast for the Panama-California Exposition and from there, it made a trek by rail aboard a train that was dubbed the “Liberty Bell Special” back to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The plan was for it to travel on an open steel flat car guarded by police and displayed at various stops across America by officials and prominent individuals from Philadelphia.  At certain selected stops, visitors would be able to file around the Bell and view it.

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Adolph Bandelier



(Image credit: National Park Service)

Adolph Bandelier was an archaeoligist.  He was born in Bern, Switzerland.  His family emigrated to the United States in 1848.  The family settled in Highland, Illinois where his father was in the banking and import business while also serving as Swiss consul.  He was considered to be quite intelligent, although it is believed that he had very little formal education.  One newspaper account said that by the time he was eight years old, he could read and write in French and German.  He is also said to have learned Spanish at an early age.

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Fort Fillmore

Fort Fillmore was first set up by Col. Edwin V. Sumner in the  fall of 1851 to provide a military presence in the area and to protect settlers and travelers passing through the area on the way west.  Sumner was born in 1797 and was a career Army officer.  He was a native of Massachusetts and had joined the army as a young adult in 1819.  During his career, Sumner had served in the Black Hawk War.  He went on to command military forts in the Anglo expansion across what is now the northern United States.  Sumner’s nickname was “Bull” or “Bull Head” which he acquired during the Mexican-American War.  During the Battle of Cerro Gordo on April 18, 1847 in Veracruz, Mexico, a legend began when a musket ball reportedly bounced off his head during the battle.  He was awarded battlefield promotions during the Mexican-American War and was appointed military governor of the New Mexico Territory in 1851.  Sumner died in 1863 while still serving in the Union Army during the Civil War.  The military installation known as Fort Sumner in eastern New Mexico was named for him and the current town of Fort Sumner took its name from the fort.

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Old Dowlin Mill, Ruidoso

The old Dowlin Mill was a familiar structure to those passing through Ruidoso.  Using the waterflow of the Rio Ruidoso and also Carrizo Creek, it was constructed in 1868 by Captain Paul Dowlin and his brother Will Dowlin after Capt. Dowlin left the United States Army.  Capt. Dowlin had previously served at Fort Stanton.  The mill most of us remember was actually the second such structure on the location.  The Dowlins had built an earlier structure that had been washed away by spring floods. Dowlin rebuilt the mill further from the flood area and was able to salvage the water wheel, which powered the grinding stones.

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Fort Union

Fort Union is located in Mora County, much of which was part of an early Mexican land grant (the Mora Land Grant).  The fort itself is located roughly south of a line between the current locations of Mora and Wagon Mound.  There were settlers in the area prior to the land grant but in 1835 the Mexican Governor of New Mexico Albino Pérez awarded title to two to six dozen families (estimates vary) to roughly 1,250 square miles of land in the Mora Valley east of the Sangre de Christo mountains from Santa Fe.

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Dawson, New Mexico

Dawson was settled in the late 1860s by John B. Dawson (1830-1918) who had acquired land from Lucien B. Maxwell out of an older land grant belonging to Maxwell.  Their arrangement was verbal.  The former town of Dawson is located in Colfax County which borders Colorado to the north.  Dawson was originally located in Taos County prior to the creation of Colfax, (see Counties of New Mexico) when Taos County once ran all across the state and extended on up into Colorado.

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Lincoln County War

The Lincoln County War was an armed conflict between two groups of people who were fighting over control of land and business.  The fighting and killing generally took place in and around Lincoln County, as it was configured in 1878.  The County was much larger back then.  Its area approximately included the entire southeastern section of what is now the state of New Mexico.  It is important to remember this, since some of the individuals involved would no longer reside in Lincoln County as it is configured today.

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Blackdom, New Mexico

In the fictional Netflix miniseries Godless, part of the action takes place in a settlement called Blackdom, New Mexico, an all black community founded by former Buffalo Soldiers.  This caused us to wonder if there was ever an actual place by that name.  In fact, there was a small settlement by that same name, and it was located in Chaves County.

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Counties of New Mexico

Shortly after the Mexican-American War in the mid to late 1840s, the New Mexico territorial boundaries were drawn and were vastly different than they are today.  We have assembled a few maps that seem to be representative of the major changes, with the main emphasis being the changes since New Mexico became a state.  County borders have actually changed between two and three dozen times since 1850, sometimes with rather subtle changes.  Accordingly, some steps are condensed and not illustrated in detail here.

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